Nobody really wins and nobody really loses in this deal.
Unless things fall apart in the final hour, it appears that Johnny Damon will sign with the Cleveland Indians any moment now. In fact, he may actually be with the club by the time this piece finds its way online. When you think about it for longer than a few seconds, you realize that this is a fine move for all involved. It's hardly a decision that either are loving at this point, but it's also not one that upsets me, an Indians fan, one bit.
I was going to jokingly point out that the 2012 Indians have, in their first five games, looked more like Little Leaguers than professional ballplayers at the plate. I then didn't want to offend youngsters who are actually able to get wood on the ball. Heading into this weekend, the Tribe are batting .176 as a team. That's good for dead last in all of Major League Baseball. This isn't a team that can afford to be picky. Quite frankly, I'm still hoping they can talk Kenny Lofton out of retirement for one more go.
Sadly, I'm only half-joking.
Damon is hardly a long-term answer for the Indians. Heck, he may even be gone by August (more on that later). Somehow, I also doubt that Shelley Duncan will be playing left field for the Indians for the next decade. Damon batted .261 with 16 home runs, 73 RBI and 19 stolen bases while with Tampa Bay in 2011. The way things are going, Damon may be outhitting the rest of the Indians lineup by the time the All-Star break comes around.
Sadly, I'm only half-joking.
The move also makes perfect sense for Damon, mostly because it's not as if any other teams are vigorously knocking at the door. Damon is currently just 287 hits away from the 3,000 mark. For what it's worth, he had 152 hits in 150 games played (582 AB) with Tampa Bay last season. I'm betting that, once he's physically ready for MLB play after a week or so, he's going to see plenty of at-bats.
Damon may also be able to leave the Indians just before the trade deadline, thus allowing him to sign with any team he wants for the final stretch of the season. According to the previously linked CBS Sports piece, Damon would have an out clause that would give him the opportunity to part ways with the Tribe once/if Grady Sizemore returns. Sizemore is currently on the 60-day DL, and he cannot return until at least June 3.
It's still very early into the campaign. The Indians are 1-4, however, and this is not a team that is built to put together a significant winning streak at the end of summer. Despite the low expectations held by many in the Cleveland fan base, those within the team (reportedly) expect to see improvement following the 2011 campaign, a season that brought with it numerous exciting moments, but one that ultimately ended with the Tribe not even in the playoff discussion. Signing Johnny Damon won't break the bank, and Damon isn't taking the spot of a potential .300 hitter.
So why not?
- Johnny Damon
- Cleveland Indians