After initially giving the Randy Winn extension a lukewarm thumbs-up, the panic attacks set in. We have the guy under contract for four years? Really? That's a loooooong time to be betrothed to a particular player, especially a player who doesn't have the best defensive reputation in center, double-especially a player who is more "helpful" than "dominant", and double-secret-especially a player who has already turned 30. And any positive appraisal given to the contract extension has to be contingent on either Winn staying in center, or Winn continuing to hit like RoboDimaggio.
Some of the unfavorable opinions regarding the Winn extension revolved around a line of thought reading something like: "Nice player, but he's getting paid like a star, and that'll kill the team." That's too extreme, though. Johnny Damon is a center fielder getting paid like a star. Winn is a slightly above-average player getting paid like a well above-average player. The difference between the two varieties of above-average is a couple of million per year. My soul doesn't sound the horn of injustice if Winn is somewhat overpaid each year.
Where it would bother me is if the contract prevented the Giants from upgrading in different areas. I don't care that Matt Morris might be a $4M pitcher making $9M, or that Winn is a $5M center fielder making $8M, but the cumulative effect is what is to worry about. This was my exact reaction to the Omar Vizquel deal, as well. Gathering enough Morrises or Winns will kill a team's budget, and the Giants have an impressive collection of these deals. Vizquel, Mike Matheny, Armando Benitez, and Pedro Feliz can all be described as a little overpaid without much debate. The aggregated bunch of overpaids is why the Giants don't go after players like Carloses Delgado y Beltran, for better or for worse, and that can sting. The Giants were already close to maximum capacity with these kinds of deals before the Winn extension.
Never underestimate the value of a player you rarely have to curse out, though. The overvalued contract that bothers me the least, at least in the present, is Winn. There are a lot of concerns with the players mentioned above. Vizquel's close to 40, Matheny's bat drags down his value substantially, Morris was a mess in the second half of last year, Feliz is Feliz is Feliz, and Benitez enters the second year of his contract without coming close to being worth the league minimum in the first. Winn has a good bill of health, and is consistently an above-average hitter relative to his position. If you're going to overpay a player by a couple of million, at least you can do it with a player you don't have to worry about.
I'm still happy Winn's on the team, still a little nervous about the commitment, and almost certain he'll hold his value for this season.