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Damon signing perfect bow on a good offseason

John Stroba

Feb. 14th, 2010

Well, it is good to be back after getting some work for the Census down here (need to be able to pay some bills). Now a few days ago, Mike Illitch did get personally involved in the Johnny Damon discussions and put out two contracts and they are : 7 million/1 year and 14 million/2 years.

Now Damon is going to be entering his age 36 season this year and that makes a few Tiger fans really nervous about the contract, but they really should not be. Either one is a short term contract and with the Tigers shedding a lot of payroll after the season, a second year is not going to be a burden on the Tigers payroll. What Damon does do though is a cascading effect on their every day lineup and that is something Detroit really needs right now.

Damon, of course, would probably assume LF and become the Tigers leadoff hitter from Day 1. Damon is a better LFer than Guillen (though a much weaker arm) and does cover more ground than Guillen. And in LF in Comerica that is a prime need. Leyland is thought to be a big fan of his and would probably insert him right there.

That would leave Scott Sizemore, the rookie second baseman, to move into the #2 hole. This is going to invite more comparisons to the departed Placido Polanco. Leyland has said that he wants not put a lot of pressure on young players unless they are guys like Barry Bonds. Clearly, Sizemore is not that. However, he does have more speed and power than Polanco, a very good idea of the strike zone and good bat control. Getting Damon would allow Leyland to hit Sizemore #2 (which is where almost all of ABs have come from in the minors) and play to his strengths.

The middle of the order is set 3-4-5 with Ordonez, Cabrera and Guillen.

The 6th spot is where things start to get interesting again. If the Tigers decide that Austin Jackson needs some more time in Toledo working on his hitting (on his strike zone judgement in particular) then the CF job probably goes to Ryan Raburn. Raburn is not a great defensive CFer but he can get the job down, and with a solid enough range with Damon in LF the demands on his range will not be as great on him. Raburn would probably hit 6th in that case extending the lineup a bit. Should the Tigers decide that Jackson is ready to play every day in CF, then another possibility would be Alex Avila should he get the majority of starts as a catcher. That would be a decent option as well. Should neither of those occur then the Tigers are probably looking at Brandon Inge hitting 6th. Depending which Inge shows up that could be a disaster or quite good.

7-8-9 spots are going to be some combination of Adam Everett, Gerald Laird/Brandon Inge along with Austin Jackson should be come north with the Tigers. Should Jackson not come north then Raburn is probably the 6th hitter with Brandon Inge hitting 7th. The Avila/Laird platoon hitting 8th and defensive minded SS Adam Everett hitting 9th.


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