As you no doubt heard, Johnny Damon signed with the Tigers over the weekend. One year, $8 million. Some random observations:
- I don’t buy for a second that Detroit really had a two-year, $14 million offer out there, but their one-year, $7 million offer was widely reported. That was dangling when the White Sox dropped out of the bidding on Friday. Query: If you are offering someone $7 million and your only real competition gives up, why do you raise your offer by $1 million? I’m thinking of selling my 2004 Honda Accord. I think I’ll call Mike Ilitch, tell him that no one else wants it, and then demand $50,000.
- Seriously, though, Ilitch really, really saved Boras’ bacon here. In the space of a couple of days we went from a situation in which Damon was facing the contractual abyss to one in which he can take a $2 million pay cut next year and still say that he made out better for 2010-2011 than he would have had he taken the last offer the Yankees made him and which everyone said he was a moron not to take. Sure, he’d probably rather be in New York than Detroit, but if you don’t think Boras will spin this as a Bobby Abreu kind of thing at the press conference later today you’re crazy;
- Not that an even $6 million contract next year is a given. Comerica Park is much bigger than Yankee Stadium, which will expose Damon’s poor arm and will likely depress his power numbers.
- The no-trade clause which was reportedly included in the deal is rich indeed. The team most likely to trade for Damon in the middle of the season is the Yankees, who are taking a chance on Brett Gardner as an everyday player. The odds of Damon not waiving his NTC for them — or for any other contender on a coast — are so infinitesimally small that they’re not even worth calculating. I bet Boras asked that the NTC be included so that he could claim that, yes, Detroit was where Damon always wanted to be. Even if we know that’s not really true.
- Curtis Granderson’s 2010 salary: $5.5 million. Damon’s: $8 million. Just sayin’!
Johnny Damon will help the Tigers. Of course he would have helped them even more at $7 million or less too, but since Mike Ilitch doesn’t seem to care a whole hell of a lot for that supply and demand thing, we’ll never really know.
The magic number to clinch a wild card spot is still 1, but the Mets have at least secured a wild card tie after defeating the Phillies 5-1 on Friday night.
Jay Bruce powered the offensive drive, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles and his 33rd home run of the season, ripped from an Alec Asher fastball in the seventh inning. On the mound, right-hander Robert Gsellman limited the Phillies to seven hits and one run over six frames, striking out seven batters in his eighth appearance of the year. Behind him, a cadre of Mets relievers turned out three scoreless innings to preserve the lead and anchor the Mets in the wild card standings.
The Cardinals aren’t out of the race quite yet, and can still force a tiebreaker with the Mets if they manage to win the remainder of their games this weekend and the Mets lose the rest of theirs. Any other scenario will ensure the Mets’ exclusive rights to a wild card spot next week. While a wild card clinch is unlikely to happen tonight, with St. Louis leading Pittsburgh 7-0 through 7.5 innings and just entering a rain delay, it remains a distinct possibility over these next two days.
In a season that boasts the likes of Max Scherzer (he of the 20-strikeout masterpiece) and Clayton Kershaw (he of nine separate games with at least 10 strikeouts), there hasn’t been anyone who’s done exactly what Carlos Rodon did this week.
During Friday’s series opener against the Twins, Rodon retired seven consecutive batters via strikeout. His streak — and the beginnings of a perfect game, if you can call it that after just 2 ⅓ frames — ended on a Logan Schafer double that found right field well before Rodon managed to put up two strikes. With seven consecutive strikeouts, Rodon became the first American League pitcher to strike out seven batters to start a game since right-hander Joe Cowley did it for the Sox back in 1986. Had Schafer whiffed on a couple more fastballs, Rodon would have tied Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom for most strikeouts to start a game in major league history.
Not only did Rodon manage to quell the first seven batters in Minnesota’s lineup, but he extended his strikeout streak to 10 consecutive batters dating back through his last start against the Cleveland Indians. Per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, the last major league pitcher to do so was reliever Eric Gagne, who accomplished the feat for the 2003 Dodgers during his first and only Cy Young Award-winning season.
Any way you slice it, this is an impressive look: