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Latest buzz from the GM meetings

Damon sighting, Beane at crossroads, A-Rod update

Posted: Wednesday November 7, 2007 8:37PM; Updated: Wednesday November 7, 2007 8:48PM
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Johnny Damon said he's received assurances that he'll be the Yankees' left fielder in '08.
Johnny Damon said he's received assurances that he'll be the Yankees' left fielder in '08.
Chuck Solomon/SI
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- With his silver Ferrari beside him, engine running, Johnny Damon said he's not going anywhere. The New York Yankees left fielder emerged from morning meetings Wednesday with general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi convinced he will begin 2008 as the Yankees' leadoff hitter and left fielder, all but ending speculation that New York would try to trade him and get out from under the final two seasons of his contract.

"Unless somebody blows the pants off of them with an amazing offer ...," Damon said. "They realize how important I am to the team. When I was in the lineup every day the team had a winning percentage of .700. [In the second half] I turned into the kind of player that I am."

Asked if he were happy to be staying put, Damon said, "Yeah. I signed with the Yankees for a reason: to go to the playoffs every year."

The Yankees played .686 ball (59-27) in games Damon started after May. He struggled in the first two months of the season, largely due to leg problems. But Damon, 34, hit .296 with a .364 OBP in the second half -- both better than his career rates -- and hit particularly well when the Yankees played him in left field (.353, .412).

Girardi told Damon he has the top three spots in the batting order set: Damon, Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu. The rest of the lineup? With Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada enjoying free agency, it's a work in progress.

• Oakland GM Billy Beane said he will decide in the next month whether to supplement the core of his team or break it up. Beane said he is monitoring the health and rehabilitation status of several key players, including Eric Chavez, Justin Duscherer (whom Oakland intends to convert to a starter), Rich Harden and Mark Kotsay. "That's why we're at a fork in the road," Beane said. "We're either going forward and going for it or cutting it down and rebuilding. There is no middle ground in our market. When we hit the bottom, small market teams like us don't bounce." Beane said he would decide a course of action by the start of the winter meetings Dec. 3.

• The New York Mets met with agent Scott Boras on Wednesday about A-Rod and Boras' other free agent clients. A club source described the meeting as "very general in nature. You have to listen." Meanwhile, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski continued to emphatically rule out the possibility of making a run at Rodriguez. "It's nothing we're thinking about," said Dombrowski, who is searching for pitching, particularly a veteran for his rotation.

• The Chicago Cubs' top offseason agenda is to acquire a left handed-hitting outfielder, most likely through a trade. But in the meantime, they will try to wrap up a new contract for pitcher Kerry Wood within the next few days. Contract talks with Mark Prior (nine games, one win over the past two years because of arm injuries) could be more problematic, with Prior still not expected to be ready to throw at the start of spring training.

Mike Lowell's free agency may come down to whether he wants to leave the Red Sox and Fenway Park, a ballpark tailored to his pull stroke (162 career starts there: .316, 26, 122), or look for a fourth guaranteed year elsewhere. Lowell's stroke doesn't play nearly as well in Yankee Stadium, where he has three homers in 90 at-bats and a slugging percentage (.456) 55 points below what it is at Fenway.

• Anyone who criticizes ballplayers for seeking out the last dollar should apppreciate Curt Schilling's decision to stay in Boston. The Padres were prepared to offer Schilling $14 million for one year, even after getting Greg Maddux re-signed at $10 million a year. "The Red Sox got the best bargain of the year so far," said one NL GM after Schilling took $8 million guaranteed from Boston. Schilling will get bonus money based on periodic weigh-ins. To collect he must be no heavier than 230 pounds, a weight he's had trouble staying under in recent years. Schilling said he requested the weight clause.

• On Thursday, GMs are expected to discuss a proposal that would require or at least encourage all base coaches to wear protective helmets.