My family loves the holidays, and Christmas Eve holds a special place in our hearts. It is the one day of the year that everyone comes together. At last count, that means 29 of us will be at my parents home on Friday to celebrate family, friendship and the holiday. I hope that all of you out there have a place that you will be this weekend, surrounded by friends and loved ones even if you don’t celebrate the holiday.
Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
Does Johnny Damon have anything left?
Word on the street is that the Yankees don’t hate the idea of bring Johnny Damon back to New York. While all fans of the Yankees should be worried about the sad state of their starting lineup, it doesn’t hurt for them to be looking into potentially cheap options to help to bolster their offense. However, would Damon accept a job that basically entailed being a 4th OF option, DH type? With Jorge Posada slated for the starting role at DH, and an outfield of Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher (I’m jealous he married the beautiful Joanna Garcia) and Brett Gardner, there just wouldn’t seem to be any shot at substantial at-bats for another bat with the Yanks. Damon is 429 hits from 3,000. If he were to take a part-time role he would have almost no shot of reaching that historic mark. The question is – does he deserve a full-time role and a shot at history?
Damon hit .271 last season .016 points below his lifetime mark. Was that dip a fluke? I won’t go as far as to say that, but it also isn’t time to panic. He had a 1.19 BB/K mark in ’10, just slightly below his 1.27 career mark. His 18.8 percent line drive rate was slightly below his 20.0 percent career mark, but not hide the women and children bad. Neither of those two numbers says he is finished. Damon also sported an 11.3 BB-rate which tied his career best rate that was, incidentally, posted in ’09. His K-rate of 16.7 percent was poor, the second worst mark of his career, but still a manageable number. In total, Damon really didn’t lose as much last season as it appeared on the surface, especially if you lay part of the blame in his dip in homers on a tough home ballpark in Detroit.
I’m not saying he is going to hit .280 with 15 homers, 90 runs and 20 steals like he used to, but I think he can still get on base, score some runs, and do enough at the dish and on the base paths to help out someone in a full-time role.
Should anyone want Joe Blanton?
When the Phillies added Cliff Lee they broke the bank to set up the most magnificent foursome in the game (you can read about the group in Hot Stove: Lee Isn’t Only Newsmaker). Any team would die to have a fifth starter as talented as Joe Blanton, but apparently the Phillies will need to move him so as to have some money available to address in-season needs in 2011. Blanton is due $8.5 million in each of the next two seasons which is a lot of money for Blanton, or is it? With guys like Ted Lilly and Jorge De La Rosa signing deals that will see them make more than $10 million a year, is Blanton really that bad an option at $8.5 million? The two lefites certainly have better power stuff, and therefore more fantasy upside, but in terms of real world value, it’s a lot closer between the three for the following reason – Blanton racks up innings year after year.
De La Rosa has one season in his career with more than 135-innings pitched.
Lilly has two seasons of 200-IP. He has also gone for 175-innings in each of the last five seasons.
Blanton has gone for 175 innings in each of the past six years, and five times he has thrown at least 194.
Clearly it’s not cartwheel time merely because of the innings totals, but Blanton is the right-handed Barry Zito at half the price, and I can think of a boatload of pitchers that offer less at a more substantial hit to the pocket book. If the Phillies are willing to eat a bit of the money Blanton is due, look for plenty of teams to be interested.
Bruce Chen – any interest?
One of the better free agent pitchers still on the market – who would have thought that would have been an accurate statement 12 months ago – Chen went 12-7 with a 4.17 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP for the Royals. So why did the Royals decide not to retain their biggest winner from 2010? First off, it’s cause they are the Royals. Nuff said. Secondly, they are actually making a smart decision, shockingly, in choosing not to overpay for a guy who really isn’t a very good pitcher. Chen posted a 6.29 K/9 mark in 2010, the second worst total of his 12 year career. He walked 3.66 batters per nine innings – above his 3.53 career mark. The resulting 1.72 K/BB mark is well into the “danger zone” unless that pitcher is a ground ball wonder. Chen isn’t as he has allowed a GB/FB ratio below 0.75 in each of the last four seasons. Chen also posted a below big league average 8.1 percent HR/F rate which just so happens to be a career best and roughly 60 percent of his career mark of 13.3 percent.
Give the Royals credit for not doing anything crazy – like ceding to Chen’s desire for a multi-year deal.
And with that I’m out for the next two days. I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season. Give a loved one a hug and a kiss and celebrate the wonder that is this magical time of year.
By Ray Flowers