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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

December 17, 2009 at 11:01 AM

One more name linked to Mariners: Johnny Damon

damon.jpg

Programming note: I have to get some serious work done today on an Olympics story that will run in Sunday’s paper. Yes, Olympics. They’re coming up rapidly, and they’re practically in our backyard (Vancouver, B.C.), so it’s all hands on deck. Even the hands of someone like me, who believes ice is best used to cool down a diet Pepsi. The upshot is, I need to devote my time to the story, so this might be it for me today on the blog.

It seems like virtually every free agent with a pulse has been linked to the Mariners (that counts out Sidney Ponson). Here comes another one. From a tweet today by New York Post’s Joel Sherman, who is always dialed in on the Yankees: “Heard Mariners have interest in Damon as LF/DH option.”

Johnny Damon is another intriguing name on the free agent market. It seems almost inevitable he will someday end up with the Mariners, so many times has he been rumored to be on their radar over the years. Lou Piniella really coveted him during Damon’s early days in Kansas City, especially when it became clear the Royals couldn’t afford him and were going to have to trade him. I remember talking to Damon, off the record, one spring when the Royals trained in the misguided Florida experiment known as “Baseball City.” He was extremely excited about the possibility of joining the Mariners. But instead, it was the A’s who made the deal after the 2000 season in this whopping three-way, which I’ll cut and paste from Baseball Reference:

January 8, 2001: Traded as part of a 3-team trade by the Kansas City Royals with Mark Ellis to the Oakland Athletics. The Oakland Athletics sent Ben Grieve to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The Oakland Athletics sent Angel Berroa and A.J. Hinch to the Kansas City Royals. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays sent Cory Lidle to the Oakland Athletics. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays sent Roberto Hernandez to the Kansas City Royals.

One other rather bizarre Mariner-related Damon anecdote. I heard from someone who works around the Mariners that after Bill Bavasi was fired in 2008, and the Mariners were searching for a new general manager, Damon actually was telling people he would be interested in the job. This person insisted that Damon seemed dead serious, even though he was still an active player. It didn’t go anywhere, of course, but I always thought it was an interesting notion. I meant to ask Damon about it last year when the Yankees came to town, but never got a chance.

Damon, even at at 36, is still a hell of a player. This past year was one of his best, and he stepped it up even more in the postseason, playing a huge role in the Yankees’ title. It was his second ring, joining the one he earned with the Red Sox in 2004.

There’s a lot to like about Johnny Damon. But he’s a Scott Boras guy, and he’s not going to be cheap. Even the Yankees are finding him too costly, for goodness sake.

The Mariners still have many directions they can go to augment the lineup. This may be another one of those balls that Jack Zduriencik is juggling.

Hey, I haven’t had a poll for a long time. Here you go:

Would you like to see Johnny Damon as a DH/left fielder for the Mariners?(polls)

(Photo by Getty Images. That’s Damon, left, and Jimmie Johnson posing atop the Empire State Buiilding in November after Damon won the World Series and Johnson won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.

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