Nick Johnson: A Possible Fit for the Yankees

A re-signing of Johnny Damon is slowly becoming more and more unlikely, as he and his former team are at a break in their negotiations. Damon’s agent, Scott Boras, is known as one of best “negotiaters” in sports. He, along with Damon, won’t settle for a paycut from the 13 million he made last year. And whether it’s in New York or not, Boras is excepting a three or four-year deal for the veteran outfielder.

Currently, Cashman and the Steinbrenners are pursuing other options – preferably Nick Johnson, who played the first three years of his career under Joe Torre in New York.

Johnson wouldn’t be an ideal Yankees two-spot hitter, and is nothing like Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, or any two-hitter in recent Yankee history in terms of speed. But where he lacks on the basepath, he makes up for with his ability to get on-base. Johnson ranked 2nd in the NL in OBP last season, where he spent his season in both Florida and Washington.

Despite Nick’s lack of power in 2009, he’s generally known for hitting long fly-balls to right field – a perfect attribute for any Yankee hitter. A move back to the Bronx could showcase a similar year to 2006, where he put up career highs in almost every offensive category.

Early in his career, he hit 14 and 15 dingers in consecutive seasons with the Yankees. Now, over six years later, he’s only duplicated the feat once. Obviously, he’s not a deadly power hitter, but when hitting in a “hitter’s park” like Yankee Stadium, any lefty with remote power can look like a juggernaut.

Although it might not be a factor this season, Johnson is actually a natural first-baseman and will have to adapt to the DH role if he signs with New York. Mark Texeira already occupies the first-base position, and it’s highly unlike that’ll change in the near future. But this every-day DH job could be a blessing in disguise for Johnson, as he’ll spend more time to focus on his offensive game, and less time looking awkward in the field.

And even though this native of Sacramento hasn’t been a part of a heated division race since his last stint with the Yanks, a tad of competitiveness might give him more aggression than he’s had in the past. In some situations, all a player needs need is time on a winning team to fuel their competitive fire.

Since leaving the Bronx in ’03, it seems as if Johnson has slowly lost his willingness to win. I only bring this up is because his walk-up music last season was Taylor Swift’s “Teardrops On My Guitar”, which wouldn’t go over too well in a city that’s been known to kick their athletes when they’re struggling.

Now that I give it more thought, maybe a move to the Big Apple would benefit him more than it would the actual team.

Published in: on December 17, 2009 at 9:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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