[image title="Rays Yankees Baseball" size="full" id="18243" align="center" linkto="full" ]
Stephen made a comment in his post from this morning that piqued my interest. He said the following about Randy Winn:
It seems mean-spirited to hate on the backup outfielder. He is probably a very nice guy with a very nice family, and I’m sure he’s trying his best to help the team win. He might even be excited to play on the Yankees, the World Series champion Yankees, in the hopes of winning a title after toiling in obscurity for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Mariners, and most recently the Giants. It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for him; it’s certainly enough to blunt the edge of my disdain for his recent play and hope that he can turn it around soon. But Randy, could you meet us halfway? An OBP above .300 would be a nice start.
This is a refrain that I have heard more of lately, probably because the Yankees are playing so many people who would usually be backups. The idea is that when bench players are pressed into regular duty, it is only natural that they will be exposed as non-starting caliber players. In a way, it is not their fault that they are not providing adequate performance, and it is silly to blame these guys for the struggles of the team. They are working hard and doing their best, but they simply do not have the talent to provide the sort of performance that Yankee fans have come to expect from position players. I agree with this sentiment to an extent.
On the other hand, there is a level of performance that you expect even from your bench players, and I think Winn has failed to come near that standard. He has been awful at the plate, as his bat speed has clearly disappeared and he cannot catch up with even the most meager of fastballs. His saving grace was supposed to have been his defense, but he looks awkward in left field, has been turned around on a number of balls over his head, and made an atrocious error in last night’s game. In all, he has been an abysmal failure here, and I am not so sure that it is mean-spirited to rip a bench guy for failing to meet the standards required for a bench player, let alone a starter in the American League East.
What do you think? Is it fair to strongly criticize bench players who are pressed into everyday duty?
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