Written By: Matt Vereb
Before I begin, what the hell are the Detroit Tigers thinking? With Johnny Damon still uncommitted, the Tigers have been increasing their offer to the 36-year-old Outfielder. Reported earlier, their current offer stands at 1-year for $7.5 million with an undisclosed portion being deferred. The Chicago White Sox have set a deadline of Sunday Morning for Damon to accept their offer before they move on. So why are the Tigers so ‘hot’ on Damon’s trail?
I’m really not sure. Two months ago, the Tigers traded Curtis Granderson, one of their best and cheaper players, to the Yankees for a group of minor leaguers including Outfielder, Austin Jackson. This type of move seemed like one a rebuilding team would want to make. Or just a plain dumb one. Granderson is set to earn $6.5 million this season and is in the 3rd year of his five-year contract. Granderson will earn an average of $7 million throughout the deal. Granderson, 29, has been consistent in his four full seasons with Detroit. Granderson has averaged 24 HRs and a .280 batting average. Granderson plays an above average CF. Outside of an injury-filled campaign of 2007, Granderson has posted impressive UZRs of 14.1, 12.9, 1.6, which in standard baseball language means that the guy will cut down more runners and runs than he allows. It also means he is great at making plays that the average fielder can’t.
Back to Johnny Damon. Since I’ve written about him so much, I feel like I personally know Johnny Damon. Damon, 36, has played Russian Roulette with contract offers for the entire off-season. He has turned away the Yankees, Braves, Giants, Rays, Tigers, and White Sox. While Damon hit 24 HRs and scored 107 runs for the Yankees last season, how much were ‘Yankee Stadium aided’? Bill James and other projection software have Damon projected for 17 HRs and 95 runs this year. While the projected drop in offensive production is a bit alarming, his past defensive statistics are ghastly. Damon has posted UZRs of -9.2, -1.1, and -11.6 with the New York Yankees. The guy is a liability defensively. Everyone in the game knows it.
The Main Point: Why are the Tigers offering a 36-year-old outfielder, who is a defensive liability, a contract for $7 million when they were unwilling to pay their 29-year-old Superstar outfielder, an average of $7.5 million for the next three seasons? Plus, Granderson has been one of the more instrumental players off-the-field. Granderson has helped numerous charities in Detriot and is regarded as one of the ‘good guys’ in the game. Financially, the Tigers have seemed to contradict their own philosophies this offseason, but for those mistakes, the Yankees just keep getting richer. Yankee fans have been clamoring for an heir to Bernie Williams’ Center Field throne. I know Granderson has the ability to step up and play at an All-Star level.
In conclusion, we will happily take an outfielder who is 7 years younger, more athletic, and better defensively any day. Damon and Granderson are a virtual push when it comes to hitting, but the Yankee lineup is already stacked with many great hitters. Cheap, young, athletic players who have All-Star potential, don’t grow on trees. However, oIder players with ‘Noodle Arms’ do.
With all things being equal financially, who would Yankee fans rather have this season and moving forward?