Everybody loves Brett

Padres place Nova on waivers
The man behind the Yanks' political clout

In Disney World today, the Yankees’ three long relief candidates — Brett Tomko, Al Aceves and Dan Giese — are each scheduled to make their cases for that final spot in the bullpen. Meanwhile, the center field job is all but wrapped up, and Brett Gardner is emerging as the one to start the season manning center field.

For those of us watching the Yankee news over the last few days, this revelation can hardly come as a surprise. After all, the Yankees, as Ken Rosenthal reported, would be willing to trade Melky Cabrera at this point. That kind of news doesn’t leak out five days before you name the trade candidate as your starter.

At the same time, though, Kat O’Brien says that both players will earn jobs with the Big League club. For the Yankees, that’s simply a personnel matter. Melky Cabrera is out of options, and while the Yanks may not have a trade lined up, the Yanks would have to put Melky through waivers to send him down to AAA. We might not be too high on Melky’s future potential, but a 24-year-old with 415 MLB games under his belt wouldn’t clear waivers.

Rob Neyer agrees but only to a point. In a blog post yesterday, Neyer analyzed the Yanks’ center field situation and urged the team to send off Melky if they can. In fact, he doesn’t think both players should earn a spot on the team. While Neyer has a point about that, as I said, the Yanks don’t want to lose Melky and will probably try to trade him this spring. Writes Neyer:

[If] you’re going to get rid of one of them, Cabrera’s probably the guy. At least Gardner’s demonstrated that he can do something (run and field) and might do something else (reach base). At this point, it’s not clear that Cabrera can do anything. And I say that having written — just two or three years ago — that by now Melky would be one of the 10 best center fielders in the majors (not one of my more brilliant predictions).

Cabrera’s upside might still be higher than Gardner’s … but the Yankees can’t worry about upside. They’re trying to win right now, and Gardner gives them a slightly better chance of doing that…

The Yankees aren’t going to trade Nick Swisher because they need him. If Joe Girardi can’t somehow get Swisher nearly 500 plate appearances this season, then he’s not a good enough manager for this club. I’m at the front of the line criticizing the supposed decision to make Nady the everyday right fielder, but I’m willing to cut Girardi just a little slack for the moment. There just isn’t any justification for Nady getting more playing time than Swisher in the long run.

In a way, this news is good for Brett, bad for Melky, but in another way, it doesn’t really matter. Gardner will earn the center field at bats until his hitting becomes a liability. If he isn’t doing the job out of the gate, the Yanks can put Melky back into that lineup spot if they haven’t traded him. If neither emerge as viable candidates for the job, Nick Swisher may be pressed into service or Brian Cashman will look elsewhere. For now, though, April 6 will mark the start of the Brett Gardner Era in the Bronx.

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Padres place Nova on waivers
The man behind the Yanks' political clout
  • steve (different one)

    i was surprised at how well Melky was doing this spring.

    i don’t consider ST numbers very meaningful, but just based on the press around the CF battle, you’d think Melky was 0 for the spring.

    he’s hitting .313/400/.479, which is great.

    unfortunately for him, Gardner is hitting .383/.453/.702.

    there is really no way to easily figure this out, but i’d bet that after Gardner’s initial hotstreak in the first week, they are basically neck and neck.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      It’s surprising how that’s been ignored. We’re guilty of it too. If not for Brett, Melky would be having a good spring. I’m not sure how much stock we can put in the spring numbers for either player, and that’s why I’m comfortable saying that Gardner is the starting center fielder for now. That “for now” could be as short as ten days or so.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

        As an update: Melky is now 2 for 2 today, and his spring numbers will bump up accordingly. He’s having himself a very fine spring.

    • Spaceman.Spiff

      I could see Girardi using April as a sort of extended spring training for those two. I’m not so sure Gardner has sewn it up to the point where he starts 5 times a week. Since it’s hard to evaluate players in ST situations, I could easily see Girardi letting the two split time for a month and then sticking with whoever eventually separates himself.

      • Let’s Talk About TEX Baby

        I really don’t see a need to trade Melky even if Gardner’s full-time in CF, although I bet Melky will see more at bats against lefties. In a close game with men on Swisher would pinch hit for Gardner, and this way Melky could go play center rather than having to put Swisher out there or slot Damon over. It doesn’t hurt to have depth on this team for once.

  • r.w.g.

    I don’t think I agree with Neyer about the Swisher/Nady situation.

    I’ve got no problem with Swisher starting or Nady on the bench, but I personally don’t feel like Nady is being given enough credit for the player he is. No, he’s not great at getting on base, but he’s not god-awful either. The guy can hit and it’s not ludicrous that he would be the starter, especially following a .219 average from Swisher. I know his situation in CHW wasn’t perfect, but he made it worse on himself with his shit attitude.

    Nady is a real professional guy who has been traded a lot, played in New York (and played well).. he’s no-nonsense, there to do his job.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      If you’re only evaluating Nick Swisher on his average and how well he got along with Ozzie Guillen, you’re looking at the wrong metrics. He’s an on-base machine with far better career numbers in that regard than Nady. He was also incredibly unlucky last year in terms of BABIP.

      I’m not sure if it’s as clear a decision to award Swisher more playing time as Neyer writes it, but I’d say that Swisher would be the better choice.

      • r.w.g.

        Yeah, I know the stats. I spent 10 minutes going over them before I even bothered to post.

        All things being totally equal, Swisher wins out because at his best he’s a .380-.400 OBP guy, where as Nady has hovered in the .330-.340ish range.

        But I don’t think it’s even deniable that Nady has upticked every single year he gets further away from San Diego and gotten better players around him.

        At this stage of both guys careers, I don’t think one is clearly better than the other. We need this season to figure it out. Nobody really knows if last year was a fluke for either guy (I don’t think it was for either, personally).

        • mustang

          Dead on !!!

        • mustang

          ” (I don’t think it was for either, personally).”

          Agree

      • El Generalissimo

        Neyer makes a great point though. Assuming just for this no injuries, which are bound to happen…

        Matsui
        Damon
        Gardner
        Nady

        if you just give eash guy 25 games off… that’s 100 games for Swisher right there. Plus, 10 for Tex = 110. It shouldnt be difficult to find him ABs.

        • r.w.g.

          Is Swisher going to be happy with that many games? Or is he going to complain that he isn’t an everyday guy?

          Is he going to complain if he has to fill in at CF?

          • mustang

            From what i read to his response to Nady getting the RF job I would say he is going to complain. But that is pure speculation on my part we have to wait and see.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

              Can you actually point to Swisher’s saying that or are you just engaging in character assassination? Earlier this week, Swisher said he was disappointed not to win the job. I’d hope that a Major Leaguer would be disappointed not to win a starting job out of spring training, and I fail to see how that’s his saying he’s going to complain.

              • mustang

                Ben your right on this one I read back over Swisher’s comments in a few papers and there is nothing to support my speculation. I think I read some thing in the Daily News that came off badly and I ran with it a bit.
                MY BAG

      • steve (different one)

        If you’re only evaluating Nick Swisher on his average and how well he got along with Ozzie Guillen, you’re looking at the wrong metrics.

        i agree with the overall point. Swisher is likely the better player (how many times have i typed this in the last week).

        BUT….everyone is so willing to give Swisher a mulligan for being uncomfortable after being traded to Chicago, yet the main argument against Nady is that “he wasn’t great in NY after he was traded, so we should probably just ignore his great first half in Pittsburgh”.

        it’s kindof BS, and it’s poor analysis.

        just like when i was arguing that Holliday isn’t just a Coors’ product, the same applies here: DON’T IGNORE ANY OF THE SAMPLE.

        if you take both players’ entire sample, you probably draw the same conclusions, except you aren’t guilty of cherry picking the stats.

        • steve (different one)

          and no, i don’t really think Spring Training numbers apply to this conversation.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

          I’m not basing my preference for Swisher over Nady on some cherry-picked numbers from last year. I’m looking overall at their careers and what they each bring to the table. I’ll take Swisher.

          • steve (different one)

            sorry, i missed the part of the original post you were referring to. the part about his “shit attitude”.

            i thought you were saying that Swisher’s poor performance was a result of never getting comfortable with Guillen.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

              No. No. I was saying that’s not really a valid lens of interpretation for Swisher’s bad season.

              • steve (different one)

                gotcha. itchy typing hand, 20 oz coffee will do that.

        • mustang

          But cherry picking to make a point is the essences of RAB.
          LOL

          I agree with you.

          • steve (different one)

            yes, it was brilliant argument…unfortunately it had nothing to do with the conversation at hand.

            oh well. me=fail.

    • pat

      Average isn’t everything dude. Gotta look at the peripherals, Swisher has him beat in everything else.

    • mustang

      I agree with you on Nady and fortunately Girardi took last year into consideration when making the decision. For some reason people just seem to want to underestimate last year numbers.

  • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

    Yanks-Braves update. Tex hit a solo shot, 5-0 yanks

    • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

      Cano just hit a bomb opposite field, 6-0

      • J.R.

        I wouldn’t call cano’s a bomb. The wind pushed that one.

  • andrew

    Looks like Tomko really wants the job… I think 3 scoreless innings today may have sealed off the spot for him, unless he gets completely bombed next time out.

  • J.R.

    Melky is 3-3

    And when the Braves crew was interviewing Bobby Cox, Jeter hit a grounder that resulted in an error. Bobby Cox’s response was “Aw Shit” and they cut his interview short.

    Those two guys acted like it was the end of the world. Hilarious.

  • mustang

    “At this point, it’s not clear that Cabrera can do anything. ”

    Cabrera does have a better arm. I thinking he took it a bit too far.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      He did. But that’s how Neyer writes. It’s a little self-deprecating and a little over the top.

      • mustang

        ok

  • J.R.

    Tomko fired another 3 scoreless innings. I don’t see how he doesn’t make the team. DFA Giese, and then you have a hard decission about how to open a spot for Berroa or Pena.

    If Arod is coming back could they retro actively put him on the 60 day dl?

    That would open the spot they need then they could DFA Berroa or Ransom May 15 when Arod comes back.

  • http://ryanhandt.blogspot.com/ handtius

    Melky is 3 for 3. up to .353. what if he really is turning the corner? i like gradner. he’s good he’s fast he’s exciting, but what if. Everyone says melky’s got the potential to be a good centerfielder. if he turns things around, you got him in center and a-jax in a corner and gardner as the defensive replacement at the other corner. that’s on ridiculous defense right there, in 2010, or shit melky, gardner and a-jax would be a sick outfield anyway if melk comes around. no ball ever touches the grass.

    • steve (different one)

      would be kindof amusing to see what would happen if Melky finishes hot and Gardner cold, and they basically have the same stats at the end of ST….

      has great trainwreck potential.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        It’s getting there now.

        • http://ryanhandt.blogspot.com/ handtius

          you expect the last few weeks of spring training to more represent the season, so if that’s true, would melky be pulling ahead a little?

          • mustang

            good point.

      • Drew

        The problem I always have is that Melky has proven himself in the Majors. He hit 280 and 273. Last year was bad, Maybe he got complacement. Maybe the leaner Melky pictures we saw of him down in DR show that he worked hard this offseason. I can’t let go of Melk until he proves he can’t play.

        • Drew

          *complacent* lol

        • andrew

          We write off Swisher’s bad season last year, but we crucify Melky for it. I know a lot of the evidence that people cite on here points to Swisher being unlucky and Melky being bad, but maybe Melky rebounds too

  • A.D.

    They probably give Gardner the job for the most part and hold onto Melk. If Gardner blows they send him back down and give Melk the job back.

    Otherwise they wait till they move Melk

    • Drew

      Agreed. I just hope if it works out with Grit we’ll get something for the Melkster.

  • Drew

    Ehh.. Damn you Bernie, just looking at minors stats. Melky was rushed, he still doesn’t have 300 AB’s in AAA.

    • http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_postseason.jsp?c_id=nyy&playerID=121250&statType=2 Slugger27

      posada didnt become the starter til he was 27, bernie williams when he was 25, alfonso soriano when he was 25, pettitte when he was 23…

      u might be on to something here… i bet ajax could use both this year and next year in the minors too

      im not all that knowledgable in this department, but it seems like due to the lack of position players in the system, theyre bringing guys up faster than ever

    • A.D.

      It would make more sense that he was rushed if Melk came up, and was never able to hold his own at the plate and thus never developed. Instead he started out fine, and then has digressed offensively.

  • Rob S.

    Who cares what Rob Neyer thinks? He’s an a$$ who hates the Yankees. If you’re not objective then your opinion is meaningless. BTW there is a lot of justification for Xavier Nady to be the everyday right fielder. For starters Nady’s average last season was about .300 while Swisher batted .219. Nady was aquired to help in left fieldlast season and replace Abreau in right field this season, right field is Nady’s job. Swisher was aquired as an insurance policy at first base and nothing more. We’ve got Tex to play first which leaves Swisher on the bench exactly where last season’s numbers would suggest that he belongs.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      As long as you’re basing your statistical argument on batting average, I’ll continue to believe what Rob Neyer has to say over Rob S.

    • http://ryanhandt.blogspot.com/ handtius

      yeah, i like nady too, but come on man, you need to look past average. he’s not the best option.

      • andrew

        Even if you look past avg, Nady had a much better year last year than Swish did. Avg, obp, slugging, ops+… whatever you want to use, Nady beat him. So to say Nady is not the best option is an opinion, not a fact like many people on here would like us to believe.

        When it comes down to it, I want what’s best for the team, so whoever is playing better should play. But maybe Nady has turned the corner, and the league has figured Swisher out, I’m not saying this is the case, but it’s just as possible as Swisher rebounding and Nady falling back to earth.

  • http://yankeesmtom.com Steven

    Can Wily Mo play a decent centerfield?

    • J.R.

      Willy mo Pena was released because he strikes out a ton and now lost all of his power. I’d rather have Melky than Willy Mo. And the yankees don’t have a roster spot for him.

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  • Joseph M

    I think Melky is a keeper. At this point he hast lost his starting job and rightfully so. Gardner should start but we could arrive at the first week in May and find Gardner not hitting and then what do you do for a centerfielder. I’m not sure Gardner can hit and he may be able to run and field but if he hits .150 he can’t play in the majors.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Exactly what about Melky is it that makes you think he’s a keeper? Three years of declining stats? An overrated approach to center that he hides with a good arm? What? I don’t really see it.