Left field closing arguments: Marlon Byrd

Open Thread: The other side of the lake
By the Decade: Saves but not by Mo

This is the second in our final series on what the Yankees might do with left field. Check out the original left field post for a quick primer on what we’re looking for. Yesterday we examined Reed Johnson. Today will be the final discussion for Marlon Byrd.

Did Marlon Byrd mature as a hitter during his years in Texas, or did he just take advantage of a hitter friendly ballpark? That’s the question any interested team will have to answer. It’s also one we cannot answer with certainty until we see Byrd in new digs. This is the main reason I want to see the Yankees stay away from him.

It is uncommon for a player to suddenly start hitting for power at age 29. It certainly can happen, and it has happened, but when it does it’s unexpected. While power is said to be the last tool to develop, it usually doesn’t take eight professional seasons to do so. But that’s the case for Byrd, who was drafted in 1999 and who first broke a .450 SLG in 2007. Since that power surge coincided with his move to Texas, we can view it with a skeptical eye. Rangers Ballpark at Arlington is, after all, one of the most hitter friendly parks in the majors.

Byrd spent his first full major league season, 2003, with the Phillies, hitting .303/.366/.418 over 553 plate appearances. That’s an excellent line, especially for a 25-year-old center fielder. The next year, however, wouldn’t be nearly as good. Byrd could not sustain his .363 BABIP, and saw his numbers fall to .228/.287/.321in 378 plate appearances. The Phillies optioned him to AAA Scranton in mid-June, but he didn’t show much improvement. From August 1, his recall date, through the end of the season he basically remained the same.

In 2005 the Nationals traded Endy Chavez for Byrd, and saw middling results: a .318 OBP and .380 SLG in 244 PA in 2005, and a .317 OBP and .350 SLG in 228 PA in 2006. The Nats released him after the season, and he signed on with Texas. That’s when his numbers started to surge.

At first it seemed like a 2003 repeat. Byrd hit .307/.355/.459 in 454 PA for the Rangers in 2007, but had a .370 BABIP. But instead of crashing down to earth, as he did in 2004, Byrd followed up his 2007 campaign with a career year in 2008. He hit .298/.380/.462 in 462 PA, increasing his ISO from .152 to .164, and raising his walk rate from 6.5 to 10.2 percent. At the same time, his BABIP fell to .332. That earned him a more regular playing time in 2009.

While his BABIP fell yet again, this time to .315, Byrd again turned in a quality season. His OBP was a bit low, .329, mostly because he nearly halved his walk rate. But his ISO once again jumped, this time to .196, by far a career high. He hit 20 home runs, doubling his previous career high, and hit 43 doubles, also a career high by 15. That he did it over 599 PA makes it even more impressive.

All the while, Byrd has seemingly played good defense. As with most players his UZR fluctuates, but over his career he’s a 0.0 UZR center fielder and a positive in the corners. That’s a major consideration for the Yankees. They might also like his platoon splits, which are almost nonexistent. Over his career he’s about even against lefties and righties — though in 2009 he actually had a reverse split.

Still, that his power surge came in Texas should raise concern in his ability to do it in other ballparks. Yankee Stadium typically suppresses right handed power, which would offset Byrd’s greatest strength, his rising power numbers. Byrd also isn’t the first center fielder who saw a power surge in Texas. Gary Matthews Jr. posted an ISO of over .180 in each of his three years in Texas, a mark he hadn’t come close to previously, and one which he hasn’t approached in Los Angeles. Unsurprisingly, he played the same seasons — age 29, 30, and 31 — in Texas as Byrd.

In his mailbag yesterday ESPN’s Buster Olney described Byrd as “the pre-eminent outfield target” on the free agent market. He won’t get a Matthews type deal, but there could be a team — say, the Cubs — who will pay him more than other teams are willing. That’s why I don’t expect the Yankees to get involved. At this point there is no reason to give a player like Byrd more than one year, and if really is the “preeminent” outfielder still available, he’ll probably get at least two. That just doesn’t fit with what the Yanks have done so far this off-season.

So now, whenever a rumor surfaces involving Byrd and the Yankees, we can refer back to this post and its comments. Have your final say now.

Photo credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images North America

Open Thread: The other side of the lake
By the Decade: Saves but not by Mo
  • pat

    He’s not even faster than a speeding Betemit!

    • Salty Buggah

      So it is him! I had a feeling that was Wilson “The Legend” Betemit.

  • Bucksky619

    Why worry about power out of left field? Aren’t we basically trying to find a #9 hitter who can get on base before the lineup turns over? Anyway last I checked Yankee Stadium was also considered “hitter friendly”. I don’t know if Byrd is a left field solution but the perfect guy doesn’t exist at the Yankees price. All of this debate over left field is probably going to end up leaving folks disappointed because the Yankees don’t seem inclined to make a major move here. I just want a guy who hits for a decent average and can stay healthy and make the plays out there. I honestly think the Yanks should save their money, move Gardner to center and Grandy to left (or right, whichever makes more sense).

    • Salty Buggah

      last I checked Yankee Stadium was also considered “hitter friendly”.

      Check again: http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/parkfactor

      Yankee Stadium is a pitchers park. It is homer-friendly, yes, but it is not hitter friendly

      • http://cache.boston.com/multimedia/sports/bigshots/110509/01.jpg Drew

        Salty, ESPN doesn’t call it the wiffle park in the Bronx for nothing. YSIII is a joke! Duh!

      • http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090810&content_id=6355462&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy JobaWockeeZ

        What a surprise, Fenway had the most doubles in 2009.

      • JFH

        well, there goes that myth.

    • Bo

      Why slot LF in as a 9 type? Why would they just go for a lesser player?

      LF is a hitter position. WHy give up that advantage?

      • Rich M.

        Check-out who the LFers were in the four Championship years from ’96 – ’00. Curtis, Ledee, Raines, etc., see any power hitters there?

        This lineup can get by nwith a guy who hits .260 and catches the damned ball!

      • OldYanksFan

        Plus… ya can’t look at ‘hitters per position’ with this team. It doesn’t apply to us. We might have the best 3rd baseman, 2nd baseman and SS in the AL. Our 1Bman is no slouch. We have a top offensive Catcher.

        I don’t know if Grandy and Nick outproduce 2009 Mats and JD, but they will outproduce 2010 Mats and JD.

        Would you feel better if Grandy plays LF and Gritner plays CF? I think that’s a better Defensive lineup, but don’t know if Girardi/Cashman agree.

        The bottom line is even with Gardy instead of Melky, barring (serious) injury, our current lineup is better then 2009. Should Cashman pick up a LFer at the ASB for the PS, all the better.

        But we are kickin’ ass right now….
        regardless of who you call our LFer.

    • bill

      i live in detroit and grandy is a way better center feilder than gardner. personally i think that the yankees should sign scott potsednik to play left feild. He is a left handeed batter who consistently hit for and above .300 average. Then the could put potsednik in leadoof jeter stilll would bat second and johnson can bat ninth. there order would look lik this.

      1) Scott Potsednik lf
      2) Derek Jeter ss
      3) Mark texiera 1b
      4) A-rod 3b
      5) either grandy or Posada cf r c
      6) the other one cf or c
      7) Nick swisher or Cano rf or 2b
      8) The other one rf or 2b
      9) Johnson dh

      • bill

        gardner would be a god fourth outfeider and pinch runner for swisher late in the game ( 8th or 9th inning)

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        the yankees should sign scott potsednik to play left feild.



        • bill

          he fits their butget and is a good feilder and can get on base. he also has a little something they need in the word speed a potsednik-jeter 1-2 puch would be amazing. it would also give tex and arod more rbi

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

            Podsednik = Gardner. Why do you want two of the same player?

            Plus, Nick Johnson would give A-Rod and Tex more RBI because he and Jeter will be on base more than Pods and Jeter would.

            There is no possible way the Yankees sign Scott Podsednik. Book it.

            • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

              Podsednik is a bad defensive OFer. Gardner is not.

              Gardner > Podsednik

          • OldYanksFan

            His career OPS+ is 87! 84 in the AL. His wOBA is below average and his URZ/150 is negative. He may have had a ‘good name’ at one time, but indeed, he is not as good as Gritner… especially when you consider Defense.


            Oh… and NJ is Onbase JESUS. He bats at the top of the lineup, so with his slow speed, he can clog up the bases… until Tex or ARod unclogs them!

        • Kenny

          Posednik would be nice but not leadoff. nick johnson will have a great obp.
          i think scott should bat 9th. Then in the 3rd inning you would probably get posednik than jeter than johnson. Followed by power teixeira rodriguez granderson…

          1. Jeter ss
          2. Johnson DH
          3. Teixeira 1b
          4. Rodriguez 3b
          5. Granderson CF
          6. Posada C
          7. Cano 2b
          8. Swisher RF
          9. Potsednik LF

          Now this ressembles last year’s lineup a lot. Except you replace Matsui’s 27 HR and 1 SB with Granderson’s 32 HR and 20-25 SB
          Than you replace Cabrera’s 261. AVG. with Potsednik’s 305. AVG.

          ALONG WITH VASQUEZ REPLACING WHAT WANG DID LAST YEAR THE YANKEES SHOULD DEFEAT EVERYONE. Byrd’s power would be unnecessary and expensive. Potsednik is way better than Reed Johnson, and is almost the same price. Pll the trigger Brian. For once.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

            “Potsednik is way better than Reed Johnson, and is almost the same price.”

            You made two declarative statements there with no substantiation. You have no idea what the prices on Pods and Johnson are, and furthermore, in what way is Pods better than Johnson?

          • OldYanksFan


          • bill

            in fact pods is about 1 mil cheaper than reed ohnson plus he has a better glove and a better batter

      • Ridigaho

        he only hit .300 twice in his career (and once was in ’04)

  • http://sportspyder Kevin

    I totally agree with Bucksky619. Brett Gardner in Centerfield and Curtis Granderson in Leftfield (batting 5th). Gives the Yanks great defense in the infield as well as the Outfield. I think Brett Gardner is going to win a lot of hearts and minds with his success. You’re going to love the way he plays the game.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      We know how Gardner plays the game. He has been on the team for the past two years. That’s why many of us want the Yankees to sign some sort of caddy, rather than going into the season with him starting and no backup plan.

    • pat

      Hahah dude, Gardner isn’t some rookie nobody has ever heard of, you can spare the hearts and minds speech. I don’t think there’s any guarantee Gardner is better than Granderson in CF, Cash has said he brought in Grandy to be the CF not a LF.

    • Stuckey

      Why wouldn’t you just play Gardner in left?

    • http://cache.boston.com/multimedia/sports/bigshots/110509/01.jpg Drew

      “You’re going to love the way he plays the game.”
      I could give two shits the way he “plays the game.” If he gets on base he’s my boy. If he sucks he can go play in Japan for all I care. Give me a break with all this Grit “plays hard,” “plays the game right,” blah blah. That’s a joke. If you play your heart out and hit 200 you may as well apply to Mc D’s for all I care.

      If you think he’ll be a good player, okay. Just don’t tell me I’ll love him because of how he plays the game.

    • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

      If Gardner promises to sign autographs for six hours before and after every game for kids with terminal illnesses, and pinky swears to play really, really hard, the job is his. But if he utters one curse word or gets distracted by a bird JUST ONCE, we have to sign Barry Bonds and his dead father to play LF, steroids and all. That’s just how it goes.

      The ball’s in your court, Brett.

      • bill

        lol tru dat

      • OldYanksFan

        Bonds! YES!
        (why didn’t I think of that?)

    • OldYanksFan

      While I agree that it’s all about performance, ya guys are a tad bit rough. Cano is a stud bat, but watching him play was not always a pleasure. Don’t you wish he was grittier… and maybe dove for a ball once or twice a year? Took a few more walks?

      And Melky… all that potential to waste because he was too stupid to let pitchers walk him. The guy liked giving away strikes. Don’t ya wish he didn’t swing at balls over his head, and maybe let a few 2-0 pitches that were in the dirt… just go by?

      It’s all about production, but it ain’t fun to watch talented guys give it away. It is fun to watch average white guys in the OF, ala Swisher, go balls-to-the-wall and surprise us.

      ESPN uses ‘plays the game the right way’ ad nauseum.
      But is not the prototypical ‘plays the game the right way’ guy a one Derek Jeter? Isn’t that part of his value?

      I’m saying it here. Gritner will have a better wOBA then Melky. He will play better defense. Over 3 years, he will be $12m cheaper then Melky.

      Again, I prefer him in CF. If he could be a league average CFer, he has great value to our ballclub.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        While I agree that it’s all about performance, ya guys are a tad bit rough. Cano is a stud bat, but watching him play was not always a pleasure. Don’t you wish he was grittier… and maybe dove for a ball once or twice a year? Took a few more walks?

        We all wish Cano took a few more walks, but it’s not like he’s up there hacking at everything and not making contact. He makes up for the lack of walks with a lack of strikeouts, despite still have great power, especially for his position. Cano not taking walks has nothing to do with his not being “gritty” or not hustling, it’s just his game/skill-set. I’d definitely like to change that one part of it, but it’s not some flaw in his character that makes him try less than other players do.

        • OldYanksFan

          Look… I LOVE Cano. Lifelong Yankee I hope. But there are times in the field he underplays. Bending over for that tough grounder in the hole and oops… just under the glove. There were a number of times when hitting the ground would have made the play. I’m not saying he’s lazy, just that an extra 2% can make a difference.

          And Cano is a tremendous hitter…. but if he were smarter at the plate, he would simply have a better OPS and play closer to his potential.

          My point is simply that playing SMART and Balls-to-the-Wall DOES have value. Posting numbers is still the bottom line, but playing SMART and Balls-to-the-Wall is like a 6th and 7th tool. Maybe they’re intangibles. Whatever you call them, if ya have ’em, you’re a better player then your talent. If ya don’t, it leaves the fans feeling ‘If only…’.

          Example: Cano had 30 walks last year, while Dustpan (Pedroia) had 74… 44 more. Let’s say Cano takes half that difference, and 22 outs turn into walks. If that happened, he goes from a great OPS of .871 to an AMAZING OPS of .921!

          Imagine that. 52 BBs is not that great. But 52 BBs last year gives Cano a .921 OPS! Cano is a great 2nd baseman. However, he is just a few braincells short of being a historically great 2nd baseman.
          If Melky walks 20 times more a year, his 88 OPS+ turns into slightly more then 100… and maybe he is still in Pinstripes.

          If Gritner does indeed have those 2 ‘extra tools’, he will play ‘better then he looks’.

          In other LF news, via ESPN:
          “Boras is believed to have an offer in excess of $100 million [for Holliday]from the Cardinals, and club officials with other teams sense he is shopping that offer.”

          • MattG

            You make it sound simple to add 22 walks. Its not, and it certainly can’t be done without impacting his other stats. For instance, Cano put the first pitch in play 118 times last year, for a 1.152 OPS. In order to walk more, he will certainly need to take the first pitch more often, meaning that his most successful count is compromised. This results in the stat line coming down.

    • Bo

      Why would they trade for Grandy to put him in LF? Not going to happen.

      If they thought Gardner was a legit OF they would have not traded for Granderson

    • bill

      Grandy is a center feider by trade garner is a utility outfeilder they trded for grandy to play in cennter feilder and incase it didnt get through yalls head. There still shopping a left feilder.


      • OldYanksFan


    • Sweet Dick Willie

      You’re going to love the way he plays the game.


      That’s the way he’s played the game in his limited MLB career.

      If that doesn’t improve, nobody’s going to “to love the way he plays the game.”

  • trent

    Wouldn’t Hairston be a nice bench compliment? Let’s sign him and be done with it.

    • OldYanksFan


  • Salty Buggah

    Since no one has really said it…I agree Joe, I don’t want Marlon Byrd.

    •2007 H/A Splits:

    Home OPS: .916
    Away OPS: .715

    •2008 H/A Splits:

    Home OPS: .911
    Away OPS: .772

    •2009 H/A Splits:

    Home OPS: .873
    Away OPS: .740

    •99 Career OPS+ (career OPS: .762, which is similar to his away numbers)

    So, despite his 3 years in Texas, he is still barely below average as a hitter in his career.

    Interesting note: You know who B-Ref lists as his most similar batter? Reed Johnson.

    • OldYanksFan

      Ya beat me too it. Over the last 3 years, his Away OPS is about 160 pt lower then his Texas OPS. He looks to me to be about a dead average OFer, O and D considered. If he costs what a ‘dead average’ player costs, and Cashman only expects a ‘dead average’ player, then he is a possible upgrade over Gritner and adds a bit of OF depth.

      However, Cashman can, and will do better.
      Probably after the ASB.
      Short of a JHJr type guy, we are good enough for an April team.
      I’m sure we will look a bit different in October.

  • JackISBACK

    Gardner also had a reverse split last year (albeit in less ABs) so he could be learning to hit lefties (after having lefty problems in 2008).

    I would go into next year with Gardner in LF, and I would feel confident in it.

    • Mac1

      Gardner blows, for too many reasons to keep listing.

      Byrd is the guy, a two year deal should not be an impediment – he’s healthy, can play all 3 of positions and if he posts an overall 775 ops that should be more than enough (and an improvement over Melks .752). Bryd’s OBP is a bit of a concern but in the 9 slot, in the Yanks lineup he should be able to bounce back (hopefully).

      It will be interesting to see what $ Byrd can get since Beane threw away 5.25 mil on Crisp.

      No guarantee Crawford is in pinstripes next year, and he’s gonna cost big $. Byrd is a nice, solid player that would be a great fit.

      Damon’s bat would also be fine for 2 years 16 mil instead of Byrd, but I’d go Byrd – he’s gonna be a much better offensive player than Gardner and he’s a plus defender on both corners.

      The 5.5 mil they gave NJ could wind up being money thrown away – don’t need to throw away more on another fragile Johnson (Reed).


      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        The 5.5 mil they gave NJ could wind up being money thrown away – don’t need to throw away more on another fragile Johnson (Reed).

        Yet you think they should invest in a guy who’s been in an incredibly hitter friendly environment for the last three seasons, with questionable numbers outside of said hitter’s park.

      • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

        Clearly just your opinion, since you provide no basis for your opinion what-so-ever.

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  • http://generationnot.blogspot.com/ Steve S

    I think its all cost. I’ll take his league average bat and good defense for the right price to come off the bench. The only thing he may have over Reed Johnson is his health. I do agree though, you can’t pay this guy for more than a year or more than $2-$3M.

  • larryf

    I’m a Gardner guy. LF with Grandy in CF. Bret bats 9th, steals 50 and plays hard at 476K-a chance to make some more money in the future. He will get to a ton more balls in left and left center will be very hard to get a 2B or 3B with those two out there….

    • Mac1

      You are dreaming if you think Gardner steals 50 or even gets on enough to do so.

      As for his D, I guess you missed his games in the WS.

      • YankFan

        He can’t get 50 SB’s? He had 26 last year in limited duty.

        So his D is based on 2 or 3 games?

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        If Gardner got enough times at the plate, 50 would definitely be likely. Brett was on base 96 times this year and stole 26 bases. That’s one steal every 3.7 times on base, right? His OBP this season was .345 in 284 PAs. Let’s see what would happen if Gardner got full playing time, so let’s say 500 or so PAs:

        .345 x 500 = about 172 times on base
        172/3.7 successful steals per time on base = about 47 steals.

        50 is very reachable for Gardner.

        • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

          But, there is a big caveat: Gardner probably won’t bat enough to get that many PAs. I’m also assuming his OBP stays static at .345, which may or may not happen.

          • Doc’10

            Which will NOT happen! 345 obp will be his career high along with his 270 something avg. The guys has the worst plate presence I’ve ever seen, and with all that speed he cant bunt for !@$#

            Yanks should have traded him while there was some value in him.

            Summary of his career: Very good late inning defensive replacement/pinch runner

            • Pasqua

              If you know that .345 will be his career high OBP and .270 will be his BA, then you probably should be using your powers of prognostication to make some money for yourself instead of posting here.

              And, for what it’s worth, if you want to go by those two stats alone, is that really so bad for #9 hitter (especially considering that #1-8 is a juggernaut)?

            • http://www.teamnerdrage.com dr mrs the yankee

              .345 OBP would be pretty good for what he is, I think you are being a little irrational here.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        I’m assuming you missed when he broke himself on that ball Werth hit to deep LCF, huh? And if you’re going on that Ruiz ball in game six, that thing took literally the worse bounce off the wall ever.

      • OldYanksFan

        Do you think as he gains experience, confidence and knowledge of the pitchers, that his SBs might go up a bit?

        • bronxbrain

          Thanks for your sentiments, OldYanksFan. I am amazed at how much some fans undervalue the ability of a player to improve (if he is willing and intelligent) and the flat-out passion that lifts a team just that much higher.

          With all due respect to the numbers people (I wish I comprehended all the technical aspects of the game at the level that they do), I believe that intangibles matter a lot. And Gardner has quite a few of those intangibles. He needs to work with K Long and learn to hit a fastball; he needs to become an expert bunter. He needs to spend a month living with Mick the Quick and absorb his cut-and-slash mentality. He needs to learn the angles and routes of YS3. But all of this can happen.

          Let’s have a little love for our own home-grown products!

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

            “I believe that intangibles matter a lot. ”

            What ingangibles? Why do they make him a better baseball player?

            This is why I never buy it when someone talks about intangibles. They’re just perceptions, and they differ from person to person.

            • bronxbrain

              Perhaps intangibles do matter from person to person. So, apparently, do interpretations of the usefulness/ relevance of advances metrics. In the end, evaluations are at least partly subjective. They do vary from person to person, and, as a person, I feel as qualified to assess as the advanced-metrics folks (for whom I have the utmost respect).

              This “person” sees Grit’s positive intangibles as a willingness to study, work, and resist/change old patterns of hitting and fielding. I suspect that he will improve immeasurably this season because of those intangibles. And, yes, they are subjective. But, I believe, so is the appplication of the most “objective” measurements of a player’s skill.

              Thanks for your point, though. It makes me think my thoughts through a little more fully.

              • bronxbrain

                “matter” should read “differ.” Sorry.

              • Pasqua

                I respect what you’re saying, but when you write that Gardern’s “intangibles” are “a willingness to study, work, and resist/change old patterns of hitting and fielding,” what are you basing that on? Those are just words, and I know that you’re acknowledging that, but how can you put a (frankly, arbitrary) sentiment like that on par with the math?

            • Tampa Yankee

              BUT I SEE THEM WITH MY OWN EYES!!!!

            • OldYanksFan

              Is playing smart an Intangible?
              Would you call Jeter a smart player? ARod? Does that help on SBs/CS%? How about Melky? Was he a smart player?

              Is Experience an Intangible?
              Is having experience better then not?

              How about work ethic?
              Jeter did some serious work on his defense recently.
              Did it make a difference?

              Baseball smarts, experience and work ethic are a BIG, BIG part of the game.

              I don’t know Gardner well. But IF….
              IF he plays smart, works hard and gets some experience, wouldn’t you think he will get better? He may be ‘old’ for an AAA player, but LOTS of guys get better after they are 26.

              Again… people here are undervaluating what it means to have a guy on the roster making the minimum.
              Gardner could actually be one of the better ‘worst player on the team’.

              You can not look at Left Field and Gardner in a vacuum. You must consider the payroll issues and flexibility of this team.

              Gardner may end up SUCKING.
              But if he can be ‘borderline’, he is VERY VALUABLE to the current Yankee team.

              We lost some decent farm hands in the last 2 years.
              IPK, Tabata, Arodys and AJax.
              We need to see if we have some kids who are Good enough!

          • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

            Let’s have a little love for our own home-grown products!

            If Brett Gardner played for any other team and you were looking at him/the situation from a detached standpoint, you would likely not be impressed.

            • Sweet Dick Willie


              Most Yankees fans I speak with are not impressed w/ Ellsbury, yet his career line (297/350/414) is significantly better than Brett’s (256/325/352).

              The Yankees Newsgroup, which sponsors Ellsbury’s B-Ref page says “Almost as good as Brett Gardner.” Really?

              I’m not a fan of Ellsbury, but if Theo offers him straight up for Gardner, Cashman accepts so quick it makes your head spin.

              • OldYanksFan

                For Gardner, can you say SSS?
                And what of his ++ defense vs Ellsbury’s negative defense?

    • bill

      that would b decent

  • deadrody

    No way. His home / road splits are horrific. Clearly the hitter friendly park was the biggest contributor.

  • larryf

    AND a threat to steal 3rd. Why if Billy Martin was managing, he could even pull an Ellsbury and steal home….

  • O Coelho

    The decision-tree I would follow:

    1. Accept that Swisher (due $9.1M in 2011… OMFG!!) is really not an everyday right fielder so there is risk at BOTH corner OF positions.

    2. Don’t bring back Xavier Nady under any circumstances.

    3. If Damon truly has been voted off the island, then Gardner deserves a shot at the LF job, supported by an inexpensive Jerry Hairston-type on the bench.

    4. Don’t do a multi-year deal with Reed, Byrd or any other older, middling player. Might as well re-sign Damon at that point.

    5. The only exception to the “re-sign Damon or give it to Gardner” strategy is a one-year, >$7M deal on a guy like Jermaine Dye. That fills the LF gap while providing the roster flexibility needed to get younger/more athletic by 2011.

    6. Trade for KC’s David DeJesus. He can play LF or CF, covers a lot of ground and plays above his stats. He’s better than DeRosa, Melky or Gardner.

    7. Hope that Carl Crawford will be a FA after 2010 but realize the Rays might trade him in mid-2010 to a team like the Angels (a la Scott Kazmir) who would lock him up for years.

    • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

      1. Accept that Swisher (due $9.1M in 2011… OMFG!!) is really not an everyday right fielder so there is risk at BOTH corner OF positions.

      Career high OPS/OPS+ last year, at least 20 HRs every year since ’05, 120+ OPS+ three of the last four years, no fewer than 80 walks every year since ’06…

      How are people still not convinced that this guy is an every day player?

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

        Because he strikes out, and people react emotionally to strikeouts. I do it too. I hate it when guys strike out in a game. But when the game’s over, the difference is that some of us can look at the player for what he is, and others go by their emotional reactions.

        • bronxbrain

          I think that there’s something else at play with Swish-hate. For whatever reason, some fans see him as a loose cannon/lunatic whose personality translates into unreliability on the field. Personally, I love the guy. He is very streaky, but, throughout the bad streaks, he still gets on via BBs. Descent arm; plays through discomfort; goes deep (at least on the road). No Paulie, but he’s a good man for the job.

          • Pasqua

            Agreed. His power and OBP are enough to convince me he’s fine where he is.

        • OldYanksFan

          I agree. Mickey Mantle LEAD the league in SOs in ’52 AND ’54 and 3 other years. FIVE TIMES!!
          They should have traded the bum for a bag of balls.

    • Tampa Yankee

      I’ll address this point by point:
      1. All of this is batshit insane for many reasons
      2. If the cost is right, why not?
      3. Agreed
      4. Agreed
      5. No thanks on Dye
      6. I don’t get the love for DeJesus and how do you “play above your stats”? Does that mean he’s a gamer and gritty/gutty? Because that adds to WAR I’ve heard.
      7. Would rather commit the years and $ to Holliday this year over Crawford.

    • Bo

      Obviously they can get by with Swisher in RF. Hes no all star but hes a solid player and perfect in the lineup.

    • MattG

      3. A Hairtson-type is Reed Johnson or Marlon Byrd. All of the 3 are best suited for 4th outfielder. Johnson in particular makes a good platoon partner for Gardner, due to his career splits and superior defense. 1 year at $1.5M or so.

    • bill

      the only problem is left feild is still a gap is you sign jermaine dye he is a RIGHT feeilder unless he and swisher swithc off at rf and dh and johnson goes to left

  • joeman

    you know how often with runners on 2nd & 3rd with two outs find hitters (Gardner) batting in the nine hole…the guy plays decent D nothing great, but has a hard time getting on base & never takes a walk….need a right handed batter out there with decent POP & came play D

  • TarHeelYankee

    There is a reason Gardner did not come up until the age of 26…. He is not a major league starting outfielder. Has all the PRO Gardner fans forgotten that Brett had the starting CF job to start last season……… AND LOST IT!!!!! I like Gardner for what he is, a 4th outfielder, pinch runner, and defense replacement. I have been watching the Yankees for a LONG time, but am kind of new to this site. So, please someone tell me why all the love for Gardner? And all the hate for Melky? I’m trying to remeber the last game winning hit, or last baserunner thrown out by Gardner. I can recall a few for the now gone Melky. Please stop the talk of moving Curtis to LF and Brett to CF……… Never going to happen. The last thing.. I do enjoy this site and there is a lot of good information(not all that I agree with)but that is what this is for.

    • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

      So, please someone tell me why all the love for Gardner?

      There isn’t much “love” for Gardner here, it’s just realizing that the alternatives aren’t great and that rolling with him isn’t the end of the world.

      And all the hate for Melky?

      No one hates Melky.

      I’m trying to remeber the last game winning hit, or last baserunner thrown out by Gardner.

      Gardner had the same amount of assists as Melky last year (three) and contributed +3 runs with his arm, while Melky was worth -3.2. Melky’s got a strong arm, yes, but it’s horribly, horribly inaccurate.

      It’s also worth noting that in High Leverage situations, Gardner had a .754 OPS, while Melky sported a .750.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

        “It’s also worth noting that in High Leverage situations, Gardner had a .754 OPS, while Melky sported a .750.”

        Leverage Index is my favorite of the new stats. Yeah, WAR and wOBA are nice, but they basically just put OBP and SLG into a different context. LI is something totally new, and something totally awesome.

      • Bo

        Umm there a ton of people here that hate Melky. You ever read a Kabak post???

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

          “You ever read a Kabak post???”

          Apparently, you don’t.

        • OldYanksFan

          I LIKE Melky.
          He’s a good kid.
          3 Full years in MLB.
          Baseball stupid as hell.
          Career 88 OPS+.
          Career .316 wOBA.
          A Cannon for an arm, mounted on a pile of Jello.
          I LIKE Melky.
          I hope he improves in Atlanta.

      • TarHeelYankee

        Matt,Can you tell me anything about this Jamie Hoffman that we traded Bruney for the first pick in the rule 5 draft and took ? Is he an option to get playing time in LF ?

      • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

        False. I hate Melky.

    • bill

      i agree 100 persent

    • DRU

      TarHeel..Brett lost the job after he got injured, Melk did a fine enough job to keep the spot, nothing wrong with that.

      As far as game winning hits? Did you forget when Brett hit a 10th inning walk off dribbler off of Paps to beat the Sawks at the stadium?

      Maybe one of these guys can remember =


      I love how people are either labeled a “Brett Hater” or “Brett Groupie”. I guess Im a groupie because I think he has a chance to become the next Chone Figgins. Chone was a VERY late bloomer and didnt have anything close to the minor league success as Brett did ( check the last LF argument thread for a rehash of the #’s ). Again, read my statement again..”has a chance”. Im not saying he’s going to be Chone this year, hell at age 25 Chone wasnt Chone. At 25 he and Brett had the SAME EXACT OBP at .345. Chone then went to .350, .353 and .336 at age 28. By age 29, he finally got to the .390’s. Now he is one of the top OBP/SB threats in the league at age 31/32. Again, his minor league stats and MLB stats in the beginning of his career did not lead any of the BA gods to say he would be one of the league’s top OBP/SB threats. He DEVELOPED into one, I know that’s a big word to grasp for Yankee fans, but not every prospect comes up and dominates, frankly, 99% dont. Yankee fans aren’t even willing to give a cheap, homegrown product a chance. Why? Because he’s not that sexy prospect Montero is? Because he cant hit 30+ HR’s? Im not sure, but if you guys haven’t noticed, the league is leaning towards more of a speed game with solid defensive. The twins would LOVE a guy like Brett, the Cubbies were beating down our door for him as well. Brett “Has the chance” to do what Michael Bourn did. Bourn from 25 to 26 jumped his OBP from .288 to .354, Im not saying Brett is going to have a .400+ OBP, but if he gets to .350 over 500 AB’s, he will swipe 40+ bases easily. Are Yankee fans not willing to wait and see? Is a jump of .005 OBP that big of a leap of faith? Do Yankee fans really want to bring in Marlon Byrd or Jermain Dye because it makes them feel secure? WE DONT NEED AN ALLSTAR AT EVERY SPOT!!! He’s our #9 hitter for christs sake, can’t we roll the bones with ONE EFFIN SPOT in our order? A kid that costs next to nothing and we can claim we developed? If you think it cant happen, or refused to acknowledge that its even possible, well then that’s just ignorance or greed in needing to have sure things across the board.

      Minor league stats

      397 games – .285 AVG – .379 OBP – .772 OPS – 227/339 BB/K – 168 SB 28 CS
      338 games – .289 AVG – .389 OBP – .772 OPS – 238/288 BB/K – 154 SB 31 CS

      Both struggled before age 26, Bourn took off last year at age 26 and stole 60+ bases. What will Brett do at 26? Why not give him a chance and see instead of labeling him as nothing more than a 4th OF / Reserve. If he fails miserably, then we know and he’ll be the next Homer Bush. HOWEVER..who amongst us wouldnt want Figgins or Bourn locked for multiple years on the cheap? The only way to EARN that scenario is to try it out people, just like that other 29 teams do. No matter what Brett turns out to become, the risk of tinkering with the #9 hole for a year is worth the possible reward. Sometimes we have to actually work at developing a prospect, I know, its a foreign concept..my apologies.


      The Brett Groupie

      • mustang

        Gardner = Chone Figgins

        I missed the punch line, but its funny anyway.

      • http://www.sonnyboyterry.com Terry

        Gardner was in college for four years so he was drafted late advancing through the Yankees system at a fairly normal rate. Obviously Girardi likes Gardner’s speed. To play everyday, Gardner would need to get on base against lefties and righties a little more. He had a nice first season, I thought. He seems more useful as a platoon with a guy like Reed johnson or Jaime Hoffmann so he could also come in a defensive replacement or pinch runner late in a game until he proves himself a little more.

        The Yankees know he can play some and he also a homegrown bargaining chip. I think this season will tell us how much room he has to improve. Scrappy players like him need to get on base against great pitching to scratch out runs and win close ballgames.

    • mustang

      Totally agree with TarHeelYankee and if Gardner were to be the starting LF coming out of spring training he wouldn’t be by the 2010 All-Star Break. Sugar coated all you like the guy is a 4th outfielder I just hope that the Yankees don’t have to find that out the hard way.

  • Bo

    It is obvious from watching Gardner play that he is what he is. A solid 4th OF type. He doesnt have the bat to play 150x and get 550+ ab’s.

    Bring in a LF and let him battle it out with Hoffman and Curtis for the 4th spot. Not like the 4th OF here wont get 400+ ab’s anyway. Just look at what happened to Melky. Gardner would be perfect in that role. But they need to find a better LF option. No sense wasting a power spot when you dont have to. Especially when Damon is waiting around.

  • MattG

    Two LF posts, both hijacked. You guys should’ve started this series with Gardner.

    Have you noticed how all the Gardner-for-everyday supporters are counting on Gardner improving? If Gardner were to be expected to improve in 2010, he would be getting the job. Done, and DONE!

    The truth is the Yankees do not expect him to improve. Their scouts and brass subjectively believe what they saw of Gardner last year was the best they can get.

    What’s more, there is plenty of objective evidence that players with Gardner’s skill set don’t improve once reaching the major leagues, particularly at Gardner’s age. There are exceptions, of course, but without exceptions, this wouldn’t even be a discussion.

    People talking about Gardner should be cognizant of this likelihood, and considerably less assertive in their proclamations. Expecting Gardner to post a .350 OB, 50 steals, and a +20 UZR in 500 ABs is overly optimistic. If you look up in May, and he’s on his way, he can have his shot. But the Yankees better have a plan B on board to start the season.

    • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal


      You are a wealth of insider information.

      “The truth is the Yankees do not expect him to improve. Their scouts and brass subjectively believe what they saw of Gardner last year was the best they can get.”


    • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

      I believe the best option to the OF is Swisher in right obviously and a rotation of Granderson/Gardner/Reed Johnson in CF/LF.

      I prefer Gardner playing the majority of time in CF, Granderson the majority of time in LF and Reed Johnson working his way in and out of the lineup against LHPs spelling mostly Gardner with the occasional day for Granderson.

      Marlon Byrd is clearly not the best option as his H/A splits are too great.

      Yet you are so quick to put down Brett in favor of a plan B, yet you don’t offer this plan B.

      Please, enlighten us. What do you Yankees, Scouts Inc. and Baseball America believe is the answer for the Yankees OF in 2010?

      • MattG

        My plan A is presented here: http://riveraveblues.com/2009/12/left-field-closing-arguments-reed-johnson-21818/#comment-736065

        You argued with me right after this. Talk! Never Listen!

        As for insider information, this is listening, too. What the Yankees think of Gardner is public knowledge if you listen.

        And you know where you can cram your condescension.

        • http://www.twitter.com/wahbjo01 Jordan – Cashman Has No Equal

          So you want Gardner/Johnson, yet you will argue that Gardner is going to be a replacement level player, if that, and then say the Yankees need a plan B, who I can only assume is Johnson, yet he is a very serious injury risk. Got it.

          As far as I know, from what I’ve heard from the media outlets and from interviews with Brian Cashman, etc. Brett Gardner is today penciled in as a starting outfielder (LF) for the New York Yankees. That’s all I know for sure.

          • MattG

            More words in my mouth. Find the place where I wrote Gardner was replacement level, at best. You either do not care to read what I write, or lack serious comprehension skills.

        • OldYanksFan

          “As for insider information, this is listening, too. What the Yankees think of Gardner is public knowledge if you listen.”

          Enlighten us.
          Please post a link to where you heard “What the Yankees think of Gardner” and tell us where all thie “public knowledge” is.

          Is that fair?

          • MattG

            “is that fair?”

            Not at all. You know as well as I that the Yankees are not going to be forthcoming with their information. Listening means to their actions, as well. If you are paying attention at all, you know the Yankees are not entirely comfortable with Gardner as an everyday player. Are they searching for a LF? Yes. Are they searching for a SS? 3B? 1B? C?

            This is not hard to figure out, and does not need to be written in print. Let’s not try to overthink this. The Yankees are looking for an upgrade, or at worst a platoon partner, for Brett Gardner. This, we know. What does that mean to you?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      “You guys should’ve started this series with Gardner.”

      No, we shouldn’t have, because this is a series about a complement to Gardner, not a replacement.

      • MattG

        Well, some boisterous component of your visitors feels Gardner needs no compliment. Maybe that idea should be squelched.

  • Mr. Krabs

    why not just let Shelly Duncan platoon with Gardner he will hit 250 with power plays right left and first he is cheap and provides energy

    • MattG

      Isn’t Shells in the WWF now?

  • scoopemup

    Any Pat Burrell love out there? No?
    Just kidding.

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  • Marc

    Lost interest in the first paragraph at “It’s also one we cannot answer with certainty until we see Byrd in new digs.”

    Ever heard of home/road comparisons? Pretty simple stat.
    In this case it shows negligible difference, certainly not enough to write a column on.

  • pete luciano

    We need a right handed power hitter behind ARod and Holliday wants to be a Yankee. Stop shopping at Sears for Gods sake, we’re the Yankees. Sign Holliday, bat Granderson 9th and the Yankees will score 1000 runs. Also how about signing Valverde in the pen if his price goes lower, you can’t have enough late inning guys as the playoffs proved.

  • Bretwk

    This article doesnt make too much sense. You have taken all credit away from Byrd and given it to Arlington Stadium. At the same time you used his number in RFK in 2005 and 2006 and didnt note that it was one of the worst offensive parks in the league at the time. It is hardly unusual for a player to develop more power in their mid to late 20s as he clearly did. He might not be a 20 HR guy next year but he is clearly capable of hitting 15 and a bunch of doubles.

    My second problem is that you make the argument that Byrd is not a good signing for the Yankees under any circumstances. Under Gary Matthews, Jr. conditions that would have been true, but this is hardly the same market. So it seems to me that the Yankees should have at least been talking to him.

    I understand having an opinion and then using stats to back it up, but it would have been a better article if you had checked all the facts. His OPS away from RFK and Arlington over the last 5 years is about .750. It is safe to assume that in a neutral park, he will be able to equal that. I think that the Yankees should have pursued him for $5m a year, I just dont think that 3 years would have made sense for the Yankees.

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