The New York Yankees signed Randy Winn to platoon with Brett Gardner and replace Johnny Damon. Certainly one year of Randy Winn is better than three years of Johnny Damon, but zero years of Randy Winn is better than one year of Randy Winn.
Sure, the Yankees can afford to throw away $2 million, but this is the day of making good moves. Jack Z! That is, unless you are Dayton Moore, Omar Minaya, Ned "The Mustached GM" Coletti or Brian Sabean. (If you click on the link, you get to see one bad move they made this off season). Let's put it this way: Randy Winn was so bad last year that even Sabian wouldn't sign him.
Rob Neyer does a good job outlining the bad of this trade. Here are the key points from his article:
"...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."
He then adds:
"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."
Winn was ridiculously bad last year with split stats of .262/.318/.353 and a 75 OPS+. At 35, he was starting his downhill trend. He has never been a superstar and has posted two good hitting seasons in his career. As an everyday outfielder, there is no hope for him to be average, and it is more likely that the atrocious numbers would, at best, replicate. He's not going to be an everyday outfielder. Can the partnership work?
Well, last year Damon .282/.365/.489 line with a 126 OPS+. Winn's really bad hitting stats came against left-handed pitching. Against right-handed pitching, Winn had a .292/.354/.397 line. Gardner overall was .270/.345/.379 and a 93 OPS+. Against left-handed pitching he hit .291/.381/.400. Looks nice, but then you realize that was in only 65 plate appearances.
You're looking at a very weak hitting left field spot with okay on base skills. They won't be able to replace Damon, but one year of below average play in left field is better than overpaying for a few years in Damon, who is not exactly a spring chicken. Besides, the Yankees are going after Carl Crawford next year, right? In the meantime, this signing looks pretty pointless. Might as well just let Gardner play full time.