Sticking the new guy in left field

The differences between Joba 2008 and Joba 2009
Chamberlain makes Verducci's at-risk pitchers list

Spring Training doesn’t officially start until later this week — tomorrow to be exact — but already, most players have descended upon Tampa. The core of the Yankee team is already working out at the team’s minor league complex, and the reporters are starting to settle into their Spring Training routines. Some semblance of order is returning to this crazy time we call the Hot Stove League.

In Tampa, all eyes are on the new guys, and that obsession thrusts Curtis Granderson, who just wants to fit in, into the spotlight. Other than the return of Javier Vazquez to serve as the team’s fourth starter, Granderson is the biggest acquisition, and he’s being asked to replace Johnny Damon in the lineup. Considering Damon’s departure involved stealing two bases on one play and being lauded as a key offensive piece to the Yanks, that’s no small feat.

So after an off-season during which we obsessed over left field and searched for ways the Yanks could fill a left field gap, the reporters asked Curtis Granderson about his take on the corner slot. Maybe he’ll be the one to take it, he said to MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. “People forget that I came up as a left fielder,” Granderson said yesterday. “In the Minor Leagues all the way up to Double-A, I didn’t start playing center field consistently until my second year in the Minors. Even when I came to the big leagues, I played a few games in left. I have no problem going back over there if that happens to be.”

It seems so simple, but does it make sense for the Yanks? In essence, the team would be shifting Brett Gardner to center field while deploying Curtis Granderson as the left fielder. On days in which the Yanks are facing a lefty and want to rest Gardner, they can slide Granderson to center and use Randy Winn, Marcus Thames or someone else in left. Granderson is versatile enough and comfortable enough to make the move.

The numbers too bear out this alignment. Playing his home games in spacious Comerica Park, Granderson has generally been an above-average center fielder. He put up double-digit UZR totals in 2006 and 2007 before slipping below 0 in 2008. He rebounded last year with a 1.6 mark, and we can assume that he would be as good if not better covering ground in left. Brett Gardner meanwhile has shined as a center fielder. In limited duty, he put up a 9.5 mark in 2008 and a 7.2 mark in 2009.

As for the guys they would be replacing, a duo of Granderson in left and Gardner in center would far outshine Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera. Damon, after two disastrous years in center with the Yanks, had an above-average full-season showing in 2008 as a left fielder but saw his UZR slip to -9.2 in 2009. Melky, meanwhile, put up a 0.6 mark in center in 2008 and a 1.4 mark in 2009. Even assuming just a duplication of their 2010 numbers, the Gardnerson/Gardner duo would be nearly 9 defensive runs above average while the Cabrera/Damon duo would be just under -8 defensive runs below average.

The wild card in these moves remains Brett Gardner’s offense. The Yankees won’t ask Curtis Granderson to move to left if they don’t believe Gardner can hold down a starting job for long enough, and the team might not ask Granderson to move if their plan includes pursuing Carl Crawford after he hits free agency next winter. After all, they might not want Granderson to be bouncing back and forth between the outfield slots for one year with a more certain solution just around the corner.

With run prevention the next frontier in baseball analysis and team-building, the Yankees are bound to give many outfield permutations a good hard look in Spring Training. When Opening Day rolls around, no one should be surprised if the solution to the Johnny Damon hole had been around since early December after all.

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The differences between Joba 2008 and Joba 2009
Chamberlain makes Verducci's at-risk pitchers list
  • Accent Shallow

    After all, they might not want Granderson to be bouncing back and forth between the outfield slots for one year with a more certain solution just around the corner.

    Exactly. There’s no reason to ask Granderson to move unless the Yankees view Gardner as more than a bench player type. (Which I’d be pretty surprised if they do)

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

      I do think though that the idea that it would be detrimental to have him bounce back and forth is a bit overblown. Athletic outfielders can handle that with few problems.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        Yeah, I mean seriously, he can’t handle running out to a different spot in the OF a few times a week?

      • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

        Just wondering – if Granderson could handle bouncing back between LF and CF during the year, why wouldn’t he be able to handle playing LF in 2010 and CF in 2011, with Crawford in LF?

        I’m referring to this – “After all, they might not want Granderson to be bouncing back and forth between the outfield slots for one year with a more certain solution just around the corner.”

      • Accent Shallow

        I’m just saying, why bother? Why reshuffle the lineup around a worse hitter? That only holds weight if you’re convinced that Gardner is a significantly better defender, and I am unconvinced — we have limited UZR samples (which aren’t precise anyway, as we’re all aware), and mixed scouting reports.

        • pete

          who is reshuffling the lineup, though? we’re reshuffling the defensive alignment, and again, it’ll only happen if a few months into the season Gardner is continuing to hit at acceptable levels and field at very high levels. It’s not a spring training call, I’m sure. Few things are.

          • Accent Shallow

            Again — why reshuffle anything to accommodate someone who likely isn’t going to hit?

            It only holds weight if you’re convinced Gardner is significantly better than Granderson, and as I outlined above, I am not convinced.

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

              But doesn’t your argument presupposed that a player’s defensive position negatively impacts his offensive contribution? I’m not sure that’s a sound assumption to make.

              • Accent Shallow

                No, I just don’t see any need to move Granderson to accommodate Gardner, since CFs that hit like Granderson don’t grow on trees. It’s the same reason the Yankees haven’t moved Jeter so Ramiro Pena could play short.

                That, and I’m not sure that Gardner is a much better defensive CF than Granderson, so the Yankees would be moving around the better player for little benefit.

                • Cecala

                  The player is still going to hit no matter what position he plays. Just because Granderson is a good hitting player that just happens to play center field, does not mean if he moves to left field there will be a drop off in his offensive production.

    • richard

      aside from Joe G. and Cashman who thinks Gardner id any good.? He has shown me exactly nothing. He must hit first and then show hi speed.

  • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

    Just took a look at Crawford’s defensive numbers in LF. Good lord. Crawford-Granderson-Swisher would be a fantastic OF.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      But a what cost for Crawford? Don’t want to pay for what he’s done in the past. For the right contract I’m on board, but he carries a ton of risk.

      • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

        I have no idea what his contract demands would be. I haven’t heard anything floated. I do know that the corner OF market will be flush with good options (Crawford, Manny, DeJesus, Werth and Ordonez, as well as Dunn), so that bodes well for us.

        • Zack

          Dunn is a DH,
          Manny will be 39 and is a DH.
          Werth will be 32 for the 2011 season, and IIRC there are concerns with his knees?
          DeJesus will be 31 for 2011 and eh is anyone in love with him?
          Tigers may be stupid enough to let his option vest again, if not will his power return?
          And we all know the pros and cons of Crawford.

          So I wouldnt say it will be flushed with good corner OF options.

          • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

            Im not saying I want to sign all those guys. I am saying that there will be a helluva lot more LF options than this year, a fact which may help keep Crawford’s cost down.

            • Zack

              Disagree on that, he’s the top guy in that group and he’ll get (over)paid by someone.

              • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

                Im sorry, did I say that he won’t get paid by someone?

                • Zack

                  No, you said it’s going to keep his cost down. If I misunderstood that then please explain, if you’re looking at Crawford then you’re looking for elite speed/defense, an alternative is not Magglio or DeJesus, and definately not Manny or Dunn. So not quiet sure how they are suppose to keep his cost down.

                • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

                  I said that the glut of corner OFers in 2010, as opposed to the dearth of corner OFers in 2009, may, hopefully, allow us to sign Crawford at a reasonable contract. If you think that’s incorrect, based on your read of how the 2011 FA market is going to shake out, then I shall yield the floor (and ask what the terms of crawford’s next deal will be).

                • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

                  btw, though, both DeJesus and Werth would be decent options in the “speed, defense, power” vein. Crawford beats them out in speed, obviously, but DeJesus and Werth are both reasonable alternatives otherwise.

                • Hey Yo

                  The Artist is simply saying that there will be other options. What is so hard to understand?

                • Zack

                  I didnt say there were not other corner OFs on the market, I said they wont have an impact on Crawford. Just like how Dye, Damon, Nady, Byrd, Cameron, and Vlad had no effect on Holliday.

                  “both DeJesus and Werth would be decent options in the “speed, defense, power” vein”

                  Werth yes, but I remember in one of the chats Mike stated how his knees were bad for a long term contract, IIRC.
                  And um DeJesus doesnt have decent power or speed? Career high in HR is 13, career high in steals is 11, 4 last year.

                • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

                  Thanks, but my nits have been picked to death. Im done.

  • Bo

    Gardner wont hit enough to play fulltime. The guy got beaten out after 2 weeks by Melky. Who aint exactly an all star.

    The last thing they need to do is move Granderson all over the place.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      What are tonights lottery numbers?

    • JGS

      Melky OPSed .971 in April. When he came back down to earth, he lost the job to Gardner again

    • pete

      I’ve said it before, but no, that just isn’t true. The yanks broke camp with two centerfielders, neither of whom they were willing to rely on full-time. Out of the gate, however, Melky was beastacular, OPSing .971. Thus, since he was fielding adequately and hitting LIKE AN ALL-STAR, he held the starting job for a while. Then, when he stopped hitting like an all-star and started hitting like a league average player, they went back to their original plan, which was to play matchups and the hot hand with those two in order to maximize the CF production. Then Gardner got injured and was brought back without a legitimate rehab because melky was handling the starting job fine and they felt that Gardner had plenty of value in Sept as nothing more than a pinch runner/LIDR, so it wasn’t imperative that his bat come back to full speed. So once again, no, Gardner did not get “beaten out after 2 weeks by Melky”.

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

        You’re talking to an unmovable brick wall, my friend. Bo is Bo. Just let him be. The rest of us know the Gardner/Melky truth.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Logic v. SBGL:

          When an irresistible force meets an immovable dumb object

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    “My guess is that they’ll stick with Granderson in center field for practical reasons. The Yankees can always move him to left field. But once there, it might be problematic to return him to center if, say, they signed a new left fielder next winter. It’s pretty obvious that the organization doesn’t care about defense. That’s why they’ve got all those high-strikeout pitchers. They can carry Granderson’s decent glove in center for at least one season and probably more.”

    Rob Neyer with some boversimplification on the subject.

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

      I didn’t see Neyer’s comments until this morning, long after I wrote this post, but I don’t really see how he can assume that. After all, the Yanks didn’t resign Johnny Damon, a clear defensive liability, and over the last few years, the Yanks have shored up both their infield and outfield defense. It would make some defensive sense to stick Gardner in center and Granderson in left, but if they flip the two, it doesn’t really show a disregard about defense.

      The high-strikeout pitcher comment also doesn’t make sense. That’s a good thing.

      • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

        The high-strikeout pitcher comments makes sense. It may not be accurate, but it makes sense. He’s just saying that NY doesn’t value defense, and as a way to hedge against that liability we have acquired a bunch of guys who put the ball in play as infrequently as possible. I don’t think its true, but its definitely logically consistent.

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

          It’s not really that logically consistent though when you consider how valuable high strikeout pitchers are anyway. For years, one thing that has spanned the unnecessary divide between stat guys to the “see it with my eyes” guys have been the virtues of high strikeout pitchers no matter who you have defending behind them. To equate that with a disregard for defense seems to be a reach to me.

          • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

            They are discussing moving Granderson to LF to improve defense. Damon is gone due to money and defense, part of why they were so aggressive with Tex was defense. They had conversations with Jeter about how to improve his defense. They let Abreu walk and defense was a huge factor. I like Neyer, but he is waaaay off base on this. I was hoping that he was being sarcastic, but in no way is that how I read it.

          • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

            It’s definitely a reach; I don’t think it’s based in fact at all. They acquired high strikeout pitchers because those pitchers are very good pitchers, and because strikeout/power pitchers do well in the postseason, not because they just “don’t value” defense.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          He’s just saying that NY doesn’t value defense, and as a way to hedge against that liability we have acquired a bunch of guys who put the ball in play as infrequently as possible. I don’t think its true, but its definitely logically consistent.

          It’s not logically consistent, it’s a classic case of confusing correlation with causation.

          We’re not pursuing high strikeout pitchers because we don’t value defense. We’re pursuing high strikeout pitchers because we like high strikeout pitchers. Our valuation of defense is independent from our affinity for high-strikeout pitchers.

          In fact, we value BOTH defense AND high strikeout pitchers. The two reinforce each other; it’s not an either/or.

          • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

            I think its a logically consistent framework, one that happens to be wrong because it is wrong in fact. It’s an error in fact, not an error in logic. But it doesn’t matter, wrong is wrong.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              No. Neyer said:

              It’s pretty obvious that the organization doesn’t care about defense. That’s why they’ve got all those high-strikeout pitchers.”

              That’s not merely a factual error, that’s a logical fallacy. Correlation does not imply causation.

              Cum hoc ergo propter hoc.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                Or perhaps, since Neyer is using the presence of the high strikeout pitchers to infer that we didn’t initially care about defense which lead to those acquisitions, it’s actually post hoc ergo propter hoc.

                Either way, Rob:
                http://tinyurl.com/6000yearsago

              • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

                Neyer’s essential claim is this – because they don’t value defense, the Yankees acquired a bunch of high strikeout pitchers. Now, if he’s correct, and this is why Cashman went after Sabathia/Burnett/JV, then this is not logically inconsistent. It’s fine. If he’s wrong, if Cashman acquired those pitchers for other reasons (which I assume to be correct), then Neyer has made an error in fact – his assumption is wrong, and so his conclusiosn are fcuked.

                It’s been awhile since I sat in a philosophy class, but to me the biggest question is one of fact – “what was the reason that Cashman acquired the high strikeout pitchers?”, not of reasoning.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  Here’s why I contend he’s making an assumption that is fallacious. Here’s the quote again. Emphasis mine.

                  It’s pretty obvious that the organization doesn’t care about defense. That’s why they’ve got all those high-strikeout pitchers.”

                  I see what you’re saying, that it’s possible that Neyer doesn’t think that the fact that we pursued high strikeout pitchers is proof that we don’t value defense (which would be a logical fallacy) but rather that he thinks that we don’t value defense and the later pursuit of high strikeout pitchers is merely one additional piece of evidence that we don’t value defense (which is less of a fallacy, per se).

                  Still though, the latter view is still correlation implying causation, just of a different sort. All Neyer is saying in the second framework is that the team doesn’t value defense and that that CAUSED the team (e.g., “That’s why”) to pursue high strikeout pitchers. He’s still implying a causal link between the two concepts which are merely correlated.

                  All we’re doing is arguing whether it’s a cum hoc ergo propter hoc or a post hoc ergo propter hoc. But either way, Neyer is implying that Fact X (the Yankees have a lot of high-strikeout pitchers) is causally linked to Concept Y (the team not valuing defense). It’s speculative on his part, and it’s a fallacy.

                • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

                  Fair enough. I say we round up the townspeople and put a stop to this shit once and for all.

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                  Pitchforks.

                  Everybody’s gonna be running around mad crazy with pitchforks, yo!

                  Literally everyone will receive a pitchfork.

                  http://www.hulu.com/watch/1132.....d-festival (NSFW – profanity)

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        The high-strikeout pitcher comment also doesn’t make sense. That’s a good thing.

        All right Tigers. Lets get ready to play, huh?! I don’t want to see any laziness here. If we win this, we’re in the finals. If we get a big lead, we gotta PUMMEL these guys, pummel them at all costs. Dominate, and hammer them! I want you to play dirty, if you have to, but don’t get caught!

        Byong Sun, stay low, ok? That’s easy for you. Just chop block ‘em in the back of the knee. That will work well. Ambrose, you’re big. Don’t be afraid to throw the elbow. If you break someone’s collar bone, that’s a good thing, that’s what the medic’s for. Otherwise he’s just sittin’ around. All right! You hear me!

        /moviequotebobait’d

    • Chris

      It seems that over the past few years Neyer’s analysis has gone from intelligent analysis of statistics to snarky comments and generalizations that are only loosely based on facts.

      • http://twitter.com/tafkasic the artist formerly known as (sic)

        It seems this comment is a generalization that is only loosely based on fact.

  • Reggie C.

    Poor Jamie Hoffman. A whole post about LF/CF configurations and Hoffman isn’t mentioned once. He’d be a great addition to AAA squad and useful ML 4th OF option as Hoffman has shown he can hit in limited ML action. Hoffman also fits into the run prevention approach taken with flexible CF/LF situation.

    • Reggie C.

      * Forgot to add: Can’t we simply trade for Hoffman’s rights?

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

        If people aren’t sold on Brett Gardner’s ability to hold down the 9 hole in the lineup, then Jamie Hoffmann doesn’t really need to enter the conversation. The Yanks have Hoffmann, Winn and Thames competing for a few roster spots, and I don’t think Hoffmann has a leg up on the competition right now.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

        Can’t we simply trade for Hoffman’s rights?

        We could, but unless the Dodgers are willing to take Sergio Mitre for Hoffmann’s rights (which I doubt and which is probably moot anyway), all the other players from our minor league system they would take would probably be guys we’d value more than Hoffmann anyway.

        It’s a good idea, but it seems unlikely.

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

          The Dodgers would probably just be willing to take cash too. A lot of the money available to the organization is tied up in the McCourt divorce, and they didn’t think enough of Hoffmann to protect him on the 40-man anyway. I don’t think it would be as hard as you think to keep him in the Yanks’ org.

          If not, he can “pull his hamstring” in three weeks. Problem solved.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            If not, he can “pull his hamstring” in three weeks. Problem solved.

            Does that really solve the problem, though, or merely slightly delay the problem?

            Also, the fact that they didn’t put Hoffmann on the 40-man doesn’t mean we don’t like him or wouldn’t want him back. We’d take Zack Kroenke or Kanekoa Texeira back, or demand an equal/better prospect instead, if those teams didn’t keep those guys in the majors.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              Whoops:

              Also, the fact that they didn’t put Hoffmann on the 40-man doesn’t mean we they don’t like him or wouldn’t want him back.

              • king of fruitless hypotheticals

                heh. offer them 400k, then have him ‘pull a hammy’ that afternoon. call them back that evening and say ‘oh, hey, um, we made a mistake, we meant to say 250 is that a problem?’

  • Rose

    I think it depends on who wins the job. I would assume that if Gardner wins the job…they would stick him in CF and slide Granderson over to LF. If Randy Winn should win the starting job…I think they might keep Granderson in CF and Winn in LF.

    Note: The Granderson move to CF has absolutely NOTHING to do with offensive production at the respective positions through out the league. I think that’s entirely irrelevant and meaningless. I think they might do so because they like what they saw with Gardner in CF…and he’s faster than Granderson. I see Granderson like a Carl Crawford. You can play him in CF…but if you have a faster guy who has shown he can man CF…why not put him there where he’s comfortable?

    Randy Winn could play CF but he’s much older now…so he’d be more beneficial at one of the corners, obv.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

    …Granderson is the biggest acquisition, and he’s being asked to replace Johnny Damon in the lineup.

    I’m not so sure about that.

    • Reggie C.

      Isn’t it understood, largely but arguably:
      1. Nick Johnson replaced JD in the lineup.
      2. Curtis Granderson replaced JD on the field.

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

        And Matsui?

        I don’t think it’s a pure one-for-one, but Granderson replaces Damon and Johnson replaces Matsui. They’re not necessarily being asked to duplicate the numbers those two put up last year, but they are replacing them.

        • JGS

          Looks like Granderson replaces Matsui at the plate and Damon in the field, and Johnson replaces Damon at the plate and Matsui out of the field

          • pete

            this just in: 2010 Yankees to replace 2009 Yankees for 2010 season

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              Title #28 to replace Title #27.

              Joe Girardi: NostraArtistdamus

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          I don’t think it’s a pure one-for-one, but Granderson replaces Damon and Johnson replaces Matsui. They’re not necessarily being asked to duplicate the numbers those two put up last year, but they are replacing them.

          Granderson replaces Damon in the field.

          Not necessarily in the lineup, as your post claims. Two different things.

  • Jamal G.

    The numbers too besar out this slignment.

    I’d have to disagree with that. Usimg a three-year sample of UZR, Curtis Granderson’s 7.2 mark rates as the best defensive cemter fielder in MLB that is not named B.J. Upton or Mike Cameron. Also, using John Dewan’s plus/minus system, we see that Granderson’s 20 plays made above the average CF has him as the #4 active CF in MLB over the 2006-2008, behind Carlos Beltran, Carlos Gomez and Chris Young. Lastly, in 2009, the annual Fielding Bible Awards ranked Granderson (+19) as the #3 CF in MLB that is not named Framklin Gutierrez or Gomez.

    Statistically, I do not see how moving Granderson to left field in favor of anyone not named Gomez, Gutierrez or Upton makes much sense in 2010.

    • Accent Shallow

      Thank you.

      I swear, it seems everyone else wants to shunt Granderson into LF for someone who can’t hit due to small samples of UZR.

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

        You still haven’t answer the question: Why does it matter to you offensively where the players are defensively? If Gardner plays center and Granderson plays left, the two guys are still in the same lineup. If Granderson plays center and Gardner plays left, nothing will change offensively.

        Jamal’s point isn’t the same as the one you’re trying to make. He’s saying that we’re discounting Granderson’s defense and that Granderson should be considered the incumbent center fielder. Offensive production at their respective positions has absolutely nothing to do with the Yanks’ decision.

        • Accent Shallow

          That only holds weight if you’re convinced that Gardner is a significantly better defender, and I am unconvinced — we have limited UZR samples (which aren’t precise anyway, as we’re all aware), and mixed scouting reports.

          Is what I said upthread — and Jamal has some numbers that back that up.

          If you have premium offense at an up-the-middle position, you don’t move that player off unless he can’t hack it defensively, or unless you have a wizard with the glove.

          Jamal’s point is that everyone is underselling Granderson’s defense and overselling Gardner’s (based on a small UZR sample), which is something I agree with — I don’t buy Gardner as an elite defender at all, and even if he is, the defensive upgrade over Granderson may not be enough to justify the move.

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

            That still doesn’t make sense. If you have two guys — one with the ability to put be 20 offensive runs above average and the 7 offensive runs above average — it doesn’t matter where they play the field. If they are both in the starting lineup, the totality of the offensive sum will be the same.

            You assign defenders to positions based upon how well they will defend, not how well they will hit.

            • Accent Shallow

              If you have two guys — one with the ability to put be 20 offensive runs above average and the 7 offensive runs above average — it doesn’t matter where they play the field.

              Yes, it does, otherwise replacement level would be the same for all positions, and we know that’s not the case. If the Yankees decide Gardner is an inadequate hitter and go get someone at the trade deadline, it’s a lot easier to find a +20 offensive LF than a +20 offensive CF.

              You assign defenders to positions based upon how well they will defend, not how well they will hit.

              Agreed, generally.

              I have two arguments that I’ve been mixing and matching (poorly, apparently)

              1) The defensive argument: Gardner is likely not a significantly better defender than Granderson. If he is a better defender, it’s unlikely he’s so much better that a switch would be useful.

              2) The replacement level argument: a CF with Granderson’s offensive ability is very valuable. A CF with Gardner’s offensive ability is fungible (or at least closer to fungible than Granderson). So why move off Granderson to accommodate Gardner, given the difference in their offense is significant? (This assumes that the difference in defensive value can’t make up the offensive gap)

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

                Oh, ok. I think I see the problem here. When I say that the players are X offensive runs above average or replacement, that figure is a defensive-neutral comparison. VORP is position-based, but an offensive runs above average calculation is not.

                So yeah, I agree with you now that we’ve cleared it up. Easier to find a left fielder with more power, but just as easy to switch Granderson from left to center and then fill the hole. In the end, much depends on Garnder’s defense and his ability to play adequately over a full season.

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      Now this is why I expect to see Granderson in CF. Between defenseive statistics (which are somewhat flawed), scouts, and anecdotal evidence*, no one can truly determine that in 2010 Brett Gardner will be a significant upgrade defensively over Granderson in CF. Possible? Sure. But there is always the chance that Winn beats out Gardner offensively and in that scenario, in no way is Winn playing CF over Gardner. Add in Thames as a potential LF against LHP, I think Grandy will be in CF, but the Yankees at least had to approach him about a potential change. If there was no question, no doubt that Gardner would be head and shoulders above Granderson defensively, then I can see moving Grandy from day 1. And hey, if that determination is made by June or July, they can just switch them then.

      *What Yankees officials have seen with their eyes

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Well, the problem with all that is we don’t yet have enough big league data to grade Gardner with certainty.

      I agree with you that Granderson is an elite defensive CF and that Gomez, Gutierrez, and Upton are the only three big league centerfielders demonstrably better than him.

      That doesn’t mean that Gardner isn’t better than him, though, because Gardner’s not part of that grouping of “big league centerfielders”. Gardner may well be even better than Granderson (and Gomez, Gutierrez, Upton, etc.); he may be an upgrade over even the elite Granderson. Gardner’s big league numbers are a small sample size, but they indicate brilliance and they’re not out of line with his minor league numbers or scouting reports.

      • pete

        this.

      • ralph

        They should just move him. If Gardner doesn’t work out move him back. What’s the big deal? So he takes a couple of weeks to re-adjust in May. Big whoop.

        Plus, if I’m not mistaken, Nick Swisher comes off the books after this year so there’s your spot for Crawford IF they can get him. Move Granderson to right for 2011. Opposing teams will hit like 4 doubles a year against a Crawford, Gardner, Granderson outfield and we’d lead the league (or be close) in steals.

        Don’t see the big deal.

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

          You’re mistaken. Nick is under contract through 2011 with a team option for 2012.

          • Zack

            Well then we must simply DFA him!1!

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Plus, if I’m not mistaken, Nick Swisher comes off the books after this year…

          Luckily for us all, you’re mistaken.

          10:$6.75M, 11:$9M, 12:$10.25M club option ($1M buyout)

          Source: The Internet Cot’s
          http://mlbcontracts.blogspot.c.....60040.html

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          They should just move him. If Gardner doesn’t work out move him back. What’s the big deal? So he takes a couple of weeks to re-adjust in May. Big whoop.

          Humans like structure and routine.

          Would it be a disaster to move Granderson from CF to LF and then back to CF if Gardner struggles or is replaced by Winn/Hoffmann/Thames? No, not at all. But if it can be avoided, it should be avoided, IMO. The shifting may affect the involved player’s production, both offensively and defensively. Small risks are still risks.

          I’d much rather leave Gardner in LF and Granderson in CF until BOTH of two things happen:
          A) Gardner demonstrates that he’s an everyday player and thus both he and Granderson become permanent lineup fixtures
          B) Gardner’s sample size increases and he validates the lofty defensive range he’s shown thus far, proving that he’s a better defender than Granderson

          I think a Gardner/Granderson flip-flop shouldn’t happen until late 2010 or Spring 2011, at the earliest.

          That being said, the likelihood of the flip really impacting either player is probably small, so… whatevs.

          • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

            I’d much rather leave Gardner in LF and Granderson in CF until BOTH of two things happen:
            A) Gardner demonstrates that he’s an everyday player and thus both he and Granderson become permanent lineup fixtures
            B) Gardner’s sample size increases and he validates the lofty defensive range he’s shown thus far, proving that he’s a better defender than Granderson

            Repeated for emphasis.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              Now that that’s settled, let’s have a brew.

              (hands Steve H a tasty Pinstripe Tampa Light Lime™)

          • ralph

            “Humans like structure and routine.”

            You’re right if you’re talking about switching him back and forth. And even then an athlete of Granderson’s caliber, who’s played both positions can probably handle it.

            In this case if they switch him just once mid-year I don’t see how that ruins the routine. You just start up a new one. It’s not like going from SS to 1st or outfield to infield. It would take a little adjustment but it’s not like he’s going to forget how to play centerfield in 2 months.

            • ralph

              I highly doubt that’s going to be the thing that makes him have a bad year or keep us out of the playoffs.

  • Rob in CT

    I’d like to find out if Gardner really is an elite CFer. In addition to my curiousity, I think it is good to find out for two reasons:

    1) Granderson, while hardly old, is older. At some point, possibly soon, his defensive skills are likely to decline (likely but not certain – who knows, maybe he’s like Mike Cameron).

    2) If Gardner proves he is a plus-plus defender in CF in a reasonable amount of playing time, his trade value increases, at least among clubs who value that sort of thing (and there are more and more such clubs). Whether the Yankees trade him or not, building his value is good.

    3) Also, if Gardner is the better CFer, the Yankees should see a (probably very small) defensive benifit, as the superior CFer does a (slightly) better job helping Swish out in the RCF gap.

    Either way, I’m not worried about it. This is minor.

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