First of all, we feel as though we owe Brian Cashman an apology. It’s not so much that we didn’t believe him when he said the Yankees wouldn’t offer more than $2 million for Johnny Damon and that Damon had a deadline to accept it, it’s that we don’t believe any party involved with any aspect of baseball free agency, especially if one of those parties is Scott Boras. With that out of the way, join us after the jump for a look at some of the questions that accompany the forthcoming Randy Winn era.
Is Winn actually going to play?
Had Damon returned, he presumably would have gotten significant playing time in left field, especially with Nick Johnson set to serve as the full-time DH this season. But Winn won’t necessarily start over Brett Gardner, and a platoon doesn’t really make sense, either. Winn’s a switch hitter, but his numbers against lefties aren’t good: His OPS last season versus lefties was just .384. By comparison, the left-handed Gardner posted an OPS of .781 in 65 plate appearances versus lefties in 2009. To be honest, it’s hard to see exactly why they’d sign Winn at all. Is it really worth $2 million for an occasional defensive replacement for Nick Swisher?
Why are the Yankees suddenly frugal?
Here’s where we’re stumped. Damon told the Daily News that he spoke with Cashman, Randy Levine, and Hal Steinbrenner, and they discussed “how things are in this economy.” That’s a pretty flimsy excuse, since “this economy” sucked approximately as much back when the Yankees broke the bank last winter for CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett. It could be that the Yankees want to appear frugal, or it could be that they’re saving their pennies for next winter, when Joe Mauer and Cliff Lee hit the market. Not that any of that really explains why Damon couldn’t get another million or two. This is the Yankees, after all.
Is the 2010 roster set?
Not necessarily. The Yankees reportedly want yet another outfield option, though such a player — a right-handed bat, most likely — would certainly be a cheap, fifth-outfielder type. Or, depending on who it is, a fourth-outfielder type bumping Winn down a notch on the depth chart.
What about Johnny Damon?
The Tigers, Reds, and Braves reportedly aren’t interested. Oakland remains an option, though the $10 million they gave to Ben Sheets would limit what they can offer. We can’t imagine Damon would really retire, but we wouldn’t be shocked if he stayed in shape and waited for someone to get hurt once the season begins.
What will his John Sterling home-run catchphrase be?
Obviously, the most significant question raised by Winn’s signing — assuming, of course, that he hits a home run at some point. Kudos to Brian Cashman for giving Sterling two new outfielders (Winn and Curtis Granderson) with names he can really work with. We’ll kick things off with “It’s a Winn-Winn situation!” Please top that, in the comments.