We’re a month away from pitchers and catchers, and unless something changes between now and then, Brett Gardner will be batting ninth and playing left field when the Yankees defend their title this year. Johnny Damon, meanwhile, will be roaming the outfield for a team other than the Yankees and debating whether he should regrow his caveman facial hair just because he can. According to the Post, the Yankees are telling agents that they only have $2 million in their budget for a left-fielder, a figure that Damon would certainly not accept. And whether that’s true or not — the Yankees’ “budget” is a pretty loose concept — it doesn’t appear that they’ll bend over backwards to bring Damon back to New York.
As for where all that sweet Yankee money went, the Players Association apparently thinks too much of it has been going into Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria’s pockets. The union has reminded the Marlins that the money they receive in revenue sharing should go towards payroll, which the Marlins had very little of last year. Their players earned a little under $37 million last season, though the return on their investment was pretty good: The Marlins finished second in the NL East with 87 wins, 17 more than a certain big-market team that will go unnamed.
The Marlins have agreed to increase spending on player salaries, and will allow the league and union to monitor their spending for three years. Now that they suddenly have all this money to spend, maybe Damon should just sign there. They could up their payroll considerably by giving Scott Boras anything close to what he wants.