Lately the biggest question the mind’s of Yankee fans is what’s going to happen with Johnny Damon as even though we are less than a month away from the start of spring training the answer usually is, I don’t know.
Now we hear, from Bob Klapisch of the Bergin Record, that he has contemplated retirement:
A friend of Damon’s recently said, “Johnny is completely in the family mode right now” and has considered that option. It’s still hard to believe that, in the wake of a 24-home run campaign in 2009, and hitting .364 against the Phillies in the Series, Damon actually would quit. Give him credit for not panicking. In a text message to the New York Times on Tuesday, Damon wrote: “I’m sure things will work out somewhere.” Chances are, however, he never thought he’d be in this kind of predicament so late in the off-season.
To me that sounds like it’s a story leaked from a man who has no to little leverage and desperate for a job. From the time Damon was in Boston and said he wouldn’t take more money to play for the Yankees we knew what he was all about. Then again this year he repeatedly said that he wanted to stay in New York and at one point even said he understood that it might mean he would have to take less money only before telling the Yankees not to even bother making an offer if it is for less than $13 million a season.
Even if it wasn’t about the money for Damon, he still has the ability to play so why walk away now? His .854 OPS last season was nearly the best of his career and he’s also at 2425 hits. That could take up to four years for him to accomplish, but it is still a very reasonable goal. Monetarily and talent wise Damon has no real reason to quit now. He’s just hitting the market at an inopportune time when teams are trying to keep payroll down and the current market trend is placing emphasis on defense.
Of course the real tell in this is that Damon is not being consistent with his friends. He apparently told someone Klapisch interviewed that he was thinking about just staying home, but he told another friend, who spoke with David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that retirement hasn’t even been considered. We have no idea who these reporters actually spoke with, but they are both trusted veterans, they don’t just go making up stories so it’s safe to say this was just a desperate attempt to drum up some interest on Damon’s part.
He’ll find a place to play eventually. Even if it isn’t until spring training. Just don’t think for one second that he’s going to retire.