Currently, Johnny Damon is still unsigned and his market is continuing to drop. His price may eventually fall to the Braves' supposed asking price of $2 million. My question is, is Johnny Damon at $2 million an upgrade over current options?
On its face, Damon’s 2009 season should make him a very valuable commodity. He set career highs in OPS+ at 126, isoSLG (The difference between his batting average and slugging percentage, demonstrating power numbers) at .207, and tied a career best with 24 home runs.
The problem with these numbers is that over the past three years his home and away statistics are separating more and more each season. As Damon has aged, he has used the short right porch in right field of Yankee Stadium to his advantage.
In 2007, his home OPS was .742 and away was .750, in 2008 his home OPS was .846 and away .827, and in 2009 his home OPS was .889 and away .776.
The dipping away OPS, along with his age, and -12.1 UZR/150 in left field last season makes it understandable why so many teams have been passing on Damon’s services.
The current options for left field are a Matt Diaz platoon with either Eric Hinske or Melky Cabrera, and possibly later in the season Jordan Schafer.
Hinske has similar career platoon statistics as Damon, and had 5.3 UZR/150 in the outfield last season—much better than Damon’s.
Cabrera was not on Damon’s level offensively last season, however, outside of Yankee Stadium the splits were not as vast as one would assume.
Cabrera’s .745 OPS in away games last year, coupled with his age (25), and his career 4.0 UZR/150 in left field make him just as serviceable in left field as Damon, in my opinion.
Lastly, unless Schafer proves to be a much better player than he was last season he is not a better option than Damon. However, if Jordan produces how he had before his injury last season and in his minor league seasons, then Jordan’s defense and offense would make him a very valuable and cheap option left field.
Outside of the current options, as previously stated Johnny Damon would cost at least $2 million. This would handcuff the Braves if they want to make a midseason trade as they did last season with Nate McLouth.
Johnny Damon was a crucial part of last year's World Series champion New York Yankees, but Turner Field is not Yankee Stadium.
Maybe Damon can perform next year, but at the age of 36 moving into a bigger ballpark will severely decrease his overall value. The question still remains, is Johnny Damon at $2 million an upgrade over the Braves' current options?