Jan
19

Gardner taking aim at key improvements

By

At every minor league level, Brett Gardner has shown improvements in his approach to the game, and now that the left field job is his to lose, he’ll have to again adapt his style. After a good, but not great, 2009 that saw Gardner hit .270/.345/.379 as a part-time player, Yankee fans know what to expect. He’s fast, but so far, he hasn’t gotten on base quite often enough to capitalize on his speed. He’s a contact hitter, but he has shown a tendency to be a bit too selective at the plate. Over the weekend, Chad Jennings talked with Gardner about his off-season approach, and what Brett said should be encouraging. He’s already working on improving his bunting, and he wants to be more aggressive by putting more balls in play this year. It might just be the words of a baseball player gearing up for Spring Training, but those areas are exactly the ones upon which Gardner should be focusing.

Categories : Asides, Hot Stove League
  • larryf

    Brett will slide headfirst alot. Hopefully no more broken fingers….

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

    Scrappy!

  • http://josephdelgrippo.wordpress.com/ Joseph DelGrippo

    As I have said many times, if just left alone to play, Gardner will begin to produce numbers like he did in the minors. he is coontinually improving his game.

    The part in Chad’s article where Gardner has been bunting 100 balls a day shows you he knows what he needs to work on to improve his game.

    I am completely comfortbale with a trio of Gardner, C-Grand and Hoffmann in a partial three way platoon encompassing left field and center field. Brett and Curtis as the starters and Hoffmann working his way into the starting lineup once or twice a week.

    • Hughesus Cristo

      Granderson won’t be platooning.

      • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

        If we end up signing a guy who hits lefties good he should be.

        • Hughesus Cristo

          Gardner might platoon, Granderson is the center fielder. Period.

          • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

            If we get aa guy who hits lefties well we should sit Grandy at least occasionally.

            • pat

              I’d rather have Granderson try and improve vs lefties instead of sitting him. All he has to do is not suck terribly against them and he’ll have a great season.

              • DP

                And has been detailed in these parts many a time, a lot of Granderson’s struggles against lefties were greatly exacerbated by Comerica Park.

    • Bryan

      It is way too early to say what Brett Gardner can or cannot do at the major league level. In parts of 2 seasons he has a total of 375 ABs. Derek Jeter, for comparison, had 634 ABs last season. I was really impressed with Gardner as a part time starter in the first half with rates of .282/.352/.404 before the thumb injury. We know that he can play a solid CF or LF and he won’t hit for power but if he is given time to develop it won’t be a surprise to see his average and OBP up to where they were in the minors.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

      As I have said many times, if just left alone to play, Gardner will begin to produce numbers like he did in the minors.

      Gardner absolutely will not post an OBP of .389. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. I am so confident of this, I will personally seek out your contact info and send a check of $1000 payable to whatever bank you fancy.

      he is coontinually improving his game.

      Hmm…aside from making an easy sophomoric joke, it’s not clear he’s “improving his game.” It’s likely that he’ll be better at bunting, maybe swinging at pitches that are strikes, general baserunning (which is different than simply stealing bases), but frankly, he regressed as the season went on. You can chalk some of it to injury, sure, but these are also the general athlete quotes you expect to hear. It’s not like he said, “You know what, Chad? Bunting? The only practice I did this off-season was bunting myself into some skank I met at the club while a T.I. song blared in the background.” Let’s have someone verify that he’s actually made improvements before bestowing such praise.

      I am completely comfortbale with a trio of Gardner, C-Grand and Hoffmann in a partial three way platoon encompassing left field and center field. Brett and Curtis as the starters and Hoffmann working his way into the starting lineup once or twice a week.

      Ummm…four outfielders is not enough. If Granderson (who probably won’t be platooned, but whatevs) or Swish go down, you absolutely should not be comfortable with Hoffmann, Gardner, and Swish/Granderson. There’s a good chance two-thirds of your outfield will have an OPS+ of under 85. Not good.

      I’m not saying you go out there and grab Damon or anything, but what you’ve described could turn into a primordial soup of tragedy.

      I’ve been an admitted Gardner hater, but I think there’s a better chance that pitchers adjust to him than he adjusts to them moving forward; he has no power, takes uppercut swings, and is too passive at the plate. The key is if he can get his OBP at .350 or better. If he can, along with excellent speed and defense, he should be a definite net gain as a player. But let’s not get carried away here; adjusting to the majors in the second year is not like adjusting to any level in the minors.

      • JGS

        I agree that .389 is out of Gardner’s league, but in 2008 Ellsbury stole 50 bases (11 CS) while putting up a .336 OBP, which gave him a wRC+ of 100 despite an OPS+ of 87. I think Gardner is more than capable of putting that up

        • JMK THE OVERSHARE’s Glenn Beck Complex

          He’s also helped out by a better walk rate, and he has some power. If anything, of his years, 2008 was the outlier for Ellsbury. He’s a good hitter. They may be similar in that they’re fast white guys with little power, but Crazy Whores Tacoboy is a better hitter. (I don’t fully know the nuances of wRC+, but remember that it’s similar to OPS but uses wOBA+ as a base, so forgive me if I’ve misinterpreted something.)

          I think Gardner can become average, or slightly above average offensively, but the assumption that he will improve against pitchers but they won’t improve against him, I think is a poor one.

      • http://josephdelgrippo.wordpress.com/ Joseph DelGrippo

        Gardner’s OBP was .345 last season, much better than the .283 in 2008. And while we all would love .389, it probably will not happen. He will improve again upon last season’s OBP in 2010, which will be his third year facing major league hitters.

        There is no reason why Gardner can not get on base at a rate of .365.

        By the way, his numbers, albeit in about 30% of his PA’s, Gardner fared much better last season across the board against LHP (.291/.381/.400/.781) than he did against RHP (.264/.335/.373/.708).

        “Hmm…aside from making an easy sophomoric joke, it’s not clear he’s “improving his game.” It’s likely that he’ll be better at bunting, maybe swinging at pitches that are strikes, general baserunning (which is different than simply stealing bases)….”

        Funny, but I did hit spell check before posting. I wonder what Microsoft Word is trying to say?…It might be similar to Sgt. Pepper’s Beatles album where it said “I buried Paul, I buried Paul…”

        Anyway, those small parts of baseball ARE Gardner’s game. He will not hit for high slugging percentages or knock in 80 or more runs. What he will do is play good defense, get on base and disrupt the pitcher and other teams defense.

        As mentioned within these posts, someone said that with Gardner on base from the #9 spot, Jeter will have much more opportunities to punch the ball thru the right side, where first and third with Gardner on third and Jeter on first will happen so often, John Sterling will be saying it in his sleep.

        And “if Granderson or Swisher gets hurt”…well anybody can get hurt. If you look at the roster, the Yankees are better able to withstand a Granderson/Swisher injury than if Alex or Tex or Jeter or Posada or CC or AJ or Rivera or Cano or Vazquez gets hurt.

        But primordial soup? I like that term. Isn’t that the New York Mets, though?

      • Joseph DelGrippo

        While doing some research I found these comments from last year.

        I just missed getting $1000 from you as Gardner’s OBP last season was .383, a mere .006 off your crazy high .389 mark.

  • Rocky Road Redemption (formerly RAB poster)

    I have enough faith in K-Long to turn Gardner into a hitter that at least can hold his own out there.

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

      But not in a creepy David Cone kind of way.

      A young speed demon to give the Yanks another weapon/look is a nice asset. Let’s not forget this guy looked at 4.05 pitches per plate appearance in 2009. Damon was …4.06, good for 15th in the league. Jeter hits behind him. The Capn will see more pitches, and see less GIDPs, while the opposing pitcher will be distracted by a pest at first base. That hole on the right side just got a whole lot bigger. It will be first and third all season long when Gardner isn’t scoring from second.

      If the Yankee Way is to wear pitchers out, he will do that both at the plate, and on the bases, and play great OF defense in that cavernous LF as well.

      At least that’s how we drew it up.

  • W.W.J.M.D.

    i don’t see why people don’t want him to start in LF, i don’t remember so many people complaining when he won the CF job out of spring trainging last year.

    • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com/ JobaWockeeZ

      I was a fool thinking Gardner could actually replicate his ST numbers in the regular season.

      Now that he probably won’t be something special I wouldn’t mind if we got someone to enhance left field. Someone who could hits lefties while playing positive defense.

  • Poopy Pants

    I’m ok with him in LF. I’m glad he’s working hard to better himself.

  • pete luciano

    A 379 slugging percentage for a cornor outfielder in Yankee stadium, please. The more Gardner plays the worse his numbers are. That is the trademark of a part time bench player which Gardner is and always will be. Damon is a veteran regular, his price tremendously diminished, can hit leftys, can play on the big stage, has always been a regular, and quite frankly comparing him to Gardner is laughable. We’re the Yankees, stop penny pinching. Did you forget we paid 46m for Kei Igewa and we’re barking over a few million for a proven veteran, a winner, and a great 2 hole hitter. Sign Damon and stop the Gardner nonsense.

    • JAG

      So rather than learning from a mistake like overpaying for Kei Igawa, you’d like us to just compound it by overpaying for Damon? Not necessarily saying his price is absurd (I too think that he’ll eventually get 1/$7MM from someone), but to suggest the Yankees should throw out the budget to sign someone who is worse than Gardner in all the ways that matter to a team building to improve its youth and defense just screams of the kind of short-minded spending that saw Kevin Brown, Jaret Wright, and Carl Pavano head our way.

      -JM

  • Poopy Pants

    Yeah, it’s a real crime. They went from Melky/Gardner/Damon to Granderson/Gardner.
    So terrible. How did they do it? Craziness.
    Tragic.

    Not to mention Jeter, Tex, A-Rod, Posada, Cano, Swish and Nick Johnson.

    Plus…CC, AJ, Pettitte, Javy, Phoba

    How will they ever win a game?

  • Joseph M

    Unless Cashman wakes up, we will all be subjected to one of the most asinine exercises in all my years of following the Yankees. Gardner has a value as a late inning pinch runner/defensive replacement. Leave him in that role and he can make a contribution. Take him out of that role and he will cost the Yankees some games. The question is how many, when do they throw in the towel? Do they wait until the first home stand is over, do they wait until the first week in May, whatever, Gardner is a spare part. I thought we all realized this, but apparently I was wrong, so we will have to learn it all over again.

    Someone mentioned Hoffmann, I doubt this guy will make the final roster, there is no evidence to suggest he not anything more than a good triple AAA player.

  • Peter

    I personally think Brett Gardner will be grossly over matched as an everyday player on the major league level.

    but hey…i hope i’m wrong.

  • Ban Bud

    “The more Gardner plays the worse his numbers are.”

    Is that just a guess on your part? Because that isn’t what his minor league history indicates. Maybe you could draw that inference from his limited playing time last year, but even the Great Jeter had difficulty hitting with an injured hand in 2008.

  • pete luciano

    Now we’re going to fill our corner outfield position by judging Gardner’s triple a stats, please, we’re the yankees. Don’t embarass yourself and compare Gardner to Damon, it’s just nonsense.

  • pete luciano

    Now we’re quoting Gardner’s triple A success vs Damon’s 15 yr major league success. Gardner is Bubba Crosby just a little faster. Stop the nonsense, Johnny is cheap enough now, sign him.