With the Yankees finally having filled their last remaining position -- Brett Gardner's caddy -- LoHud's Chad Jennings brings us the good and the bad of the Yankees' new fourth outfielder, Randy Winn:
The Good: Until last season, Winn was a solid everyday player for the better part of a decade. He’s a career .286 hitter who plays good defense and runs pretty well. Until last season, the idea of Winn as a fourth outfielder would have been outstanding.
The Bad: Last season was awful. Winn’s .318 on-base percentage came with only two home runs and his highest strikeout total in five years. He’s 35 years old, and you can’t help wondering if his age is catching up to him.
The Good: If Winn bounces back to his 2008 form — or even comes fairly close to his 2008 form — the Yankees will have a cheap outfielder who’s capable of playing every day. The version of Randy Winn who played two years ago could hit lefties and righties, play all three outfield positions, provide some speed on the bases and occasionally hit a ball out of the park. For what the Yankees need him to do, that’s an outstanding option.
The Bad: If Winn repeats last season, the Yankees have a veteran on the bench who doesn’t provide much: No power, and certainly not a right-handed complement to Gardner and Granderson. This isn’t Johnny Damon, and for those holding out hope for an unexpected Damon return, this clearly doesn’t satisfy.
Bottom line, this is a fourth outfielder being asked to compete for a starting job. That’s exactly the kind of role Winn should fill. He doesn’t cost much, and last season’s numbers aren’t in keeping with his career numbers (or even his recent numbers). I don’t know why the Yankees wanted him over a more traditional platoon-type outfielder — I really thought it would be either Reed Johnson or Marcus Thames — but that’s a question Brian Cashman might answer after the deal is official. For now, there is only Randy Winn.
Maybe not the guy you were expecting, but hardly a terrible option for this role.
I've got two concerns about Winn:
1. What you see is what you get. Because he's a switch-hitter who's been, over the course of his career, roughly the same against righties and lefties, you can't really make him more productive (per plate appearance) by platooning him. He's been almost exactly league-average, as a hitter, in his career, and at (almost) 36 he's not going to suddenly become better than average. So there's your baseline: Slightly below average.
2. Unfortunately, it is might slightly more than slightly. Winn's spent the last four seasons in the National League. Two of those seasons were slightly better than average, two were substantially worse. He's older and he's moving to the tougher league and he's leaving a good hitter's park for one that is good for power hitters . . . and Winn's not a power hitter.
As Jennings suggests, you really can't go wrong spending $2 million on a decent fourth (or fifth) outfielder. But this doesn't strike me as a particularly good fit unless Winn's going to play a lot of late-innings defense.