Let’s took a look at the career of Randy Winn.
Winn is 31 and is an eight-year veteran of the Major Leagues. He has played primarily centerfield and a little bit of leftfield with the Devil Rays, the Mariners, and most recently the Giants. In 993 games, he has a line of .288/.346/.425 with just 69 career home runs and 143 stolen bases. His lone All Star appearance came during the 2002 campaign when he was chosen as the lone Devil Ray to make the squad.
By all appearances, Winn has been a solid but not spectacular player for his career. His VORP is constantly in the mid to upper 20s, and he has averaged about 21 win shares a season for the past four years.
Today, Winn was named one of the outfielders for the United States’ team in the World Baseball Classic. Winn will be on the bench, behind Johnny Damon, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Vernon Wells on the depth chart, and in my mind, Winn’s inclusion speaks volumes about the tournament.
Marquee players, it seems, simply do not want to play in the WBC. Winn wasn’t anyone’s first choice. That honor went to Barry Bonds, Winn’s San Francisco teammate. But Bonds dropped out over supposed health concerns as he is rehabbing an injured knee while keeping an eye on the Babe.
Meanwhile, other star players including Jim Edmonds, Gary Sheffield, and Brian Giles dropped out of consideration for the final roster weeks ago. Winn was, in effect, a last choice for manager Buck Martinez. He becomes the 30th man.
Now, this is in no way supposed to be an attack on Winn. He does his job admirably, but he is not of the same caliber of players who one would want roaming the outfield for a team of American All Stars.
If the World Baseball Classic is to be a successful venture, Major League Baseball will have to find a way to ensure that star players will play and that they will embrace playing. This tournament shouldn’t be about finding enough guys to take the field when the tournament starts, and it shouldn’t be about barging into Spring Training. It undermines the value of important training time for the team and makes Americans seem disinterested in the tournament.
This is baseball’s chance to expand its international presence, and those running the show have the responsibility to do whatever they can to attract the cream of the crop. So far, the lukewarm reception to the World Baseball Classic should serve as a fair warning that the tournament needs some tweaking if it is going to have lasting power.
For the complete Team USA World Baseball Classic, keep reading after the jump.
Ken Griffey, Jr.