Tag: Johnny Damon

Johnny Damon Hits the Nail on the Head with PED Talk

After an 18-year career in the majors, Johnny Damon feels he was forced to leave the game of baseball before he was ready to hang up the spikes. The reason for that, according to Damon, is because he never used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

In an interview with 810 CBS Sports, the 40-year-old was asked to consider his place in baseball history. In addition to the stats and the accolades, Damon said the following should be considered:

I played it clean. That’s what everybody’s going to be looking at. I think I’m one of the only players to come out and say, “I guarantee you there is nothing I’ve done that enhanced my baseball career.”

Over the course of those 18 years, Damon played with a handful of notable players tied to PED use. To name a few: Manny Ramirez, Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Andy Pettitte, David Ortiz, Roger Clemens, Magglio Ordonez and Gary Sheffield. 

He makes an interesting case for his enshrinement amongst baseball’s greats. With 2,769 hits, a .284 average, 1,139 RBI and two World Series championships (2004 and 2009), Damon certainly had an above-average career with the Kansas City Royals, Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians. With no evidence or speculation contradicting his claimed cleanliness, he might just have a case for Cooperstown. 

However, that debate is for another day. The rest of the interview was far more notable and worth talking about, as Damon looked at more than his own career, focusing on some of the problems with Major League Baseball as the game tries to move past the PED era:

The game today, it’s a slap on the wrist for people, and it sends a bad message to kids, the families. You can’t fault someone who has a chance to make $20 million, $50 million, $100 million for going against the system to get to where they are. You can’t fault them.

There are certain guys who cheated the system and they’re still being patted on the back. That’s not great for our kids, especially my son. He’s playing high school baseball now and these kids are very influenced, and if you tell a kid, “You do something and you’re going to have a chance to make $100 million,” people are going to sign up.

I don’t want my son or anybody else’s kid to get involved with it. But it seems like Major League Baseball is allowing it.

Now, who might Damon be talking about? Who fits that mold of getting a slap on the wrist for cheating the system? A few players come to mind, including Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera.

After being suspended 50 games in 2013 as part of the Biogenesis scandal, Peralta signed a lavish four-year, $53 million contract with the St. Louis Cardinals this past winter. Cruz, who was also suspended as a part of the scandal, signed a more modest but still generous one-year, $8 million deal with the Baltimore Orioles. And after being suspended 50 games as a member of the 2012 San Francisco Giants, Cabrera agreed to a two-year, $16 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

These players cheated the game, yet following their suspensions, they were welcomed back with open arms and millions of dollars. Damon is right—that does send a bad, bad message, especially to youth ballplayers.

Two of those guys came back to make an average annual salary of $8 million, while the other, Peralta, got over $13 million a year. In what other profession can you break the rules and hurt your organization, yet somehow get such a grand reward? 

Any young ballplayer, whether he be in high school, college, the minors or the 25th man on the big league roster, is looking at these cases and thinking, “Hey, this (PEDs) is worth it. Even if I get in trouble, I’m going to get paid. I could make millions.”

This, as Damon said, is something Major League Baseball needs to look at. The league needs to strengthen its substance-abuse policy, because as much as it says it cares about cleaning up the game, the way Damon and so many others see it, it’s still beneficial for players to cheat. The consequences have yet to outweigh the rewards.

That means going beyond suspensions and public shaming and hitting players where it hurts, their pockets. One way to do this that frequently comes up is to limit suspended players to a certain salary, say the league minimum, come their next free-agent contract. It’s a great idea, one that would truly make players pay for their actions and would tell other players to stay clear of PEDs.

The problem with this is that the player’s union would never agree to it, because, well, there are still cheaters out there. Those cheaters want to get paid if they get caught, just like Peralta, Cruz and Cabrera did.

The best option available, as far as cleaning up the game goes, is for the league, its teams and its players (the clean ones) to take a moral stand against PED use. Back in November the Arizona Diamondbacks made headlines for their tendency to avoid players with ties to PEDs.

Arizona’s Brad Ziegler made his personal thoughts known as well following the Peralta signing:

This is what Major League Baseball needs. More players, active ones, have to come out and shame those who disparage the game of baseball. More teams have to refuse to bring these guys aboard. The suspensions do no good if teams are still lining up to pay the cheaters.

Damon is on to something here. Baseball is sending mixed messages about the pitfalls of PED use. Getting caught is not teaching players the lesson the league wants them to learn. It’s time the MLB as a whole got on the same page and started sending the right message.

There can be no reward for cheating the game.


All stats were obtained via Baseball-Reference.

Question or comments? Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk the Yankees and Major League Baseball.

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New York Yankees: Did Bombers Make Right Move in Passing on Johnny Damon?

Johnny Damon made his public plea to come back to the Yankees on Monday.

In the wake of Curtis Granderson’s broken forearm, which will sideline the outfielder for 10 weeks, the 39-year-old veteran was willing to take a minimum deal to come back to the Bronx.

Unfortunately for Damon, Yankees GM Brian Cashman isn’t interested in his services for a second time, according to Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York:

“He’s just not going to fit our needs,” Cashman said. “It’s the same reason we didn’t bring him in last year. We need somebody who can play the outfield every day.”

That leaves Damon still on the free-agent market looking for work. Damon last played with the Cleveland Indians in 2012, but was cut during the season after just 64 games and batting just .222.

In the story I had reported on Monday about Damon looking to come back to the Yankees, 70 percent of the people who took the survey felt that Damon would actually come back to the Yankees to take Granderson’s spot.

It’s a little surprising, especially since Damon said he was willing to take very little money to play and would even accept being released if there was no more room for him on the team.

Did the Yankees make the right move in telling Damon “no thanks” for 2013?

As much as I hate to say it, Cashman likely made the right decision.

For one, they already have two veteran options in camp who can still play the outfield in Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera. Plus, both Diaz and Rivera are right-handed bats, which benefit the Yankees need at the major league level.

Damon isn’t really much of an outfielder anymore and would be best suited to be a DH, and the Yankees already have a left-handed DH in Travis Hafner.

Another thing is that the Yankees have a chance to see what they have in their young prospects, in particular Melky Mesa, Ronnier Mustelier and Zoilo Almonte.

Mustelier has looked rather impressive at spring training for the Yankees, especially at the plate, with the ball jumping off his bat when he gets a hit.

Speaking while with the team in Clearwater, Florida on Tuesday, WFAN‘s Sweeny Murti told Mike Francesa (also of WFAN) that he feels that with the early injury to Granderson, both Rivera and Diaz could make the team. 

As popular as Damon is, and as much as some of us would have liked to seen him back for one more go-around with the team, Cashman made the right choice for now.

However, if any other injuries occur to the outfielders (like Brett Gardner and his elbow from last season), keeping Damon’s number on speed dial wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Bombers.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.

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Yankees GM Brian Cashman Won’t Pursue Johnny Damon

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said on Tuesday that the club wasn’t interested in pursuing free-agent outfielder Johnny Damon, according to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com.

Matthews tweeted on Tuesday:

It was revealed on Sunday that the Yankees would be without outfielder Curtis Granderson for 10 weeks after he fractured his forearm, which brought up talk about Damon potentially rejoining the club he played for from 2006 through 2009.

The 39-year-old told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News that he would be open to joining the Yankees again. 

But there doesn’t appear to be much interest from the Yankees. Damon is a two-time All-Star and a two-time World Series champion (with the Yankees and Boston Red Sox), but many believe he is past his prime.

After hitting .261 with 16 home runs, 73 RBI, 79 runs and 19 stolen bases with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011, Damon hit .222 with four home runs, 19 RBI and 25 runs in 64 games with the Cleveland Indians in 2012. He cited a lack of regular playing time as the main reason, per Feinsand.

The Yankees lineup is a mess right now—as pointed out by Bleacher Report’s own Zachary D. Rymer on Monday—but apparently Damon is still not an option for them. 

It’s going to be interesting what the club does moving forward after not making it past the ALCS since winning the World Series in 2009. With Alex Rodriguez on the 60-day disabled list, it’s not looking great for the former world champions at this point.


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Can Johnny Damon Fill Void Left by Curtis Granderson?

Losing Curtis Granderson—one of the premiere players in all of baseball—in his first real at-bat of spring training last week will be problematic for New York.

Having to insert Brett Gardner into the everyday lineup could also prove troublesome. Gardner appeared in just 16 games last season for the Yankees, and is a career .266 hitter.

Alas, Johnny Damon to the rescue.

Seeking to fill the void left by Granderson, Damon came calling to the Yankees on Tuesday, sending a message to his former club.

“You guys know that I would have tons of interest to go to New York,” Damon said on New York 98.7 FM’s Michael Kay Show, courtesy of ESPN.com. “But I just don’t think they would be interested. I’m not exactly sure what happened over the years or something. They have had plenty of opportunities and I kept raising my hand, wanting to go back and, you know, hopefully it would be a perfect fit. It always had been. Have me for six weeks and then send me off on my merry way. That’s fine.”

Damon expressing interest in returning to the Bronx is intriguing. The Yankees should, at the very least, consider their former slugger as a viable option in center field.

At age 39, Damon would be a better fit than Gardner. Moreover, Damon is familiar with New York, and is comfortable hitting at Yankee Stadium. 

Despite being cut by Cleveland last season after just 64 games, Damon is a .284 career hitter. While with Tampa Bay in 2011, Damon cranked 16 home runs and tallied 73 RBI.

Though his short-lived stint with Cleveland faltered, Damon remains optimistic that he could be the answer the Yankees are looking for.

“Absolutely,” Damon said, courtesy of ESPN.com. “Losing a Curtis Granderson is a tough thing to swallow, but the way I hit at Yankee Stadium and the right field porch, I mean, it worked when I played for them.”

The fact of the matter is the Yankees are in dire need of a power hitter to replace Granderson for the first month or two of the season. Damon is just that, and would be a good candidate to provide some added pop to the lineup. 

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Why Texas Rangers Should Sign Johnny Damon Right Now

The Texas Rangers and Johnny Damon are a heavenly match.

Texas needs outfield depth because Nelson Cruz has never played more than 128 games in a season, David Murphy never more than 138 and in the past 3 years, Josh Hamilton has not played more than 133.

The Rangers would also have insurance in the event they cannot re-sign Hamilton, who should be a coveted 2013 free agent. After all, despite the Rangers’ well-publicized new cash-flow from their rich TV contract, they will be negotiating with both free agent catchers Mike Napoli and Yorbit Torrealba. The Napoli discussions will likely be revolving around Yadier Molina’s 5-year $75 million contract. Also, starter Colby Lewis as well as relievers Mike Adams and Mark Lowe will be free agents.

Damon likely wants to finish his career with a contender and also with the possibility of attaining 3,000 hits. He’s at 2,723 right now and is likely chomping at the bit to get back into MLB so as to move closer to that 3,000-hit goal.

But the most significant reason Texas needs Damon is for his prowess against nemesis pitchers who have stymied the Rangers in the past; Felix Hernandez within the division is one, and Justin Verlander is another.

Now that the Angels have become a powerhouse with the signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the Rangers’ hold on the AL West is in jeopardy, and winning the division has become more critical in light of the new single-game wild card teams playoff arrangement. Texas can not afford to lose many games to an expected also-ran like Seattle.

However, over the past five years Seattle ace Felix Hernandez has thrown 17 quality starts versus Texas, winning nine of those. Johnny Damon is 11 for 22 with four doubles and a home run in his career against Felix, for a striking 1,378 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).

Detroit‘s Justin Verlander is 6-2 lifetime versus Texas with a 2.31 earned run average and 58 strikeouts in 58 innings. He went 1-1 versus the Rangers in last year’s playoffs. Damon is 9 for 25 with three doubles and two home runs, for a 1,105 OPS against Verlander.

Recently the White Sox‘s Gavin Floyd has tormented the Rangers with two quality starts in 2011 and one in 2010; Damon is a remarkable 12 for 22 with a double and home run, for a 1,343 OPS against Floyd.

Toronto‘s Ricky Romero is a left-hander who dominated Texas in 2010, throwing three quality starts including a May 15th five-hit complete game shutout. His career earned run average versus Texas is 0.92 . Damon has destroyed Romero, going 12 for 23 with three doubles and four home runs for an astounding 1,807 OPS.

Boston‘s Jon Lester is another left-hander who has been successful against Texas with a 3-1 career record and 48 strikeouts in 54 innings. Damon has produced an 874 career OPS versus Lester.

Texas will likely face Hernandez five times and Verlander, Floyd, Romero and Lester twice apiece in 2012. That’s a total of 13 games. Upon adding two games for new AL rival Derek Lowe, who Damon has battered for a 1,341 OPS, and one for interleague foe Joe Saunders, who he’s hit for an 871 OPS, we’re up to 16 games. Those 16 games equal 10 percent of the season in which Texas will face troublesome pitchers, against whom Johnny Damon has thrived. Without Damon, maybe Texas goes 8-8 in these 16 rugged games; with him, perhaps 10-6. Add to that two game difference one other one he could win with a clutch pinch-hit, for he is 6 for 16 with a 375 batting average in that role over the past two years. That three game swing I am suggesting could be critical in the race with the Angels.

And then if Texas did make it to their third consecutive World Series, Damon has pummeled potential foes Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Tim Hudson and Kyle Lohse.

Interestingly, an alternative to Damon is J.D. Drew, who has also done well against Hernandez and Verlander. Another similarity is that both guys, Damon and Drew, have struggled against the big Texas nemesis, the Angels’ Jered Weaver who has thrown 16 quality starts and nine wins at Texas over the past five seasons. Curiously, Mark Teahan is a lifetime 264 hitter who has hit Weaver for a 1,006 OPS and may be available later in the season.

But I like the Damon addition idea the most. The Rangers’ own Matt Harrison can attest to Damon’s talent, since Damon has amassed a 1,367 OPS against him. Look for super-agent Scott Boras to get this deal done. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Boras says that he’ll get Damon signed by May 1st. Damon and “Texas Ranger” just sounds good, doesn’t it?

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New York Yankees: With Jesus Montero Gone, Who Will DH in 2012?

The Yankees finally addressed their starting rotation yesterday, when they shipped top prospect Jesus Montero and right-hander Hector Noesi to the Mariners for All-Star right-hander Michael Pineda and 19-year-old right-hander Jose Campos.

The team also signed Dodgers free-agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $10 million deal as the rotation now looks significantly stronger and has plenty of depth with Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia likely headed to the bullpen.

However, in dealing Montero, the Yankees now have a hole at DH that will need to be addressed in the weeks to come leading up to spring training. Luckily, there is never a shortage of DH options for a team both internally and on the free-agent market.

Here is a look at who could step into that role for the Yankees in 2012.

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Sam Fuld Loses Tooth as Tampa Bay Rays Defeat Seattle Mariners 3-2

Sam Fuld lost his tooth in the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 win against the Seattle Mariners Friday night.  Although the win helps in their battle for the playoffs with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, all the buzz is about the little outfielder that looks more like he plays for the Tampa Bay Lightning than the Rays.

Fuld entered the game in the eighth inning to pinch hit for Sean Rodriguez with the Rays trailing by a run. He hit a single through the hole at shortstop.

That’s when the mystery of the missing tooth began.

The television broadcast showed Fuld without his smile that fans have come to love. Social media was full of inquiries about the location of his missing tooth.

“I wish I had a good story like I was out skating this morning. It all comes back to May or whatever when I banged my head into J.J. Hardy. It chipped my crown, and I’m trying to get a permanent one going but it’s been a while. I’ve had this temporary thing in there and it keeps popping out.”

After a request from the media for him to say, “Super Sam Fuld,” the story got better.

“Today I decided to chew some gum—real bright idea—and the next thing I know it’s in my gum and the gum became really crunchy. The crown just broke into a bunch of pieces, and that was that. The problem is I got a hit tonight so I’m thinking of leaving it out.”

Even some of Fuld’s teammates weren’t fully aware of the fake tooth.

“I just found out that he had a fake tooth our last homestand, I had no idea,” said Evan Longoria. “This clubhouse has a bunch of characters, it’s really what keeps it light around here. For him to be walking around without a tooth and to think it’s the funniest thing is the world is awesome.”

After the saga of the missing tooth, Fuld would go on to score on an Evan Longoria single starting the Rays eighth inning rally.

Johnny Damon would score the game-winning run on a Ben Zobrist single to center field.

Jamal Wilburg is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained first-hand.

You can follow him on Twitter @JWilburg




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MLB Awards for MIPs: The Most Important Players by Team

While players like Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, and Josh Hamilton are accustomed to winning MVP awards, but it doesn’t mean they are the most important players for their team to win.

We all know about team’s most valuable players, but who really is the most important player for each team to have a successful season?

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Fantasy Baseball 2011: Five Former Fantasy Studs Who You Want to Avoid

You know their name, but can you trust their game? Here are some former fantasy studs that you should avoid on fantasy draft day.

Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta Braves
I love Chipper Jones. I believe he has put together a Hall of Fame career. I wouldn’t touch him this year, even with his reasonable 186 ADP. He hit just .264 and .265 the past two years. He has just one 500 at-bat season (2007) in his past seven years. It was easy to justify owning him when he was hitting well north of .300, but he’ll be 39 in April. He’s far to great of an injury risk to trust on your team. If he slides big time in your draft, maybe you can take a look at him since third base is so shallow, but he’s going (on average) before Placido Polanco, Chase Headley, Kevin Kouzmanoff and countless other that will like be more productive this year.

Alfonso Soriano, OF, Chicago Cubs
It’s not that Soriano shouldn’t be on fantasy rosters. I just think you can get far better value at his ADP of 98. Some of the outfielders that are going (on average) after him are Corey Hart, Nick Markakis, Delmon Young, Michael Stanton, Drew Stubbs and a rash of other superior options. Again, if he slides in your draft go ahead and take him, but his speed has diminished and his power is average. Take someone with more upside because Soriano is obviously on the wrong side of his career track.

Manny Ramirez, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Manny has just 28 home runs in his past 194 games. His OPS (.869) was the lowest since his first cup of coffee with the Indians back in 1993. It was just .739 in his 24 games with the White Sox. Do I believe Manny can still hit? Absolutely. The problem is whether or not he’ll be motivated. Can he stay healthy? There are a lot of questions for somebody with an ADP of 160.

Miguel Tejada, SS, San Francisco Giants
Tejada had an OPS of .693 last year for the Orioles and the Padres, which is a far cry for his career mark of .801. He rarely misses, so health shouldn’t be a concern. I just fear that his skills are eroding. After all he’ll be 37 in May. On top of that, Bruce Bochy already acknowledges that he will give Tejada plenty or rest this year. His ADP of 203 makes him a reasonable option. I just prefer guys with more upside.

Johnny Damon, OF, Tampa Bay Rays
Had the Rays not signed Manny Ramirez, I would like Damon a little more. He would be able to get some at bats at designated hitter. Playing in the field could take its toll on Damon, who turned 37 in November. He hit just eight home runs last year, and I don’t see significant growth in that category. He could have hot streaks, in which I would entertain riding them out, but I’m not getting a warm and fuzzy feeling that his return to the AL East will be favorable.

Also check out:

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Johnny Damon: Will He Make the Hall of Fame?

Johnny Damon is on the cusp of reaching a statistic that almost guarantees entry into the Hall of Fame: 3,000 hits. 

Since Damon burst onto the scene in 1995 as a Kansas City Royal, he has developed into one of the most consistent hitters this game has seen since 2004 inductee Paul Molitor. 

When I thought about writing this, Molitor was the first person I thought of as a comparison because of his consistency.

Neither was flashy or made as many headlines as their team-mates, but they were both solid hitters who never had years of lacking production. 

Below are 162 game average’s for Damon, Molitor and Robin Yount.

AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG
637  111  183  35   7  15   75  27  7  67   81 .287 .355 .436

AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS   BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG
654  108  200  37   7  14   79  30   8   66   75 .306 .369 .448

AB    R    H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  SB  CS  BB   SO   BA  OBP  SLG
624   93  178  33   7  14   80  15   6  55   77 .285 .342 .430  

In today’s day and age where every player is deemed guilty of using banned substances when statistics stray from the norm, Damon has never been questioned.

Damon falls into the category of a legitimate two time World Series champion centerfielder that delivers on cue when called upon. 

Right now Damon will need to average 142 hits over the next three seasons or 108 over the next four to reach 3,000.  In my estimation, he’s in.   

Really, what else would he have to do?

He is not your typical power-hitting outfielder—he will not have the big home run numbers, but 3,000 hits insinuates ability, skill, coordination and longevity. 

The 27 member club will, barring disaster, add two more members in the next three years (not including Damon), with Derek Jeter due around the All-Star Game, and Alex Rodriguez, a couple years and 328 hits away.   

Without a doubt the Hall is in their future, and its time Damon enters the discussion.

Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective

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