One of the nice bonuses about running a blog with another knowledgable baseball mind it that occasionally you have disagreements and both can say their piece in a friendly debate. Much like we did a couple weeks ago with the JC Romero trade, Mr. Mosvick and I have differing opinions on the decision of Johnny Damon to sign with the Yankees. I think this is a good move for both parties and it is going to make that powerful bronx offense all the more formidable.
First of all, my associate makes the argument that Derek Jeter, who hit leadoff for the Yankees last year, is a better leadoff hitter than Damon. I guess this case could be made, although it's disputable. Jeter draws more walks and posts a higher on-base percentage, but Damon hit for higher average last year and is a superior base-stealer. Either way, the point is pretty much irrelevant. It's not like they're taking Jeter out of the lineup, their moving him down one spot in the order to the number 2 spot, one in which he has had plenty of success in his career. Whichever order the two are in, you're going to have two of the best OBP guys in the league setting the table for two of the best run-producers in the league in Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield. Throw in Hideki Matsui, Jason Giambi, Jorge Posada, and Robinson Cano, and this is going to be an absolutely monstrous lineup. The Yankees have filled their hole at center field with a great player in Johnny Damon, and he should complement this lineup very well.
Perhaps the most important thing the Yankees have done in making this move, however, is crippling their biggest division rivals. The Red Sox were making a concerted effort to bring back Damon, because they knew as well as anyone that they needed him. But the Yanks put the pressure on Damon and his agent Scott Boras, and pulled him to New York. Now the Red Sox have huge holes at shortstop and center field, and no one apparently ready to step into that leadoff spot and set the table for the big boys in the middle of the lineup.
I think Johnny Damon will do well in pinstripes, and the Yankees have made a major improvement in adding this excellent leadoff hitter. It's hard to imagine any other offense in the Majors even approaching what these guys will be capable of. Of course, they still need to add some pitching...