Best Of 2011

BEST OFF-SEASON ACQUISITION: Johnny Damon

Remember back in February, when local baseball fans were buzzing about the signing of a ’roided-up Manny Ramirez but were somewhat less focused on the Rays’ other big-name free agent acquisition, Johnny Damon? We don’t either, as Damon has annihilated the memories of Manny’s awkward arrival/departure (not to mention his recent domestic unpleasantness) by becoming the veteran leader of this young Rays squad. Always a danger at the plate, Damon has stayed (mostly) healthy, and has proven as valuable for his good-guy demeanor and leadership skills in the clubhouse as he is for hitting with runners in scoring position. Damon’s a sorta-local (his family lives in Orlando), so we should get a few more good years out of the crafty veteran.