Should the Mariners consider Johnny Damon?
Over the offseason, the Mariners repeatedly indicated the team wish list:
- A left handed reliever
- A catcher
- A veteran presence
The M’s currently have a four way race for the lefty in the bullpen with Charlie Furbush, Cesar Jimenez, George Sherrill and rule five draft pick Lucas Luetge.
In the catcher race, Adam Moore’s injury leaves the M’s with 3 Major League caliber catchers in John Jaso, Miguel Olivo and new power hitter Jesus Montero.
For the veteran presence, the Mariners are likely to have Kevin Millwood on the starting rotation. He has repeatedly been mentioned as the mentor to pitching greats C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee.
George Sherill also has a chance to make the team giving veteran leadership in the pen.
Even if those two make the team there still is a lacking veteran presence among position players.
Last season, the Mariners relied heavily on Adam Kennedy to model good at bats and the pace of the game to the M’s youngsters. This was a role they were hoping Carlos Guillen would fill in 2012, however the 36 year old infielder retired before appearing in a single game this spring.
The Mariners claim to be a different team this year compared to last, but even the general manager has his doubts about contending this season. While there is always a chance that the impossible can happen in baseball, the reality is that the Mariners are setting their team for contention beyond the 2012 season.
With that background painted alongside a stalled free agent market, makes one wonder if the Mariners should make a deal with a desperate Johnny Damon.
Johnny Damon has all the tools that the Mariners need in a mentor.
He has played in the league since 1995 with playoff experience; he is durable enough to play in 140 games per season; he is comfortable as a DH, off the bench and can even fill in an outfield spot if needed.
Damon is a career .286 hitter and last season, with Tampa Bay, he had 152 hits including 7 triples, 16 homeruns, an OPS of .743 and even 19 stolen bases.
The question is why the Mariners would NOT want to pursue Damon?!
The question is why the Mariners would NOT want to pursue Damon?
Is it money?
Damon, who has 2723 career hits, has indicated that he just wants to keep playing. He even offered the Yankees to play for whatever they were willing to pay Raul Ibanez, who is older.
The Yankees went with a 1 year 1.1 million dollar contract for Ibanez who is hitting .063 for the spring. The Mariners who dropped Kuo and Guillen would surely have that kind of cash.
Is it age?
The Mariners may feel that they have enough aging outfielders with 37 year old Ichiro Suzuki at the end of his contract. Damon, who is 38, is putting up more consistent numbers than Guillen was when he was signed.
Is it opportunity?
The likely scenario is that Mike Carp will start in Left Field, Ichiro in Right and with Franklin Gutierrez starting the year on the disabled list there will be a two way tie between Casper Wells and Michael Saunders in center.
Is it simply that there is no room for Damon in the outfield?
Although he could do more, Damon would likely only play in the field once or twice a week so the youngsters could still get plenty of at bats. The issue is the DH spot which is likely to be filled with Jesus Montero until he gets more comfortable behind the plate.
Is it there is simply no room of Damon?
If the Mariners chose to go with 2 catchers, leaving Jaso at AAA for the beginning of the season they could have the best of both worlds.
The question is will they consider it?
Damon could be a great mentor on the M’s roster, even if he takes a spot away from one of the youngsters for part of the season. The likelihood is that he could be traded for a team making a playoff run as Damon has a lot of experience in October ball.
His value in that case alone could make him worth picking up.
I’m thinking outside the usual box here. Hit me back M’s fans. Opinions are wanted. Comment below. What are your thoughts?
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© Danny Ferguson for North West Sports Beat, 2012. |
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