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When chasing dollars lead to regretted outcomes

There may be something for Matt Holliday to learn from this week’s Johnny Damon saga and a similar story from over two decades ago.

Johnny Damon and Brian Cashman, December 2005 (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)Tuesday: The New York Post’s George King reports free-agent outfielder Damon is ready to look elsewhere than the Yankees for work. “I am going to start looking around. Teams are getting better and there are teams interested,” Damon said. “I can’t wait forever and I am sure [the Yankees] are trying to figure things out. I have to be ready.” It is believed the Yankees aren’t interested in giving Damon more than two years for about $20 million.

Wednesday: reports Damon wants $13 million a season from the Yankees. There has been no movement in talks between both parties. Damon has indicated that he does not want the Yankees to make an offer if they are going to propose less.

Friday: Ken Rosenthal of, reports Damon lowered his price for the Yankees earlier this week, first to two years, $26 million, and then to two years, $20 million. However, by the time Damon dropped his price the second time, the team had already agreed to terms with designated hitter Nick Johnson. The Yankees offered two years and $14 million somewhere in the process, but the two sides failed two reach an agreement.

Friday: The New York Post caught up with Damon for his reaction upon the Yankees signing Johnson instead of him. Damon had been looking for a three-year deal in the $39 million range, and even though sources say that agent Scott Boras caved on the third year, the Yankees weren’t willing to give Damon the same $13 million salary he earned in each of the last four years.

Damon did not hide his disappointment that the Yankees decided to move on without him, though he did not mention his agent.

“I wanted it to happen. I have nothing but great things to say about the Yankees,” Damon said. “If the Nick Johnson thing works out, it will be good for them. It’s part of baseball.

“I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do. I know there are some teams interested, but the Yankees are the best organization I’ve been a part of so far in my career. I wish them all the best.”

It reminded me of another Yankees-related situation from past years, with a player heading in instead of out, but otherwise similar feelings.

In the 2005 Rob Rains book “Cardinals: Where Have You Gone?”, former St. Louis first baseman Jack Clark looked back at his departure from St. Louis. It was a time, 1987, when the owners were guilty of collusion. In fact, as 1987 became 1988, Clark had not received a single offer other than a cut from St. Louis despite coming off a very strong season.

“There were a lot of things that were said to me, and the way they were said, that bothered me,” Clark said. “I was getting a lot of pressure from the (players) union. (Agent) Tom (Reich) came to me and said, ‘What about the Yankees?’…”

He agreed to terms with the Bombers on January 6, 1988. The Ripper is still ripped today about how the events played out.

“Looking back on it, I should have stayed a Cardinal,” Clark said. “I was very happy here. I had my best years in baseball here. We went to the World Series twice in three years. It was fun to go to the ballpark every day. I was playing for the best manager in the game. My family liked it here. My kids were in school. I considered this my home.”

Here is hoping another Boras client, Matt Holliday is aware of the details of the Damon situation and that while a Cardinal, he had the chance to meet Clark, now a broadcaster with FOX Sports Midwest, and hear his story about leaving St. Louis first-hand.

Otherwise, perhaps Holliday will be featured in the 2029 version of “Cardinals: Where Have You Gone?”

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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