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why-must-you-taunt-us-johnny-damon | January | 2010 Articles

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Why Must You Taunt Us, Johnny Damon?

Written by Tom Gieryn on .

Here's Johnny Damon, quoted by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, speaking about his potential next team: "Atlanta would be great."  He goes on to say he's "wide open" and "there are a handful of teams" he's interested in, but he only mentions Atlanta by name.  And it would be great, wouldn't it?  The Braves train just minutes from Damon's Orlando home, and he gets to play for Bobby Cox, and...well, the Braves could really use another outfielder.  Yeah, yeah, I hear you.  I know he's left-handed instead of right-handed.  I know he's going to be 36 years old next year.  I know his range has declined in recent years and his throwing arm is still the worst in baseball.  And I know he got a big boost from NuYankee Bandbox Ballpark last year.

But no matter how you slice it, the Braves remain in dire need of another outfield bat.  He's been a 3 WAR player on average over the last three years, and those three wins are the three that the Braves need to get over the hump from pretenders to contenders.  Damon's presence would allow the Braves the flexibility to handle Jason Heyward with kid gloves, and if the Jay Hey Kid passes his tests, to give Matt Diaz the platoon role that will maximize his strengths and hide his weaknesses.  Damon's been comfortable hitting leadoff in New York, and he's got the on-base skills to make him a viable hitter at the top of the lineup, meaning Nate McLouth can drop to hitting second and Yunel Escobar can hit at the bottom of the lineup where he's historically been more successful.  Even if he's "only" the player he was on the road last season (.284/.349/.446), that's still quite useful, and his defensive liability (if indeed 2009 was not simply a fluke--remember UZR numbers are best used over three-year spans) can likely be minimized by a pitching staff that either counts on generating groundballs (Hudson, Lowe, Jurrjens) or missing bats (Hanson).

I'm not foolish enough to believe the Braves are actually in on Damon--that would require far too much expense, perhaps a two-year deal worth $12-15 million--so can we just politely request that Damon quit talking about Atlanta?  So that we Braves fans can quit thinking about how nice it would be to have another outfielder?

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