Well, my fellow Yankees fans, I think it’s
safe to put the tombstone on Johnny Damon’s Yankee Years.
At the beginning of the off-season, I wanted
Johnny Damon back. I wanted him back for his hitting, his base-running, and for
his generally nice attitude. Then, as the winter rolled by, Johnny started to
get a little greedy. Honestly, I didn’t expect anything less from a Scott Boras
While all the Damon-lovers out there would
like to blame this on Boras, Johnny is pretty much the one at fault here. At
the end of the day, if he wanted to come back to the Yankees for the price at
which he is worth to the Yankees, he would have told Boras to put a sock in it.
We seem to forget that sports agents work for the players; the players do not
work for the sports agents.
I’m not exactly a huge fan of Scott Boras, but
I must admit that he’s good at his job. He’s an intelligent, business-minded
man, who usually gets his clients as much money as possible. He’s a successful
sports agent. This leads me to whole-heartedly believe that Johnny Damon only
has himself to blame here.
I highly doubt that Boras is behind this. I
can’t seem to imagine that anyone who went to business school (or even took a
business course) would screw up this much.
At the beginning of this offseason, it was
clear to me that the Yankees were looking to bring back Andy Pettitte and
Johnny Damon, while letting go of Hideki Matsui (I blogged about it in
November). So, they brought Andy back and let Godzilla walk.
From then on, all eyes were on Johnny
So what did Damon and Boras do? They began
with their demands. First, they demanded a multi-year contract. Second, they
demanded that there be no pay-cut. Third, they were basically told to f*** off.
The Yankees reportedly made an offer of 2
years and $14-million. Damon/Boras declined it. I knew that they would soon
regret saying no. Let’s think about it for a minute: the key to successful
business negotiations is knowing what your product is worth, be it physical
worth or otherwise. Damon, to the Yankees, was not worth more than $7-million a
year. At the time, the Yankees clearly had the upper hand in the negotiations,
as there were still plenty of outfielders on the market.
When Johnny declined this offer, the Yankees
went on to trade for Curtis Granderson. This was the first nail in Damon’s
Negotiations with Johnny Damon were still
going on after the Granderson deal. Obviously, with the Grand Acquisition
(sorry for the cheesy pun) Damon’s value to the Yankees went down. They now could
survive without Damon in left field, because they had enough outfielders. I
don’t know if any new offers were made, but I’m assuming Johnny and, in turn,
Scott stood their ground.
Smart. Real smart.
So, what did the Yankees do? They acquired
Nick Johnson. That was the second nail in Johnny’s coffin.
After securing an outfielder, they acquired a
hitter with an amazing OBP. Why did they do that? To secure a top-of-the-order
hitter, eliminating the need for Johnny Damon. Although the ‘need’ was eliminated,
I suspected that the ‘want’ was still there. The ‘want’, however, was on Yankee
Things were quiet on the Damon front for a
while. We had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and still, nothing.
Holliday went off the market, Bay went off the market, outfielders were getting
signed left and right. Still, nothing for Johnny. With every day that passed,
things weren’t looking too good for Damon.
Suddenly, we started hearing rumors about the
A’s being interested in Johnny. That, of course, started a panic wave among a
lot of Yankees fans. I’m not sure why, I’ve been saying for a while (since we
signed Nick Johnson) that Johnny Damon wasn’t coming back, anyone I work with
or anyone who follows me on Twitter will attest to that. I believe I even sang
it in my Christmas song to Brian Cashman: “One think I really do need, in
left field, a player who can throw a ball”. I obviously wasn’t talking
about Johnny Damon.
People didn’t believe me. They kept saying
that the Yankees will back down and bring Damon back. It’s strictly business,
people. Strictly, business. Like I said in my post about Wang, you can’t run an
organization on nostalgia.
So, Brian Cashman put his foot down and didn’t
give in to Damon’s demands. Damon put his foot down, and looks pretty damn
foolish right now.
The third and final nail in Johnny Damon’s
coffin? The Yankees signed Randy Winn to a 1-year $2-million contract
yesterday. Set. Match. Game. Johnny go bye-bye.
blog about Randy Winn some other time, but what I have to say about it right
now is: A low-risk high-reward investment.
Back to Johnny.
I work in sales and marketing. I’m a Business
School college graduate with a Marketing degree, so I know a thing or two about
business negotiations and making deals. I sell oil for a living, I don’t sell
athletes, but the basic principles are the same across the business world. You
always let the market set the price for your product. You target a specific
segment of the market (in Damon’s case, the Yankees) and you set your price
according to what this segment sees your product being worth. Basically, you
set your price along the lines of the maximum of what they’re willing pay.
You add a little to it since it will come down in negotiations.
Anyone who’s picked up an Economics textbook
knows that the price is set by the market’s demand curve. The Yankees set their
price based on their own demand for Johnny Damon, and Johnny Damon decided to
set his price based on his own demand for himself. I honestly don’t know what
Damon based his price on. My guess is that it was a mixture of greed and
egomania: two emotions that are found in abundance in the world of professional
sports. Either way, once you mix emotions with business, you’re doomed to fail.
It’s not personal, dear. It’s strictly
business. So now, Johnny go bye-bye.