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Tuesday, November 22, 2005
my friend suhas sent me this article from the new york times which we bow to and respect about some stuff scott boras is saying in an attempt to make millions of dollars. it's really an attempt to make billions, and this is a small part of it. but this is the part we're talking about.
there are many ridiculous assertions. one is that johnny damon is better than ricky henderson. that is patently false. i have to say this, for the record. johnny damon can't lick the sweat of ricky henderson's ass.
i don't know what that means, but it sounds provocative.
when johnny damon breaks the all time walk record, we'll reopen the discussion.
Damon's Agent Eager for Stats to Be Binding
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By JACK CURRY
Published: November 22, 2005
The statistical dissection of Johnny Damon began months before he played his final game of 2005 with the Boston Red Sox.
Scott Boras, Damon's agent, loves to analyze numbers and then unfurl them to help his clients score gigantic numbers for free-agent contracts.
In the blue free-agent binder that Boras presents to teams interested in Damon, there are 10 sections filled with hundreds of numbers to emphasize why Damon is desirable. If there is a statistic available that details Damon's value, Boras's staff has probably unveiled it.
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Suzy Allman for The New York Times
Center fielder Johnny Damon has said he would like to stay with the Red Sox, but his agent says he is looking for a seven-year deal.
World Series Summary
Discuss the Postseason Boras made a copy of his binder available to The New York Times. In it are sections titled "Best Leadoff Man in Baseball"; "Most Durable Active Player in the Major Leagues/Deserving of a 7-Plus-Year Contract"; and "Better Than Future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson." Statistics follow each heading.
The not-so-subtle request for at least a seven-year deal and the not-so-subtle backhanding of Henderson is intriguing enough, but the information in the binder also projects that Damon will record his 3,000th hit by 2012; play more games in center field than anyone in baseball history by 2015; and have the second-highest fielding percentage ever by a center fielder a decade from now, too.
"I'm not often surprised by numbers," Boras said. "I was surprised by some of what we came up with in regard to Johnny."
Damon, a marquee name in a weak free-agent class, has said he would prefer to stay with Boston. The Red Sox would like to keep Damon, who turned 32 on Nov. 5, but they have no plans to offer him the seven-year contract that Boras proposes. Bill Lajoie, a senior adviser for the Red Sox, said negotiations with Boras were continuing.
The binder contains Boras's interpretation of Damon's worth, so it is as one-sided as a love letter. There is no mention of Damon's weak throwing arm, that his 10 homers in 2005 were his lowest total since 2001, or that his 18 steals and 53 walks were his lowest totals since 1997.
Boras says he realizes that teams considering investing millions of dollars in a player do their own analyses and do not need his booklets, but he prefers to offer his own evaluation. Boras wants teams - whether the Red Sox, the Yankees or the Chicago Cubs - to absorb the numbers and feel they cannot survive without a talent like Damon.
The numbers on Damon seem endless:
He is the only leadoff hitter since 1972 to have more than 165 hits and score at least 100 runs for eight straight seasons. Over the past six years, he has been in scoring position 25 percent more than any other leadoff man.
He has scored more runs, driven in more runs, walked more and had a higher slugging percentage than any leadoff hitter for the past four seasons. Only seven players saw more pitches than Damon in 2004 and 2005.
There is also data on some of the doubts about Damon. He received cortisone shots in his left shoulder last year, but the booklet says that he is one of only six active players with more than 10 years of service who has never been on the disabled list. Damon is also one of only two players since 1979 to play 130 games in the field for 10 consecutive seasons and never spend a day on the D.L. The other? Cal Ripken Jr., the ultimate ironman.
Still, Damon relies a lot on his legs, on offense and defense, and it is difficult to imagine him receiving a seven-year contract. Boras would not comment on which teams were interested in Damon, but Damon has seemed partial to remaining in Boston. He hit .316 with 75 runs batted in and 117 runs scored last season.
"I fell in love with Boston, so hopefully, I'll be here for a long time," Damon said after the season.
Despite a suspect arm, Damon is deft at covering ground in center. But how many general managers knew Damon had more putouts and more total chances than the six outfielders who won Gold Gloves in 2005? What the binder does not mention is that more balls are hit to center, so Damon should have higher numbers in those areas.
In the comparison of Damon and Henderson, Damon has the edge in several categories over the first 10-plus seasons of their careers. Damon has more hits, more plate appearances, more doubles, more runs batted in and a better average with runners in scoring position. Henderson had more runs scored, more homers and more steals. Both had a .290 average.
Of course, Henderson played for another 14 seasons and holds the record for career runs (2,295) and stolen bases (1,406); he is second with 2,190 walks and he recorded 3,055 hits. A comparison of Damon and Henderson is no doubt incomplete.
Lajoie said both sides could use statistics creatively. He said that arbitrations were typically won or lost because of numbers, but that numbers were not as meaningful in face-to-face negotiations.
"The value of the player to the club as far as winning games is the best common denominator," Lajoie said in an e-mail message.
Boras, who said he hoped the Yankees would become involved in the pursuit of Damon, also compiled an analysis of their leadoff situation. The three-page report says that the Yankees had more success when Derek Jeter was batting second, not first.
Jeter batted .331 with a .398 on-base percentage hitting second from 1998 to 2001, a stretch in which the Yankees won three titles. Jeter was at .306 and .373 while leading off in the last two seasons, when the Yankees failed to reach the World Series.
What the analysis does not mention is that Jeter has a .317 career average in the leadoff spot and a .313 average from the No. 2 spot, and that Jeter might have simply been a better player during the Yankees' four-year run.
Boras's forecasts of excellent results obviously do not mean those numbers will be realized. The Mets read nifty predictions about center fielder Carlos Beltran in a Boras booklet a year ago and are waiting for him to attain them. The team that signs Damon is probably hoping that his booklet becomes its Bible.
did you read that? i hope not. if you did, i'm sorry.
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