The Yankees are leaving the bar with a brand new outfielder in their arms. Johnny Damon has only his future to ponder.
Earlier today, it was announced that the formerly relevant and past Devil Ray-great Randy Winn has agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract to play the barely existent outfield at New Yankee Stadium. His arrival basically guarantees the long-known departure of Johnny Damon.
While the move does manage to replace Damon with a semi-recognizable name, it does not exactly signify any form of a youth movement for the defending champs. Much like Damon, Winn is well past his prime, somebody that won’t exactly bring a day-to-day grind or a passionate exuberance to the Bronx. Winn will likely have the opportunity to bounce around from town to town on one-year deals for as long as he wants to stretch out his twilight playing career. New York is merely the first stop on the back of the Farewell Tour T-shirt.
Winn is a one-time all-star, an honor that he received in 2002 when he was the obligatory “we have to throw somebody from the Devil Rays into this thing” pick. During his five years in St. Petersburg, his most memorable feat was hitting an inside-the-park grand slam against the Yankees in 1999, something that hasn’t been done in the majors since. In about three seasons in Seattle, Winn had a decent run, but his short-lived career resurgence would come with the San Francisco Giants in 2005.
Over the last three years, Winn’s numbers and production have gone down faster than a Tiger Woods mistress on a Saturday night. His struggles in the National League apparently made him an incredibly attractive option for the Yankees. In a sporting world that can be quick to judge, it is not difficult to label either Damon or Winn as a has-been.
New York’s split with Damon has been more predictable than an episode of “Full House.” The story draws close parallels to that of Yankees third baseman and occasional-centaur Alex Rodriguez. Everybody knew that Rodriguez was cheating on his wife. Few assumed that he was cheating on his wife with a 50-year-old singer/actress/sketchy person. Okay, so Winn is only 35 years old, but that’s like 65 in athlete years.
For Damon, being a 36-year-old free agent is a lot like being Marisa Tomei’s middle-aged stripper character in “The Wrestler.” Sure, some intriguing options might approach you for some entertainment and a brief laugh. However, by the time spring training rolls around, you’re probably going to be stuck with the only client that has a legitimate interest in you: the 57-year-old, washed-up and beaten down, indy professional wrestler version of Mickey Rourke.
Damon has already said today that he is interested in playing for the Tampa Bay Rays because “They have a good team, and I feel like they can get back to the World Series.” Yes, because nothing says World Series like a lineup that features Pat “The K” Burrell and Johnny “The One-Armed Swinging Wonder” Damon. Nor do any of the fans/blue seats at Tropicana Field want to see Damon’s rubber band arm try to throw anyone out from a right field platoon. Unless of course he expects the Rays to drop everything they have and beg Carl Crawford to move to right field so that he can retain his old stomping grounds under the TBT Party Deck.
I’m sure that Damon’s options will be heavily publicized in the following days. Here’s to hoping that one of those options is not hosting “WWE Raw” ever again.
Painfully Awkward to Watch
In the end, the Yankess have gotten rid of one formerly overrated player in favor of another formerly overrated player. Let the annoyingly knowledgeable Tim Kurkjian SportsCenter clips begin in 3…2…1.