Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Damon Won't Go to Boston

Despite having David Ortiz and Jason Varitek sing their best rendition of, "Please Come to Boston," Damon decided to stay with the Tigers. The Red Sox claimed Damon on waivers and Damon had a contractual option to decline such a move. The Tigers were no doubt trying to dump a little money now that they are out of the race, but they are the ones who wrote the contract that allowed Damon to make this decision. More power to him. In the end, Damon decided to stay where he was happy.

It probably didn't help the Red Sox' cause that they are a real long shot to make the playoffs at this point. You can't count them out of course because there is a month of baseball left including a lot of head to head games with the Yankees and the Bay Rays. Perhaps Damon also knew that you can never really go home again. What occurred during 2004 was a once in a lifetime thing with the Red Sox. It was a special time and place and you are never going to be able to replace that experience by going back and trying to recreate it.

There are many who state that Damon is a couple more seasons away from gaining enough counting stats to be Hall of Fame material. While he may get those counting stats, it gets more improbable every year as the teams he is playing for have been playing him less and less. Boston for example, already had a DH in David Ortiz, so Damon couldn't take that option. It even seems a little less probable that Damon would have fared much better in left field that what the Red Sox are already throwing out there every night. Damon is probably more eligible for the Hall of Very Good than the Hall of Fame. He's been a tremendous player and has helped every team he has played for. But was he ever close to being the best player in his league? No. Was he ever considered close to the best at his position? No. He's been great, but not great enough.

His most likely comparison is Paul Molitor. Both had speed. Both were liabilities in the field. But Molitor was the much better player and was among the league leaders many times in offensive categories. Damon just isn't that kind of player. But, at the same time, you can perfectly understand the Red Sox wanting him. He is, by all accounts, a great teammate. He has a knack for delivering at the key moments when a team really needs such a moment. He provided that for the Yankees in the post season last year. He provided that for the Red Sox in 2004. He's a pro and he knows what to do. He would have helped the Red Sox.

But the reward possibilities just weren't enough for Damon to consider uprooting himself and his family in the middle of the season. He calls Miguel Cabrera the best hitter he's ever seen (Damon played with Manny in his prime you'll remember). He wants to watch Cabrera for a full season. He's having fun in Detroit. He wants to stay there. The Tigers gave him that right. Let's hope it all works out for all of them.

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