Jan
08

Not your father’s Bubba Crosby

By

Brett Gardner tries to race Joe Mauer to the plate. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Following the 2005 season, the Yankees knew they had a center field problem. Bernie Williams, due to the destructive nature of age, could no longer man his long-term position, and having passed on Carlos Beltran a year before, the Yankees were facing a season without a set center fielder. Sure, Johnny Damon was a free agent, but the Yanks weren’t going to proclaim they’re desire for Damon less they give up some leverage.

Enter Bubba Crosby. In 2003, the Yanks acquired Crosby along with Scott Proctor from the Dodgers for Robin Ventura, and for parts of 2004 and 2005, he served as the Yanks’ fourth outfielder. Following the end of the 2005 season — an end brought about in part because of an outfield collision — Crosby had a career line in New York of .232/.266/.318 with an OPS+ of 55, but Brian Cashman said the Yankees were willing to start the season with Crosby in center field.

It was, of course, a bluff and an obvious one at that. Crosby couldn’t hit a lick, and he certainly wouldn’t be starting in center field for the Yanks. A few weeks later, right before Christmas, the Yanks signed Damon, and Crosby would suffer through just 96 more Big League plate appearances before calling it a career. Cashman’s threat never came to be.

Fast forward to today, and many commentators are calling the Yanks’ commitment to Brett Gardner a version of Cashman’s Bubba Crosby threat. This time around, Johnny Damon has priced himself out of the suddenly stingy Bronx, and although it seems as though he could return on a one-year deal worth approximately $5-$6 million, Boras and Damon would have to concede a big defeat to do that. So with Melky Cabrera now in Atlanta, the Yankees are looking at Brett Gardner as either their starting left or center fielder with Curtis Granderson filling the other position. The Yanks will try to find a right handed platoon partner — probably a Reed Johnson type if not Johnson himself, as Joe said earlier — and after that, the roster will be set.

So up in arms are those who want an All Star at every position. Up in arms are those who see Bubba Crosby in Brett Gardner. Reality looks quite different. Crosby was a 29 year old with no value. He had put up a combined -0.7 WAR in his first two seasons in the Bronx and had shown some average defense. He had no real Minor League pedigree and wasn’t a prospect.

Brett Gardner is a different story. Throughout the Minors, he’s shown the ability to get on base, and while he hasn’t flashed much power, we can’t just ignore a .389 Minor League OBP. Last season, he hit a respectable .270/.345/.379 with 26 stolen bases in 31 attempts. He has a career WAR of 3.2 and has been an above-average defender in center and left in his young playing career. On the cusp of his age 26 season, he should improve and be at least adequate in 2010.

In the end, we won’t know until after the fact if Gardner will amount to much. He may just be a more valuable fourth outfielder/pinch runner extraordinaire. For now, he’s the Yankee left fielder, and there’s nothing wrong with that. He’ll give the team some value, and if we know what to expect, he just might exceed our expectations. With a power threat in center, the Yanks don’t need a traditional left fielder. They need an average bat and a good glove. Gardner as we know him now fits that bill to a tee.

Categories : Analysis
  • mike c

    yeah but how sweet would damon/granderson/swisher be for the OF?
    would love to have those 9 guys help “welcome” lackey to boston :)
    sick lineup, do it!

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      The other thing about Damon I didn’t mention is the near-inevitability of a decline. If you could guarantee Johnny Damon 2009 would show up again for 2010, then yeah, that’d be great. That’s not a sure thing.

      • mike c

        true– although i can’t imagine the defense declining that drastically from 09. he’s still got some wheels on him and can run the bases pretty well.

        • bonestock94

          Yea, but what about the offense?

          • mike c

            looked good to me last year! YSIII <3 JD

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          Damon’s defense in 2009 was already pretty atrocious. I’d hope it doesn’t decline drastically!

          • mike c

            yeah although IMO he wasn’t that bad in the field late and in the post-season. aside from the hammy, he could hang ok. as long as he remembered how many outs there were

            • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

              What? Really? Damon looked like he dropped chocolate brownies in his trousers late in the season and in the playoffs. So awkward, such poor reads, the arm of an infant.

      • Bo

        The 2010 Damon is still light yrs beyond Gardner with the bat. Even with a decline due to age.

        • Doug

          yet with gardner’s much better D, their overall value to the team is remarkably similar

      • Rose

        Isn’t there a near inevitability of a decline for every player? Including quite a few older “core” guys currently still with the team?

        Now this doesn’t make it ok to sign yet another one…but on a 1 year deal…even with decline…I still think he’s better than Gardner. Skeptics who hold Gardners SSS as a direct comparison to Damon’s long durable one might think otherwise…but I still think Damon is a better option.

        Although, I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to a Gardner/Johnson (or Johnson-type) platoon either.

        If Gardner is really it…he should be in CF and Granderson in LF. And NOT because they have to be compared to other players in that position (which is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard)…but because Gardner (IMO) is faster and has shown he can handle it already. Granderson certainly might too…and that’s why he’ll be given his chance when Johnson is in the game…

        • Zack

          I’d rather not try to teach Granderson a new position 4 months before the season starts. He already has to make the transition to NY, work with KLong on his swing, improve on facing LHP, and not hitting at the top of the order.
          Just my opinion

          • Rose

            Yeah but he’s played a cool 22 games in LF!!! lol

            (only 3 of which he’s started the game in)

            • Zack

              Curtis to teh left!
              /joba to teh 8th!

        • TarHeelYankee

          but because Gardner (IMO) is faster and has shown he can handle it already. Granderson certainly might too…and that’s why he’ll be given his chance when Johnson is in the game… ?????

          Rose please clarify this comment… I was under the asumption that Granderson was the starting CF for Det. and an ALLSTAR at the position. I did not realize he had to PROVE that he could handle the position. Please do not bring up how he played in the playoff, becase if that is going to be your arguement, the you have to look at Gardner’s baserunning in the playoffs and throw away the “steal 50 bases stuff”

  • Salty Buggah

    Thank you! I’ve been trying to say that this LF situation is not exactly the Crosby situation. I’ve noticed numerous times people saying how Cashman declared Crosby to be the starting CFer only to sign a FA later and how that means that he will also sign a bonafide LFer. It doesn’t because of the reasons Ben just outlined.

  • bonestock94

    I’m totally cool with Gardner if he gets smarter with the bat. I’m totally sick of seeing a guy with his speed swing at pitches well outside of the zone and getting all of those pop-ups.

    • themgmt

      Gardner pops up but it’s not like he chases a ton of pitches out of the zone. He only swung at 17% of pitches out of the zone. Better than 90% of baseball players last year.

      Discipline isn’t his problem, he just needs to square the ball up more.

      • bonestock94

        Oh, I guess it’s been too long since I’ve watched Yankees baseball.

  • darl

    I happen to like Brett. Sure he’s not exactly all-star material now, but how will he ever develop if he doesn’t get some more consistent playing time? I say sign Johnny Damon if he’s reasonably price, otherwise why not just give Brett a chance and see where it goes? If our #9 hitter is hitting .280 it’s not the end of the world

    • JMK aka The Overshare’s Excessive Back Hair Complex

      If our #9 hitter is hitting .280. The problem is he may be closer to .240 than .280. Just sayin’.

      • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

        Really, the question is whether or not we’d be satisfied if Gardner could duplicate his 2009 line in 450 ABs. I think I’d take .270/.345/.379 from the 9 hole.

        • Salty Buggah

          Yea, if he can couple that with above average-to-elite defense, Gardy’s a pretty good player.

          (Do know what his WAR would be if he puts up that line in 450 ABs with a ~20 UZR/150 in LF?)

        • anon

          If Gardner gets on base at .350 hes a massive success.

        • Doug

          the yanks’ brass will be doing backflips if he puts up that line playing full-time

        • OldYanksFan

          How about a .269 .331 .385 line?
          That’s Melky’s career line.
          Considering his D, even a .255 .335 .365 line would be great, considering the rest of the team.

          As someone above mentioned… how do we develop players if we don’t give them a shot? Melky got 3 years. At least Brett is saving us $7-10m/yr.

          Are the only good prospects guys who are well above average by their 2nd year? If so, plan on a $250m – $300m payroll. This team MUST have a number of cost controlled players!

          • Christova

            Gardner is a young player who will need time to develop. If you actually watch Yankee games, you will see that he is developing and does not swing at bad pitches. Once he develops confidence, he can easily average a .350 OBP, and even if he duplicates last year he is better than Melky, who was frankly nothing special. If you add Gardner’s speed and the basepath threat he represents, then he was by far the better player to keep over Melky. Management needs to give this kid a chance, and I think he will produce in the end.

            Damon is about shot and is now truly a defensive liability. Did you see him in the WS last year? The guy can no longer run. Had the series gone further, he would not have been available for any additional games. There is no way he holds up for another season, since last season it seems he was kept together with rubber bands and staples. I say good riddance to him at any more than a one-year deal with the value of used up sluggers like Vlad (5 mil plus incentives).

        • Zack

          I would sign for those numbers right now, with possibly 40 SB; have him steal or hit & run with Jeter almost every AB

    • Salty Buggah

      Yea, I agree. Go with Gardner (and probably sign a Reed Johnson type) or if possible (seems unlikely), sign Johnny Damon on the Yankees terms.

      I agree that we need to give him time to see what he can do, though that can at times be hard when on a championship contenting ballclub (though it also kinda helps because the rest of the team is so beastly, you can afford a developing player).

      Also, I don’t mind his average as long he gets on base 35+% of the time and plays elite defense consistently, which, obviously, remains to be seen.

    • Amy

      I agree. Even if our #9 hits .250 it’s not a big deal. We’re elite at 8 offensive positions, and I’m really not a fan of sacrificing defense when you’re in a position not to.

  • RollingWave

    To be fair, Bubba Crosby was first round draft pick (23 overall) in 98, so to say that there was no pedigree at all isn’t technically correct.

    He’s your classic aluminum bat super-star. the “safe” picks that was in fact terrible (basically, he’s Mitch Hilligoss in the outfield… taken in the first round…), because he can’t hit a lick once wood bat reveal his true power level to be well below major league standards.

    He tried to make adjustments but never got it together. never passing a single level without a repeat… and what’s worse is that he was drafted as a 21 year old… ouch.

    But before he was drafted. he looked like a decent prospect. relatively fast, plays a solid CF, walked a lot more than he whiffed, and seem to have pretty substaintial power (he hit 25 dinger in his last season for rice in just 58 games, and he only whiffed 27 times to boot)

    • whozat

      By the time the Yanks got him, it was clear he had no real pedigree. Gardner has actually done well in the minor leagues, generally at appropriate ages for the levels.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      So they both had draft round pedigree. Gardner was a third rounder and Crosby a first rounder. But beyond that, one of them enjoyed decent Minor League success while the other didn’t. Crosby’s combined MiLB line was .277/.346/.417, and Gardner’s .289/.389/.383. Considering that Gardner made his debut at a younger age and has plus skills in his legs and his glove, he’s emerged as a superior player.

      I’m not saying he’s going to be great, and he will probably frustrate us as much as Melky did. But if he can get on base and run, I’m ok with that.

      • RollingWave

        of course, i clearly point out that he sucked once he actually entered pro ball, but to say that a 23 overall pick that signed for nearly a mill back in 98 have no pedigree to begin with seem a bit over the top

        • whozat

          If we’re really going to split hairs like this, Ben was talking about Bubba in 2005. He said Bubba had no Minor League pedigree, and wasn’t a prospect _at age 29 in 2005_

          Can’t really argue with that.

          • randym77

            Bubba in 2005 wasn’t a prospect. When the Yankees first got him, though, he was 26 and had just come off a torrid season in AAA. He was hitting .400 when he was selected to the All-Star game. He would have won the batting title if he hadn’t been called up. There was some hope that he was the fabled “late bloomer.”

            I like Brett Gardner, but then, I liked Bubba Crosby. (I do think Bubba was better on defense than Gardner. Gardner’s got the edge in speed, at least compared to Bubba at the end of his career, but I don’t think his instincts are as good.)

            I wouldn’t mind seeing Gardner get his shot, but I expect Cashman to shell out for a bigger bat. If it was CF, maybe, but I can’t see him going with a player like Gardner in the corner.

            • V

              I never understood this. Granderson in LF, you live with Gardner in CF, but Granderson in CF, you can’t have Gardner in LF?

              See: Red Sox, Ellsbury, LF. They’ve got the same situation (except Ellsbury is atrocious in CF). And they’ll live with it just like the Yankees will.

              • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

                +1

                For both teams, there’s a trade off with the bats. As they’re currently constructed, both the Yankees and Red Sox have the big bat that would fit left field in centerfield and the not-so-hot-bat that would fit in CF in LF. Either way, it’s the same batters.

                • Doug

                  except, we’re probably better off doing what the sox did and flip-flop grandy and gardner. think at this point in their careers, gardner’s a better CFer

              • Doug

                agreed. makes absolutely no sense at all.

              • JoeX

                Doesn’t make much sense. If they’re planning on Werth or Crawford, why not put Granderson in CF now and give him a stabile environment from the outset rather than mess with it midseason or later. Shift them both a little right or left as needed. The best left fielder in the park is a CFer anyway.

                • themgmt

                  That’s what I think. I want Gardner to start but I wouldn’t move Granderson until Grander proves he can maintain. Not a big deal either way though.

              • randym77

                I think it’s a question of the market. It’s hard to replace the production of a good CFer who can hit. It’s easier to replace a corner outfielder who doesn’t need to be all that great with the glove.

                For this reason, I don’t think Granderson will be moved. The Yanks paid a lot for him, and it was because he’s a good hitter in a defensively challenging position.

                So…I don’t think Yanks would have traded for Granderson if the plan was to keep Gardner in the everyday lineup.

      • http://I’mnotsayinghe’sgoingtobegreat,andhewillprobablyfrustrateusasmuchasMelky mustang

        “I’m not saying he’s going to be great, and he will probably frustrate us as much as Melky ”

        I hope we are as critical as we were with Melky.

        • TarHeelYankee

          I agaree w/ this comment 100%. Fine give Brett the starting job in LF, but if/when he makes us want to pull our hair out make sure everyone JUMPS ALL OVER HIM LIKE EVERYONE DID WITH MELKY…….. Save the bull excuses.

          • A.D.

            People will, though the main difference is Melky has power & shows flashes of patience, the issues is one day he looks great, and the wailing at pitches there’s no chance he hits.

            If BG fails its probably lack talent, where Melk is lack of bringing the talent together.

  • jim p

    If you’ll recall Brett had a poor March/April, but in May and June he was finally engaging his lower half in his swing, just like K. Long taught him. July he slumped, and then he discovered his broken thumb, which might have played a part in his July figures. Never really a starter after the injury.

    So it all hinges on if he can improve his pitch recognition and remember how to swing. If he does, the first a little, and the latter all the time, you’d have to expect him on base .350-.370. And his speed turns a lot of walks and singles into effective doubles.

    I feel optimistic about him this season.

  • Ivan

    The one thing Gardner brings to the table is plus plus D & speed which is quite valuable. Is he gonna be a headache at times of course, however he’s better than bubba crosby, albeit thats not saying saying much but still.

    • AJ

      I think what everyone is saying is pretty spot on. I think something to look for with Gardner is his baserunning. If he can learn to run the bases well, cause he isn’t great right now, the Yankees can manufacture a ton of runs.

      I would like to see him figure out the plate because from what I’ve seen he flails at pitches and doesn’t always give himself a chance to use his speed and force the defense to make plays. I would feel better if he could make his strikeout-walk ratio better

      • Steve H

        Gardner’s baserunning is the least of my worries. I just care that he gets on base, the rest will take care of itself.

  • JackISBACK

    Gardner had a better WAR than Ellsbury last year (mainly because of defense) but did it while Ellsbury played more than twice as much. Given equal playing time, Gardner would’ve smacked Ellsbury silly in WAR since its a counting stat.

    As others have mentioned, Gardner was playing decent until he got hurt, but Girardi plugged in Melky and he got hot and clutch so it turned out to be a platoon of sorts. Between Melky and Gardner, Gardner was the better pinch runner, so he was more suited to come off the bench even though he was the better player than Melky.

    I think we need to give Gardner a shot in LF. The speed is dynamic, he can get on base at a good clip, and we need to start to develop our own players. Can’t just put everything together with free agents. Rookies go through slumps, and with what Gardner has shown in the minors, I have no problem giving him a chance to develop at the MLB level this year.

  • http://kikojones5.blogspot.com Kiko Jones

    Maybe I’m in a parallel universe watching a different guy, but from where I stand, Gardner is an excellent pinch-runner and an able late-inning defensive replacement. Nothing more.

    The Yankees need someone else to man LF on an every day basis in 2010. Period.

    • mustang

      I’m with you, but I think they can find at least someone who can spit time with him from the free agents that are still out there. With their offense that should be good enough until they can come up with a permanent solution for LF.
      I think Gardner should at least get a chance to start in LF, but I don’t think he will be there at the end.
      At least it’s nicer to be talking about this then trying to figure out who the 4th starter is going to be.
      Thank you Mr. Cashman.

    • V

      You must be living in the universe that says a .270/.345/.379 line out of a 9th place hitter is bad.

      • Mac1

        You’ve already made the assumption that GGBG will do that. Everyone needs to remember Mike’s little nugget of GGBG’s .580 ops after his “stellar” performance vs. ELmer Dessens and the Mets.

        Regardless, Cash probably wants to see if Gardy hit enough and play stellar defense for a month or two and if he blows he probably thinks he can get a better ofer at a better price than what was available now.

        In that vein, its hard to argue giving GGBG a shot.

        • Ed

          Everyone needs to remember Mike’s little nugget of GGBG’s .580 ops after his “stellar” performance vs. ELmer Dessens and the Mets.

          People do remember that. Mike put way too much emphasis on it.

          Gardner’s career so far has had really hot stretches and really cold stretches. There haven’t been “average” stretches. Singling out either the hot or cold stretches and judging him off that is a really bad idea.

          • Mac1

            Maybe, but when you watch all his ab’s, I think you get a feel for what his talent level is (at the ML level)…a decent eye, no power, can’t bunt.

            IOW, I think its alot more than hot and cold – its lack of ability.

            Also, you would figure a guy like that would not have only been taught to be a great bunter, but he would have been made to put the ball on the ground as much as possible.

            GGBG last year had too many flailing ab’s where he weakly put the ball in the air for outs. He really doesn’t use his legs to his full advantage and the guy is 26 yo – not 21-22. Some make excuses about his age inre he played college ball so therefore he came to the minors at an advanced age – I don’t agree, the guy is firmly in his prime years and he’s a poor offensive player w\ no power.

            I gotta point also to his WS ab’s – what he did against + pitching – he was an absolute embarassment at the plate and couldn’t steal a bag.

            His of play was bad too – and runners test his arm – there really is alot more negative than + as an everyday ofer.

            Yeah its just a few games (the WS), but he’s way overhyped by many – Pete Abraham and T-Kep to name just a few.

    • Doug

      general agree with you, but with his speed and defense, all he has to do is get on-base league average, and he’s a valuable player.

    • Mac1

      >Maybe I’m in a parallel universe watching a different guy, but from where I stand, Gardner is an excellent pinch-runner and an able late-inning defensive replacement. Nothing more.The Yankees need someone else to man LF on an every day basis in 2010. Period.<

      It would be nice to have a major league option in case Gardy\Hoff blow – I'd even take Reed Johnson.

      I'll say it again, Gardner is Jason Tyner, albiet not as good a hitter, Gardy walked more (i.e. took advantage of erratic ml pitching) and is not a good bunter. Add that 20% K rate and trying to walk in the bigs and that screams minor leaguer.

      I'm sure Cash thinks he can get a major league caliber lfer at the break if needed, so while I'm disappointed that the Yanks aren't going into the year with a viable everyday player, I can't get too crazy that they might start the year with Gardy.

      JMO.

    • emac2

      They call that universe “Fantasy Baseball”

      It seems like the same thing but it isn’t and those that fail to understand that will never understand the world around them.

      • http://kikojones5.blogspot.com Kiko Jones

        I wouldn’t know the first thing about fantasy baseball. Not interested. Never have been.

  • larryf

    I’m pro-Grittner. He does/did have problems swinging a bit flat footed with weight transfer problems but I have faith in KLong for that. He also seemed to be in a “take too many pitches mode” late in the season and was falling behind in the count way too much. If any of our batters can expect a first pitch fastball strike it would be the Brett the Jet… I would really like us to run as much as possible-more fastballs for our big bats….Brett also gives us the steal of third option which is rare….As for LF-we won with JD-nuff said…

  • Mo

    Gardner will be overmatched. He is a 4th outfielder. The Yanks are one OF bat and one bullpen arm short and will spend the summer trying to fill those holes at a greater cost in prospects and salary than this FA market. Yanks could have signed Cust, Capps, Kearns (minor league deal) ALL for $6.5 million for one year! I hope Cashman is bargain hunting looking for value on the FA and trade market now.

    • V

      Cust, Capps, and Kearns? No thank you, no thank you, NO THANK YOU.

      If you’re going to deride the status quo (really, the Yankees are an outfielder short? They’re the reigning World Champs, and STILL the best team in baseball), come up with some better filler than Cust, Capps, and KEARNS.

    • Steve H

      Question:Why would Capps have come here for the same contract?
      Answer: He woudln’t have.

      Question:Have you seen Cust play defense?
      Answer: He’s terrible. With a top notch pitching staff, the last thing I want to see is Jack Cust playing LF in YS.

      Question:Austin Kearns?
      Answer: Are you pulling our legs?

      • OldYanksFan

        What he said.
        Our team has very good O.
        Brett providing D and speed ain’t a bad thing.

  • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

    Attn: Salty

    You were asking what BG’s WAR would be w/last year’s line and +20 defense in LF:

    Using the process in this* post, I got 3.23 WAR IF he hits to the same numbers as last year (.337 wOBA) with incredible (+20) defense.

    *
    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs.....y-of-woba/

  • http://riveraveblues austinmac

    I must be living in the parallel universe with Kiko because I can’t see Gardner hitting with that swing with no lower half. I hope I am wrong, but for the loife of me I can’t recall ever seeing a major league player with a similar swing. I predict more in the .240 range.

  • Pingback: Quick Bits: Gardner, FAs, Defense | The iYankees Blog - A New York Yankees Blog

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    “With a power threat in center, the Yanks don’t need a traditional left fielder.”

    h/t Everyone who has told Ben he was wrong about this issue for the last couple of months.

    Just messing with you, Ben, you’re totally right about this point. I’m not too confident in Gardner becoming the Yankees’ long-term LF solution, but with their current roster construction, they certainly don’t need the prototypical LF bat in LF. Gardner’s bat (combined with whoever else the Yanks pick up) doesn’t have to play as a prototypical LF bat, it just has to play as the number 9 hitter in this lineup.

  • PaaakmaaaN the second

    I think that when Cashman said that he’d use Crosby as their startiong CFer, and he brough in Damon; this would be the same situation. He says Gardner will start in LF and now he will bring in Damon:D

    Also Gardner isn’t bad i just wish that Kevin Long would help him this winter…

  • Bo

    Why shouldnt we aspire to have an all star at every position? is there something wrong with wanting the best? if you have 200+ to spend and a farm system that operates at a high level I dont think thats too much to ask for.

    • Steve H

      /Boversimplified

    • Doug

      they apparently have $200M and not +. and that’s why gardner’s slated to start out there

    • Zack

      You can aspire for whatever you want; you also have to be realistic.

      1. No team can build 9 all starts from within
      2. SO majority have to come in as FAs
      3. Those FAs are usually 28-32 on arrival
      4. All Star FA require 6-8 year contracts
      5. You lock your team up and decrease flexibility
      6. Come 2015 you have a team of EX-all starts who are 35+ who are overpaid, declining skills and block your team from improving
      7. And that’s not even getting into pitchers, injuries, future economic situations, etc.

    • OldYanksFan

      Really!
      (and people say Yankee fans are spoiled and entitled?)

  • Steve H

    I have zero problem going into the season with Gardner as our starting LF. Worst case scenario is that he can’t cut it and we need to replace him at or before the deadline. He’s our #9 hitter, I think he’s easily replaceable 3 ways.

    A 90 OPS+ guy who is a good fielder
    A 100 OPS+ guy who is an average fielder
    A 110 OPS+ guy who is a below average fielder.

    Personally, for this team I’d take the good fielder with the 90+ OPS, but to each his own. Either way, it won’t be tough finding a veteran guy like this on the market. And if you pick up a Reed Johnson-type (shifting Hoffman to #5 where he should be), you already have an in house replacement who can obviously be a major league regular, especially as a #9 hitter.

    • Doug

      yanks would be thrilled if gardner duplicates his 93 OPS+ over 500 PAs

      • Steve H

        Agreed. I’m saying if he’s putting up a 65 OPS+, we can find a replacement for him rather easily on the market.

        • Doug

          indeed

    • Rose

      I also have no problem starting with Gardner…but I’m certainly realistic about it. I don’t expect him to put up the same numbers he did in his part-time gig, in a very SSS nonetheless…

      But with what’s left out there…he may be worth it over the others similar risks with higher dollars

  • OldYanksFan

    JD had a career year in 2009 (also a walk year). To hope that a career 105 OPS+ guy, who will be 36, will approximate last year, is folly.

    Yeah, YS inflates his numbers. Over 4 years with us, he has averaged a 115 OPS+, so at 36, maybe that could be a reasonable goal… but not a slam dunk.

    My guess is JD’s OPS+ is 25 pts higher then what we will get from Gardy. When you consider defense and speed, JD would still be more productive… but not by a vast margin.

    Frankly, if we get a 2 WAR or better from LF, I think we are fine.

    What is not discussed much is how Cashman always amps up the team after the ASB. Average to slightly above average OFers will be a dime a dozen in July/August. I think all this we-can’t-win-with-Gritner-in-LF stuff in Winter boredom. If LF turns out to be our worst problem, #28 is in the bag.

    • Doug

      And let’s say damon happens to duplicate last year and posts a 3.0 WAR. According to fangraphs, that equates to $13.6M. Let’s say we could sign him today for $7M. That’s $6.6M in value.

      Now lets say Gardner duplicates his line and posts a 2.1 WAR and associated $9.3M. With his approx $500K salary, he appears to provide more value.

      Unless i’m oversimplfying things….

    • vin

      What is not discussed much is how Cashman always amps up the team after the ASB. Average to slightly above average OFers will be a dime a dozen in July/August. I think all this we-can’t-win-with-Gritner-in-LF stuff in Winter boredom. If LF turns out to be our worst problem, #28 is in the bag.

      Good call. Everytime I hear Cashman talking about a budget, I always think its a method to ensure they have enough cash mid-season to address whatever weakness(es) arise. It’s never been said, I just have a hunch that Cashman will more easily be able to surpass the budget in July when the team is neck and neck with Sox.

      I greatly prefer that approach to one that blows all its operating budget in the off-season. Then when the inevitable injuries/underperfomances happen the club has no financial wiggle-room to upgrade.

      • OldYanksFan

        Furthermore, regardless of what Brett does, if Posada, ARod, Jeter or Cano go down, we will need $8m+ to make up for the loss. The difference between Brett and JD is nothing compared to the difference between any of the above 4 and what we have to replace them (Pena, Cervelli).

      • Mac1

        >I always think its a method to ensure they have enough cash mid-season <

        The Yanks have enough cash to do anything they want, I agree with your sentiment but I think it has more to do with Cashman feeling the players currently available are too expensive for what they bring and or not a significant enough upgrade.

        I'm guessing Cash probably feels that a better player at a more appropriate cost will be available mid season – and that could mean a David DeJesus for 1/2 year at 2.5 mil costing B level prospects or a big time ofer (you pick one) at $X.

  • Michael Kay

    I don’t compare Gardner with Crosby at all, but I do like Gardner’s value better as a pinch runner, his performance in that role down the stretch & in the playoffs aside. I understand he’s too good of a player (we don’t know for certain he CAN’T hit yet) to just be a pinch runner though.

    Its at least worth giving him a shot to see how he hits as an everyday player, if having a weak hitting #9 hitter in the order turns out to be a huge issue for the Yankees I don’t think it would be the hardest thing to address during the season.

  • YankFanDave

    “So up in arms are those who want an All Star at every position.” Once again this rant has been put out there when some suggest an upgrade on Gardner. That is some leap from Gardner to “an All Star.”

    Gardner might actually “fit that bill to a tee”, but to boil down all suggestions that there might be a better alternative to fans only wanting an all star is shallow. You are better than that.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      … Not to mention that the guy beating up that straw-man has also been saying that someone like Gardner can’t be an MLB left-fielder all offseason up until this post.

      • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

        Had I? I don’t recall that. I’ve been willing to give him a chance with the right platoon. I’d love to see where I’ve said Gardner can’t be given a shot at left. Just because I don’t think he’s going to have a long MLB career as a starter doesn’t mean the Yanks can’t try, and my primary point here is that Gardner is better than Bubba Crosby so the Yanks aren’t really bluffing on that front.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          http://riveraveblues.com/2009/.....gap-21473/

          “The Yanks could hide Melky’s bat in center over the last few years, and maybe they can do the same in left. His arm will play well there. But the team can’t expect Melky — or Brett Gardner, the more productive offensive player so far — to hold down left field. Chris over at iYankees thinks the team could find the money for Matt Holliday, and I have to image Cashman and Steinbrenner are considering it. After all, that “and left field” need isn’t going to fill itself.”

          http://riveraveblues.com/2009/.....ent-721067

          “I really like the idea of Carlos Delgado, if healthy, in Yankee Stadium. The Yanks, however, can’t really put Melky in left field. They can hide his bat in center, but in left, he’s a big offensively liability. So what do you do with left?”

          [Insert Gardner for Melky in that comment and the same point is made... It's the 'he's not a prototypical LFer so the Yanks should look elsewhere sentiment. Also - See the responses to that comment, which addressed this issue.]

          • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

            PS: I was a bit of a dick in this thread but I totally commend you for reevaluating the situation and changing your mind a bit.

          • emac2

            Maybe I do like you :)

            • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              No, you don’t. Just because I disagreed with one of the authors about something doesn’t mean you and I are on the ‘same side’ or something.

              • emac2

                Actually it was because you are a bit of a dick.

                …and I said maybe.

                • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi
          • Mac1

            >or Brett Gardner, the more productive offensive player so far <

            I can't imagine anyone else thinking Brett Gardner was the more productive offensive player.

          • TarHeelYankee

            Hey Congressman Mondesi….. What the hell is up w/ this statement ????? But the team can’t expect Melky — or Brett Gardner, the more productive offensive player so far ??? Are you really saying you beleive Gardner has been more productive then Melky ???? Do you even watch the Yankees ???

            • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              Seriously, dude? I didn’t say that, I was quoting Ben. Nice try.

              TarHeelYankee = Fail

  • Bucksky619

    I for one am fine with Gardner in the outfield but he should move to center. We definitely have a younger more athletic and better defensive outfield with Gardner than some Jermaine Dye type that some may be hoping for. I do like the idea of a righty on the nech to platoon though. Gardner is still a weapon off the bench to pinch run or for late inning defense on days he doesn’t start.

  • pete

    I’d still like to see Reed Johnson signed, but other than that, cosign.

  • A.D.

    Outside of Damon there is nothing that great out there & available, so sticking with Gardner means the yanks aren’t passing anything up, that they can’t get later if Gardner/Hoffmann implode.

  • Matt

    I for one think Gardener should be a starting outfielder for the Yankees on opening day. His on-base skills, speed, and defense, entitle him to a shot. This team can certainly carry a light hitting center fielder (traditionally not a heavy hitting position).

    If he can’t cut it then he can be replaced during the season.

    • Twasp

      Well said Matt. Only think I would add – if the Yankees don’t sign Damon. Damon is a proven winner a clutch player a leader . The perfect 2. Never let a guy like that walk.

    • TarHeelYankee

      Correction… A light hitting LF. The only time you are going to see Gardener in CF is when he is giving Curtis a day off or there is an injury. He takes crappy routes and angles to the ball, his speed makes up for a lot of mistakes. Watch some film, he does not give you that warm fuzzy feeling when the ball is hit to him.

      • mustang

        And “takes the prettiest third strike down the middle”

        Love that line because it’s so true.

        • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

          11 of Gardner’s 40 strike outs in 2009 were of the looking variety. But hey, don’t let reality get in the way of your perception bias.

          • mustang

            No bias. I SEEN what any reliever with a fast-ball over 90 mph does to this guy in the 8th and 9th innings. He gives the fans in the front row a nice breeze.
            And if your going to talk about “perception bias” lets talk about most of your threads on Melky.
            The bottom line is that both Melky and Gardner can be hot and cold, but I will take a hot Melky over a hot Gardner 10 fold.

            • TarHeelYankee

              And it is not just the strikeouts either….. It is also the weak ground balls and the freakin pop ups. I’m all for giving any player that comes up w/ the Yanks a shot. I think all we are saying is fine give Gardner a shot w/ the starting LF job, but you had better have a backup plan. Because it is going to happen, the weak groundballs to second base, the shallow pop ups to the OF, the called third strikes, and the weak swings on “OVER POWERING FASTBALLS”. It will get OLD fast.

  • cvatp

    Alot of people are talking about batting avg, but we have to remember there were huge parts of last year where we only had 1 or 2 guys batting over .300. WE had line ups of .240-.260 guys and we won games. With our pitching and ability to get on base and score runs, Gardner is a fine fit. Granderson will reep the benefits of Yankee stadium and hit for power if the Yanks let him, and hopefully Swisher can repeat his year last year. A .280 BA for Gardner though is a little high, but that can be said for alot of our guys and most guys in the league.

    • JAG

      If ever there was an argument for why BA is irrelevant, there it is.

  • Yazman

    Great analysis, Benjamin. Couldn’t agree more. Gardie has upside too.

  • TarHeelYankee

    There you go all. The fix all to end all for LF. Move Cano to LF and sign Olando Hudson to play 2b…… lol. Never going to happen, but just a CRAZY thought.

  • Eruderic

    With a power threat in center, the Yanks don’t need a traditional left fielder.

    I’m sorry, but I literally get angry seeing that logic.

    Because they have a power threat in center means the Yankees don’t need a traditional LFer? True, but why should they act that way. Why go with a vastly below average LFer instead of Damon?

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      If Gardner produces his 2009 triple slash line in 2010, the Yanks won’t have a below average LFer. That’s the distinction you’re missing. Who knows if he can do that, but all I’m saying is we should give him a chance.

      Hell, if the Yanks were willing to give Melky 2000 PAs to prove his worth or lack thereof, we can give Gardner a few months in 2010 to do the same.

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  • dalelama

    Let me end the suspense—Gardner sucks. But takes the prettiest third strike down the middle of the plate. Nobody leaves the bat on the shoulder like Brett.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Why are you so predisposed to hate Brett Gardner even in the face of reality and other true facts? It doesn’t make sense. What did he do to you?

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