Chan Ho Park Gets What Johnny Damon Wanted From Yankees

Damon's in Detroit and Yankees increase their budget

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Give Johnny Damon this much, he's a Seinfeld fan. No one but a committed follower of the Costanza School of Public Relations -- "Remember, Jerry, it's not a lie if you believe it" -- could have come up with a doozy like the one the outfielder laid down at his introductory Tigers press conference on Monday.

"This is where I wanted to be from day one. ... I think (Scott Boras) did a great job."

In fairness to Johnny, Ed Price of FanHouse does note that he cleaned up his tracks later by saying that this is where he wanted to be on day one of all the days that it was clear he wouldn't be playing for the Yankees, but it is still some nice, nice work by the man whose demands the Yankees refused to meet. That it came on the same day that the Yankees signed a guy and seemingly went over the ironclad budget that had no room for Damon made it all the more amusing.

Chan Ho Park is getting at least $1.2 million from the Bombers to fill a role in the team's deep bullpen, a move that likely has some observers scratching their heads and wondering why Park was worth extending extra money and Damon wasn't. It's a bogus question, though, because Park's addition almost certainly means that someone currently on the team won't be by the end of Spring Training.

Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre are the two likeliest suspects for departure, since Park's addition eliminates one job for a righty middle reliever capable of throwing multiple innings. Plenty of teams still need a reasonably priced fifth starter and the two members of the championship team fit the bill. Once they go, Brian Cashman's blessed budget is secure and peace will reign in the kingdom. 

That's a good thing because this was a good move for the Yankees. You may remember Park from his disastrous stint with the Rangers after signing for massive cash as a free agent or one miserable outing with the Mets, but he's rebuilt himself as a reliever over the last two years with the Dodgers and Phillies, including three-plus shutout innings in the World Series last year. With David Robertson, Damaso Marte and the loser of the Joba/Hughes battle already lined up in front of Mariano Rivera, the always-active Joe Girardi will have lots of weapons to work with and we can place the early over/under on per-game pitching changes at three and a half.

It's also another move that should add to the creeping realization haunting the rest of the big leagues that Cashman knows what he's doing. Park is the perfect example of where the Yankee money actually helps them, because they can come up with this money during Spring Training to give themselves the luxury of a little more bullpen depth. That gives other arms more action in the minors and all but eliminates finding themselves in a position where they're forced to spend prospects if a need arises during the summer.

The only snag would be if Park's pitching strength derives from his soon-to-be shaved beard, but failing that this looks like another winner for Cashman.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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