Heyyyyyyyy RAGU !!!!!!
Looks like the A.L. East is going to be interesting to watch this year ....
12/21/2005 12:10 AM ET
AP: Yankees, Damon reach deal
NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees grabbed center fielder Johnny Damon away from the rival Boston Red Sox, reaching a preliminary agreement Tuesday night on a $52 million, four-year contract.
Details of the deal were still being negotiated and Damon must pass a physical, a baseball official said on condition of anonymity because negotiations were not yet final.
Moving from Fenway Park to Yankee Stadium will mean a change of style and scenery for the long-haired, bearded Damon -- a fan favorite in Boston for his scrappy play and scruffy look. But New York owner George Steinbrenner bans beards and long hair. "Sad to say bye to some of the greatest fans in the world. Unfortunately they had to see this day, but it's time for me to move forward," Damon told WBZ television in Boston. "They were coming after me aggressively. We know George Steinbrenner's reputation.
"He always wants to have the best players, and I think he showed that tonight. He and Brian Cashman came after me hard," he said, referring to New York's general manager.
Damon fills a double void for the Yankees, giving them a speedy center fielder who can cover ground and a leadoff hitter to top a potent lineup that also includes Derek Jeter, Gary Sheffield, AL MVP Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Jason Giambi.
Bernie Williams' defense declined significantly over the past four seasons, although he is expected to remain with the Yankees as a reserve. And while Damon's arm is not much better, the two-time All-Star does cover a lot of ground, which is important in Yankee Stadium.
Agent Scott Boras had been seeking a seven-year contract for Damon. The offer Damon accepted was essentially the same as the deal Matsui agreed to with the Yankees last month.
Damon said Boston did not attempt to match New York's offer.
"A good leadoff hitter is tough to find, and I think that New York just found the best leadoff hitter in the game," he told WBZ.
Damon is the first star player to switch sides in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry over the past few years, although role players such as John Olerud, Alan Embree, Ramiro Mendoza and Mike Myers have done it.
New York, baseball's first team with a $200 million payroll last season, had a relatively quiet offseason until now. The Yankees, eliminated by the Los Angeles Angels in the first round of the AL playoffs, were overshadowed by the splashy Mets, who acquired slugging first baseman Carlos Delgado from the Florida Marlins and signed free-agent closer Billy Wagner to a $43 million, four-year contract.
Damon, who turned 32 last month, led Boston with a .316 batting average. He had 197 hits and scored 117 runs.
When Myers finalized his contract with the Yankees last week, he gushed about the prospect of having Damon in New York's lineup.
"I would put the over/under on Damon scoring 125, and I'd take the over any day of the week," Myers said. "I think the fans would absolutely love him there, just his hustle and his passion for the game, the way he goes about his business. I think he'd fit in great in the clubhouse, even though I don't know what the clubhouse is." Earlier in the day, the Yankees reached a preliminary agreement on a $2 million, one-year contract with reliever Octavio Dotel, who is recovering from elbow surgery.