The center field defense and the Yankee pitching


We don’t need a whole bunch of high-fallutin’ defensive metrics to know that Johnny Damon is a pretty solid left fielder and a pretty bad center fielder. Rather, this is something any of us can see with our own eyes. But drilling down on the numbers is fun, and on a quiet Friday evening during the waxing days of January, let’s have some fun.

In terms of center field, the Yankees’ 2008 campaign witnessed three distinct eras. From Opening Day until August 3, Melky Cabrera patrolled the outfield; from around August 5 until September 13, Johnny Damon earned himself the CF job; and from the second game of a September 13 double header through the end of the season, Brett Gardner got the starts in the field. With the exception of a few Justin Christian starts, those men were the Yanks’ center fielders through thick and thin last year.

Offensively, this motley crew hit .261/.320/.391 and that .711 OPS was good for an OPS+ of 89. They were not, in other words, too impressive as a whole with the stick, Johnny Damon’s fantastic season notwithstanding. A funny thing happened, however, with the three players on defense.

While I realize this is far from a scientific study and I’m certainly not controlling for too many variables, take a look at the Yanks’ pitching splits for each center fielder. Under the Melky Cabrera Era, Yanks’ pitchers were 61-50 with a 4.12 ERA. Opponents knocked out 991 hits in 989 innings and featured an offensive line of .262/.327/.397. Of those totals, 18.5 percent of the hits were doubles, and a hair under two percent were three-baggers.

With Johnny Damon in center, the Yanks went 16-19 with a 5.12 ERA. The pitchers surrendered nearly 50 more hits than innings pitched, and 20.7 percent of the hits were doubles. When Gardner took over, the pitchers went 12-3 with a 3.18 ERA, and 24 percent of the hits went for two bases.

Now, this is a mess of numbers, and none of them really correlate too nicely. Johnny Damon’s center field tenure saw the number of extra-base hits increase over Melky’s but so did Brett Gardner’s. The Yanks’ pitching was far worse with Damon in center field than with the other two. It may just be a coincidence. The Yanks lost Joba Chamberlain when they moved Melky to the bench and Damon into center, and Andy Pettitte lost the ability to get outs as well.

But at the same time, as the Yanks look forward to 2009 and attempt to put together an outfield with power-hitting corner pieces and weak-hitting anchors, they should consider the impact a strong defender in center will have on the pitching. It is far easier to turn a bad center fielder into a good left fielder than it is to weather a season with a bad outfield defense.

Categories : Analysis


  1. pat says:

    I’m all for the victor of a melky/gardner spring training battle rockin CF next year. Our offense should be more than potent enough to cover a defensive stud but offensive dud in center.

    • Old Ranger says:

      The problem with that is, you think Brett or Melkey will be enough of a dud to be a black hole. This is not the case at all whom ever wins the job will be the better defender and hitter of the two. That being said, I think Brett can do a;.270 BA/.383 OBP/.375 Slg./.795 OPS which would be about -5% of his AAA numbers. If Melkey hits as well as he did in the winter games, he too will be ok.
      As stated (by you and others) we don’t need stars at every position. Youth and speed are a good combination to have.

      • Mike A. says:

        Since when does a .383 OBP + .375 SLG = .795 OPS?

      • Celerino says:

        I would like to see them trade either Hideki or Damon (don’t know if this is possible), then have an outfield of Nady LF, Gardner CF, Swisher RF. As always with the Yankees everyone wants a Fantasy offensive team, while selling the defense short. Gardner looks to be a guy that could be an Eckstein type player, one that absolutely drives you crazy when you play against him and does all the little things right. This team has had a tendency to choke it up against good pitching, that’s why I find all the stats misleading. I don’t care how good the pitching is, it won’t make Gardner slower, or inhibit his ability to play defense. When you are in the playoffs I think it is a good thing to have players with these type of abilities, because you are going to face good pitching and it is wise to have players that have the talents that aren’t neutralized by it. The same goes for Tex, his defense is going to blow people away.

    • pounder says:

      Aaron Rowand.

  2. Joey H says:

    Would someone mind explaining to me what ERA+ really is as well as OBP + ?

    • Manimal says:

      I THINK(not totally sure) It is a comparison to other pitchers, 100 being the average. Above 100 is above average, below is below average. I think they are also fixed by a certain ratio or something based on the team, the league, Stadiums ect. That’s what I thought it was anyways, I never really understood sabermetrics.

    • Stephen says:

      They take a player’s ERA or OPS and compare it to the rest of the league, adjusting it for park factors. Therefore, every year, the majors have a 100 OPS+ and a 100 ERA+. A player with a 110 OPS+ or ERA+ is 10% better than league average, and so on.

      • Joey H says:

        Thanks that breaks it down a ton. It is just much easier to read these things while understanding them. I dont pay attention to much stats outside of the traditional ones. ERA K IP RBI HR ect..

    • Doug says:

      OPS+ is OPS adjusted for the park and the league in which the player played. An OPS+ of 100 is defined to be the league average. An OPS+ of 150 or more is excellent and 125 very good, while an OPS+ of 75 or below is poor.

      ERA+ adjusts a pitcher’s ERA according to the pitcher’s ballpark and the ERA of the pitcher’s league. Average is set to be 100; a score above 100 indicates the pitcher performed better than average, below 100 indicates worse than average.

    • pat says:

      OPS+, Adjusted OPS, is a closely related statistic. OPS+ is OPS adjusted for the park and the league in which the player played, but not for fielding position. An OPS+ of 100 is defined to be the league average. An OPS+ of 150 or more is excellent and 125 very good, while an OPS+ of 75 or below is poor. A problem with basic OPS+ is that it does not make handedness adjustments (right-handers and left-handers). Since there are some parks that hurt a hitter from one side and not on the other, they are not always reflective of pure hitting skill. For example, while Old Yankee Stadium (pre-1976, when drastic park adjustment were made) benefited left-handed hitters, it hurt right-handed hitters. The Yankees however, had an abnormal number of lefties in their lineup in the Joe DiMaggio days, and OPS+ does not make that adjustment.

      Adjusted ERA+, often simply abbreviated to ERA+, is a statistic in baseball. It adjusts a pitcher’s ERA according to the pitcher’s ballpark (does it favor batters or pitchers) and the ERA of the pitcher’s league. Average is set to be 100; a score above 100 indicates the pitcher performed better than average, below 100 indicates worse than average.

      For instance, if the average ERA in the league is 4.00, and the pitcher is pitching in a ballpark that favors hitters, and his ERA is 4.00, then his ERA+ will be over 100. However, if the average ERA in the league is 3.00, and the pitcher is pitching in a ballpark favoring pitchers, and the pitcher’s ERA is 3.50, then the pitcher’s ERA+ will be (significantly) below 100.

      As a result, ERA+ can be used to compare pitchers across different run environments. In the above example, the first pitcher may have performed better than the second pitcher, but his ERA is higher. ERA+ can be used to correct this misleading impression.

      • Stephen says:


        Adjusted OPS (OPS+)

        OPS+, Adjusted OPS, is a closely related statistic. OPS+ is OPS adjusted for the park and the league in which the player played, but not for fielding position. An OPS+ of 100 is defined to be the league average. An OPS+ of 150 or more is excellent and 125 very good, while an OPS+ of 75 or below is poor. A problem with basic OPS+ is that it does not make handedness adjustments (right-handers and left-handers). Since there are some parks that hurt a hitter from one side and not on the other, they are not always reflective of pure hitting skill. For example, while Old Yankee Stadium (pre-1976, when drastic park adjustment were made) benefited left-handed hitters, it hurt right-handed hitters. The Yankees however, had an abnormal number of lefties in their lineup in the Joe DiMaggio days, and OPS+ does not make that adjustment.[citation needed]

        The basic formula for OPS+ is

        OPS+ = 100(\frac{OBP} {*lgOBP} + \frac{SLG} {*lgSLG} – 1)

        where *lgOBP is the park adjusted OBP of the league and *lgSLG is the park adjusted SLG of the league.

        A common misconception is that OPS+ closely matches the ratio of a player’s OPS to that of the league. In fact, due to the additive nature of the two components in OPS+, a player with an OBP and SLG both 50% better than league average in those metrics will have an OPS+ of 200 (twice the league average OPS+) while still having an OPS that is only 50% better than the average OPS of the league.

  3. Doug says:

    Most defensive metrics say that Gardner is a better defensive CFer than Melky. Combining that and the speed element his adds, I’d like to see him patrolling things out there in ’09.

    • A.D. says:

      Defensive metrics & scouts say Gardner is the better defender, so I agree i’d like to see him out there too

      • Ryan S. says:

        Offensively speaking, let’s say Gardner and Cabrera both put up a mediore OBP – say .320, the number I was using below, and the same OBP the Melky/Damon/Gardner amalgam CF put up last year.

        Considering Gardner is a legit speed threat on the bases and can probably go from first to third on a single to left field most of the time, he’s the better option offensively too, right?

        • pat says:

          I would agree with that, gardners “small ball” proclivity would give him a slight edge over melky’s strong arm.

          • A.D. says:

            Also why Melk has a stronger arms, Gardners is pretty good, certainly nothing that can easily be run on, such as Damon or Bernie

        • Doug says:

          b/c gardner draws a lot of walks, his OBP should be at least 75 pts higher than his BA. so to have a .320 OBP, his avg. only needs to be .245, which he should be able to get. actually see him as a .250-.260 hitter, which gets you a .325-.335 OBP. get him on base 1 out of 3 times, and he steals 30+ bases next year.

        • RollingWave says:

          Melky hit 8 HR last year, which sux, and is likely more than Gardner will hit in his whole career

          • ryan says:

            well then it’s good he’ll be in the 9 hole and considerd a leadoff hitter in the future. His value doesn’t have to be based on HR or Power to get those jobs done.

  4. Manimal says:

    He lost a step or two, His arm has fallen off, and he has gotten pretty brittle as a fielder. I know running into the wall hurts but going on the DL is pretty bad. Especially since he has never been on the DL in his life. Just not a center fielder anymore.

  5. Ryan S. says:

    I think we’ve sacrificed offense for defense at enough other positions that there is more value having the CF be plus at defense and mediocre in the lineup. Our 1-8 is pretty god damn awesome with Teixeira in it now … having a defensive CF who holds a .320ish OBP in the 9 hole is acceptable in the context of the rest of the team.

    The more I reflect on this team, the more I cannot wait for April to get here.

    • Manimal says:

      Defense wins championships….

      Oh wrong sport.

      Seriously though, Defense is really under rated in Baseball. Who cares if Damon hits 30 doubles, if he gives up 10 that Melly or Brett would have ran down, Or you could argue the other way around. In the end it’s no ones decision but Joe Girardi, and he knows what he is doing.

      • Joey H says:

        Defense doesn’t win championships. I am tired of hearing that bullshit. Look at the 2004 WS champs. Did you see that feat on the new MLB net tonight?

        • Manimal says:

          Nope, I cringed and shut the TV off.

        • Mike A. says:

          Run prevention wins championships. Defense is a part of that.

        • Old Ranger says:

          The only person that thinks defence is not a big part of a winning team, is you.
          Most people realize there are 3 parts to championship teams;
          1) Defense- it covers a lot of liabilities…weak hitting and pitching.
          2) Pitching-Strong pitching, so the team need not score 6-8 runs a game to win it.
          Last and least of all…Hitting, if the defense and pitching keeps the game close, no need for 5 stars hitting 40+ HRs every year.
          Now I have known this fact…along with (most baseball people) people that have been watching baseball for many many more years then you will know. Obviously, there is more to it then that but, it’s the basic premise of baseball.

        • Mike Pop says:

          Only if Clark’s hit doesnt go over the wall =(… Arg

      • Old Ranger says:

        Defense wins championships!
        Anything that can be done to make the pitchers job less stressful is good. Nothing makes a pitcher feel good on the mound then knowing that a hit ball will not necessarily be a hit.

        • Ryan S. says:

          Hush Ranger, you can’t speak about intangibles like a pitcher having confidence in his defense on the internet!!!! You’ll get torn apart! ;)

          Seriously though, I’m right with ya. Having hungry young grinders that’ll earn their keep in whatever ways possible is something every team needs. Gardner might even be able to LAY DOWN A BUNT.

        • 'The' Steve says:

          Pitching wins, and having guys who can catch the ball makes your pitching that much better. Everybody doesn’t miss bats, and even guys that miss bats don’t do it all the time.

    • Joey H says:

      Yeah, It is pretty “god damn” awesome if Posada can play on a daily basis as well as Matsui. Not to mention solid production from Cano.

      • Ryan S. says:

        Every team has question marks like this. At least 2 outta 3 should of those guys should be dependable produces for us, but from what I’ve been hearing, all 3 are looking good right now. Plus, we have a spare quality hitter in Swisher (or maybe Nady) which we can use if Matsui isn’t doing a good job. I wouldn’t worry too much about the offense, I think we’re gonna be getting anywhere from 850-925 runs with this team as is

  6. Stephen says:

    I’m not sure that pitcher’s ERA is particularly useful for measuring a CFer’s defense because, as Ben says, there are other factors, including actual pitcher performance, Small Sample Size, etc.

    Also, I don’t think it’s completely fair to say Andy Pettitte stopped being able to get outs. His BABIP against in August and September were .369 and .373, respectively, while his Ks and BBs for those months were not particularly out of line for those months. This leads to a larger point on Pettitte, where people think he was significantly worse in ’08 than ’07, but he was pretty much unlucky in ’08. His xFIP was actually .379 in ’08, lower than the 4.47 of ’07. If you look at his peripherals, the only one that was worse in ’08 than in ’07 (besides BA, which was due to badluck) was HR/9 and it wasn’t a significant jump (.67 to .84). I think whatever team he plays for (hopefully the Yankees) should get a pretty good year out of him, assuming he stays healthy.

    • Stephen says:

      Or maybe it wasn’t bad luck, maybe it was that the Yankees defense was putrid last year, worse than ’07.


  7. Jamal G. says:

    We don’t need a whole bunch of high-fallutin’ defensive metrics to know that Johnny Damon is a pretty solid left fielder the best left fielder in MLB not named Carl Crawford


    • Ben K. says:

      Hah. Duly noted.

      • Jamal G. says:

        Yeah, I was just thinking about it, the Yankees’ defense should dramatically improve. Replacing Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi with an average defender in right field (both Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady are league-average defenders in RF) and 2008′s top defender at first base (Mark Teixeira, obviously), respectively, should result in the 6th worst defense in terms of converting outs making a dramatic improvement.

        Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are below-average defenders at their respective positions, Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera are above-average center fielders and Jorge Posada is a question mark. As for Robinson Cano, he was the best defender at second base in 2007, but one of the worst in 2008; so, what to expect with that?

        Best-case scenario has the Yankees as, at least, an average defensive unit in terms of Team Defensive Efficiency (with reasonable hopes of an above-average unit).

    • Manimal says:

      David Dejesus has got to be up there.

      • Jamal G. says:

        If you bump down the qualifier of games played (to less than 81 games) or innings played (less than 600), then yes, David DeJesus – and Willie Harris – enters the discussion.

    • 'The' Steve says:

      I’m just impressed that Ben knew how to spell “fallutin”. I would have went with the two ‘o’s and just looked silly.

  8. Joey H says:

    Lol. I am telling off PeteAbe. Someone said LoHud is the best blog. And I said that in my opinion, RAB is the best as far as frequent updates are concerned. And these dopes.. Just wow. Check it out on his last post.

    • Manimal says:

      hahahahahah even Pete Abe responded. Don’t even try to recruit people to come here. I don’t even know why someone would try to discuss with those guys.

      • Joey H says:

        I am not. If anything I am an advocate for keeping the close minded Yankee fans who still feel Joba must be a setup man, Manny must be a Yankee among assorted other things FAR AWAY from the sophisticated RAB.

    • Ryan S. says:

      Any type of “forum wars” is pretty silly IMO, I like both blogs a lot, but I only post hear. RAB definitely does the best job at fostering intelligent discussions about the Yankees between its visitors. LoHud’s comment sections are unwieldy in format and non-educational, at best, in terms of content.

      • Joey H says:

        What you are missing is that there is no “forum war”. Somebody said something to the effect that LoHud was the best blog or something. And I replied: “Eh. Pete is a very good journalist and very reachable but because he can get caught up and busy because he is a beat writer he doesn’t get to update his blog too much. So I am going to give it to River Ave Blues”
        And went on to explain that RAB is more legit discussion based.

      • inman says:

        i agree with this except for the part about enjoying the other blog

      • 'The' Steve says:

        Yeah, it’s not an either-or IMO. I read LoHud daily (as do most of the people here killing it) and do most of my commenting here. Yes, the analysis is better here but that doesn’t mean LoHud doesn’t serve a very useful purpose to me. I would also think that folks around here would appreciate him having RAB be his first guest blog this year. Its good for generating traffic and therefore good for this site. It also tells you he has a high opinion of this site.

        Question, why do you guys keep reading and commenting on something you can’t stand? You come across as obsessed with LoHud and needing to tear something else down for some personal or psychological reason. I don’t get that. If you don’t like the comments section, or the blog, don’t go there. I love Pete’s news gathering and RARELY visit the comments section, because as you guys point out it’s unreadable.

  9. Joey H says:

    So In short, let me take the time to say that me and the many other civilized readers who butt heads in a calm manner over realistic things really appreciate and admire the work you guys put into this site.

  10. Joey H says:

    “matman January 3rd, 2009 at 1:20 am

    And btw, this blog as well as river ave. are both great yankee blogs. There’s really no need to fuss about which one is better. They are both high quality.”

    This just left me speechless.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi says:

      In what respect, Charlie? To me it sounds like someone being diplomatic and attempting to end a pointless argument.

  11. Kevin G. says:

    I think Gardner’s defense and speed makes up for the offense lost by sitting one of the outfielders. But either way, this team is sick!

    One more thing, MLB Network has been unwatchable for me at some points. I turn it on and I see the 2004 World Series. Then they have red sox memories after that. I’m glad the red sox stuff is over for now.

  12. Manimal says:

    Honestly, Pete Abe’s blog is great for getting line ups and behind the scenes news. RAB is wins every other category,You guys have excellent articles on discussion topics, great user discussions(well you know, smart and educated with information to back up your thoughts) and EVERYTHING on the minors. You guys truly do a great job.

    • Joey H says:

      But that was my point. Pete runs a good blog in its own right because he speaks with the important people surrounding the Yankees personally. Such as Cashman, Girardi ect.. But here, they update more. and draw more relevant discussion.

      • Manimal says:

        Pete fires back… again.


        Make a deal with you: For every post RAB has made over 4,396 since Jan. 1, 2007, I’ll give you $1. For every one under that, you give me $1. Deal?”

        • 'The' Steve says:

          That’s where Pete himself gets into trouble. By getting into this tit for tat stuff he doesn’t make himself look better. You can’t get into a mud slinging match without coming out looking dirty yourself.

          He’s great with returning e-mails, but he often comes across as a Kindergarten Teacher. Someone who’s spent all day dealing with children. Its probably also why his analysis is so bad. That, and the fact he’s a Red Sox fan. Both he and Joel Sherman (who’s been better lately) write things on occasion that give you the impression that they don’t fundamentally understand who the Yanks are and how they operate. The Tex stuff was a good example of that with Pete. He really should have known better, and looked at their payroll after each FA signing.

          • Joey H says:

            First of all, he turned it into a “mud slinging” match. I just said something politely and he turned around and like a 5 year old basically said that if his blog doesn’t please me, I should go else where. But I said nothing to that effect.

    • VO says:

      i second that, this is by far the greatest yankee website in my eyes

  13. pat says:

    He’s straight crazy, besides the whole interested reader fiasco here he is publicly fighting with another blog.


  14. Joey H says:


    # Peter Abraham January 3rd, 2009 at 1:33 am


    Make a deal with you: For every post RAB has made over 4,396 since Jan. 1, 2007, I’ll give you $1. For every one under that, you give me $1. Deal?

    Ben when did you start operating because I am going to tear this idiot apart?

  15. Ryan S. says:

    The only question I would have for Pete Abraham is why he gives a damn what random people have to say about him. Just ignore it, nobody gives a rat’s ass except for the parties involved. Its not like challenging some random guy is going to give him any more or any less hits on his blog … I just don’t see why he’s up at 1:45 AM, arbitrarily defending himself when there is literally no need or point.

    • Joey H says:

      Yeah. I mean not to demean myself but who the hell am I to him?

      • Kevin G. says:

        I love this post from you

        matman. Read what I am writing. I am not trying to draw business over there (for reasons I won’t specify at this time) or anything of that sort. I just disagreed with what somebody said, while giving Pete credit for his work. So … Yeah..

        I wonder why you don’t want people from LoHud commenting on RAB?

      • Ryan S. says:

        Hey no offense Joey, but you’re probably just one of the hundred thousand+ people who visits his blog all the time. I mean, I went ahead and read the LoHud comments where your argument is taking place (since I myself am rather bored right now), I don’t even see what the problem is.

        • Joey H says:

          Um, Ryan. There is no problem. That is what is becoming a PROBLEM. He is turning a nothing into a something. Maybe because he is bored, I just don’t know.

    • 'The' Steve says:

      Yeah, that’s my take. As I posted earlier, he doesn’t come out looking better when he gets into this stuff.

  16. Manimal says:

    Dear Pete,

    Your so cool.

  17. Manimal says:

    haha nice comment Joey. You stuck it to him without being a bitch. Well done.

  18. Joey H says:

    # Smarter than you January 3rd, 2009 at 1:48 am

    How is Pete being unprofessional? It’s amazing that he takes the time to respond to you.
    # Joey H January 3rd, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Sorry but I am not exactly flattered that Pete is up at 145 staring an argument with a nobody (to him) over something that isn’t worth arguing over. I stated my opinion(which I am entitled to) while patronizing his blog and he goes off being nasty and trying to make deals with me.

    • VO says:

      we got buddy taking the bet

      • Joey H says:

        Yeah. I just read over what he wrote and he is like some sort of wild animal who is out to protect his territory at all means necessary. He is a hypocrite. By making that bet it was almost an insult. Where as the other day he promoted them. These are the fine things in life I just can’t grasp.

  19. Bonos says:

    In my dreams Gardner is given an honest chance, Jackson rakes at AAA and Melky makes a comeback. Then the Yankees will start drafting one high ceiling OF a year ala Boston. Or start trading for someone like Bogusevic in Houston. We’re knee deep in relievers and AAA starters, not worth much in terms of trade. Maybe they can showcase Aceves as a long man.

  20. Manimal says:

    2am, I’m going to bed.

    Good night guys.

  21. Joey H says:

    I see you VO. You approached it in a very LoHudlike manner. lol.

  22. VO says:

    hey ben when is the post coming where we complain about pete

  23. Kevin G. says:

    Crap, I wanted to hear why Leiter thinks Burnett won’t get injured on the repeat of Hot Stove Live but i missed it because of the LoHud mess.

  24. Joey H says:

    Murti refers to Pete as “Handsome.” That makes me want to puke. Even Sweeny couldn’t hold a straight face.


  25. VO says:

    ok guys im calling it a night, good luck joey

  26. Joey H says:

    Ok fellas. Good night. Sorry for the ruckus I’ve caused tonight.

  27. dan says:

    Anyone know where TSJC went? I was on vacation for like 5 days and since I’ve been back I haven’t seen him here.

  28. al says:

    mlb tv is making me sick right now..

  29. jad says:

    Just overjoyed at the signings so far, but I just don’t understand why no emphasisis on defense up the middle. No matter what we hit, we won’t win anything with Jeter/Cano, old Posada and whoever in CF. No pitcher alive can thrive with this shoddy defense, and you can’t expect 12 strikeouts a game from our pitching staff every night because God knows the rest of the defense isn’t very good either, (with the exception of Tex). The sad reality is that we do not have one complete defensive player on our team. If he has an arm, he has no range, If he can run, he is weak armed and doesn’t have explosive first step.etc
    We can try to overcome it with offense, certainly, but to be a complete team we have to adddress this issue. Please trade Cano for a real CF’er and get Hudson to play 2nd base. He is a magician on defense and will give Wang 4 more wines than he should have this year. We already spent 200 mill; whats 15 mill more? I still don’t believe we didn’t sign Beltran–how stupid. And by the way, who the hell is going to play ss? It was a pleasure whatching Alberto Gonzalez for those few games last year which, I am sure, is why we gave him away. If we had any prospects, would Jeter be playing SS? How about next year when he will be much worse? Angelini? Come on!! Develop some postion players for God’s sake!

    • steve (different one) says:


    • Ryan S. says:

      Here’s how I break down the defense for each position on our team … its not as bad as you think.

      LF, Damon: Above average

      CF, Gardner/Cabrera: Above average (Gardner), average (Cabrera)

      RF, Swisher/Nady: Above average (Swisher), average (Nady)

      1B, Texeira: Excellent

      2B, Cano: Hard to say. Could be anywhere from below average (like his 2008 year) to above average (like his 2007 year).

      SS, Jeter: Like Cano, hard to say. Could be anywhere from acceptably mediocre to really bad.

      3B, Rodriguez: Average

      C, Posada/Molina: Below average (Posada), above average (Molina).

      All in all, I think we should have a middle of the pack defensive team. I don’t see too many games being ruined by poor defense, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Considering the quality pitching and the impressive lineup we’ll be putting out there, I am not very concerned about defense being a major weakness on this team.

  30. Al says:

    I’m sick of the new MLB TV, whats up with the 04,07 WS repeat ?

  31. Old Ranger says:

    As with Cano, A-Rod moved a bit to cover Jeter (not much), also his defence has improved over the last three years. Almost all his err., were on throws, need I say more. Look for him to play back a step or two this year. He is not as bad a defender as some think (even though the stats say differently).
    On the infield we only have one poor and one questionable defender; poor Jeter, the other is Posada.
    With Brett-CF, Cano-2nd, ARod-3rd, Tex-1st, Healthy Posada-C, Johnny-LF, Swish/Nady-RF and even Jeter (not bad “D”) makes this team much better on defence.

  32. Reggie C. says:

    If Ben K thinks Nady is the 4th OF on this team, then why not just trade him while his value is high? We could get a decent IF/OF prospect for Nady right now, while also doing him a favor of starting.

    Nady to the braves for Gorkys Hernandez?

    • Ryan S. says:

      Considering the question marks Matsui and Swisher have, its not at all bad to keep Nady (a relatively cheap player for us) as he’s coming off the best season of his career and coming into his contract year. Plus, Girardi loves to juggle the lineup and Nady lets us give Damon/Matsui days off to let them keep fresh.

      Lastly, you can always trade him in the middle of the season, should either a big weakness in the team appear that needs to be fixed ASAP or if a team needs to dump salary and is having a fire sale, as Nady is a great potential trade chip for either scenario.

      • Reggie C. says:

        Kinda sucks for Nady , but the flexibility it gives Girardi makes sense.

        • Ryan S. says:

          He’s been a 4th outfielder for most of his career … at least now he’s one for a really good team. When all is said and done, the best players are going to get the most playing time. If Nady wants an everyday role on this team, he’ll get one … if he puts up the #s to merit it. Nady will be able to compete with Swisher/Matsui we’ll see how it works out.

  33. YankeeBaseball says:

    All this RAB Vrs LoHud soap opera is BORING. I skipped it all.

    I think this is the better site by far. I like the articles there but the posts are unreadable IMHO. Often has nothing to do with Baseball and all to do with sucking up to Pete… and it goes on and on and on.

    This Site usually has intelligent discussions on baseball and skips the other silliness. Bravo!

    For another cool site, check out The Yankee Zone. I also post there.
    Here’s a link if interested:


  34. YankeeBaseball says:

    If we knew Gardner could hit, I’d be ok with him, BUT he looks severely overmatched to me…

    Get me De Jesus! Word is he’s available. The guy’s a plus defender and offensively above average (for a CF). He’s also a very good LF in case Damon gets hurt. Can steal a few bags when needed. Only 29yr old too and cool as the other side of the pillow . . .

    Kennedy, SourMelky and Robertson should be enough.

    • VO says:

      well the guy is very clutch i must say, he did have what 2 walk off hits? i was at the one vs the royals

      • Matt says:

        Ha! I was at that game, too!

        But I think Gardner can hit. He’s got a track record of struggling when he gets bumped up a level so let’s not jump to conclusions. He’s got a great approach at the plate.

        As for DeJesus…he’s decent but I’m not giving up a starter, an outfielder, and a reliever for him. Also, what’s the point of trading for an outfielder when there’s already a lot of OFs? You get rid of one and bring in another? No.

        And on another note, let’ not get into this clutch thing with Gardner. He had like…12 ABs in “clutch” situations.

        • YankeeBaseball says:

          We’d be giving up the following:

          Kennedy (will never amount to anything as a Yankee)
          Melky (4th Outfielder at best)
          Robertson (decent reliever but we have better; will start at AAA)

          and as far as why get De Jesus when we already have a lot of outfielders, he is a *CF* and far better than anything we currently have.

  35. Virginia Yankee says:

    This is like the first scratch of a bad itch –

    Take a look at the straters and releivers in each of those games and what teh k/BB/BBIP rates were –

    Stil as yyou note it does not matter — Garner is the fax better CF – but he may be the wealest stick – can the Yankees take a year to find out. Melky – worse than Garndner – but not by a great deal looked to be haveing a solid winter ball with teh bat -

    Nonetheless the Yankees are aging at LF and it is uncertain what they wil lget out of Matsui and Damon

    Swisher and Nady are serviceable if they put up some power numbers and on OBP.

    Posada is uncertain at catcher and Cano – is he or isn’t he a hitter – can he become selective at the right time

    Jeter is near the end at SS – Cano and ARod actually making his stats appear better than they are. Teixeira wil help all at 1B

    The team is both rapidly aging and unproven young – not a winning combination unless the Young are ARodeque, Jeteresque

    The offense/defense that might have won with Santana may not insufficient to support Sbbathia, Burnett

    There is more to do — but Orlando Hudson is not an answer to anythng

    • Ryan S. says:

      Is age really that big of a factor?

      -Damon’s been doing great in LF and at age 35, he shouldn’t slow down too much in a single year, which is all we’re on the hook for. As the RAB guys have commented, two of Damon’s best years ever were in ’06 and ’08. Why should he show much if any regression at all?

      -Jeter is a sub-par defender but still an above average bat. He only had a -0.4 UZR last year, so he was middle of the pack defensively, and offensively his numbers were down since his wrist was hurt pretty bad for a big chunk of ’08 … he should actually improve in ’09 so long as he’s healthy (and no reason to think he wouldn’t be)

      -Matsui is apparently doing just fine. As the everyday DH who probably sees 500ish ABs, he should be able to hold up. If not, we have enough flexibility to replace him. If the organization thought he was burnt out, we’d be watching a press conference for Manny Ramirez or Adam Dunn right now.

      -The 2009 starting rotation is going to be a beast for us this year. If the offense/defense of 2008 was good enough in your mind to win it all if we had Santana last year, than the improved offense/defense of 2009 combined with the even better rotation that includes CC & Burnett should look even more appealing, right?

      • Ryan S. says:

        Also, you don’t need to hope for the young players to be A-Rodesque or Jeteresque WHEN YOU ALREADY HAVE A-ROD AND DEREK JETER! But it would be cool if Swisher became … Texieiraesque (I only said that to use that word).

        • Mike Pop says:

          If Swisher hits like he did in 07, he would be worth every penny and more.

        • YankeeBaseball says:

          Arod, I agree. I believe he will win the MVP this year with a career year! (and after 2007, that’s saying a lot!)

          As for Jeter, he is far from the player he used to be. Those Gold Gloves he “won” were a joke. He’s now one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball, a decent singles hitter with no power, doesn’t steal many bases anymore and is highly overpaid. If he truly had the best interest of the team at heart, he’d move from shortstop. Granted, he had a great Hall of Fame career, but when his contract’s up, he’s going to expect another monster contract (like the abomination that Posada got) and if so, I let him walk (as they did with Bernie).

  36. George Clint says:

    Before we start trading away Damon, Matsui, Melky or Nady as many have suggested,
    maybe we need to remember that the older a player gets, the more injury prone they become. We will need all the depth we can because these guys will be spending time on the DL. It’s a given. I think the one scary area nobody seems to mention is catcher. We still have no idea about Posada’s arm and past history tells us he’ll be the last to clue us in.
    Molina is a great backup but not the answer if Posada fails.

    As for Pettitte, we already know what the emotional turmoil in the beginning of the season did to Andy’s performance last year, so experts claim. Well if that’s the case, all this back and forth negotiating in the media won’t be a lift to Andy’s numbers this year. Look we might as well face the fact that although the guy will eat a lot of innings, he’ll also allow a lot of runs. He would be a fabulous left handed specialist out of the pen, but I don’t think
    Andy would be happy with that.

    Last, I want to give my vote to Gardner starting in center. He’s just what the Yanks need,
    great defense, lots of energetic hustle, and maybe 40 steals a year. Getting Tex now allows us to carry Gardner’s ‘punch and judy’ bat. Cano is a mystery and this year will tell us everything we need to know. Unfortunately, if the news is bad, his value will drop. We could always try to get Larry Bowa back to light a fire under his ass!

    Looking forward to this year!!

    • YankeeBaseball says:

      Agreed with having depth. With Matsui and Damon, there are bound to be injuries. If Nady’s a starter, I bet that Swisher could be subbed in at a bunch of different positions so he’s get 4-5 starts per week… then when an injury happens, he’s a starter.

      Definitely agree that Posada scares me. Before his surgery, he couldn’t throw out runners and now he will be dramatically better? Also, you’re right, with Posada’s attitude of definitely being the Catcher, if there are problems, he wouldn’t tell the club he can’t catch until it’s too late. At that point, Molina’s basically our starter . . .

      Pettite, if he takes the 10mil, I’m ok with him, but I wouldn’t go much higher. I wonder if Sheets can be had for say 12mil + easy incentives based on innings pitched that could bring him to $16mil? He’s not getting much interest… If you really just want a cheap innings eater then Paul Byrd might be a consideration. Another guy who comes to mind is Pavano on a cheap deal with lots of incentives…

      To me Gardner is a defensive replacement/pinch runner/4th outfielder. He had a chance last year and basically was unable to hit ML pitching. I’d be more comfortable with a guy like De Jesus in CF.

      As far as Cano, we did try to get Bowa back but he resigned with the Dodgers to be with his buddy Joe Torre. We just have to pray that he learned his lesson last year and has decided to rededicate himself. All reports from Kevin Long are favorable in that regard.

      I too am greatly looking forward to this Year. I expect a 27th Championship!

  37. [...] Stop the madness, please  /  The center field defense and the Yankee pitching [...]

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