Johnny Damon’s baseball journey took him through Boston and Oakland. The former major league outfielder thus has a unique perspective on the recent trade between the Red Sox and Athletics.
Damon thinks the Red Sox and A’s both made out in last week’s deal that sent pitcher Jon Lester and outfielder Jonny Gomes to Oakland in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes is a very intriguing player, according to Damon, because his offensive production could increase by moving from Oakland’s pitcher-friendly O.co Coliseum to Boston’s hitter-friendly Fenway Park.
“(O.co Coliseum in Oakland is) a very hard ballpark to hit in, especially if you have a whole bunch of night games,” Damon said Monday on WEEI’s “Middays with MFB.” “(2001 with Oakland) was the first time that I was playing for another team besides the Royals, and just getting used to a different team, a different division. It made it tough. I think Cespedes is going to tear it up here (in Boston). It looks like a great trade for both teams right now. I think it’s a positive.”
Damon hit .256 with nine homers, 49 RBIs and a .687 OPS in 155 games during his lone season with the A’s in 2001. He immediately saw an uptick in production after signing with the Red Sox prior to the 2002 season, earning two All-Star selections while hitting .295 with an .803 OPS over four years in Boston.
Cespedes slugged 66 home runs and compiled 229 RBIs in two-plus seasons with Oakland, so the unkind confines of O.co Coliseum didn’t hinder the Cuban slugger too much. Damon certainly makes a valid observation, though, and it will be interesting to see how Cespedes performs down the stretch and into 2015 while playing in a new environment.
In fact, Damon thinks the rest of this season could be interesting for the Red Sox in general despite their position in the standings.
“A bunch of these young guys have a lot to play for,” Damon said Monday. “They have a job to play for next year. I really think it’s up to (David Ortiz) and the other veterans who are on the team to help bring the young guys up and get them accustomed to what baseball is like up in New England. It’s a tough place to play, but as long as you go out, play hard and try to win as many games as you can … and once you learn how to win, you’re going to be pretty good for most of your career.”
Cespedes still is getting his feet wet with the Red Sox. Perhaps he’ll soon reach Damon-esque stardom in Boston, however, as the physical tools definitely are there.