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Johnny Damon? What?

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Watch, I'll be predictable.

I like Johnny Damon but he is an overrated player. And I'm sorry, but does this suddenly mean the Orioles have a plan? "Hmmm, we lost out on everyone... hey Johnny Damon!"

If their plan is now fully set at signing players like Damon to five-year deals then OK I guess, at least it's something. I'm not sure how good 36-year old Johnny Damon will be, but I guess it doesn't really matter right now. You might get stuck with a bad contract, and you might block Fiorentino or someone, but then again maybe you trade Fiorentino in a package for another established player, and maybe that's the new thing we're doing.

The whole thing is a smidge peculiar and a bit puzzling. Everyone is right to not want to give Damon a fifth year, and if you're going to talk about how awful it is that the evil Blue Jays drive up the marketplace for everyone, helping the cause by giving a 32-year old center fielder a five-year contract is somewhat hypocritical. But then blasting the Jays for that was a bit hypocritical in the first place now, wasn't it? We were the Girls Gone Wild for Sidney Ponson a couple years ago. I can imagine Burnett's agent saying, "Look what Sidney Ponson made - he's horrible! Mr. Burnett is at least average."

I mean, granted, it would be stunning if Damon actually put pen to paper with the Orioles, but it's not impossible. It's definitely not probable. I figure the Yankees will cave and give him the fifth year, or the Red Sox will do four with the option like they did for Varitek.

But look, this is my real point - why sign one guy? If they had signed Konerko, then yes, go get Damon, go get Millwood, go walnut crazy and start throwing your money around. But adding just Damon is not going to make this a better team. And the idea that public perception will change because Johnny Damon is an Oriole won't be true unless the team actually finishes with more wins than losses, and I'm not sure Damon is enough for that to happen. Tejada's presence hasn't exactly made the free agents come running and Tejada is better than Damon.

The team has to get better for free agents to want to sign here. The front office has got to look like they know what they're doing or a player's agent is going to convince him that this team has no direction and isn't worth his time when there are always offers from somewhere else. "Look what happened to Tejada. He's spending his prime years wasting away in Baltimore when he could have gone somewhere else and been a winner."

Does Johnny Damon make the team that much better by himself? Probably not. If you want to make a last-ditch run at Damon AND Millwood, try to get that Dunn deal... done, and maybe ask Frank Thomas what he plans on doing in 2007, because we think we could offer a mutual option year, then baby, you might have a stew going.

But one player isn't going to turn a 74-88 disaster of a team into a team that contends, especially in the AL East.

If we sign Damon then hooray, he's a good player and I think he'll at least be playable at the end of the deal, but there needs to be more than that, and it's a bit late unless they've got some trades lined up to dramatically change this team's chances in '06. That's not the whole picture, but if you're giving Damon five years, you're going to want a return on that immediately.