Monday, March 1, 2010

New Face, New Place: Johnny Damon, Tigers

Johnny Damon's reward for a surprisingly stellar 2009 season and a memorable postseason was a one-year, $8 million deal with the Detroit Tigers this offseason.

Damon can thank agent Scott Boras for overplaying his hand and getting his client such a disappointing deal (they had sought at least two years and upwards of $15 million per year, preferably with the Yankees - whoops!) But on the bright side, at least Damon can grow out his Jesus beard again.

So what can we expect from Damon in Detroit? Certainly not the 24 homers he mashed last year, which tied a career high - 17 of those puppies came thanks to the jet stream in the new Yankee Stadium. His power numbers will likely diminish, but the tradeoff could be an uptick in steals, as Damon will probably bat leadoff or second behind former Yankee farmhand Austin Jackson, who could be the Tigers' starting center fielder. Detroit may ask Damon to run the way he used to before last year - he had three straight seasons of 25+ steals before last year's 12. Damon won't be batting ahead of Mark Teixeira/Alex Rodriguez anymore, but he's still got on-base skills and should have more opportunities to swipe bags.

Put it all together and Damon is still a valuable third or fourth fantasy outfielder. Just don't expect those homers.

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