NEW YORK - AUGUST 16: Johnny Damon #18 of the Detroit Tigers salutes the crowd prior to his first at bat against the New York Yankees on August 16 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Johnny Damon might be a Red Sox again.
Yeah, that's just weird.
Damon has a day-and-change to figure out of he wants to join the Red Sox for the stretch run of the season. The Red Sox put a waiver wire claim in for the 36-year-old designated hitter. (If you think he's an outfielder, you're kidding yourself). Early indications are that Damon will not accept a trade to Boston (a team that is on his "no trade" list), but there's still some wiggle room as Damon said it will be a tough decision.
But at the end of the day, the Red Sox acquiring Damon just makes no sense.This was a block move. Pure and simple. There isn't another way to slice it at this point. There is no other way to slice this, either: the Red Sox are not trying to make the playoffs.
OK, let me clarify. The Red Sox are trying to make the playoffs. The players are certainly going out there to win ballgames and maybe get lucky in the last month of the season. But when I say "the Red Sox" I really mean "the front office," who has no intentions to spend any money or resources this season to win right now.
The evidence was at the trade deadline. No big splashes at all. Theo & Crew were completely content with pretty much sticking with the same exact team and seeing if they could gut it out. If they did, awesome. If they didn't, not a big deal because, after all, this is a "bridge year." (The Jarrod Saltalamacchia trade, in my opinion, was moreso for 2011 than now.)
When it comes to Damon, the Red Sox front office is still following the same line of thought. In what capacity do you think Damon could really help the Sox in? Damon, sure, still has a pretty good bat. He's getting on-base at a .355 clip and any team could use that. But we're also talking about the Red Sox; the team that has arguably the best offense in baseball. The Red Sox lead the bigs in OPS and wOBA, so offense isn't the problem.
Is outfield the problem? Partially with Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron done for the year. But the fact is Damon can't play the outfield anymore. He doesn't have the legs and he can't throw. The only thing the Sox might be able to do is hide his body in left field in front of the Monster. That might be the only thing that holds a resemblance to "good."
Where Damon does help the Sox, potentially, is in the clubhouse and in public relations. It's no secret that veterans like David Ortiz, Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek would like to see Damon back (because, ya' know, it's like 2004 all over again!). He would be an instantaneous gel to clubhouse atmosphere. But it's hard to believe that Theo would give up money, resources, etc., for a clubhouse gel. That's just not his style.
As far as the PR goes, Damon would be a nice little End Of The Year present to Red Sox Nation. Because as much as Red Sox fans want to say they hate Damon and will hate him forever, if he comes to the Sox and steps into that batter's box, he will receive a lot of cheers. He will receive a lot of boos for sure, but the cheers will certainly be audible and would drown out the boos after a while.
Put me on the "Eh, whatever" bandwagon when it comes to Damon. I'd much rather see Ryan Kalish, Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald roam the outfield beside J.D. Drew for the rest of the season, but I'm also a journalist and a fan of the story: if Damon comes back, that is one of -- if not the biggest -- Red Sox storyline of the season.