This trade rumor
seemed to spring out of nothing more than the imagination of a few crafty writers, but it's gaining steam, so I thought I'd weigh in.
On the face of things, it looks like sending Johnny Damon to the White Sox for Joe Crede is a win-win. The Sox have a glut at third, the Yanks have a glut in left. When you look a little closer, I'm going to have to vote nay on this one, for a couple of reasons.
- The rumor has the Yanks picking up at least a portion of the $26M owed Damon over the next two seasons. That seems outrageous to me. The Sox are getting the better player, a player they pretty much have to move to make room for uber-prospect Josh Fields, so they are not in a positions of power. Not to mention the fact that they can't exactly cry poverty.
- Damon is absolutely the best lead-off man the Yanks have. I assume Melky will take over the role if Damon departs. I'm probably a bigger Melky fan than anyone else you'll find on these internets, but even I don't think he's the solution at lead off in '08. He needs another year at the bottom of the lineup.
- If you subtract Damon, there's very little speed left on this roster. Abreu is good for 25 steals, Jeter will probably get you 20, by default, so long as his knee heels. Beyond that, no one else is going to contribute much more than 10. Girardi is a small ball guy by definition, and the Yankee lineup is going to be down at least 20 home runs, depending on who they bring in to replace A-Rod. I think they need to add speed to the roster, not subtract it.
- There's plenty of dead weight the Yankees would love to move (Giambi and Mussina top my list), Damon is not dead weight. He came into Spring Training out of shape last year, and his body paid the price in the first half. Once he healed up, and moved to left, he was a very productive bat at the top of the order, and he played a very good left field as well. Damon's range is a huge asset in left at the Stadium, and I don't think Matsui is up to covering that ground these days.
That being said, I do like Crede. He's one year removed from a 30-HR season, he has a great glove at third (10 errors in 453 chances in '06), he'll only be 30 years old for the 2008 season, he's cheap (probably about $4M in arbitration for 2008) and he's a scrappy guy. Damon is just too much to give up for him. He's coming off an injury-plagued year in which he only appeared in 47 games. One major strike against Crede, though, is his agent. You guessed it, Lucifer Boras himself.
I'm putting the likelihood at 25% right now, based solely on the where-there's-smoke-there's-fire line of reasoning. I've added the rumor to the Yankees' offseason spreadsheet I'm keeping. You can download it here
Hat tip to MLB Trade Rumors
for somehow staying on top of absolutely everything trade-related in baseball.