Damon dangling, Frank retiring

Johnny Damon is no closer to being a member of the White Sox than he was eight hours ago, but all reports seem to indicate he’s a lot closer to being a Tiger.
This would be unfortunate, because there are two direct implications to the White Sox.
One is that Damon, at least for the last three seasons, has been a Sox killer, raking South Side pitching to the tune of .361/.418/.627 with seven doubles and five homers over 83 at-bats.  Picturing that kind of production over 18 games is a little tough to stomach.
And then there’s the matter of left field.  The Tigers were one of the teams checking out Juan Pierre after the Curtis Granderson trade before the White Sox invested a not-so-insignificant sum.  It’s possible that, in an alternate universe, the Tigers are the ones saying they don’t have room for Damon because of Pierre, and that kinda sucks to think about, too.
But there’s not much use devoting many more words at this point.  There’s usually at least one more twist in store for Boras-related negotiations, and while Scott Merkin and Joe Cowley say the Sox have $4 million to spend, that’s not a hard figure, either.  But hey — if the Sox don’t end up with Damon, it’s less work to do on the book.
More opinions:

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Frank Thomas isn’t an option for the Sox either, as he officially announced his retirement, and with the hallmarks of his game still intact:

  • His lifetime average is .301.
  • He walked more times than he struck out.

Watching the St. Louis Cardinals lure Mark McGwire out of exile to serve as their hitting coach, I wonder if the Sox would ever do the same for Thomas when Greg Walker’s contract is up.  The reports on Thomas’ ability to tutor are mixed. Paul Konerko, for example, made several backhanded references to Thomas’ reluctance to share knowledge, but I do remember guys like Juan Uribe and Willie Harris say the Big Hurt was effective at getting on their cases about bad habits.
With all the attention paid to the tradition of Venezuelan shortstops, I’d hope they wouldn’t reject the idea of continuing Walt Hriniak’s lineage as well.
More links:

And since I mentioned it on Facebook, I may as well post it here too for posterity.  My prediction for his next White Sox career — special instructor at spring training after the 2012 season.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

Articles: 3791
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cushinglee

Frank is my favorite baseball player of all time. It’s a rare thing to be able to see the entire career of one of the greatest players in the history of your favorite team.

jimbo

In a way Frank was overshadowed a bit in this town by Michael Jordan. Some of Frank’s best years happened at the same time that MJ was leading the bulls to championships and the whole city was captivated by that. He truly was one of the best hitters of all time and will be the first dh to enter the hall of fame.

Chris Pummer

Guillen retired as a player. Flexibility being so important to the Sox these days, they should probably dump Ozzie and make Vizquel manager… you know, so he can also play around the infield in a pinch.

brent

ha ha ha ha

knoxfire30

As a teaching of the swing hitting coach I think Frank would fail. As a mentor talking to young hitters about pitch awareness, pitcher scouting reports, in game strategy / thought process while at the plate, setting up a count, ect ect all the nuances (sp) of “approach” he would be an incredible asset.

cushinglee

Very good point.

striker

If getting Damon means not getting Dunn, or Gonzalez or another huge bat later on then would you get him?
Thomas (in his prime) was the best hitter I’ve ever seen. He would get fooled on a pitch and hit it out opposite field. The day he gets into the hall will be a great day for baseball and a well deserved slap in the face to Sosa, McGwire and Bonds.

john

Anyone else catch this from Gregor’s blog post about Big Frank:
“The Sox just finished a Grapefruit League game against the Twins and former shortstop/current manager Ozzie Guillen was going off on Thomas for failing to come up with a throw in the dirt at first base.
“No wonder I never win any Gold Gloves!” Guillen chirped at Thomas. “You are a %$# first baseman. Dig those balls out!!”
On the verge of tears, Thomas quietly dressed and was out the door. Ozzie was kidding around (I think), but his rant clearly exposed Thomas’ sensitive side.”
The rest of it is here: http://blogs.dailyherald.com/node/3432
If I were Frank, I would’ve replied to Ozzie, “Either throw the ball in my glove or hit better than .260 before you say a word to me.”

ricksch

Can’t understand why the Tigers would go after Damon. They are stuffed with bad contracts and need to fix their godawful pitching staff. Damon won’t get them the AL Central — unless he can pitch.

ricksch

still, Detroit’s pitching is very questionable, both starters and relievers.

ricksch

Jeez, I didn’t know Damon killed at the Cell. What the hell is KW doing, not signing this guy??? They will lock up the Central with this move and allow guys like Kotsay, Jones and Vizquel to perform the duties they are best suited for — back-up work. Damon would take a degree of pressure off of every bat in the line-up — something KW needs to consider in helping Rios get off the dime and with Quentin who we hope is healthy, but has a lot of pressure on him to produce. You could even slide Damon down to the 3rd spot if Quentin needs a spell. Also, Pierre may not like batting 9th, but he’s PERFECT there. Just look at the line-up with Damon and tell me they won’t score runs. Please Kenny, hear my prayer!

bigfun

“I didn’t know Damon killed at the Cell”
He doesn’t, really. Lifetime he’s a rather average .292/.336/.408 at US Cellular. For the past three seasons that Jim is citing, he was a good-but-not-amazing-in-context .333/.382/.490. It’s his numbers in New York that pull that figure up, which isn’t surprising, as the Yankees hit even better there and Sox pitching fares even worse.
Either way, it’s too small of a sample size to mean much. He’s a good hitter that they won’t sign because they spent their money on Crap Taco.

ricksch

Damon beats our ass pretty good. Has for years. That should be enough of a reason to keep him from the Tigers. Ozzie’s clownish DH system is a better one.
Set aside Damon’s good and impressively consistent stat line and see him as a player who does the intangibles. He knows how to compete. Is used to being in the playoffs as of late. He can teach these young guys how to become ballplayers.
Williams may be banking on making a better deal before the trade deadline, but you never know who is actually going to become avaiable — or that they’d be a better fit than Damon who could help us get off to a good start.

bigfun

“Set aside Damon’s good and impressively consistent stat line and see him as a player who does the intangibles. He knows how to compete. Is used to being in the playoffs as of late. He can teach these young guys how to become ballplayers.”
Pretty sure Vizquel has the whole quasimystical “ballplayer” élan angle covered. They could pretty safely sign Damon on the “he’s better than most of the guys currently on the team” thing and not have to reel off any PR copy beyond that.

ricksch

Of course he’s better than most players on the team — but how’s that gonna buoy the fragile psyche of batshit dudes like Alex Rios? Vizquel isn’t going to be a day-to-day player, at least let’s hope. He can’t “lead” from the bench and will be busy teaching Ramirez SS. Vizquel knows glove, but never the World Series.

bigfun

Vizquel doesn’t “know” because he didn’t get a ring? World Series experience shouldn’t be a factor in building a team, but if it was, Vizquel’s two tough losses in the World Series would be worth as much as Damon’s teams’ two stompings of overmatched opponents.
And what exactly makes Alex Rios “batshit”? Is it batshit to have a down season, which most 2010 projection systems peg as a BABIP-influended fluke? It’s fine to want Damon because he makes them better, but they need him for his bat, not so he can run an Alex Rios therapy session.

iowaoaks

Jim, even if you are a fat, pimply-faced mama’s boy and actually like the horrid movie Batman Returns (and we know you don’t,) we still appreciate your work.
This is one of the only sites (besides my e-mail) that I check every day.
Seriously, you are loved.
Now get back to work and get the book done!

cushinglee

“Batman Returns” is okay, if you are a fan of Tim Burton’s films. “Batman and Robin” is just horrible. There’s only one reason to watch that film–Uma Thurman. If Uma’s taste in scripts only matched her looks….ever seen “The Avengers” movie? That makes the 2007 White Sox highlights video look good.