Randy Winn's Affect on the New York Yankees

Perry ArnoldSenior Analyst IJanuary 28, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 15:  Bengie Molina #1 of the San Francisco Giants hits a single that scored Randy Winn to give the Giants a 8-2 lead over the Colorado Rockies in the sixth inning at AT&T Park on September 15, 2009 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman finally gave up on bringing Johnny Damon back to the Bronx.

In fact, there are some very strong arguments to be made that Cashman never did intend to bring Damon back.

But, with the signing of Randy Winn, it is official: Damon is gone.

So, what does Randy Winn bring to the team, and how will he affect the mix for the coming season?

Winn is a veteran with a great deal of experience. He will turn 36 years old in June and has played 12 seasons in the bigs.

Winn is also very durable. Over the past eight seasons, he has never played fewer than 149 games. Additionally, Winn is a switch hitter that will bring back some of the flexibility that the team lost with the trade of Melky Cabrera to Atlanta.

Winn has a career OPS of .762 and an OPS+ of 99, so even with him playing half of his games in Yankees Stadium, he is not going to put up great power numbers.

Despite the fact that Winn's signing rules out Damon's return to NYC, no one should expect Winn to take Johnny's spot in the No. 2 hole behind Jeter.

Winn will probably hit ninth when he plays, unless he is in the lineup with Brett Gardner.  He have averaged 98 strikeouts and 51 walks per season over his career, so it is hard to see where else he can fit in this batting order.

Winn's signing came on the same day that Manager Joe Girardi had announced that Brett Gardner would probably be his center fielder for the coming year. Girardi obviously thought that new Yankee Curtis Granderson would move to left.

Girardi has constantly shown a fondness for playing Gardner. This may mean that Winn will have to earn the job in camp and is not certain to start in left.

One must also remember that when the Yankees broke camp a year ago, Nick Swisher was not a starting outfielder. Xavier Nady was the right fielder until he blew out his throwing elbow.

So, there must be at least some thought that Winn could play right, Gardner in center, and Granderson in left, as Girardi said yesterday.

However, this trio in the outfield would mean the Yankees would further reduce the power numbers, which will already be down with the loss of Damon and DH Hideki Matsui.

If Swisher is in right, Winn is nowhere near as fast as Gardner.  However he has stolen some bases on a Giants team that was not known for its running game.

What Winn gives the Yankees that Brett Gardner does not is experience. While Gardner is nine years younger than Winn, he has also played in just a total of 150 games.

Winn is a very good defensive outfielder and will certainly be an upgrade in the field over Damon.

The next question all fans of the Yankees must ask is: Will the Yankees will begin the season with five outfielders?

Granderson is a definite starter and Nick Swisher has been slated for right.

The Yankees also have Jamie Hoffman, the Rule Five acquisition who came following the Brian Bruney trade. Hoffman will be returned to the Dodgers if he does not remain on the Major League roster for the 2010 season.

Last year, the Yankees broke camp with five outfielders: Damon, Gardner, Swisher, Xavier Nady, and Melky Cabrera.

Joe Girardi has also shown a tendency in the past to keep 12 pitchers with the team.

If they follow this plan by keeping all five outfielders now on the roster and 12 pitchers, that will leave room for only one utility player, such as Ramiro Pena.

So, an argument can be made that signing the switch-hitting Winn gives the Yankees more flexibility.

Another argument against keeping five outfielders is that it reduces flexibility, leaving the team with only one utility player.