With right around a month separating us from spring training, there have to be some positive feelings amongst Boston Red Sox fans heading into 2013 as the team has made a number of moves to improve their roster in the improving AL East.
Between the addition of Ryan Dempster to the starting rotation and Joel Hanrahan as the team's closer, the pitching staff has gotten a jolt after seeing Josh Beckett depart last summer.
In the lineup, Shane Victorino should play a key role in the Red Sox outfield, while Mike Napoli could give the offense some much needed pop—if they can ever finalize his contract.
Closing the deal for Napoli would likely mark the biggest financial commitment they'd make for the remainder of the offseason, but another signing could prove to be just as big in a number of other ways.
As Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe pointed out during a recent Q&A with fans, he wouldn't be opposed to the notion—since the team is already looking at Bobby Abreu—of the Red Sox bringing in Johnny Damon for one last run.
Damon is obviously no stranger to Fenway Park, as the best years of his career were spent wearing a Red Sox uniform. He batted nearly .300 over four seasons and averaged 75 RBI per season along the way.
He'd ultimately make the move to the hated Yankees and then bounced around to three different teams over the past three years. But the contributions and leadership he added to the Red Sox championship run of 2004 should be what Damon is always remembered for.
With the uncertainty surrounding Napoli's hip, it would make sense that any utility player added before spring training would be one that could fill in both at first base and the outfield—something that Damon probably can't do (eight career games at first base).
Position discrepancies aside, Damon's most recent body of work is less than spectacular, as he batted only .261 with Tampa Bay in 2011, while nearly matching his career high in strikeouts.
Last season in Cleveland proved to be even less productive, as he struggled with a .222 average in 64 games before being released in August.
After seeing some clubhouse veterans traded away last summer, however, the Red Sox could no doubt use a positive presence in spring training who can help give some direction, something the 39-year-old Damon could probably handle. And since some of his best career numbers came when he called Fenway home, the familiar surroundings could mark a great way to end an 18-year career.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington will have the final say in any further decisions made and with the need at first base there may not be a fit for the former Boston star, but I have a hard time believing that Cafardo is alone in saying he would "never turn Johnny Damon away."
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