Alright, we've learned our lesson. Never doubt Brian Cashman when it comes to saying that Johnny Damon isn't going to be a member of the Yankees.
All winter, Cashman's been singing that tune and getting a response of "Really?" It wasn't that Damon was going to make or break the season for an already strong team, it was just the thought that the Yankees were going to let a couple of million dollars stop them from having as overwhelming a lineup as humanly possible. Cashman wins in the end, though, because the Yankees signed Randy Winn on Wednesday.
Terms of the deal, which requires the outfielder to pass a physical, haven't been officially disclosed, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Winn will get close the $2 million Cashman insisted was left in the budget. The player they got reflects the discout on Damon.
Winn posted a dreadful .318 on-base percentage last season to go with his career-long lack of power. He's a switch-hitter, but hit only .158 as a righty in 2009. That would seem to make Winn a less than ideal choice as a player to split time with the lefty-swinging Brett Gardner. He's had better offensive numbers in the past, but he's 36 and, therefore, a poor bet to regain too much of his old offensive glory.
Where Winn improves on Damon is defensively and, especially, with his arm. He's still a plus-defensive player who can play all three outfield positions, something that comes in handy with Nick Swisher and his adventurous approach to right field. He's also a good base-stealer and baserunner, but his defense sticks out as his most marketable asset.
All of that winds up smelling more like a fourth outfielder than an everyday player. That's probably the best way to think of Winn, even if he splits the job in left with Gardner. Damon would have been something more than that, but the Yankees are confident that they only needed Winn to win again in 2010.
We'll leave you with one more fun fact. Winn has played more games than any other active player without making the playoffs. If the season ends with that still being true, you can be sure Cashman's decision will be revisited angrily.
Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.