Everyday until spring training begins the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog will review one player from the Yankees roster. We will review a total of 27 players, the 25 we believe will be on the active roster after spring training, and 2 we believe should be on the active roster but won't be for one reason or another. We would like to officially go on the record as saying that our reviews are PED free, and come from hard work, dedication, and natural vigor.
Johnny Damon is entering his third season with the Yankees and is hoping to rebound after an injury plagued 2007 campaign. Damon entered spring training a bit over weight last year which led to a calve injury. After issuing a public statement allowing all his fans to know that his calves were still sexy, he went on to have a very troubled start. He had a batting average of .229 for the month of April, bounced back with a .292 average for May, but then slumped back down for June and July finishing the first 4 months of the season with a .250 average. August and September were rebound months for Damon where he batted .297 and .313 respectively. As a result of his play, Damon lost centerfield duties to Melky Cabrera.
My Fearless Prediction:
Despite having a very slow start, Damon did steal 27 bases down the stretch, which tells me his legs are there. He also played an amazing left field. With Matsui having knee problems you can expect Damon to make the majority of the starts in left field with Matsui backing Damon to keep him fresh. I do not believe Damon will make the same mistake and show up to spring training out of shape. I expect Damon to come out the gate strong and finish with a .300 average with 30 stolen bases. I had stated in an earlier post that I made a foolish bet that Damon would hit 30 homeruns. Though I don't believe this will happen, for the sake of consistancy, I will include his 30 homeruns in my fearless prediction.
I was able to attend Game 3 of the Yankees/Cleveland series last year, and I can say that Damon is a spark plug. He is not known for his power, but in a big spot he knocked one out to help bury Cleveland that day. The Yankees ended up losing that series so the play in that one game was quickly forgotten. But Damon is a winner. He often comes up big when you need him to, and I for one am against seeing him get traded. Though there aren't any offers for him right now, if the DH/Left field log jam becomes an issue you can bet the trade offers will start coming. I love both Matsui and Damon, and would not ever want to have to choose between the two, but if I had to pick an everyday leftfielder out of those two it would be Damon.