Left field closing arguments: Reed Johnson

Open Thread: Photos from Cooperstown
Thoughts on a third team in New York

I recently said that all we’re going to talk about is left field, but that will get boring, if it hasn’t already. So I’m going to make this easy. Over the next few days I’ll write up something about the available left fielders, then wrap it up at the end. That will conclude our left field discussion, unless something unforeseen happens. For all predictable rumors, we’ll point back to these.

If not for constant injuries, the market for Reed Johnson might be a lot more competitive. The 33-year-old has battled back issues for most of his seven-year major league career, and has suffered other maladies, mostly to his lower body. Not even the Cubs, Johnson’s most current team, wants him back. So, then, why would the Yankees even consider him?

Because he’s a potentially undervalued commodity.

In 2006, at age 29, Johnson experienced his breakout season. He started off with a 3 for 5 performance against the Twins and kept up the hot hitting for the next five months, ending August with a .327/.400/.501 line. His numbers dropped off a bit in September, probably due to a hip issue that eventually led to a stress fracture in his foot just days before the season ended.

Despite a training program to help correct the hip issue, Johnson still struggled through physical issues in 2007. He rested early in the spring because of a sore back, but by mid-April he was back on the DL, needing surgery for a herniated disc. After over two months of recovery, Johnson returned in July, but didn’t produce anything near his 2006 effort, ending the season with a .302 OBP and a .307 SLG. The Blue Jays tendered him a contract that off-season, eventually agreeing to a deal worth over $3 million. But after they added Shannon Stewart they cut Johnson in Spring Training, paying him only about $500,000 in termination pay. To the Cubs he went.

Back problems again affected Johnson in 2008, though he only missed the minimum 15 days. From his return through the end of the season, which included only 165 plate appearances, Johnson hit .342/.377/.461. The Cubs tendered him a contract for 2009, and he produced well enough, hitting .268/.336/.446 through June 20. But, at just about the same time as in 2008 he hit the DL with back soreness. Again he missed only the minimum 15 days, but soon after fractured his foot. A slow recovery meant he got just 20 more plate appearances before the end of the season, though he made them count, hitting three doubles and a triple.

Johnson has demonstrated that he can hit, and for stretches can hit very well. He also plays excellent defense, positing a 23.3 UZR/150 over 2,666.2 career innings in left field. In terms of platooning, he’s an ideal caddy for Gardner, or even Granderson, because he mashes lefties, to the tune of .313/.378/.463 over 1,027 career plate appearances. Even in his poor 2009 and 2007 campaigns he posted an OPS of over .900 against lefties.

It appears Johnson’s only major downside is his injury history. The frequency of his back injuries makes this no light consideration. If he misses just 15 days because of back issues, it’s no big deal. Thankfully, that’s all he’s missed in each of the past two seasons. His two recent lower body injuries also raise a red flag. His stress fractures were in different legs — right leg and left foot — so maybe there’s not a connection. But for a player with Johnson’s injury history, it’s certainly a concern.

As a platoon player, Johnson does make sense. Facing primarily lefties will not only emphasize his strength in that regard, but will also keep him rested, possibly helping him avoid injury. His excellent defense in left field will also make it easier to play him out there, even if Brett Gardner is as good as his small sample UZR numbers indicate. Since the Yankees seek only a low-cost option for their outfield, it seems Johnson fits the profile.

(Bonus: If the Yankees sign Johnson, he’ll have to cut his King Tut goatee. Many people sport good facial hair. Johnson is not one of them.)

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

Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America

Open Thread: Photos from Cooperstown
Thoughts on a third team in New York
  • JGS

    which is more awful: Johnson’s King Tut goatee or the one Chad Gaudin used to have?

    • AJ


  • Salty Buggah

    Reed Johnson: WANT

    • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

      Yep. He fits our prospective needs SO WELL.

  • Salty Buggah

    If we sign him, we may two oft-injured Johnson that smash when healthy (in Reed Johnson’s case, I’m only counting his offense again LHP as he’ll likely face them primarily as a Yankee)

  • Free Mike Vick

    Back injuries + lower body injuries = me no likey.

    his numbers vs LHP are all well and good…but it wouldn’t me jack diddly squat if he can’t be healthy.

    If you’re running with a platoon…the last thing you want is for one of the platoon players to get hurt because then you have a player going out there everyday that has no business doing so.

    • whozat

      But since you’re not counting on him every day, it’s no problem to rest him and keep him healthy.

  • Yazman

    Sounds like a good option, rotating him in especially against tougher lefties for either Gardner or Granderson.

  • AJ

    I can’t believe people are suggesting benching Granderson against tough lefties. The guy is an all-star, the Yanks have to work to get him going against lefties, we can’t replace his production for “Reed Johnson” just because Jon Lester is on the mound.

    • whozat

      a) In general, people are suggesting platooning GARDNER.
      b) What if Granderson DOESN’T get going against lefties? Why should they not have a backup plan?

      • JoeX

        They have a backup — Hoffman –. Most likely either Hoffman or Johnson leaves by AS break.

    • JGS

      Lester? no

      when (insert LOOGY here) comes in to face him in a big spot late in the game? maybe

    • Salty Buggah

      If the Yanks can’t fix him (and I think they will to certain extent) and if his numbers against LHP don’t, for some odd reason, improve in YSIII (Most of his suckage against LHP was done in Comerica and he was better against LHP on the road), it’s not as far-fetched as you think.

    • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi
      • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex
        • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi
          • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

            Haha. The back story to that is awesome.

            • http://threequarters.cementhorizon.com/archives/kool%20aid%20man.bmp The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              Heh, totally. I wonder how one takes potshots at cats.

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

      But if Granderson finds himself mired in a mid-season slump, perhaps sitting him against a lefty would do him good. The real platoon situation is with Gardner, but it can help Grandy too.

      • radnom

        Slump or not he isn’t going to play 162 games, and those 10 or so games he doesn’t play might as well be against LHP.

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

        See: Abreu, Bobby

  • aaron

    stupid move.. Yanks could’ve gotten Piniero or Sheets.. and kept Melky.. Stupid move… Yes, Vazquez is a good 4.. But Girardi never liked Melky, and he is in LOVE with Gardner.. I can’t stand Gardner, he’s horrible.. No arm, horrible base runner(fast as hell) but not smart.. and is always down in the count 0-2, 1-2..

    • K.B.D.


      • Zack

        i laughed out loud as well

    • Salty Buggah

      Sheets? Sure, for depth and not with the expectation of him staying healthy. Piñeiro? Nope. Vazquez>>>>>>>Piñeiro. Jazy misses bats, Piniero does not at all.

      And I know how it’s gotten kinda popular that Gardy does not steal bases that well despite his speed (probably due to the couple of CS he had in the postseason or end of the year), he has 39 SB with only 6 CS, a 86.7% rate, which is pretty good.

      He has a decent arm that is pretty accurate. He has shown so far in his career that he can get on base at a decent clip so I don’t care much if he’s supposedly always (he’s probably not) getting in those counts as long he gets on base.

      In conclusion, Oaktag.

      • whozat


        Nice! I had almost forgotten about that.

        I also don’t understand why people obsess over the arm of a CFer or LFer and never talk about range, which is VASTLY more important. I guess throwing is more memorable, and that’s what naive fans base their opinions on, their fallible memories.

        • radnom

          Yeah. When a CFs range goes, its noticable but often times looks like the pitcher’s fault when balls drop in. It is hard to tell when watching TV.

          Once a guys arm starts getting weaker though, it can be hard to watch. Not so much in LF obviously, but center.

      • jim p

        May and June Gardy seemed to have gotten the “use your lower body” thing down. He had more walks than strikeouts and turned 12 of 41 singles/walks into doubles. Not to mention made pitchers and defense nervous.

        July he slumped and seemed to have forgotten what he knew to do at bat earlier, then he broke his thumb and never got real time after that.

        So, if he can work with Kevin Long to remember his approach, there might be a pleasant surprise for people with Gardy. (We can never use “Gardbrera” again.)

        • whozat

          Yep, might be. But the Yankees _must_ be prepared for the eventuality that Gardner is the guy that his minor-league resume suggests he is: hits for neither power nor contact, but will take walks if they’re given to him…which won’t happen that often if he mostly flies out.

          It’d also be nice if they had a backup plan for Granderson sucking against lefties. A guy like Reed Johnson does both of those things, and costs nothing but a little money.

          • jim p

            Reed Johnson strikes me as more appealing than the other options by far. For a 25th player, we can take the risk knowing that we can likely get an upgrade as the season moves on, if necessary.

            One does have to worry about having 2 injury prone Johnsons (someone’ll work out a joke for that, I’m sure) on the roster.

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

      Yeah, this post is about Reed Johnson. Normally I’d let a tangentially related comment slide, but since you favor Pineiro, I’m going to give you the stern warning. Keep comments on topic.

    • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

      Just for the record, guys, this aaron fellow is NOT my alt. For realz.

    • Bo

      Because Sheets was real healthy last yr. And Melky is a star CF.

  • Bonos

    There are other options. Trade one of the three backup starters, Aceves, Gaudin, Mitre for an OF. Check out Tatis, Kearns etc. How about Maxwell as a trainee. He’s always intrigued me.

    • whozat

      Yes…there are other options.

      That’s why Joe said “Over the next few days I’ll write up something about the available left fielders, then wrap it up at the end.”

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        Bah. Sign Reed for league minimum and $3k per PA :)

        • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

          You’re living up to your name with that proposal.

  • radnom

    This is the guy, but no need to rush.

    Assuming a 12 man pitching staff, and Gardner as the starting LF, there are 4 open bench spots.


    would round out the roster nicely.

    • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

      No Pena? I’d expect him there over Russo.

      • radnom

        Pena would probably get the nod, unless he gets completely outperformed in ST.
        I just think Russo will probably overtake him soon, but that spot is pretty interchangeable, obviously. Doesn’t make much of a difference.

        • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

          I believe the knock on Russo is he’s a poor-to-average defender. I’d think for a bench/utility role they’d go for Pena’s defense.

          But hey, we’re arguing over the 24th/25th roster spot. Whatevs.

        • yankeefanindc

          Weren’t the Yanks getting Pena some playing time in the outfield last year in the minors in order to groom him to be sort of a Hairston-type? I know he’s not a full-time solution to LF, but he could see some ABs out there in a pinch, right? Gives a bit more depth.

          • radnom

            Gives a bit more depth.

            IF the Yankees sign some cheap LF insurance (such as Reed Johnson) they will have 5 OF’s, most of whom can play CF.
            Sure, having the UTI IF be able to play the OF in a pinch can’t hurt, but its not really a nessesity if you are going with 5 outfielders (which I see them doing, due to the lack of a sure starter out in left). In this case I would just want the best guy to back up the IF.

  • pokey skokey

    Since when is .313/.378/.463 “mashing”? That’s not even an .850 OPS. Mashed potatoes maybe. But not mashed baseballs.

    • Drew

      That’s somewhere between a 115 and 120 ops+. That’s pretty damn good.

      • Salty Buggah

        That’s a sOPS+ of 123, which is also pretty damn good.

        Last year, his sOPS+ vs. LHP was 134, which is excellent.

        • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

          His GWAR (Goatee Wins Above Replacement) is at an astounding 7.0, one full win above Ryan Franklin, two full wins above Casey Blake and three wins above Jayson Werth.

          How can you not get that guy? His face kills lefties.

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

    He would be a solid pickup. That said, I’d rather just role with what we have. Let a youngen earn a spot.

    • whozat

      So, to let him “earn a spot,” the Yankees should just hand him a spot and have no fallback option in the event that he does not succeed?


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

        That’s not what I said. It’s my opinion that our options are sufficient. Let one of the young guys on our current roster earn a spot rather than bring in an older platoon player.

    • sleepykarl

      I’m for that too, but there is a huge risk in that. Say Swisher gets hurt, that leads Hoffman and Gardner in the corners. That would be a risky situation.

      • sleepykarl

        *leaves, not leads

      • themgmt

        What if Drew gets hurt? That leaves Ellsbury and Hermida in the corners.

        • themgmt

          Ellsbury could actually play both corners at the same time. Problem solved.

          • SamVa

            you just responded to your own post?

            • ColoYank

              Saves the aggravation of someone else doing it.

              I wouldn’t make a habit of it, though. People will look at you like they look at people who audibly talk to themselves.

    • Bo

      roll. not “role”

  • chriso

    i hope that all this public posturing about wanting johnson is cashman’s way of working on marlon byrd and getting his price to come down. byrd isn’t quite as good defensively as johnson, overall, but he’s good enough. he doesn’t show johnson’s +splits against lefties, but he’s shown more power–and he stays healthy!!

    • sleepykarl

      Thanks to Arington. H/A splits

    • http://www.i-yankees.com iYankees

      I doubt Cashman is posturing to get Marlon Byrd’s price down. If anything, it’s to get someone else’s price down (Damon, etc.).

    • ColoYank

      I THINK I have this straight – if the Yanks signed Byrd, the Rangers would get a sandwich/supplemental pick, but it wouldn’t cost the Yanks their first rounder … right?

  • Meat Loaf

    Can’t believe I’m the first one asking this… But is he getting hit in the crotchal reigion in this picture?

    • OldYanksFan

      Not sure… but that batting stance is painful to look at.

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  • Mac1

    Yanks don’t need another injury risk on the team just to save a few million.

    Regardless of his offense being boosted by playing in Texas, if the Yanks feel they have to go low budget, I’d take Marlon Byrd.

    Both Byrd and Johnson had negative UZR/150’s last year(-2.8 and -5.2, respectively), but Byrd has better career defensive #’s over Johnson in RF and CF – and I guess he’s healthy.

    Waiting for Carl Crawford next year shouldn’t preclude the Yanks from tendering a 2 year 7 mil deal for Byrd, although I hope Cash’s real plan is to trade for a solid, younger LFer at some point in 2010 if he doesn’t get a low cost Caddy for Hoff/ardner.

    I have no gripes not going after Bay or Holliday and even DeRosa who I think would have been a defensive liability in LF and he also has some injury concerns (2 for 12 was less than I thought he’s sign for though). I’d just like to see Cash fill that slot long term with a solid hitter who can play +D.

  • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch

    Feet issues lead to back issues as day follows night. Flat feet and six herniated discs here (running), and now a fractured foot. I hope he’s got great orthotics. If not, he should go to my doc. Dr. Rock Positano at Hosp for Special Surgery in NYC. Treated Joe Dimaggio’s feet in his last years. It was heel spurs that ended Joe D’s career. Dr. Rock is where a lot of pro athletes go.

    Does Gene Monahan read RAB?

  • Patch

    Are we going to sign Chapman or what?

    Has anyone seen any timelime for him getting signed?

    • http://www.wiredtowns.com Short Porch

      Well of course. IF they sign Reed Johnson, it naturally follows.

  • Jake H

    No thank you. I would rather have Gardner and Hoffman platoon there. Combined they will make less then a million. Reed made 3 million in salary. Let’s say is willing to take 1.5 million for the year.

    Reed Johnson’s OPS + the last 3 years. 66,98,89.

    Lets say he is a OPS + of 95. I think combined that Gardner and Hoffman can do that and save the Yanks 500k.

    • Mac1

      I don’t want Johnson, but if the Yanks are concerned about saving 500K, that’s pretty dumb of them.

      Also, Hoffman and Gardner could be total dreck, what do they do then? Especially if NJ goes on the DL and Grandy continues his offensive decline?

      Plus, you’ve got Jeter, A-Rod and Posada who you have to have some concern over staying healthy and productive most of the year.

      All those “what if’s” are plausible enough (in some combo) to go out and get a real option for LF – whether that means great bat, iffy glove – i.e. Damon or solid everyday player – i.e. Byrd.

      I also don’t consider the possible FA of Crawford enough of a reason to wait until 2011 to keep the LF spot open. I do hope Cash works out some type of trade for a solid young LFer at some point in 2010.


      • OldYanksFan

        Do you think JD would sign for 1/$8m?
        All things considered, it ain’t horrible for Johnny.
        If he has a decent year and stays healthy, he should be able to get a one year deal next year. If JD likes the idea of winning, it ain’t so bad.

  • LateInningRelief

    Johnson could make sense as a platoon player and this is the right sort of move for the Yanks to be looking at to upgrade Hoffman.

    Still, I wouldn’t make a move at LF until Damon is off the market. I think there’s a decent chance that, come the end of January, he’s going to be ready to sign for an Abreu-esque $5M-6M.

    • Mac1

      Disagree about Johnson, like the last sentence, even if its 2 years 14 the Yanks supposedly offered.

  • theyankeewarrior

    I think Cash should prioritize Damon as his main target and then fall back to Johnson as a platoon player and bench depth. I wonder how a Johnson/Damon signing will effect Hoffmann’s status…

    Gardner would fall to the bench next to Cervelli & Pena. That leaves one spot for either him or Miranda. Since Miranda has options, I figure he would go to AAA and they would keep Hoffmann as depth until he proved he didn’t belong. Agree?

    • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ Matt Imbrogno

      Gardner also has options; he could be sent to SWB if another OF is signed if the Yanks like what they have in Hoffmann.

  • Bo

    I cant see them going with a Gardner/Johnson platoon in LF. Just cant see it. Especially not when Holliday and Damon are still out there for free. I doubt they see Gardner as a starting caliber player. Him playing LF is a little different from him playing CF. His bat doesnt play in left.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-Melvin-To-America/193013541601?ref=nf Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Your definition of “free” amuses me.

    • theyankeewarrior

      You’re right, but in terms of replacing last year’s production at around the same price, it doesn’t matter where they play in the field because our new CF has a LF bat.

      Last year we had an OF of Swisher-Damon-Melky/Gardner

      This year we have an OF of Swisher-Granderson/Gardner/?

      In terms of plate production, it should be a similar season. But the defense has greatly improved.

      • theyankeewarrior

        And yea, Holliday and Damon will not be anywhere near “free”. Unless Damon falls to ’09 Abreu levels. I guess 1/5 to the Yankees could be considered “free”

        • OldYanksFan

          I have to think if JD will sign for 1/$7m, the Giants would look at him?

          The market is REALLY bad.

      • Mac1

        If you think Gardy is going to give you offensively what Melk did (a solid league avg hitter with a 763 ops vs. lefties) then you are in for a big disappointment.

        Granderson MAY replace Damon’s offense, but if (I mean when) Nick Johnson goes on the dl, you’ve got a much weaker offensive team than last year – and that’s if Granderson rebounds from his three year decline in ops.

        Not throwing 6-7 mil at a solid player like Byrd or a real good bat like Damon is penny wise, pound foolish.

        It amazes me how so many here buy into the Yanks budget and are parsing it so fine as to “save” the Yanks 500K. Its simply foolish. Yanks don’t need Bay or Holliday, but they could use a solid option in LF and they are out there for not alot of $.

        Hopefully Cashman is playing possum and isn’t going to save a few mil b\c that’s the priority.

        • MattG

          In this post, you identified Melky and Byrd as solid average, and Damon as probably superior to Granderson offensively. That’s 0-for-3. Melky and Byrd are just not average hitters, and Damon, in his very best year, was about equal to Granderson, in his very worst year, ballpark considered.

          • Colombo


          • OldYanksFan

            Career wOBA. OPS+, URZ/150:
            Grandy. (29): .358, 113, 4.9 (CF)
            Damon. (37): .351, 105, 2.9 (LF), -12 in 2009
            Byrd…… (32): .332, 099, 11.9 (LF)
            Melky…. (25): .316, 088, 4.0 (LF)
            Gritty…. (26): .319, 080, 27.6 (CF) – Yes, SSS

  • MattG

    I prefer a Gardner/Johnson platoon to Johnny Damon. Damon’s defense has declined that much, and he has no chance of equaling last season’s performance.

    What’s more, Johnny has been a mere .733 OPS guy vs LHP the last few seasons. Even with the phenomenal offensive output last year, he is degrading into a platoon player.

    Let’s recognize 2009 for what it was–a very nice renaissance year, in a nearly perfect environment, for a player who is aging rapidly.

  • Drew

    I like Cashman’s plan! Forget about Jermaine Dye, ( just as bad if not worse than Abreu ) and DeRosa ( -0.2 UZR in LF in 2008 ). Their bats don’t make up for their defensive shortcomings. The Yanks have PLENTY of O, with a better pitching staff ( Vazquez as #4 and no more Joba rules ) and MUCH better defensive OF in 2010, this team is looking stronger than it did a year ago.

    Also, don’t discount Gardner’s bat just yet. In 2008 he hit .228 with a .283 OBP, in 2009 he hit .270 with a .345 OBP. Looking at his minor league stats, there is a pattern.

    2005 – 282 AB – .284 AVG – .377 OBP – 19 SB
    2006 – 232 AB – .323 AVG – .433 OBP – 28 SB

    2006 – 217 AB – .272 AVG – .352 OBP – 28 SB
    2007 – 203 AB – .300 AVG – .392 OBP – 18 SB

    2007 – 181 AB – .260 AVG – .343 OBP – 21 SB
    2008 – 341 AB – .296 AVG – .414 OBP – 37 SB

    2008 – 127 AB – .228 AVG – .238 OBP – 13 SB
    2009 – 248 AB – .270 AVG – .345 OBP – 26 SB

    At every level he seems to need about 200+ AB’s to figure it out. Once he does that he jumps about 30 – 40 points up in AVG and OBP, while still maintaining his 50+SB pace. We could potentially have a top 5 defensive CF who could bat in front of Jeter and hit .280 with a .350 OBP and steal 40+ bases. Am I missing something here? What’s not to like????

    • MattG

      There’s not a scout in the land that gives Gardner that type of ceiling.

      • Drew

        Why not? He has the same AVG/OBP/SB rate as Ellsbury in the minors?

        • MattG

          Except that he doesn’t. Average: .289 to .313. SP: .383/.425 (!) And most importantly, age. Ellsbury was in the majors for good at 23, with only 250 MiL games. Gardner took 2 extra years and 388 MiL games.

          • Drew

            So you’re saying that there is no way Gardner can hit .280 with a .350 OBP and steal 40+ bases? I know it was only over 248 AB’s, but he basically did that last year. Why are those #’s such a huge leap of faith based upon how much he improved from 2008 to 2009?

            2008 – 127 AB – .228 AVG – .238 OBP – 13 SB
            2009 – 248 AB – .270 AVG – .345 OBP – 26 SB

            How can you say its impossible for him to hit 10 points higher and get on base 5 points more? His SB rate is in the 50’s, but Id say the lack of pinch running will “decrease” it into the 40’s.

            Why is that statement so out of the realm of possibilities for you?

            • Steve H

              Drew, where is he going to find the extra 2 hits over the course of half a season to reach the unattainable .280/.350 (actually 2 more hits would have gotten him .282/.352).

              • MattG

                Numerous organizations like Baseball America and Scouts Inc have repeatedly placed Gardner’s ceiling at that of a 4th outfielder, chance to be useful while he’s cheap. All you and Drew have to prove all the professionals wrong is a small sample size and some AAA stats from when Gardner is 24 years old.

                I think you should stop being condescending and present a valid argument.

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

                  There is an endless list of players that scouts projected that proved them wrong, by either shattering their projected ceiling or by never becoming anything more than a AA org guy.

                  You can’t point to what scouts say and have any more credibility than a SSS of data that is available.

                • Steve H

                  Bill James predicts Gardner to hit .277/.368 (better than .280/.350 BTW) CHONE .266/.351.

                  Not thinking he can be a .280/.350 player makes zero sense. If someone said he has a chance to be a .320/.400 guy I’d be right there with you. To say he “doesn’t have that (.280/.350) type of ceiling” is bizarre in my mind.

                • MattG

                  In how many at bats there, Steve? James/Chone/Pecota are predicting his numbers for part time usage, because that’s what prediction systems do with part time players. In that way, the prediction systems are upholding the conventional scouting critique: useful part time player.

                • http://www.theyankeeuniverse.com/ Matt Imbrogno

                  Adjusted for 500 PAs, CAIRO’S got Gardner at .262/.348/.351, which I think is reasonable.

                • Steve H

                  That is reasonable. To get an extra 1.5 hits per month from that would get Gritner to .280. So replace a few walks with a few hits (to keep his OBP around .350) and it’s extremely reasonable for Gritner to hit .280/.350 as a full time player.

            • MattG

              I wrote, “There’s not a scout in the land that gives Gardner that type of ceiling.”

              You can take that to mean I find it impossible that he will do it, but I didn’t write that. Placido Polanco might hit 25 homers in Philly, and Brandon Lyons might save 40 games for the ‘stros. I wouldn’t count on it.

              When your best argument is a small sample size, you might want to rethink it’s likelihood.

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

              I tried this yesterday for a good hour plus.

              I believe Gardner can replace Damon’s value and have around a 3.0 WAR value, especially if Reed Johnson takes on the tough LHPs.

              • MattG

                Tough left-handers?

                I’ll hope for a 2.2-ish WAR as a platoon player. I think anything more is reaching.

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

                  2.1 WAR last year.

                  If he plays CF for the majority of the time in 2010, like and any other rational baseball/Yankees fan would hope, he should exceed 2.2 WAR. The position adjustment alone would dictate that with a wRC+ 100.

                  He had a wRC+ 107 last year and without facing tough lefties, like I said, he can reach that number again.

                  UZR/150 15+

                  wRC+ 105-ish

                  Atleast half the season in CF.

                  Better than Damon.

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



              Couple Gardner with Reed Johnson and the Nyjer Morgan type production is definitely possible.

            • OldYanksFan

              I agree. It’s AMAZING that people LOVE Carl Crawford, he of Career OBP .335, OPS+ 103, wOBA .343
              But… He’s very fast and has a great glove.
              But why do people think he is worth 12+m?
              I thought Gardner was pretty fast and had a decent glove?

              Gardner is free. Since OPS+ does NOT include SBs/CS% and undervalues OBP, I think you need to look at (Fangraphs) wOBA to better assess/compare his value.

              I agree his upside is not that far up.
              But like Melky, we assume he’s our worst player, #9 batter.
              So the question is: can he be close to Average?
              When you consider his D, a .330 wOBA would juuuuust be enough, although I think with consistant ABs, he will easily top that: .337 (2009) .347 (2010 Bill James)

              The real problem is Gritner should be in CF, where his speed helps Swisher a bit. If it was ANNOUNCED that he was playing CF, people here might think he is more passable.

              After THREE FULL years, Melky has a career wOBA of .316, and yet people could stomach that. Yet most agree Gardner is better defensively, and should post a (much?) better wOBA.

              Regardless of projections, he is ‘good enought’ that the Yankees have him up in MLB. What is the point of developing prospects if they never get a fair chance to show what they got?

              The Yankees BADLY NEED free players to balance our number of expensive contracts. It will not kill this team to give him a solid 3 months.

              Cashman will fix any problems with our roster after the ASB. Even with Gardy in the OF, this is NOT the finished product.

              • MattG

                This is a reasonable viewpoint. I don’t understand the Crawford love, either.

                The one irritating aspect of the Gardner love is the unsupported notion that he will improve. There is tremendous evidence that players with Gardner’s skill set have their greatest success in their first 1-3 seasons in the majors. Gathright, Podsednik, Pierre and others found it difficult to maintain their walk rate. The theory is that pitchers challenged them more once they realized an extra base hit was unlikely, but pitch fx data disputes that.

                My theory is the speed-only players are actually just setup for failure at this level, and a couple just get lucky early on. Those that don’t, don’t get second chances.

                Whatever the reason, history would tell us speed-only players are more likely to get worse than get better. Consider this: you may have already seen the best of Brett Gardner.

                • Steve H

                  Mentioning Juan Pierre and walk rate? Gardner in the minors had a signifincaly higher walk rate than all of those guys, more than double Pierre, so even if he can’t maintain his MiLB walk rate, he will walk at a much better rate than all of those “speed only” guys.

                • Steve H

                  And as far as those speed guys not improving, explain Podsednik and Pierre just having the 2nd best seasons of their careers at age 31.

          • Drew

            Minor League Stats for some of the 2009 league leaders in SB

            Brett Gardner
            388 Games / 154 SB – 31 CS / .289 AVG / .389 OBP / MLB @ 24

            Michael Bourn
            397 Games / 163 SB – 28 CS / .285 AVG / .379 OBP / MLB @ 23

            Carl Crawford
            412 Games / 134 SB – 41 CS / .295 AVG / .336 OBP / MLB @ 20

            Chone Figgins
            705 Games / 208 SB – 74 CS / .273 AVG / .346 OBP / MLB @ 25

            Nyjer Morgan
            513 Games / 234 SB – 80 CS / .294 AVG / .370 OBP / MLB @ 26

            Jimmy Rollins
            578 Games / 129 SB – 40 CS / .262 AVG / .329 OBP / MLB @ 22


            Now Im not saying that Gardner is anything close to Crawford or Rollins, Im just using their minor league numbers as an illustration. Why cant Gardner be the next Chone Figgins, Michael Bourn or NyJer Morgan though? All these guys have had more minor league games played than Gardner, none of them had his OBP or SB rate though. Why cant Brett be a late bloomer like Morgan and Figgins?

            I say lets give him a REAL shot before labeling him “very productive platoon player”, what do ya say Matt?

            • Drew

              So is that a valid enough argument for you Matt?

              • Drew

                Now that Ive looked at the numbers more, I think Gardner could = Bourn.

                Minor league #’s are almost identical, both were labeled as 4th OF’s by the all knowing scouts as well…

                Brett Gardner
                388 Games / 154 SB – 31 CS / .289 AVG / .389 OBP / MLB @ 24

                Michael Bourn
                397 Games / 163 SB – 28 CS / .285 AVG / .379 OBP / MLB @ 23

                Both had EXACTLY 127 MLB AB’s before the age of 25.

                At age 25, Bourn was REALLY lost at the dish =

                467 AB – .229 AVG – .288 OBP – .588 OPS – 111 K – 41 SB

                At age 25, Gardner improved greatly, but has a much smaller sample size =

                248 AB – .270 AVG – .345 OBP – .724 OPS – 40 K – 26 SB

                Gardner had better numbers across the board.

                At age 26, Bourn took off =

                606 AB – .285 AVG – .354 OBP – .738 OPS – 140 K – 61 SB

                What will Brett do at 26? Remains to be seen. I can guarantee you this though. If Bourn was a Yankee in 08, he would have been shipped out. The Yankee fans and Yankee brass are both very impatient. I wonder what Houston fans were saying about Bourn before he improved his AVG by 56 points and swiped 61 bags?


                Since he’ll just be our #9 hitter, why not give him a REAL shot at 500 AB’s and see what he can do.

                VOTE YES ON GARDNER!!!


                Brett Gardner Sr.

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


            • MattG

              Alright, this is getting tiresome. I would appreciate it if people would stop putting words in my mouth. The next time I unequivocally state that Brett Gardner cannot be a .350 OPS player in full time duty will be the first. I have not written that.

              What I have written is that is not the ceiling he is given. It is not the ceiling Chone Figgins was given, and not the ceiling Nyjer Morgan was given.

              Chone Figgins played in parts of 9 minor league seasons, and 750 miL games. He was a journeyman minor leaguer that exceeded his ceiling.

              Nyjer Morgan didn’t get a cup of coffee until he was 26 years old, and his success is a total mirage. He has a .300 BA with a nearly 2/1 K to BB ratio, and that is not sustainable.

              You want to pencil him in expecting him to be Chone Figgins? That strikes me as idiotic. For every Chone Figgins you can cite, there are 20 players that didn’t even make the majors with the same skill set.

              Point: figure Gardner for what he is, not his best case scenario. That’s. not. smart.

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

                We don’t know what Gardner is. SSS, remember? We’re optimistically speculating and hoping as fans that our cheap option that gives us flexibility going forward can exceed the common person’s expectations and be a better than average value player.

                • Drew

                  Thank you Jordan…isnt having high expectations of a young system kid a part of being a fan? Its not like Im banking on Garnder leading this team to another ring. Its also not like I said the guy would hit .330 and swipe 80 bags, nor did I pencil in his production for 2010 as Chone Figgins, if I did I would have said .298 / .395 not .280 / .350. So my projection was pie in the sky because BA didn’t bless him with their magic wand?

                  Could you imagine if Matt was a fan of the Pirates?

                  Chin up Matt, the 2010 season will not be won or lost because of Brett Gardner. Hopefully his own expectations are higher than the ones you chiseled in concrete for him.

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

              What all of those players don’t do is play in the AL East.

              • Drew

                So there is a “Drew” here already? Damn, OK, Ill be DRU from now on.

      • Steve H

        He hit .270/.345 with 26 steals last year, and you don’t think he can get to .280/.350 with 40 steals? Really?

        • MattG

          That’s right. No scout does, and I’m not about to ignore that. You realize that was 248 at bats, right?

          • Steve H

            No scout does? Didn’t realize you personally knew all the scouts. My bad.

            • MattG

              Are you saying “No scout does” is an inaccurate statement? Maybe you read more baseball stuff than I do?

          • Steve H

            And yes, I fully realize it was 248 AB’s. For you to say there is no chance he can do that over 500 ab’s is extremely shortsighted. Can he? We don’t konw, neither you nor I. And to say that no scouts think he can, come on, be serious.

            • MattG

              Where did I say “no chance?” Didn’t I write how I prefer a Gardner/Johnson platoon to Damon?

              Is Gardner your son or something? Are you Mr. Gardner?

              • Steve H

                Is Gardner my son?

                And I’m the condescending one?

                I’m not even sold on Gardner, but to say he can’t hit .280/.350 is so amazingly shortsighted I couldn’t ignore it.

                • MattG

                  Let me know when you find someone who says it.

                • Steve H

                  “He’s an everyday player who could learn to be a good leadoff guy because he can fly,” said a longtime talent evaluator, who requested anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak publicly about players in other organizations.

                • Steve H

                  In fact, when you look at the total body of work that Gardner has put together since showing up in New York, he’s racked up +3.3 wins above replacement in 342 plate appearances. Even with heavy regression, Gardner looks to be good enough to play everyday.

  • Drew

    Defensive side =

    UZR (ultimate zone rating): The number of runs above or below average a fielder is in both range runs and error runs combined.

    CF Rankings

    Carlos Gomez = 16.5 UZR
    Cody Ross = 11.3 UZR
    Mike Cameron = 11.3 UZR
    BJ Upton = 10.3 UZR
    Adam Jones = 9.9 UZR
    Brett Gardner = 9.5 UZR

    CF Rankings

    Franklin Gutierrez = 29.1 UZR
    Nyjer Morgan = 15.4 UZR
    Rajai Davis = 11.9 UZR
    BJ Upton = 11.0 UZR
    Mike Cameron = 10.0 UZR
    Colby Rasmus = 8.9 UZR
    Michael Bourne = 8.6 UZR
    Willy Taveras = 8.3 UZR
    Tony Gwynn = 7.8 UZR
    Drew Stubbs = 7.6 UZR
    Carlos Gomez = 7.3 UZR
    Brett Gardner = 7.2 UZR
    ( 27 ) Curtis Granderson = 1.6 UZR
    ( 31 ) Melky Cabrera = 1.4 UZR
    ( 138 ) Jacoby Ellsbury = -18.6

    Ellsbury finished last in the league, this is the reason the Sox picked up the reliable glove of Mike Cameron for CF.

    Now some of these #’s fluctuate from year to year. In 2007, Granderson was 4th in the majors with 14.2 UZR in CF, then took a nose dive in 2008 and recovered to league average in 2009. However, guys like Cameron, Gomez, Upton..are always near the top. The fact that Brett is near the top over the past 2 years is enough evidence for me to stick him in CF and shift Granderson to LF where he can go from average to elite in the field ( less ground to cover ). With that big gap in LCF, this would be the prefect combo in the field for the Yanks. Plus with Granderson’s speed in LF, you could shade Brett to right and have him cover the gap in RCF more to help out Swisher. Nick finished at league average, -0.7 UZR. That # ranked him 8th amongst the 19 starters who qualified, but 134th out of 193 who played the position in 2009. Not bad at all considering what we went from in 2008 ( Bobby Abreu had a -25.6 UZR, good for 174th in the league, 2nd to last for starters, nearly a 25 point improvement! ). We can maybe expect Swisher to improve slightly, increasing his UZR to about 0. Moving to LF should increase Granderson’s UZR to about 10, that would rank him 6th overall…

    Damon’s UZR in LF in 2009? -9.2, good for 182nd in the league. Below…Carlos Lee, Chris Duncan, Manny Ramirez, Adam Lind and only 4 spots ahead of Sheff, Garret Anderson, Jason Bay, Carlos Quentin and Adam Dunn.

    To say our defense is going to improve in 2009 is an understatement.

    That may be the 2nd best defensive CF/LF combo in the majors behind Crawford/Upton.

    • MattG

      Fielding is the real reason to go with Gardner/Johnson, but, I don’t know that ranking UZR is very helpful. Even the creator of UZR tells us that even a full season is a small sample size.

      I’m with you: Gardner/Johnson would make a very nice combo on the cheap, and could exceed Damon’s 2009 production (fielding considered). But you are overstating Gardner’s skills. He has a chance at being a very productive platoon player. That’s his real ceiling.

      • Drew

        So what are you basing that statement on Matt?

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


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

          Yo man can you change your handle to something other than just Drew?

          • DRU


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


        • MattG

          Gardner clearly fielded much better than Melky Cabrera. I feel like I know that just from watching them on TV. Melky’s UZR sample is not so small, that makes me feel like I know what Gardner’s fielding ability is.

          The rest is minor league statistics, and what I’ve read (from qualified, identified sources). Gardner should be expected to be capable in a platoon role, and overmatched in an everyday role.

          He can turn into Chone Figgins, but it is not smart to bank on that. Being that he’d bat ninth and be supported by Johnson/Hoffman, the risk/reward is most acceptable.

          Much Joba and Phil in 4/5 was a little too risky, but adding Javy ahead of them setup the Yankees for success, don’t count on Gardner to step up and be even an average regular in LF or CF. Get him a platoon partner. Just because he starts the season in a platoon, doesn’t mean he ends it that way.

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

      Gardner’s stats are incomplete especially UZR. He doesn’t have enough innings to account for 105 games. Wayyyy too small of a sample.

      • DRU

        Agreed, but seeing the stats and watching him in the field live, this kid’s got a solid glove no matter what measurement you use.

  • Bronx Ralphie

    How about Vlad for a one year deal? You move Swish to left (with Gardner as another option) and you can also DH Vlad to give Nick Johnson a break. It would be nice to have another right-handed power bat in the line-up.

    any thoughts?

    • Jack

      You want Vlad to play the outfield?

  • JoeX

    Looks to me like they’ve got it right. Sign Reed Johnson to this year and play him. Bench Gardner. He’s better there. Next year keep the best of Johnson and Gardner. Sign Wang to AAA with ML incentives. Start Hughes 5th. Phase Wang in and Hughes to bp as innings mount. 2011, sign Crawford, release Nick Johnson. Sign Lee. CC, AJ, Lee, Wang, choice from Vazquez, Andy, Hughes, Joba.

  • JoeX

    Meant keep the best of Johnson and Hoffman.

  • Anita Bath

    I would rather sign Jerry Hairston Jr. JHJ would be perfect platooning in LF, he’s cheap ($2 mil) and is versatile enough to give Arod, Jeter and the others a day off as well.

  • Harrison

    I hope the Yankees are keeping an eye on the arbitration with the Florida Marlins and OF Cody Ross.

    The Marlins are looking to save money, and Ross had over 90 RBI’s last year. He is a damn good defensive outfielder who can play all three positions. He is tiny, but hits with power and plays the game with a ton of passion and hustle. He just turned 29 and is expected to cost about $3.5 mil in 2010.

    It would require a trade of some prospects, but Ross would be a valuable addition. My only negative on Ross, is his strikeout total. Not horrible, but needs improvement.

  • http://theyankeemanager.blogspot.com/ Francis Isberto

    Yes Reed Johnson is a perfect fit for the budgeting Yankees. He can hit lefties and is a perfect compliment with Brett Gardner in left field.

    I still want to go to Johnny Damon. He is proven and loves hitting in the Yankees stadium. He still have gas left in the tank. The Yankees should get this done and get Johnny.

  • pete luciano

    The more everybody analyzes left field the more Damon makes sense. If Johnny is cheap sign him and get a cheap right handed bat for the fourth outfilder and trade Gardner. Otherwise stop shopping at TJ Maxx and just go sign Holliday who wants to be a Yankee. What an awesome 5 hitter he’d be and we really need a right handed bat and there’s nothing left out there any good. You cannot discount the value of a player that can handle NY as Johnny can and he’s a great post season player. The Jeter Damon combo 1 and 2 was awesome. It’s either Damon or Holliday, forget the bargains they never work in Gotham.

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  • Joe

    Cubs fan here — may have to become a Yanks fan if you guys pick up Reed. Dude is a badass. Great off the bench, fantastic in the field. All the comments I’ve read are concerned about his hitting, which I’ll admit is average except against LHP, but the intangibles — like how he’ll go through the outfield wall for a catch — are pretty spectacular. I keep hoping Hendry gets his head out of his ass and resigns the guy… :(

    • diehardyankee

      Joe: I don’t blame U 4 feeling that way!

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  • diehardyankee

    No dice. The perfect man for our left field is David De Jesus from the Royals. He’s a switch hitter, fast and great @defense. I would put him in CF and move Granderson to left. Capish?

    • gary knickerbacker

      David DeJesus would be perfect-excellent fielder,hits lefties and righties-good runner-but hits only left handed,not switch hitter.Best solution for lf-another possibility on a cheaper note would be Lastings Milledge of the Pirates-only 24 and has more potential than Gardner.

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