I know I’m in the minority when I saw this, but the Yankees made the wrong call when cutting Randy Winn. I say this not in support of Winn’s ability, but in support of Kevin Russo’s. While I believe that Russo likely at this point can bring more to the table than Winn, he’s not a big enough improvement to justify having Russo lose important development time. Russo has the ability to be a decent super-sub type of player, and riding the pine at the big league level isn’t going to help. If there is a serious injury and someone is going to get 300 AB’s, I’d much rather it be Russo than Winn, but for the role the Yankees need to fill now, Russo is not the man for the job.
As the winner of the Winn/Russo battle (as 4th or 5th outfielders), Russo is going to maybe start one game a week. How much more can Russo possibly bring to the table than Winn? Winn is the better defensive outfielder, and he also has the ability to play CF. Now Russo likely will be more productive with the bat than Winn, but a glance at his triple slash line (.250/.286/.350 in a very SSS) doesn’t show the type of impact some feel he has had. A couple of “big” hits and everyone thinks he’s off to a great start, but he’s not. If Russo were 30 years old, I could care less. Russo, however, is 25 and has a chance to be an important (and cheap) player off the bench for the Yankees for years to come. He needs to be in the minors getting reps all over the diamond to see if he can become that player.
Russo does not have the bat to be a corner infielder or outfielder, and likely doesn’t defend well enough to be a full time 2B. If he’s relegated to 4th or 5th OF now, he’s eminently replaceable. Kevin Russo the outfielder carries almost no value, Kevin Russo the jack of all trades does. I’d like to see Russo get the chance to be a Mark Derosa or Jerry Hairston type of player, instead of being just another guy.
If you send Russo down, he’s a short drive back the New York if he’s truly needed. Right now he’s not needed; he’s a short term luxury that comes at a long term price. (My) best case scenario is that the final shoe has not yet dropped. Maybe the Yankees bring up Greg Golson in a few days to become the final OF on the roster and get Russo back to Scranton. Maybe they pick up one of the available OF’s still looking for jobs (Rocco Baldelli, Eric Byrnes, Elijah Dukes?), maybe they make a trade to pick up a veteran to fill the job. In any of these scenarios, I have no problem with them cutting Winn today; I just don’t want this to be a long term thing at the expense of Russo. Likely his only chance of having a long term career (and maximizing his value to the Yankees) is by learning to play everywhere. Let’s hope they find a way to make that happen sooner rather than later.
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