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Friday, January 28, 2005


I am hitting the ground running on this Spring Training story: Will the Sox pony up the cash to sign Johnny Damon? I doubt it. $40 million for four years will probably do it and the Sox will likely not bite. But I am not sure that is the right decision, even though regular readers know my anti-long-term deal stance.

Joining Damon on the future free agent centerfielder list are Bernie Williams and Griffey, Jr. Those two are not good alternatives, and unlike at shortstop, the Sox have no in-house prospects as it stands right now.

Mike Cameron could be had from the Mets if the circumstances work out in next 10-months, but is not getting any younger and is returning from a wrist injury. Andruw Jones should be available next winter with the Braves on the hook for all of Mike Hampton's salary in 2006. Jones is a complete player; not the superstar most thought he would become. The issue with Jones is any club owes him $27 million in 2006 and 2007, plus the club needs to part with quality player(s) to make the deal. Milton Bradley is a trade possibility if he wears out his welcome in L.A. J.D. Drew could slip over into center from right. If Bradley is on the block, he will be labeled as a clubhouse cancer and the Sox should not roll the dice. In summary, it is slim pickin’s next winter.

The answer could be internally.

…the Red Sox feel that Hanley Ramirez's skills are so exceptional that three years from now Renteria at short and Ramirez in center will be a far more productive middle of the field than Ramirez at short and whomever they can find in center because those middle field, multi-dimensional outfielders are so rare…

Gammons' statement seems weird with Theo already proclaiming Hanley will stay at shortstop for now. If the plan is to move Hanley, it would make most sense to move The Next Big Thing now.

In a market that gives a forty year old $14 million and with the MFY courting all outfielders that can cut off a grounder before it hits the fence, Damon’s services will be in high demand with short supply next winter. The Sox need to make a decision over the next month or two on the long-term centerfield situation – Hanley, Damon, or someone else and then act swiftly and appropriately.


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