Go to the Yankees.
W.W.J.D.D. of course stands for What Would Johnny Damon Do? Damon, Bosox centerfielder, heartthrob and key to their 2004 run, inspired those initials on a T-Shirt that unspeakable fall last year.
Damon just signed with the Yanks for 4 years and $52 million. It appears that while Boston slept, Brian Cashman pounced. Red Sox Nation is NOT pleased.
As we've mentioned on these pages here, here and here, we're not crazy about Johnny Damon. On the plus side Damon is a natural leadoff hitter with pop, pesky at the plate and on the basepaths, and as good if not better than Bernie in his prime running down drives in centerfield. This means Jeter will get to bat second again and Damon's defense will shore up the serviceable but hardly fleet Matsui and Sheffield. Damon is nearly as good vs. lefthanders compared with righties and deadly with men on base.
On the other hand Damon is turning 32 and will be past his prime at the end of this contract. While his line last year was strong: 10, 75, .316, .366 and .439 (par with career average) he won't benefit as much from hitter friendly Fenway. Compare last year: (stats from espn.com)
(hr, rbi, ba, obp, slg)
Home 3 39 .334 .391 .440
Away 7 36 .298 .342 .438
and at Yankee Stadium though he's historically been relatively weak: (ba/obp/slg)
3 18 .265 .326 .376 (2002-04)
0 4 .342 .350 .368 (2005)
Finally Damon's arm is about as strong as Omar Moreno in his prime which detracts from his defense.
Would I rather have had Juan Pierre? Probably. But not by a wide margin. While 4/52 is high its not outrageous - what they gave Matsui - and probably fits what Steinbrenner and Cash want which is squeeze one more championship out of this crew which doesn't have that much runway left and in that regard a just past peak Damon may be better than Pierre who's faster but has much less pop.