Hop on into your way back time machine, set the timer to 2000. Johnny Damon, then a 26 year old, on the verge of a blossoming career is stuck with an awful team in the AL Central, the Kansas City Royals. Following the season he requests a trade in his final year of his contract. The Royals grant Johnny his wish and he is traded as part of a three team trade to the upstart Athletics. His stay in Oakland is short and by the end of 2001 he is part of the Red Sox.
We all know how that went, he went on to a decade of winning championships and two World Series. He played for some of the best teams in the decade between the Red Sox and the Yankees. Last year, in his final contract year with the Yankees, he played for a contract and had himself one of the best seasons of his career. Over the off season he was courted by several teams, the Yankees, the Braves, the White Sox and the Tigers.
Even though the Yankees gave him an offer of $5 million, yesterday he accepted an offer from the Tigers for $8 million, only one million under what he wanted from the Yankees. I truely don’t understand why the Tigers would pony up that much money on a one year deal. He will be 37 this season, of course numbers don’t always tell the entire story and although last season was great, this season might be a disappointment to Damon fans and the Tigers. His arm is not even close to what it used to be, he has become somewhat of a liability in the field. In Yankee stadium it wasn’t a huge deal as it was a bit of a hitter’s park.
Comerica Park will be much different. Gone will be the short walls, so expect his home runs to drop. Also because of the expansive outfield, he is going to have a challenge defensively not only chasing down balls but also getting, them not only to the cut-off but also throws to home plate. I just don’t see this as being a tough season for him, a season where the wheels might fall off, a season which might be his last.
As far as the hobby goes for Johnny, his autographs still are fetching decent value. Most of his autographs are hovering in the $40 – $55 range. Some of the lesser brands with higher production runs are getting between $15 – $25. As his career tails off, these values will go down and right now they are probably as high as they will ever be. Good time to sell if you ask me. I don’t know what this season has in store for Johnny, but I’m not optimistic.