OK, enough is enough, already.
It is time to stop running Johnny Damon out there and waiting to see if he will finally hit. He didn’t, he hasn’t and he won’t.
Indians manager Manny Acta said a month ago that the 38-year-old Damon, who did not attend spring training after failing to sign with a team this offseason, had finally reached around the amount of at-bats a player would possess after participating in training camp.
Well, fast forward to the All-Star break and cast your eyes on Damon’s offensive statistics — .215, 4 HRs, 17 RBIs in 50 games.
Yes, Damon has improved at the plate recently, batting .306 (15-for-49) over his last 15 games, but it’s too little, too late. I mean, it’s not as if he’s made an immediate impact, such as, say, Kevin Youkilis has for the White Sox. I know, Tribe fans, that one hurts.
It should also pain you and the Indians to know that the team’s best option in left field at this point is Shelley Duncan — the Opening Day starter, who Cleveland has been trying to replace since officially giving him the job during the final days of the exhibition season.
Should the best option right now be Minnesota’s Josh Willingham, whom the Indians were close to signing this offseason and has hit 19 homers and driven in 60 runs before the break? Maybe, OK, probably, but that’s a discussion for a different day.
Of course, all this becomes moot should the Indians acquire a left fielder — ideally one that hits from the right side — at the July 31 trading deadline, something most believe the club is bent on pulling off. If that happens, Damon is shown the door and Duncan returns to the bench where he belongs. No offense, Dunc Tank.
Right now, though, Damon’s got to go. His bat has produced little, and he is clearly a liability in the field, where he has been downright comical at times — unless you are general manager Chris Antonetti or Acta or anyone else who cares about the integrity of baseball.
Duncan is the better option on the offensive and defensive front, and it’s not even debatable. He’s not going to hit for average, but with regular playing time, he can hit you some home runs and drive some in as well — as evidenced by his four homers over his past six games.
Duncan isn’t going to carry the offense, but he’s the best the Indians have to offer in left and should be playing more regularly than anyone else on the roster.
The only quandary where Damon is concerned is that the Indians are still waiting on Grady Sizemore to return from the disabled list, which was supposed to happen by at least July. The oft-injured center fielder said himself that if he wasn’t playing by then, there were problems.
Well, Grady, we have a problem.
If Sizemore was back, then the decision to turn Damon loose would be an easy one. But there is no guarantee he will play this season or ever again — at least for Cleveland.
So if Damon wants to stick around as — thinking real hard about what the point is before I type this … a pinch hitter, then I guess that is all right. But the bottom line is that Duncan should play ahead of him now and for the rest of the season if the Indians don’t acquire someone, or if Sizemore returns and provides surprising production.
Hey, I’m not here to pile on Damon.
The guy is a two-time world champion who has enjoyed a great career — not sure it is Hall of Fame worthy as some have suggested, but he does have 2,758 career hits, so it’s arguable, I suppose.
On top of that, he seems to be a good guy. Though I had only a handful of pool discussions with Damon before he joined the Indians and couldn’t offer a true assessment of his character, he’s been nothing but classy since arriving in the Cleveland clubhouse.
But outside of veteran presence, he’s providing the Indians with nothing — certainly nothing like the 16 homers and 73 RBIs he produced in 150 games for Tampa Bay last year.
It’s time to jettison Johnny.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.