By Jim Pete
August 4, 2012
The Cleveland Indians designated right-fielder Johnny Damon for assignment yesterday, ending his brief tenure with the Indians after only 64 games.
Damon was signed by the Indians in the middle of April to address their need for a right-handed bat in the outfield. Of course, as discussed here at IPI too many times to count, Damon had played a grand total of 42 games there over the previous two seasons with Detroit and Tampa Bay, but that didn't stop the Indians' management from signing him.
Damon never really panned out as an offensive player. Overall, he hit .222 on the year, with four homers and 19 RBI. He stole four bases without getting caught, hit six doubles and two triples, and scored 25 runs in his 64 games. Over the last week, Damon went 1-for-12 with an RBI during the Tribe freefall, really forcing the Indians' hand.
On a personal note, I wish the Damon signing would have worked out. If you've ever talked to the longtime major league veteran, you can see why he's always been considered a good guy to have in the clubhouse. He's extremely knowledgable and realistic about his play, and at this stage of his career, understands his role on any team. Unfortunately for the Indians and Damon, they needed a guy that could carry a team at times, and that's just not where Damon is at this point in his career.
Damon is a complimentary veteran, who on the right playoff contending team, could be an important piece. On the Indians, he was just another square trying to get rammed into a circular hole.
The finger-pointing isn't at Damon in the least, but at management who failed to acquire the right pieces for the Indians' outfield. Instead of taking a risk on a guy like Josh Willingham with that third year, the Indians chose to gamble on someone filtering through the offseason at an affordable price. When that didn't happen, they were left with the option of actually trading for Bobby Abreu, or Johnny Damon...two guys who, by all indications, were readying themselves for positions as the "young" stars for the old-timers games.
The Damon move turned into exactly what it was meant to be...another screw up by an organization who's management structure seems overwhelmed by their small-market-ness.
Good luck to you Johnny Damon, since your chances of making the playoffs at this point are no doubt better than the Indians.
Jim is currently the co-site editor, the ATF/Carolina Mudcats/Indians/General Site Columnist, and the co-host of IPI's weekly online radio show, Smoke Signals. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IPI, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Freddy Garcia and Ben Davis for Mike Morse, Miguel Olivo and Jeremy Reed.
The Indians still didnt fill a need with Damon, RH power bat.
The difference with Cabrera and Lopez is that we took them with a lower price tag and at least got something out of Orlando Cabrera.
I fault them completely, the mishandling of funds is astounding, Kearns was a minor league deal and lucked out he did well because the PTBNL for Kearns depended on his performance with the Yankees. And DeRosa we gave up 3 pitchers for him, one of which is Chris Archer who was Tampa's #1 prospect and made his MLB debut this year, he isnt great, but better than what we have now.
And as for Eduardo Perez and Broussard deal,
Everybody seems to forget that Mariners GM Bill Bavasi made horrific lopsided trades to many teams, just not Cleveland.
Mike Morse for Jeremy Reed
Carlos Guillen for Ramon Santiago
Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez
Matt Thornton for Joe Borchard
Yorvit Torrealba for Marcos Carvajal
I give credit to Indians management for making those deals, but it doesn't make them geniuses, just opportunists.
At least Lowe got off to a good start and gave them 8 wins before falling apart. Maybe if Damon had a spring training he might have performed a little better. Not that it would have made any difference.
The big question is whether the experiences with Damon, Lowe, and Lopez this year and Orlando Cabrera last year will change the Indians' thinking about signing players who are clearly over-the-hill in hopes they catch one last flash.
However, that strategy worked with Mark DeRosa and Austin Kearns. Both of them had strong first halves of the season and the Indians were able to "sell high" and got Chris Perez and McAlister. It also worked with Eduardo Perez a few years back. So I can't fault the Tribe too much. If Lowe had kept pitching well for one more month they might have got something decent for him.