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Indians reportedly close to signing Johnny Damon

Indians reportedly close to signing Johnny Damon
April 12, 2012
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Reports are circling that the Indians are close to signing free agent outfielder Johnny Damon. No official announcement has been made, but with an off day on Thursday a lot of ground could be covered in getting to a deal and a signing could even be announced later in the day.

Damon, 38, will be entering his 18th Major League season, as he spent 14 of the previous 17 seasons with the Royals, Red Sox and Yankees. In his career he owns a slash line of .286/.353/.435 with 2,723 hits, 231 homers and 1120 RBI in 2,426 games. Last season in 150 games with the Rays he hit .261 with 16 homers, 73 RBI and .743 OPS.

The Indians are off to a slow start offensively as they are hitting just .176 as a team through six games, which is dead last in Major League Baseball. After center fielder Grady Sizemore went down with an injury early in spring training the Indians made their concerns in left field known as they actively looked for a regular option. They worked out Vladimir Guerrero in the Dominican Republic and came close to trading for Bobby Abreu two weeks ago.

Damon has not played a lot of outfield the past few seasons as he has only played a total of 52 games in the outfield over the last two seasons. He will probably work in some kind of platoon with right-handed hitter Shelley Duncan. As to whose spot on the roster he replaces, it will probably be outfielder Aaron Cunningham who is designated for assignent to make room for Damon on the 40-man and 25-man roster.

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User Comments

Tony
April 12, 2012 - 11:46 PM EDT
Bob, I have to disagree. I know people will disagree with the value of Shapiro and Antonetti, but one thing I know for a fact is how well respected and valued those two are in the baseball industry. That is not kissing up to anyone, that is just speaking the truth. Can't tell you how many scouts and execs from other teams often say they are amazed with what they do with this team given the budget constraints they have, and how they are forced to try and be creative to stretch every dollar. People often wonder what they would do if they had a much bigger wallet. Now, that is not me agreeing with what has been said or me saying they are excellent executives....but they really are valued in the industry regardless of the success of the club while they have operated it. Indians may be worse off with another front office....
Bob
April 12, 2012 - 11:38 PM EDT
Jim, sorry but I think an overdramatic statement is saying Antoinetti and Shapiro are in high demand! Please! I know they are helping fund this site, but that statement is ridiculous! I am sure teams are dying to hire 2 guys who have 1 playoff season in 11 years IN A WEAK DIVISION! THEY HAVE NOT DRAFTED A LEGITIMATE STARTING OF IN 20 YEARS! THAT IS A FACT! WE HAVENT EVEN HAD A WINNING SEASON IN 4 YEARS! Give me a break on your kissing up to them, sure they are nice guys but their record speaks for themselves. And the fact they gave Mirabelli a VP title for all these poor drafts screams "gold old boy network". And please don't go to the budget excuse, the Twins dominated the division for years on a modest budget. Fact is they had their chance this year to make a statement and the best solution they come up with is a punch-n-judy first baseman in Kotchman, Trust me if he was any good TB would have taken him back
Jim
April 12, 2012 - 8:57 PM EDT
"The Royals are loaded w young talent in the field and on the mound, mostly a result of good scouting, drafting and developing."

Yes, the Royals are loaded with good scouting, drafting and developing. So much so, that they haven't finished above fourth in the central since 2003, and haven't been to the playoffs since 1985. They are loaded with talent, as you put it, because they have been absolutely horrible since over the past several years, and finally have some talent to show for it. Of course, that talent hasn't done a thing yet, but who's counting.

I like Chris Sale as a starter, but I don't think I'm in the realm of calling him "dominating" just yet. He was a nice reliever last year, and went 6 2/3 in his first major league start, and against the worst offense in the league in 2012 to boot.

Boy, talk about overdramatic statements.

The Indians stink on offense right now, but you don't have to oversell other teams to make that point...
Jim
April 12, 2012 - 8:50 PM EDT
Washington worked his tail off this offseason, and it's paying off tenfold. He was a steal in the second round, and is proving that so far this year. Basing Washington on being a bust on an 82 game sample size is utterly ridiculous.

He's absolutely shredding the ball now after having a monster spring. Let's give the 20-year old a year or two before we call him a bust.

As per the A's, are we talking about the same team that hasn't sniffed the playoffs since 2006?

You're right, absolutely exhilarating...;)
Eddie Bubb
April 12, 2012 - 7:19 PM EDT
Washington was a #2 pick....compare apples to apples. I admit I am not thrilled with Washington so far.
shy
April 12, 2012 - 1:54 PM EDT
I am from Cleveland and a lifelong Indians fan, but I live on the West Coast. Last night I went to see the A's/Royals. The Royals are loaded w young talent in the field and on the mound, mostly a result of good scouting, drafting and developing. The White Sox took Chris Sale #1 in 2010 and he is now dominating as a starter. The Indians took LeVon Washington and he didn't hit his weight in low A last year, and can't throw a ball 200 feet . The A's - a low budget team always seem to be able to put a talented and exciting team on the field- even if they have to shuffle the deck on an annual basis. And of course I got to watch the Giants and Rockies. The Indians finally get a legit #1 in Pomeranz and Antonetti trades him for a brain dead Caribbean heaver. Sorry no offense to Caribbeans but you get noticed down there for your MPH not your IQ. I watch the Indians and they look the worst team ever and the worst team in the majors, even the Houston Astros look better. It seems Antonetti doesn't watch a lot of baseball outside of Cleveland, or maybe he does and he just doesn't know what he's looking at.
Seth
April 12, 2012 - 1:31 PM EDT
I agree it doesn't make sense to pull Laporta or Chisenhall up already. What was the point in sending them to the minors to begin with? Who didn't expect that Laporta would continue to crush AAA pitching? With Laporta, I really think it's mental. I have a hard time believing that he's simply incapable of hitting major league pitching well. I'm curious what he looks like in Columbus. More relaxed? His at bats were so wildly inconsistent last year; if he's up there flailing with his arms at pitches, then I wouldn't think he'd be hitting them out of the park against AAA pitchers either.

I'm not normally one of the "Dolan sucks, Indians are terrible" crowd, but I do see this year's team as the worst since at least '04, and something like a 65-win team--with the possibility of improved 2nd-half performance. I think a lot of people have blinders on because of the 31-15 start last year. The rest of the year they played like a 65-win team. That start was buoyed by a briefly healthy Sizemore, Carrasco was brilliant, and Carmona was pitching well outside the opening day thumping, and they benefited from a level of play from Brantley that we haven't seen since.
Jim
April 12, 2012 - 1:03 PM EDT
The Indians predominantly left-handed line-up is batting .176, so left, right, it doesn't really matter at this point, they just need someone to hit. If they get a guy that plays offensively at all like he did last year, then I'm fine with it as a stop-gap, short-term solution. If you're screaming for a right-handed bat, who do you go out and get, and with what do you go out and get it with? No, it's not perfect, but yeah, it's needed.

As far as this being the worst Indians team in recent memory...nah...overdramatic...and the only thing toxic within this organization is the fact that they don't have the money to compete. If Antonetti, Shapiro and Acta were fired today, they'd be hired tomorrow by a team laughing their asses off that the Indians were dumb enough to fire them...well...at least Antonetti and Shapiro. Acta IS thought highly of though...

I still don't believe this team will come close to losing 100 games...
shy
April 12, 2012 - 12:08 PM EDT
This is stupid! but with Antonetti and Dolan I feel like I'm watching dumb and dumber. Why would you sign ANYBODY that bat's left-handed. Let alone a guy whose is 38 and depends on speed and can't throw. It's not going to help the Indians at all. If they want a clubhouse presence, hire a preacher. As I said in Spring Training this is the worst Indians team in memory, a lock to lose 100+. I don't know what you do with Antonetti, Dolan and Acta, but it seems to me the whole thing has gone toxic.8
Aaron
April 12, 2012 - 11:32 AM EDT
Unfortunately, at 38 Damon is probably more productive than LaPorta.
Jim
April 12, 2012 - 10:53 AM EDT
You have to take this signing for what it is...a stop-gap measure that has been needed from the start of the season once Grady Sizemore went down. It's fairly simple. Who is producing in the Indians outfield right now? Who do they have to back them up? I know there's a call for Chisenhall and LaPorta and Crowe, who are all raking down in Triple A, but wow, these guys are ready after a week to be the answer for a couple of months, when you can sign a guy who's numbers we'd all have taken last year? No, it's not perfect. No, he's not 28, but at the end of the day, Cunningham or Damon or Chisenhall or LaPorta or Crowe? For a two month span, I go with Damon, then let him opt out after Grady comes back. If Chiz, LaPorta or Crowe continue to rake, wouldn't we feel better after two and a half months of playing well, than just a week? Plus, say what you want, he does bring a presence. This is a low-cost, no-risk measure...unless they sign him for five million...
Big Al
April 12, 2012 - 9:49 AM EDT
This is a great move for the Tribe and hopefully it is completed today. Damon gives the clubhouse a true leader, professional bat and smart base runner.
Don't worry about him in LF. He will hold his own. Hats off to Shapiro and Antonelli for not waiting any longer than a week to see that they could use his help. We all know they have targeted 2012 as a playoff year...Be a Believer!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tony
April 12, 2012 - 7:57 AM EDT
They have been looking for a stop gap option for the outfield ever since Sizemore went down in February. Almost had Abreu two weeks ago, but that fell apart at the last second. They have big issues in the outfield right now with Brantley their second best OF and not playing well and then Duncan and Cunningham rounding out the outfield corps. I know a lot of people are pulling for Duncan, but he simply is not an everyday player. And Cunningham is not the answer. Will be interesting to see what Damon actually signs for and what his role actually ends up being, but they really need a "professional" bat in the lineup. People can look at stats all they want, but in key situations guys like Duncan and Cunningham can be pitched to....it is where a professional bat can really help. As for Chiz and LaPorta there is nothing good/bad you can take from 5 games right now. It is great they are off to good starts, but their plate discipline is also not that great even with the good start (Chiz 1 BB, 4 K and LaPorta 1 BB 8 K).
Devin
April 12, 2012 - 3:32 AM EDT
In addition, I'd like to see more from both Chisenhall and LaPorta before bringing them back up here. They both need work, and they didn't just happen to figure it all out in the last 5 games. Chisenhall has to work on his plate discipline and defense. If he's up in May or June, I say no big deal. LaPorta is tearing up right now, but let's let the guy catch his breath before throwing him back in the fire. He's facing inferior pitching in AAA, and as many have pointed out, it's not his AAA numbers that need improving. Let him continue to work on shortening his swing down there, gain some confidence, come up a month or two into the season and see if it applies. Neither has anything to do with Damon.
Devin
April 12, 2012 - 3:29 AM EDT
I have no issue w/ the signing, as it is low risk (at this stage, there's no way he's getting considerable money) and we know what he can do. He's a professional hitter, a clubhouse leader, and somebody who can slide into the top or back end of the lineup and strengthen it. It's not a high-impact signing, but it's a solid move.
Bric
April 12, 2012 - 1:21 AM EDT
Laporta & Chisenhall have hit 7 HR's between them and are both hitting well over .300.
I'd rather see a spot open up for them in 2-3 weeks if they keep hitting than bring in Damon.
(By the way, both ought to be getting reps in LF.)
Johnny Damon was a terrific player, and if he was 28, I'd feel great about this move.
He's 38.
What's going on here?

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