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Davidoff: Sentiment is sweet, but it won't win a World Series

Johnny Damon waves to the crowd during the

Johnny Damon waves to the crowd during the New York Yankees World Series Victory Celebration at City Hall. (November 6, 2009) Credit: Getty Images

My goodness, this Johnny Damon saga has legs, doesn't it? Bless the fans who invest so much emotion into this stuff.

Yet those same folks should realize this: The best-run teams remove emotion from the equation when conducting business. And with their actions of the past few years, the Yankees have proven that they should be regarded as one of baseball's best-run teams.

"Johnny is a good player who can help you win, but if I can't match up with him valuewise, I've got to tell him goodbye. It --," Brian Cashman told Newsday on Thursday.

"That's hard. That's business, but with a lot of companies in different industries - say, Wall Street - you don't have the turnover with your top assets in which you constantly say goodbye.

"When you're in the media capital of the world like we are, when your assets are popular as ours are, it -- twice as much."

Indeed, this past week, Cashman had to do the whole Damon farewell for a second time. The Yankees' general manager and Scott Boras, Damon's representative, first jousted publicly Dec. 17, when Nick Johnson agreed to become the Yankees' designated hitter. And then again this week, when the Yankees signed Randy Winn - even though the two sides really didn't get any closer to a deal in between.

If you're upset enough about this that you want to assess blame, point to Damon and Boras for misreading both the market and the Yankees.

Boras has been saying that the Yankees left him hanging, not communicating for eight days as they moved forward on Johnson. But try to envision Boras waiting like a nervous teenager for a phone call. This from a man who has no problem going either over or under a GM's head. Boras and Damon thought Cashman would bend. That's why there was no contact.

Nevertheless, I'd contend that Damon's departure shouldn't prompt finger-pointing or name-calling.

The Yankees simply made a value judgment that - given the funds they had to spend - the quartet of Curtis Granderson, Johnson, Javier Vazquez and Winn would be more valuable in 2010 than Melky Cabrera, Damon and Hideki Matsui. Seems reasonable.

They rendered a decision that they would not bust their budget for Damon, similar to the decision they made last year about Andy Pettitte.

Why? Because Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera have to be re-signed a year from now. Because next year's free-agent class could have elite talents such as Josh Beckett, Cliff Lee and Joe Mauer.

And because Damon, for all of his charms and accomplishments, is a 36-year-old leftfielder with fading defensive skills.

"We wanted Johnny back, and he wanted to come back," Cashman said. "Unfortunately for both of us, it didn't work out."

That's because the Yankees didn't give Damon super-extra credit for his winning personality. Or for his charity work. Or even for his memorable two-stolen-base play in Game 4 of last year's World Series. Because, you know, the next time Damon tries that, the other team probably will be ready for it.

When you let emotions run your decision-making process, you're bound to make bad calls. Cashman and the Yankees must pay the toll now for jettisoning such a popular figure. If they're back in the World Series this year, though? Can't see anyone missing Damon too much.

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