Curry: Gardner to leadoff on Thursday

ST Game Thread: The Final (Spring Training) Game
The RAB Radio Show: March 29, 2011

Via Jack Curry, the Yankees have said that Brett Gardner will be the team’s leadoff hitter when the regular season begins on Thursday. Derek Jeter will slide down a spot and hit second. Based on what we’ve heard this spring, this seems like this will be the arrangement against right-handed pitchers while Jeter will lead off against lefties with Nick Swisher hitting second. If Gardner’s going to get on base at the same (or even slightly below) last year’s clip, there’s no reason not to at least try it. I approve.

ST Game Thread: The Final (Spring Training) Game
The RAB Radio Show: March 29, 2011
  • A.D.

    Is the idea that Gardner will consistently sit against southpaws, or just hit down in the lineup?

    • Joe R

      I believe he’ll be hitting 9th and playing center with Jones playing left.

  • Smallz

    I think Gardy is the prototypical lead off guy (get on base, create some havoc on the base paths) so I dont really disagree with the move but I feel like maybe this might rub Jeter the wrong way a bit to start the year off. I dunno I could be wrong but either way works.

    • AndrewYF

      It shouldn’t. Batting 1st or 2nd gives the batter the same amount of respect.

      Jeter should be batting ninth against RHP (with Granderson possibly batting second), but that will never happen.

      • steve (different one)

        Exactly. It’s amazing how much has been made of this. Damon led off, Soriano led off, knoblaugh led off…Jeter batted 2nd.

        • Ted Nelson

          Exactly. Until, what, two years ago Jeter wasn’t a lead-off hitter.

          • Smallz

            Yea Jeter was a 2 hitter his whole career, I totally get that. I know 1 or 2 it shouldnt matter but like Ted said hes been the leadoff hitter the past 2 years and when they signed him this offseason they said he was thier shortstop and leadoff hitter so I dunno maybe he might feel like theyre losing confidence in him already, probably not because its Jeter. That was just my thought process, if he gets off to a slow start I wouldnt be suprised if its brought up

    • Tom Swift

      Let’s say for the sake of argument that it does rub him the wrong way. What’s he going to do, sulk and hit less? Not lend Nunez his Edge? Refuse to run out routine grounders?

  • nsalem

    Why should this rub Jeter the wrong way? He has batted second most of his career.

  • Jonathan

    I just hope he can get rid of that little hesitation he’s had lately stealing bases. With the GIDP Jeter puts up he needs to be going early and often. If he gets to leadoff all year against RHP and has a .350+ OBP and doesn’t get hurt, there isn’t a reason he can’t steal 60.

  • nsalem

    Assuming that Gardner is batting ninth against lefties this means that Gardner will always precede Jeter. I wonder if Girardi has given thought to having Swisher leading off against lefties . This would give Gardner (someone who is
    still honing his running game) the opportunity to be more selective on the base
    paths. So much depends on which Derek we will see this year.

    • Ted Nelson

      He’s 27, so I don’t know how much he’s still honing his running game… if he took much longer honing he’ll start to lose speed.

      Gardner stole 84% of his steal attempts last season. Better than but comparable to everyone else who stole at least 47 bases in 2010: Carl Crawford, Juan Pierre, Michael Bourn, and Rajai Davis.
      I don’t see why he needs to be more selective…

      • nsalem

        Ted Subjectively speaking sometime I feel Gardner is stealing on the catcher as opposed to the pitcher. As great as he is I feel his stolen bases are coming off his speed rather than his great jumps. Last year in a couple of big spots when a steal seemed called for he seemed frozen. I wish I could cite the situations but I just don’t remember. It can also be attributed to somebody doing a great job holding him on base. I love Gardner and everything he adds to the Yankees. Much happier he is our left fielder as opposed to Crawford considering the salaries. True 27 may be to late to learn, but if he did improve his bunting game and/or his ability to get great jumps he would provide the Yankees with even more value. The combination of Swisher’s patience and power and Gardners patience and speed next to
        each other in the line-up could add a whole new dimension to our offense.

        • king of fruitless hypotheticals

          a) if 27 is too late to learn, i’m screwed.
          b) if he was successful in 84% of his attempts last year, he wasn’t making enough attempts…

          (nb: that philosophy doesn’t work for everyone…i’m looking at you, jorge…)

          • Ted Nelson

            A) It’s not too late to learn certainly, but it’s late to be expecting MLB players to drastically change their games… especially when he may start losing speed in just a few years or with just one injury.

            B) All the top base-stealers in the league are around 80%… so I guess no one is running enough for your taste? With a great line-up like the Yankees I’ll take 47/56 on steals rather than a higher % of outs.
            Anyway, I think your logic is flawed. To want his % to go down is very odd. If he made more attempts and his % went down… that would necessarily mean that these attempts were less efficient. Say he made 70 attempts and stole 55 bases… 78.6% would still put him in there with the top base-stealers around 80%… however these added 13 attempts would add 8 steals and 7 outs… He would only be 61.5% on those marginal attempts that he’s not currently making.

        • Ted Nelson

          Certainly he can probably get better, but he’s already one of the best base-stealers in the game.

          If it’s a situation where a steal would be huge… yeah, they’re holding him on. He might not be frozen as much as Girardi and Pena might have given him the signal to stay his butt where it is and not make an out.

          If Jeter stinks again a decent sample into this season, I’ll join those calling for his removal from the top of the line-up. At this point, though, I’m fine with him having earned a chance to fail. I would almost say a bounce-back of some amount is likely based on a list I saw (maybe on of the largest fall-offs in OPS+ late in players careers in history… of those who played the next season and weren’t seriously plagued by injury… the majority did bounce back. Some had huge bounce-backs, while others had only moderate ones. I’m pretty bullish that Jeter will be at least better than 2010.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Don’t think Jeter will mind. Of course, I would bat Gardy leadoff everyday just because he takes tons of pitches and has a smaller strike zone and gets infield hits. None of this applies to Jeter.

  • A-ROD fan

    Jeter is a grounds ball machine

    • CS Yankee

      I knew he was a machine…I guess we just disagree in the type of machine.

  • bonestock94

    So it’ll GIDPs instead of a groundouts? Got it.

  • Kiersten

    What makes these people think that Captain Ground-Ball-to-Short should be batting second?

    • Poopy Pants

      At least if there’s a threat to run at first, it might open up a hole for Captain Groundout.
      Also, I’d honestly have Jeter near the bottom of the lineup.
      Ideally, I’d have Gardner/Swisher be 1/2, but the captain is selfish.

      • Andy in NYC

        “…the captain is selfish.”

        Sorry, but I’ve been hearing this too much lately. You know this based on what? All his many statements to the press saying he’ll take his marbles and go home if he’s moved in the order? What I remember is many statements that he doesn’t much care where he hits.
        Please stop with the “Captain Selfish” narrative.

        Kthnx bye.

        • Poopy Pants

          Sorry, Minka.

          • Andy in NYC

            That’s your best? Meh.

      • NJYankeeFan

        Let Girardi grow a pair of balls and bat Jeter where he thinks is best for the team. Jeter will never publically complain or pout because it would tarnish his image that he’s worked so hard to build.
        I can’t see the logic of batting a double play machine behind a high OBP and stolen base threat like Gardner. When you factor in Gardner tends to run later in the count and Jeter doesn’t take a lot of pitches, I think this lineup isn’t gonna work.

    • Ted Nelson

      Let’s wait until the season starts to decide what kind of season Jeter will be having… If he bounces back even a bit it shouldn’t be that much of a problem.
      I don’t know how they reached this estimate, but I believe one of the RAB writers estimated recently that Jeter atop the line-up will cost the Yankees all of 5 runs all season… about 0.03 runs/game.

  • Poopy Pants

    I’d rather have Gardy hitting before Jeter than Russell Martin or G. Molina.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Please do not start Andruw (happy face) Jones over Gardner against lefties. That is just dumb. He is also another double play machine at the plate now.

    • Ted Nelson

      So is Cano… who cares?

      Last season Gardner OPS’d .725 against lefties, Granderson OPS’d .647 against lefties.
      Andruw Jones .931 against lefties…

      Is it really dumb to give a .647 or .725 OPS guy a day off now and then for a .931 OPS guy? Is it dumb to play Cano over Eduardo Nunez because Cano grounds into a lot of DPs?

  • Smallz

    a 16 year career of being imfamous for base hits to right field and after one bad year hes “captain groundout” talk about fickled. Why dont you go write for a newspaper, frauds.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Year 17 can be a tough one-for many a player.

    • Jonathan

      Considering Jeter has had one “bad” season and Gardner has had one good one seems to escape the minds of most fans. Jeter is old and it’s possible this is just his inevitable decline, but I think he is way too talented of a player to discount just because of one bad season. If he takes another step back this year then you can assume it’s not a blip. Gardner still needs to prove what his true talent level is. He’s kind of like Boone Logan. He’s been amazing and he’s been terrible but no one is quite sure what to expect. Few things either of them do would surprise me this year, good or bad.

      • king of fruitless hypotheticals

        Did Derek ‘Pasta’ Jeter really get his GIDP reputation in one year?

      • Andy in NYC

        I wonder how many years it will take before people stop saying “Gardner still needs to prove last year wasn’t a fluke” or “he still needs to prove his true talent level.” Don’t you think it’s likely that what we’ve seen is what he is, once you allow for his career-long pattern of starting slow at each level, then adjusting, and take his wrist injury into account? :-)

    • Ted Nelson

      It’s not one year on the ground-outs… He’s had 21+ GIDP 3 of the past 4 seasons. He’s averaged 21.25 per season over that time.

      • bexarama

        somehow very few people were calling him Captain Groundout or Captain GIDP after 2009. What have you done for me lately, Derek?