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Thursday, February 11, 2010
Where would Damon fit with Tigers?


Are we really, really, really almost done worry about how many millions Johnny Damon will earn in 2010? Jayson Stark:


Let's work with this one for now ... Is Damon a good fit for the Tigers?

By my count, the Tigers currently have five legitimate outfielders: Magglio Ordonez, Clete Thomas, Ryan Raburn, Austin Jackson, and Wilkin Ramirez. Assuming that Carlos Guillen is the primary DH.

Unfortunately, none of those five have demonstrated the ability to produce good numbers over the course of 600 plate appearances. Not lately, anyway. The Tigers are stuck with Ordonez (and his $18 million salary) for another season, but they don't necessarily have to play him every day. Raburn and Thomas are both in their mid-20s, and aside from Raburn's big numbers against lefties last season there's no reason to think either will ever hit much. Ramirez isn't a kid, either, and his only claim to fame is an impressive 2008 in the Eastern League. Austin Jackson, as you'll no doubt recall, was arguably the Yankees' No. 1 prospect before they traded him to the Tigers this winter. In the long term, Jackson is the Tigers' center fielder. In the short term, they might win a few more games with a Thomas/Jackson platoon in center field but that would mean leaving Jackson to rot on the bench two-thirds of the time, which probably won't happen.

What's really unfortunate is that Raburn and Ordonez both bat right-handed. Essentially, Damon's arrival sends Raburn to the bench, unless Jim Leyland decides to get creative and use Damon mostly against right-handed pitchers. It would seem a strange thing, after all the electrons we've spent on Johnny Damon this winter. But that's what would win the most games.