Damon vs. Ibanez

Via Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York:

Nearly a month ago, we told you that if the Yankees were to add a DH, it would be “late and cheap,”, according to a source.

Well, it is late so the Yankees are halfway there. Now, they are just waiting to see who will accept the cheap. The three main candidates to come to the Bronx are Raul Ibanez, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. They are all in the aisle in the free-agent market as older players who could be good fits for the Yankees as part-time, left-handed DHs.

Against left-handed pitching, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez can DH more with Eduardo Nunez getting more playing time in the field. Against, righties, Ibanez, Damon or Matsui could get the call a lot of days and nights this summer.

Me? I would go with Damon because he gives the Yankees power, with an added element of speed. And, most importantly, he plays.

“That is a tough one,” an AL scout said when presented with the three options. “Based on their versatility, I almost take Damon because he has remained the most healthy.”

Yup, Damon plays.

He has played in at least 140 games in 16 straight seasons. That ties Pete RoseHank Aaron and Brooks Robinson for the longest consecutive streak of 140-game seasons, according to researcher Katie Sharp. Only three players have had more 140-game seasons (non-consecutive): Rose (19), Carl Yastrzemski (17) and Brooks Robinson (17).

The Yankees’ philosophy on guys at the end of the bench is to take chances on players a little past their prime because they have more to recapture or, even if their skills have diminished, they still have more left. With Damon, there is a very good chance he is going to be healthy, even if he is in his late-30s.

Ibanez played 144 games last season and has been a healthy player for much of his career. Matsui, with his bad knees, is definitely a question mark health-wise.

While all three would be asked to be part-time DHs, the ability to play the field is important.

“None are good defensively at this point,” the scout said.

The scout rated Damon the best of the three. So Damon gives you health and a little more defense. He also gives you basically the same power, but more speed.

Damon hit 16 homers compared to Ibanez’s 20. Damon stole 19 bases to Ibanez’s two.

It is known that Damon, 38, can handle New York. Ibanez, 39, is said to have the right demeanor for the Bronx. But he has never played here.

Last year, Damon did not hit at home in Tampa. On the road, though, he was an excellent player, hitting .291 with a .357 on-base and a .477 slugging against right-handed pitching. Plus, remember how good he was in 2009, hitting 17 homers, including 12 against right-handed pitchers, in the Bronx.

Ibanez hit .245 overall, but just .210 away from Philly’s bandbox. He hit .255 against righties and had 16 of his 20 homers against them.

Ibanez would not be a bad choice; Damon would just be a better one.

What do you think?

 I am in complete agreement with Marchand on this. I do not understand the Yankees penny pinching on the DH spot since it will not effect the future payroll. I am not one of those people who feels this way for sentimental reasons. I just think Damon is the better player at this point. Ibanez did have a slightly higher .OPS vs. righties than Damon did (.747 to.715). However, Damon is slightly younger, plays better defense, has more speed, and will fit in great in the clubhouse. While Ibanez would have success with the short porch we know Damon also has a great swing for it. The Yankees need to stop the penny pinching and sign Damon.

About Matthew B

I am a student at William Paterson University and studying to become a sportswriter. I have a huge passion for the Yankees and love sharing my opinions on them. I can analyze every aspect of the Yankees very well. I am very active on Twitter so feel free to contact me there Twitter: @RAYROBERT9

Posted on February 8, 2012, in Personal Opinion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I agree with you. I think the Yankees should sign Johnny Damon once again. Damon fits great in the clubhouse because he’s been there before. It would be nice to see Damon back with the Yankees. Maybe another Championship run perhaps?

  2. I have 2 problems with Damon.

    1st) Every team/city Damon has ever played for is where “he’s always wanted to be”. Those are his words, exactly I believe. He always wanted to be in Boston, then NY, then Detroit then Tampa/St Pete. I hope the next city isn’t a return to NY, but that’s just me. I tend to judge someone by what they say. If Damon wanted to be in NY so much the first time Cashman made him a very reasonable contract offer. But he chose to be in the city that he always wanted to play for “Detroit”.

    2nd) This actually has nothing to do with Damon. I actually think Ibanez is the better player for what the Yankees are looking for at this point in time. I think fans will be expecting to see the Damon of 2008 and 2009 if the Yankees re-sign him. That Johnny Damon no longer exist. And let’s face it neither one of these players (Damon or Ibanez) will probably ever see 5 games in the field in a Yankees uniform in 2012. They both will be relegated to DH’ing and pinch hitting.

    At least that’s my opinion.

    • I don’t think the Yankees would be able to use Johnny enough for him to have a run at 3,000 hits.
      We have eight guys that are going to need days off over the course of the season. I think we have a guy in AAA, Jorge Vazquez, that can be a left handed DH as well as anyone, and cost a lot less.
      I know he is mostly a hit or miss type of guy but, being lefty, he will get a lot of AB’s and not rust out. His stats show, he may strike out much more then rust out. He has good power can play 1st and should hit much better up here then he did in AAA.
      Not saying the older guys can’t do the job…they would probably do a better job…i say use that which we have and know. Many guys come up and hit a little better +/-, so why not try him out in ST!?

      • My Friend, Vazquez did a great job last year during spring training and he still didn’t make it north. I agree with you if he does well enough this spring training why not give him a shot. I just don’t think the Yankees feel the same way. But maybe this year will be different.

        • he is a strikeout machine but he did go to winter ball this year so if he worked on taking more pitchers he could have a chance.

          • forgot to mention only thing that holds him back is that he really has no position.

            • Matt, I know he strikes outs a whole bunch always has probably always will. As for the position. He’s probably no different then Damon and Godzilla and Ibanez for that matter. The chances of any of them playing the field more then just a hand full of games are slim and none in my opinion. And Vazquez will be a heck of a lot cheaper.

              I just don’t see why the Yankees don’t do something with him. If he’s never going to be good enough to head north with the club why not at least try and trade/move him. But do something, to have him stuck in Triple A seems “stupid”. At least that’s my opinion.

      • Ken, one small correction….Vazquez is a RH hitter so he really doesn’t have a position unless Andruw jones goes down since he will be the Right-handed side of the platoon at DH.

        I think it’s important to take Vazquez’ stats in context.
        He’s a guy who’s played 10 years professionally in Mexico and is nearly 30 yrs old so he is much more advanced than the guys he faces in the minors.

        Also, his wild hacking ways (33% K rate and only 6% BB rate) would be exploited more in the Majors against better pitching. Although he has power, he doesn’t hit for average or walk and had only a .314 OBP% in 2 yrs at AAA. That would likely dip to under .300 in MLB.

        I don’t think JoVa’s the answer and I don’t want another low Batting Average guy who’s only value is some good power.

  3. I like Damon over the other too, he has been in the AL East and has more intanglables. He still can run and is pushing towards 3000 hits. I think he will be clutch this year, just my gut feeling.

  4. Damon is toast, he is trying to stick around to get 3,000 hits. but he would need about 450 to 500 AB’s and about 130+ hits for 2 years…ain’t gona happen…not with the Yankees. We don’t need two players going for records instead of wins.
    There has to be a good left handed hitter we can bring up to do more then just hit?!?! We know there are a few in our system that…if given the word, “Play and do your thing, relax, have fun and do your best you can”. “We want you to play and not worry about anything else”! 🙂

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