Searching for a left fielder and finding one

A visible difference from Swisher
Mailbag: Cy Young Award, Mo, White, Rasmus
Credit: AP Images, Julie Jacobson

When the 2010 season draws to a close, Robinson Cano‘s name will be in the mix for the AL Most Valuable Player award, and he’s certainly deserved it. Playing a stellar second base, Robbie is hitting .318/.380/.542 with career highs in home runs (26) and walks (50). After showing little patience during his first five big league seasons, his .062 IsoD is a pleasant and welcome surprise. But in one sense of the phrase, he hasn’t been the team’s most valuable player.

Enter Brett Gardner. Of the Yankees’ starting nine, Gardner is the little guy. He’s only the player in the team’s Lance Berkman-approved playoff lineup who has never been an All Star, and he’s the only player in the starting nine making less than $500,000 (or $5.5 million, for that matter). Yet, he’s second on the team in WAR and is now pushing nearly five wins above replacement level. While Cano’s emergence as a power-and-patience player has been a pleasure to watch, Brett Gardner is a true surprise.

On the season, Garnder is now at .284/.390/.384 through 504 plate appearances. He’s seventh in the AL in on-base percentage, ninth in walks with 70 and fourth in steals with 40. As a defender, too, his numbers are steller. His left field UZR is 16.9, and his arm is 5.3 runs above average. His eight outfield assists are second in the American League, and opposing teams have stopped running on his arm. Have I mentioned he’s making just $452,000 this year?

Last year, we watched in frustration as Melky Cabrera dominated the outfield playing time at the expense of Brett Gardner. He suffered through a poor debut in 2008 and couldn’t get into a groove in 2009. Penciled in as the stop-gap everyday left fielder until Carl Crawford hit the open market after 2010, Gardner was expected to man the nine hole, platoon in left field with Randy Winn and Marcus Thames and, hopefully, get on base 35 percent of the time. He’s been even better than that.

Lately, the Yanks have struggled to figure out how best to deploy Brett Gardner. He’s spent the bulk of the season at the bottom of the order, but his numbers in the nine hole are far worse than his numbers in leadoff spot. As the last guy up 199 times, he’s been on base just 35.1 percent of the time. Contrast that with his leadoff OBP of .440 in just under 100 plate appearances, and it’s a wonder anyone else ever gets to bat first. With his speed and patience, Gardner is a throwback to the feisty leadoff hitter of old.

Yet, with Gardner, there’s still a sense that this will all come crashing down. During the first half of the season, he hit .309/.396/.415 with 25 stolen bases in 31 attempts over 81 games. Since the All Star break, he’s hitting .236 with a very respectable .377 on-base percentage but his slugging has dropped to .324. He has successfully stolen in 15 of his 16 attempts over his previous 51 games. His BABIP has fallen from .360 in the first half to .315 in the second half, and his strike-out rate has shrunk from once every 6.4 plate appearances to once every 4.87 times at bat. Maybe the grind of his first full season in a few years is wearing on him; maybe the league is catching up. It’s worth it to note that, over his last 107 plate appearances, he’s hitting an impressive .301/.443/.410.

For the Yankees, then, they have a choice to make with Gardner and left field after the year is up. He’s clearly capable of putting up above-average Major League numbers and being an exceptional player. He’s also still under team control for a few more years: He won’t hit arbitration until 2012, and free agency won’t come to Brett until 2015. So does the team look to upgrade to a power-hitting free agent this year?

A month ago, I wasn’t so sure, but right now, I doubt anyone other than Gardner will start in left field next year. His presence on the team gives the Yanks flexibility in spending because they’re not pouring millions into that corner outfield position and are in fact getting $20 million worth of production out of their $452,00 investment. Even if he’s not a five-win player again next year, he’ll easily be in the 2.5-4 win range. Plus, his patience and ability to get on base — arguably his biggest assets at the bat — have not diminished as his hitting has slumped during the second half. I’d love to see Brett Gardner hit more doubles and a few more line drives, but as the Yanks enter a stretch of the season where every run is sacred, Gardner will have his role to play yet.

email
A visible difference from Swisher
Mailbag: Cy Young Award, Mo, White, Rasmus
  • Matt :: Sec105

    I am on record saying I didn’t think he could do this, but I am in Gardy’s corner now, and would rather see the Yanks keep him in favor of Crawford.

    • kunaldo

      seconded

  • Scout

    Of course, there is another option to discuss (though perhaps not here): move Gardner back to CF, deal Granderson, and bring in a productive bat/glove (Crawford or Werth) for LF. I am not endorsing that option, which has to be considered in light of the overall team budget, the pursuit of Cliff Lee, the Jeter contract, etc., but it strikes me as an alternative that should and will received considerable comment.

    • kosmo

      I for one like that idea.Sign Crawford move Gardner to CF trade Granderson.Crawford and Gardner at top of the lineup ! Easily 100-120 SBs between them.
      Or maybe trade Granderson and someone else for the disgruntled Kemp.
      Just a passing thought.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        I’ll pass on your passing thought.

        • kosmo

          be my guest !

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        Despite a rebound, Granderson’s value is still probably perceived as low on the market. There’s no reason to trade him and then sign Crawford. The latter player may have the bigger, flashier name, but what he lacks–the ability to play CF and hit for power–Granderson makes up for. Curtis will also be making a lot less money than Crawford.

    • Pasqua

      My thought as well. The return on Granderson would be lower than what it was last season, but if they truly believe in Gardner (and covet his affordability) it might be the way to go. That said, if the Yanks really want to make a splash in the market (and are serious about Gardner) the other consideration might be to deal Swisher, who would obviously be a desirable commodity to the league. Doing so would clear a spot in the OF and provide some salary flexibility. I’m guessing they would really have to want Crawford or Werth, thoguh. Not endorsing, it, but throwing it out there.

    • MattG

      Oddly, thanks to 2010, Gardner probably has a great deal more trade value than Granderson, while Granderson has more rebound potential (I realize that is almost entirely due to the fact he’s had a poor season, but still).

      These should lead to the conclusion that Gardner is the one to be shopped.

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

        I’ve written about that in the past as well. If the Yanks are going to shop an outfielder — which they probably won’t — selling high on Gardner makes more sense than selling low on Granderson because (1) the returns will be higher and (2) they can find a left field replacement on the free agency market.

        • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

          This.

        • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

          However, we could argue that Granderson’s replacement, should he be traded, would be Gardner.

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

            True, but I still think selling low on Granderson would be a bad idea. He’s set to make only $8.25 million next year after all and is in line for a bounce-back year.

            • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

              Completely agreed.

    • Brian

      I agree the Yanks should look to move Granderson and pursue a corner OF since Gardner can easily manage CF as well.

    • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

      I’d be in favor of a Crawford – Gardner – Swisher outfield. Been saying it for a while now. I don’t know what will become of Granderson, nor do I care. He might make a nice fourth outfielder I suppose if he can’t be dealt or packaged.

    • http://twitter.com/marcos_aguirre Marcos

      I’ve always advocated moving Gardner back to CF and Grandy to LF, I think that would be our best defensive alignment in the OF, don’t get me wrong, Grandy is a good CFer, but Gardner is better.

      As for Crawford, not a huge fan. Sure, he’s a great player, but he’s gonna cost some serious cash over quite a few years, and he’s not getting any younger, and for a guy who’s game is speed based, that’s not a really good thing.

  • http://twitter.com/cephster Ross in Jersey

    Plus, I mean, what’s the harm in riding the hot streak? Even if Gardner comes crashing back to Earth, this team doesn’t -need- Werth or Crawford to be competitive. If Gardner’s production suddenly falls off a cliff, they can always go make a trade for a more productive player.

    I think the real question to be asked is if Cashman is tempted to sell high on Gardner and attempt to get a young pitcher for him?

    • seimiya

      With all our potential in the farm – Nova, the B’s, Warren, etc, this seems like throwing away a player who has a lot of long-term potential for a player who we’d need to fill* a hole immediately. I am not the best trader, but this doesn’t seem like a good idea.

      *I nearly write ‘Phil.’ Hahaha. Does this mean something? Perhaps it’s because it’s 8AM on the West Coast…

  • http://ballcraft.blogspot.com Zanath

    I’m in favor of keeping Gardner in the lead-off spot. With Jeter not performing well this year, I simply believe we are better offensively with Gardner leading off. As you mentioned, he gets on base a lot, and he sees a lot more pitchers. I think no matter what pitcher is on the hill for the opposition, Gardner should lead off.

  • theyankeewarrior

    Pitching, pitching, pitching.

    Gardner and Montero are cheap ways for the Yankees to keep their lineup amongst the best in baseball while they pursue Cliff Lee and other high-priced arms to fill out a nasty rotation.

    2011: Gardner. Swish. Tex. Alex. Cano. Posada. Granderson. Jeter. Montero.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Derek Jeter won’t be batting 8th for the New York Yankees anytime soon. He just won’t.

      The sooner we all come to grips with that, the better it will be for our sanity.

      • kosmo

        oh great seer please tell us what the future holds .

        • Guest

          Don’t tug on Superman’s cape, kosmo.

          • kosmo

            lol

      • theyankeewarrior

        This is true.

        If you switch Gardner and Jeter in that lineup and it’s still nasty. If I were the manager of the Yankees, I would bat Jeter at the top too.

        Actually, I may consider bumping Swisher to 6th and statr it off with Jeter and Gardy.

        • theyankeewarrior

          I also may consider reading my posts over before I hit the REPLY button at some point in the future.

      • http://www.lessthismorethat.com/author/ddarrell Jamal G.

        While I agree to a degree, if it ever would happen, between seasons would be the likeliest time. Respecting a legend only goes far, and I don’t think Cashman and Girardi are the types to have a league-average batter hit atop this lineup when better options are readily available.

        I would not be shocked if he was not at the top of the lineup on Opening Day 2011. Also, if he produces another league-average season in 2011, I would be shocked to see him atop the lineup on Opening Day 2012.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          I can agree with that.

          Jeter won’t be dropped down the lineup until he puts together at least two extremely non-elite seasons back-to-back. He’ll need to put up a sub-100 OPS+ in 2011 before the Yankees consider batting him in the lower third of the lineup.

          It is what it is.

        • MattG

          I’ve written about it in other places, and in this off-season, during these negotiations, it is absolutely imperative that Cashman tell Jeter in no uncertain terms that all evidence he has indicates Jeter will not be at shortshop or at the top of the line-up once his next contract ends, and asks Jeter if that will be a problem.

          Cashman needs to make sure he has that conversation with Jeter, paving the way for what must be done. But it won’t happen before opening day. Jeter gets 3 months, at least, of 2011 to show his rebound.

          • http://www.yfsf.org AndrewYF

            You really think Cashman is going to have any hand in the extension talks? This is way above his head.

            • Scout

              Really. Jeter wants to negotiate with the guy running the horse farm who thinks he knows baseball.

            • MattG

              You really think Hal is going to have that conversation with Jeter?

              That conversation needs to be had. Jeter talks with Cashman first, then talks numbers with Hal–if that’s what Hal wants. Jeter is in no position to dictate anything. This is the Yankees’ show.

            • Brian

              He better be able to tell Jeter what the deal is because Derek doesn’t come across like he will take a pay cut even though he is no longer the player he was when he signed that contract. Jeter isn’t getting $15 million from anyone but the Yanks and Cash should use that to his advangtage.

          • Chris

            Unless there is evidence that contradicts this. For example if Jeter has been having issues with tendinitis in his knees all season.

            • MattG

              Regardless, all the historical evidence in major league baseball indicates that Jeter will not be an everyday shortstop and leadoff/#2 hitter for much longer.

              He will have every opportunity to defy the odds, but I would want him to acknowledge reality before talking numbers.

        • ajmares

          What? I guarantee you if Jeter has another year like 2010 in 2011, he will not be in the lineup in 2012 let alone leadoff. Jeter will be considered washed up and a bench player. Jeter gets a pass for 2010 but another bad year just may see him walk away from the game. Jeter is going to be one of those players that fell off the cliff production wise.

  • MattG

    Gardner’s spot in the order is not in line for an upgrade. He’s been good, but even more importantly he’s been cheap and will continue to be cheap. You can’t upgrade that.

    But there are other spots on the roster in line for upgrades, and Gardner is not irreplaceable. In fact, Gardner is very easily replaced by Carl Crawford, should the Yankees find a compelling reason to spend an extra $12 million for the exact same production.

    One such compelling reason would be if Gardner could be included in a trade for Zach Greinke, for example.

    • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

      should the Yankees find a compelling reason to spend an extra $12 million for the exact same production.

      No way Crawford is getting 12MM. More in the range of 18MM.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        $18MM AAV is waaaay too much. I don’t think anyone will go that high. $13-15MM AAV at most.

        • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

          I don’t think so. I used to have the same line of thinking. It’s a shallow market, Crawford’s services will be bidded heavily for. I guess we have different perceived value of Crawford and how other teams will value him.

          • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

            Yeah, I guess we do!

            I just think that teams will see him as a batting average-centric guy who relies a lot on his legs and may not age very well.

            • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

              I think they’d see the speed/AVG/elite defense combo as a plus. Crawford’s slight build probably bodes well for his future. That type of player is less likely to fall of a cliff. They would probably shy away from Adam Dunn’s and Prince Fielder’s frame rather than Crawford’s skillset. Also, this weak market will probably inflate his contract offers.

              I’m in class. That’s why my responses are far apart, my apologies.

              • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

                Don’t worry about it; I’ve got the day off so I’ve got plenty of time.

                I see what you’re saying. If Gardner had not performed this well, I’d definitely be very receptive to Crawford.

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Kinda like Ichiro, who netted himself a 5yr/90M extension two years ago, just to keep him away from the market where someone would have bid even more.

              Your questions on Crawford are valid, but the best available player on the market at his position always commands a large deal, no matter what his warts are.

              If we’re both running away from a bear, I don’t have to be fast, I just have to be faster than you.

              • All Praise Be To Mo

                Yea, but Ichiro brings a different value to the Mariners than crawford does to a team. He opens up marketing deals in Japan, he’s an icon (what other players besides Ichiro, Jeter, A-Rod can be identified with one name?), and the Mariners are owned by a Japanese company who couldn’t let their only marketable player leave. Also, the extension was signed before the recent economic downturn.

                • cperez0515

                  Pujols, Mariano, Halladay, Lincecum, Posada, Oswalt, Pudge, El Duque, and many more you can find that people can just say one name and know who they are.

            • Brian

              Teams most likely wont see what you want them to see. Jason Bay is getting more than $12 million and Crawford is better than Jason Bay in every way. Crawford should get between $10 to 13 million but he will get more than that since teams are willing to overpay every year in free agency.

          • MattG

            He’s picked a great time to have his best year ever, but I don’t want him at that salary. I pass when the bidding exceeds $62.5m/5. Even if I did like him at a higher salary, I am going to have a lot of trouble acquiring $12m in value in a trade to even this deal out.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Any bid on Crawford for even one dollar less than 15M AAV will instantly be topped by the Los Angeles and Anaheim Angels of Southern California in the Western Hemisphere. They’ve got a hard-on for Crawford like nobody’s business.

            • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

              This. Also, did they take shorten their name? Seems shorter.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                They stopped mentioning that they were from Earth in the Milky Way in the Universe. Seemed superfluous.

                • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

                  I laughed. In class, no less. My professor knows I’m not paying attention now.

                  • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

                    What’s the class?

                    • http://twitter.com/SteeeeveO Steve O.

                      Biology 111. I picked the perfect day to sit up front. There’s like 250 people in this class which is probably why he didn’t call me out. I’m heading to Spanish 101 in a minute, though.

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

      I don’t think angling for Greinke is the right idea. He’s expressed no desire to pitch in Boston and New York, and considering his social anxiety disorder, I don’t think expecting him to excel under the extreme pressure of playing here makes sense. I’d love the idea of a Greinke type in pinstripes, but I don’t think Zach Greinke himself is the right answer.

      • MattG

        Ah, okay.

    • http://twitter.com/marcos_aguirre Marcos

      Am I the only person here who thinks that, while Greinke is an amazing pitcher, his whole psychiatric issues/anti-social disorder or whatever it was diagnosed as would not play well in NY?

      As for the Gardner replaceable by Crawford argument, offensively, yes. Deffensively… I don’t know how well Crawford can play CF, I’d imagine passably, but better than Gardy? But it all boils down to “…should the Yankees find a compelling reason to spend an extra $12 million for the exact same production” Hit it on the nose on that one!

  • Guest

    I, for one, have loved everything that Gritt Grittner has brought to the table this season. Personally, I think the Yankee outfield should remain the same next year.

    But if we are going to trade one of Gardy-Granderson, wouldn’t it make sense to trade Gardner?

    First, Gardner has way higher trade value right now (pre-prime cost-controlled outfielder who can get on base, plays a premium position, and is an elite defender and an elite base runner). That strikes me as someone who, right now, can get a really nice return.

    Granderson has much lower trade value, right now, and we wouldn’t get the kind of elite big league ready prospect Gardy would bring back.

    Which brings me to my second point: I think Granderson is going to be way more valuable next year than he has been this year (he’s underperformed his career averages and, a la Swish, has been a much better hitter since tweaking his approach/stance at the plate). I think there is a fair shot that Gardner will be as valuable next year as he has been this year, but that’s not a lock by any stretch.

    So, to me, if you’re going to trade one of the two, trade the guy with the higher value (right now) who can bring back a better return that you’re not 100% sure will be able to repeat his performance, and keep the guy who is still in his prime who’s finishing strong after having a down year and would not be able to bring back as much talent since you are trading him at the nadir of his trade value.

    • MattG

      Beat me by a few seconds.

      The only caveat here is perception. Gardner was never supposed to be good, while Granderson has been a star. Depending on the GM, that will be a factor.

      But trading “Gardnerson” is something I am sure Cashman will consider in the off-season.

      • Guest

        Gardnerson. I like it.

        How about “Nick Gardnerson” to describe our three good guy, strong production, outfield? It kind of sounds like a real name.

        • http://twitter.com/AnaMariana42 Ana

          I’ve been using Brett Granderswish. Sounds less real, but a nice L-R dynamic.

          • seimiya

            This is awesome.

    • Brian

      Why would you trade a guy who is helping you win right now? I have seen a lot of people have this view that Gardner is going to get more value in a trade but will the Yanks get a top prospect or up and coming player? If you trade a guy helping you win and keep the guy who isn’t (Granderson) than you better get somone who can duplicate what Gardner brings with his speed and patience.

      Granderson to me will at least get the Yanks prospects in return, you take out his esclating salary and that in itself provides more value than trading Gardner for whoever at this point.

  • MattG

    At first, I thought that picture showed Gardner after the ball had struck his bat, but on closer inspection I realize the ball is still traveling towards the plate.

    This is obvious because the ball is below Gardner’s head.

  • LarryM., FL.

    Keep the outfield as is. It works well. Spend the money on pitching and more pitching. With the Jeter contract staring the Yanks in the face holding onto inexpensive Gardner seems to be a no brainer. I believe Granderson will produce much better next year. He’s making better contact and with a few bounces here or there could be .275. Swisher just loves this team and venue. He’ll run through a wall for it and the fans. Bigger concerns are the backup guy for Arod, Jeter and Cano who should see more playing time as Arod and Jeter show their age.

    Montero on the cheap as part time DH and Catcher. Cervelli may have some value in a package for pitching or backup infielder with some ability. Though Mr. Pena has shown some hitting with more playing time.

    • Guest

      Definitely like the finacial flexibility that having Montero and Gardner in the same lineup can provide. Especially considering they will still be bargains at the point where we are going to have to re-sign Cano for a truck load of money.

      • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

        Well, Cano does have a $14MM option for 2012 so it won’t be too awful. He’s also got another option year after that.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Keep the outfield as is. It works well. Spend the money on pitching and more pitching. With the Jeter contract staring the Yanks in the face holding onto inexpensive Gardner seems to be a no brainer.

      Repeated for emphasis.

      With Jeter, Mo, and Andy all coming back next year, and none of them likely to take even a single cent of a paycut, we can’t afford to jettison any member of our productive and inexpensive outfield. We need all those cheap dollars to offset the money we’re going to spend on Cliff Lee.

    • MattG

      I like this too, but Lee will command around $23 AAV, and Grienke is signed at $13m for two more years. IIRC, Dayton Moore expressed interest in Gardner.

      That is to say, I think you can have Grienke and Crawford for about the same salary as Gardner and Lee, but you would also gain better payroll flexibility, and lose prospects.

      I think it boils down to the prospects. If they are Eduardo Nunez and Ivan Nova, this vaults over your plan to my plan A. That almost certainly wouldn’t be enough, though.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        Not even Dayton Moore is dumb enough to deal Greinke to the Yankees for a Nuñez/Nova-centric package.

        • MattG

          You forgot Gardñer.

          Ben said ‘no’ to Greinke. I’ll stand down.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            Gardner/Nova/Nuñez still wouldn’t be enough. Dayton Moore is hanging up unless you say the names “Montero” or “Hughes”.

            • MattG

              Was ‘almost certainly wouldn’t be enough’ too whamsy-pansy a qualifier for you? Will you except only “wouldn’t fly farther hence a pig from my arse?”

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                That’s better, yes.

            • Chris

              You’re right. Moore won’t listen about Gardner because his OBP is too high.

            • MrJigginz

              Well then,all the Yankees have to do is find some guy on this Earth with the name “Hughes Montero”,and give him a first base glove.That should be right up Dayton Moore’s alley…Problem solved.

    • a plethora of pinatas

      I like the idea of a 3 catcher platoon. Except instead of Cervelli I want us to sign Jose Molina. Posada and Montero can split time at DH.

      Cervelli probably has little trade value. Just stash him away at AAA for now so he can improve his hitting and defense.

  • JM

    Is Crawford a better/more reliable player than Gardy? Yes, of course. But he is a big enough upgrade to justify the contract? No. I think every Yanks fan has looked to this winter as the time we snatch Crawford from the Rays, but if Gardner finishes this season strong, he’s earned the starting LF job in my eyes.

  • icebird753

    Gardner reminds me of Scott Podsednik.

    • MattG

      Damn, that’s cold.

      • Chris

        Podsednik in his first full season: .314/.379/.443/.822 with 43 SB and 10 CS.

        The problems started after that.

        • Dick Whitman

          Gardner walks more, makes more contact, and plays much better defense.

  • It’sATarp

    i would not want to trade grandy or Gardner. Our outfield this year is fine. Has anyone noticed that in his “off year” Grandy is still producing a 3.1 WAR so far. Now once he rebounds even more we have a potential 4-5 WAR player. Gardner is cheap is easily is a better payroll option than Crawford. Even though our outfield is not packed with big name players, it’s still producing at a very good rate there really no need to pay extra for a slight upgrade.

  • nsalem

    We have an excellent outfield at an even more excellent price through
    2012. I think Granderson will show us much more in 2011 the same way Swisher has in 2010. If money is to be spent at all I would rather see
    in pitching and improved bench strength. Crawford may command as much money as Gardner, Swisher and Granderson put together. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

    • Guest

      All kinds of this.

  • larryf

    Grandy missed 4 weeks so would have better production #’s if not for that. We have to keep Gardner-this is his first full-season as a starter and should improve easily next year. Not sure if Crawford will get any better than he’s been.

    /the Great Brettsky’d

  • Klemy

    Gardner has a lot of trade value now, but at his current cost and what we’ll be spending on aging vets, I like the idea of keeping him (and the rest of the outfield) in favor of spending on pitching and a quality infield backup as has been stated already.

  • Gmat

    I agree with Larry M.

    Keep the outfield as is. Crawford would be nice, but not a huuuuggge (or yuge) upgrade to make all that money worth it. I think if we give Grandy the offseason to work with Long, we’re going to see the guy that we expected to see this year.

    Pitching should a priority as it has been for the past few years.

    There are more important question marks (Catcher, ARod’s hip, etc.) that need to be focused on. If it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it.

    • LarryM., FL.

      I believe most agree. The money is better spent on pitching. If we can upgrade through FA than trade. We are the winners because we give up a slot in the first round which is near the bottom anyway. We pay above slot for others so FA isn’t to us what it is to the other clubs. To over pay Derek ( 3 years @40 mil, guess timate) which will be an eye opener to all of us. I’m not even basing it on this years performance but a 37 year old shortstop even superman would show wear.

      The farm system is the key to providing the inexpensive role players. the Colin Curtiss’s and Pena’s of the system with a bit more playing time can provide the rest for our aging starters. Thou I admit Pena’s powerless bat is an issue but who can field as Pena does and hit a bit better willing to take the role spot in the infield.

  • http://www.twitter.com/vscafuto Vinny Scafuto

    I’ve noticed that on some of Gardy’s recent ground-ball outs, he’s not busting it down the line quite like he used to and the plays aren’t quite bang-bang anymore. Maybe he’s picking his spots for when he smells an infield hit, so as to not put that much more strain on his legs, this late in the season?

    • larryf

      I agree but very few Yankee starters bust it down the first base line ever. Most are too slow to pick spots at all.

      /Cano’d

      • http://www.twitter.com/vscafuto Vinny Scafuto

        He used to hit a ground ball and run like he was Usain Bolt. I think he’s just picking his spots a little better, now.

  • Sal

    Lee 5yrs $100 million next years #2 starter
    Crawford 7 yrs $119 million Angels

  • http://www.twitter.com/deanezag Zack

    I do wonder about Gardner’s trade value, he strikes he as one of those guys who has more value to the team he’s on compared to a team that would receive him in a trade.

    Gardner isn’t an elite prospect/player who can get you a Greinke/Haren/etc by himself, but if you move him in a package, it’s going to cost the Yankees an addition 15m/year to sign Crawford/Werth or trade more prospects to trade for another OF.

  • Tank Foster

    Gardner isn’t 21, but I still think he can improve. I know the gist of this post was that he’ll probably come back to earth next season (from 5 WAR to 2.5, or whatever the unit was), but I’m not so sure he couldn’t get better. Or at least stay close to where he is now.

    I’d much rather have Cliff Lee than Carl Crawford. Crawford is right about the age where they start missing time with injuries, especially hard-charging burner guys like Crawford.

    As for Granderson, I think it would be a mistake to trade him. I think a rebound season or two are in his future; sometimes players have mid-career dips.

  • Dick Whitman

    Brett Gardner is awesome at baseball. Why? Because he costs peanuts, he covers the OF well, his arm accuracy is above average, he can steal a base (which he should take even more advantage of), he makes incredible contact when he swings, and his approach at the plate correlates with a high OBP.

    And he’s just better than Melky Cabrera.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for

      /dondraper’d

  • spark

    I’ve been a fan of Gardner since I first saw him leg out a triple in spring training ’08. Maybe because I’m 40 and remember baseball before PED’s, I’ve always thought there was a place for a guy like Brett in MLB, even on a 200M payroll team like the Yankees. Speed & defense never takes a day off.

    Teams have gotten smart. Nobody is trading young starters anymore. No one. So, when you talk of trade value for Brett, what do you mean? This guy was a 5 Win player this year. You think we can get another 5 Win player at any position that doesn’t cost 10 times more?

    Yankees already made one mistake with Austin Jackson. Don’t turn around and do the same thing again with Brett Gardner.

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

      Austin Jackson: Most overrated rookie since — I don’t know — Angel Berroa. The guy’s fine; he’s not a huge loss.

    • Guest

      Over under on the number of seasons it takes Ajax to get to 40 career homeruns. I say 6.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

        I’ll take the over.

  • Dick Whitman

    You don’t trade Brett Gardner. You give him some time with Kevin Long, start him on the new Swisher approach, rub his calf muscles with warm milk, and send him on his way.

    Then you sit back, relax and watch him put up another 4+ win season for less than $1m.

  • Shaun

    You forget to mention that Gardner has also been playing the 2nd with a busted thumb that is going to require surgery in the offseason. I think that might be a source to the lower average.

  • Kurt

    I agree the Yanks should keep Gardner and bat him in the leadoff position. His only real weakness is bunting and he can go to work on that. The Yanks will need to prioritize their spending on starting pitching this offseason.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      If being a poor bunter means he bunts infrequently, I hope he becomes the shittiest bunter ever.

  • Yank the Frank

    He is very good and very affordable. Keep him.

  • nsalem

    What a difference a month makes
    http://riveraveblues.com/2010/.....-up-33588/

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

      If you’re trying to play the Gotcha Game, I linked to that August post in today’s post already. Beat ya to it. :)

      • nsalem

        I wasn’t being critical of you. Your article was “fair and Balanced” (excuse the expression). You never labeled Gardner a failure in your blog. You also fairly stated that Brett had a quarter of the season to redeem himself. My comment was for the posters who were calling Gardner a fourth outfielder after a poor 6 weeks and would not even consider that it was part of the normal ups and downs that every mlb
        player experiences over a 162 game season. People were discussing trade options and if you traded every player that had a bad 6 weeks you would not have a team left. The comment had nothing to do with you (this article and the august one were right on the mark) and I don’t know why you should interpret it that way.

  • Bill O.

    Granderson to St. Louis in a package for Rasmus? We have the prospects to add to Granderson to pull this off. It probably doesn’t work financially for the Cards though since they just paid Holliday and obviously need to pay Pujols. But this is one scenario I’d consider moving Granderson in.

    Otherwise I think we stick with our current OF and save $ for Cliff Lee. Crawford and Werth are good players, but are not needed and would be overpaid. I also think Granderson will bounce back nicely after an offseason of working with Kevin Long.

  • Mr. Jones

    Huge fan of Gardy! He has a plan at the plate, takes the right pitches, and plays respectable defense. He just needs to learn how to bunt like a major league baseball player and he’ll be all set. Granderson had to have a hot streak just to go from crap to below average. Granderson is garbage to me unless he has a fantastic postseason.

  • a plethora of pinatas

    Our outfield is fine. We are getting good enough production from all 3 players. Of course it could be better with either Werth or Crawford but that shouldn’t be the priority this offseason.

    Fact is: We need to solidify our starting pitching

    Isn’t anyone else getting sick of the perpetual revolving door known as our starting rotation?

  • roadrider

    The Yankees should absolutely be looking to sell high on Gardner. Sorry to bust the bubble for all you Gritty, Gutty fans but this season is already as good as it gets for Gardner. A decline is inevitable and it’s only prudent to look for a solution with more long-term upside. Gardner is a very limited player. His OBP and BA are a mirage of good luck, infield hits and walks he will no longer get once pitchers wake up to the fact that he can’t really hurt them by swinging away and he will take a lot pitches in the strike zone. Only a true slugger can continue getting the walk rate Gardner is currently getting and Gardner ain’t no slugger. I don’t think they should give him away but if they can build a deal for an out of favor guy like Colby Rasmus or Matt Kemp who has much more upside I say go for it.

    Look, I hope Gardner keeps doing what he’s been doing for the rest of September and October. I just don’t see it continuing next year.

  • http://www.gethittingpower.com Tom

    Gardner is that “get dirty” guy…Stealing bases, throwing out runners and getting key hits is a great player in this line up…He really improved his all around skills…

  • the bobster

    Let’s forget for the moment that Gardner is the Yankees best outfielder…or even what position he plays. And lets ignore for a moment that he’s the Yankees cheapest starter…obviously one of the lowest paid players on the team. And let’s quit with the speculation of who’s going to be better or worse next year. The fact is…THE YANKEES ARE A BETTER TEAM WITH BRETT GARDNER AT THE TOP OF THEIR LINEUP. When he’s on base ( and he’s got the best OBP on the team ) he makes the whole team better. He adds a dynamic that no other player on the team does. He disrupts the opposing pitcher. Girardi has more flexibility for playmaking. He makes every team mate around him better.