Implications of Brett Gardner’s injury

Bartolo Colon threw 38 consecutive strikes last night
The Upcoming Schedule
(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

The Yankees lost to the Twins for the second time in three days last night, and after the game we learned that Brett Gardner has been placed on the 15-day DL with a bone bruise and a strain in his right elbow. He apparently suffered the injury when he landed awkwardly while making a sliding catch on Tuesday. Gardner may only be the number nine hitter and play the least important defensive position, but he’s an big part of the Yankees and not just because he’s hitting a stout .321/.424/.393 in the early going.

In the super-short-term, the injury means the Yankees will use a 13-man pitching staff — right-hander Cody Eppley was recalled from Triple-A to take Gardner’s spot — and rely on the trio of Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, and Eduardo Nunez to fill-in in left field. The Yankees’ bullpen has already thrown 40.2 IP this season — fourth most in the AL — because the starting pitching has been pretty unspectacular and also because they did play some extra innings last week. Eppley figures to help lighten the load this weekend in Boston and early next week in Texas, even if he is only a righty specialist.

There are a number of ways the Yankees could work this offensively with the short bench. If Ibanez or (preferably) Jones plays left, the other can DH. The seldom-used Eric Chavez could also DH, or he could play first/third while Alex Rodriguez/Mark Teixeira gets a day at DH with Ibanez or Jones or Nunez in left. That part of replacing Gardner won’t be a big problem. The bigger issue is that the Yankees now lack a backup center fielder, with the job falling on Nick Swisher‘s shoulders by default. Jones may have been the greatest defensive outfielder in history once upon a time, but he’s an emergency-only option in center right now.

“We’re going to have to sit him down for a while and we’ll try to get him back after 15 days,” said Girardi after last night’s game, making it sound like Gardner could be out longer than the requisite two weeks and one day.

The 13-man pitching staff can’t go on forever, and if Gardner is going to need more than two weeks, the Yankees are going to have to call up an extra outfielder. Chris Dickerson is currently on the Triple-A disabled list, leaving Dewayne Wise and Colin Curtis as the two obvious call-up candidates. Both guys would have to be added to the 40-man roster but that’s not an issue; both Joba Chamberlain and Cesar Cabral could be placed on the 60-day DL. Wise would have to clear waivers to go back to the minors though, Curtis would not. Both would likely be non-factors offensively, but at least Wise is a stellar gloveman and a true center fielder. He’s probably the best fit if Gardner missed extended time.

The easiest thing to do would be to keep Eppley on the roster for the next week or so, giving the Yankees some extra bullpen depth while they play nine straight against the Red Sox, Rangers, and Tigers. Once they’re through that stretch, they can re-evaluate Gardner and determine if they need to make a change to add an outfielder. If not, they might just stick with the expanded pitching staff for the entirety of his DL stint. It’s not ideal, but the Yankees have the right bench pieces to pull it off.

Bartolo Colon threw 38 consecutive strikes last night
The Upcoming Schedule
  • jsbrendog

    and rely on the trio of Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, and Eduardo Nunez to fill-in in left field.

    i vom’d in my mouth a little…but i kept it down. it’s still better than bubba crosby and erik almonte and some of the awful injury fill ins from the early 00s

    wise has been hitting the snot out of the ball and seems to deserve a chance. it’s too bad he cant play 3b so they could bring him up and if he performs dump chavez

    • “The American Dream” Lusty Rhodes

      Except Bubba wasn’t an embarrassment out in the field. He was about what Wise would be, if not a bit better.

      • “The American Dream” Lusty Rhodes

        (all around)

    • merc

      all three of those guys are more than capable of filling in in left. I would much rather see jones, ibanez or nunez bat than gardner try to slap it around the infield anyway

      • jsbrendog

        brett gardner >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> major leaguer than any of those three.

        • jsbrendog

          currently, that is

      • 36nj36

        And I’d like to see people like you be stripped of your right to say idiotic things in a public forum…

        • merc

          your telling me ibanez jones or nunez couldnt hit .259 with 7 home runs and 36 rbi’s? wake up. if the guy needs 15 days off give it too him.

  • neo

    Does anyone know when Dickerson can come off the minor league DL? And since he was out of options, but did pass through waivers once (in spring training) what does that mean if he goes back down? Does he have to pass through waivers each time?

    • Mike Axisa

      Yep, every single time.

    • Travelbug83

      According to Mike Vander Woude who covers the AAA team Dickerson was placed on the 7-day DL last Thursday. So he would be able to come back today, unless of course they extend his DL stay.

  • dean

    Hurts a lot the way he’s been playing…..and even more because Girardi is probably oiling Ibanez’s glove up as we speak for him…..

  • Monterowasdinero

    Greg Golson.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Wouldn’t be any better than the options already mentioned.

    • Ro

      Pretty sure he’s been gone for a while, dude. He’s with the Royals or something.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    Season’s off to an inauspicious start.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Injuries and hovering around .500 in April. Yup, that never happens in the Bronx.

      • Mike Axisa

        They actually had a higher ERA through 12 games last year than they do this year. That surprised me.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Slightly surprises me.

          The idea of hovering around .500 in early May? Never does. I feel like I’m very used to this team slowly leaving .500 in the dust rather than starting off strong. I’m open to actual stats disagreeing with my memory, though.

          • Mike Axisa

            That what I remember too. Hell, the 2009 Yankees were under .500 through mid-May I believe.

            • Robinson Tilapia

              I actually tried to Google this other day, and couldn’t, but weren’t they 20-29, or some ridiculous thing like that, at some point?

              • Dan

                17-17 on May 14th and 5.5 games back in the division. Didn’t get to 10 games over til Mid June, 20 over in mid July.
                I have free time at work…..

              • CP

                In 2007 they were 21-29 on May 29th. In 2008 they were 20-25 on May 20th.

                They’re still a long way from those milestones…

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  2007 must have been what I was thinking about.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        Well not saying that they can’t turn it around, just that it sucks. I live in the midwest and I’m stuck with lots of Twins fans, and they suck. Idiots that think things like Carlos Gomez is a good player, Nick Punto was better than A-Rod, and that these soft tossing righties make a good pitching staff. So I’m not so much mad about losing, just to the Twins.

        Losing Brett Gardner also sucks, he’s one of my favorite players and he’s on my fantasy team…not to mention he’s an important piece of the team. Injuries are kinda hard to predict. It looks like A-Rod never quite healed after what was ailing him, Chien Ming Wang broke his foot and took three years to get back to pitching at a respectable level and Phil Hughes tweaked his hamstring and was never the same since. Injuries always have me worried, even the minor ones.

        There is the second WC to worry about too, winning the division now really really matters. A lot of people like to talk about Boston’s bad September last year but no one mentions going 11-15 in April. April matters and the games count just as much as they do any other time of the year. The division has stumbled and now would be a great time to pick up a game or two before the division hits its stride.

        Again, the goal is to win the last game of the season, which could still easily happen but the season’s not off to a good start:

        Losing Pineda
        Losing to the Twins
        Losing Gardner
        Hughes sucking
        Freddy sucking (this was kind of expected)

        • Robinson Tilapia

          I agree that .500 is not fun. You either widen the lens a bit, though, and realize there’s still a season’s worth of baseball to be played, or you sit at home, turn on The Cure’s “Pornography,” and carve “IMISSMONTERO” in your arm (like you know someone else on here does.)

          • Jimmy McNulty

            Well not saying that they can’t turn it around, just that it sucks.

            Again, the goal is to win the last game of the season, which could still easily happen

            Where I said that:

            A.) They can still right the ship and finish the season strong, and more specifically:

            B.) They can win the World Series.

            Not a fun way to start the season, all I’m saying. Though I will add an addendum to my Twins hate, while I do loathe the Twins I quite like it when they make the playoffs, usually at least the first round’s fun.

        • jsbrendog

          ehhhh, 1 game back of the juggernaut orioles with the sox in last place. id care more if we were in the basement behind tampa and boston by 4 or more games. and even then i wouldnt really care that much, just more than i do now, which is nonexistent.

        • Midland TX

          Do you also ride your bicycle or motorcycle looking only six inches in front of your front tire? Pretty stressful way to go through life.

  • JimmieFoxx

    Is Swisher really a better CF option than Andruw?
    I knew Andruw had declined but I still figured he’s be higher up on
    the CF depth chart.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I’d have a shorter leash on Epperly, but have no argument with the above. This is why folks like DeWayne Wise have jobs in baseball and aren’t selling insurance.

    My prediction of a DeWayne Wise walk-off hit in early May may, in fact, come true.

    Get well, Brett. Andruw may get hurt out there….by us.

  • Monterowasdinero

    We were very lucky with Gardy/Grandy and Swish essentially healthy the entire season last year. Can’t expect that 2 years in a row.

  • yanksfansince67

    Yanks in 2011: 7-5
    2010: 9-3
    2009: 6-6 standings provides easy lookup of previous seasons and day by day.

    • Ro

      While this means little, the Yanks could easily be 8-4 or 9-3 right now. Mo blows save first game, but it was a game the Yanks should have put in the win column. I think they would have won last night and I do believe that Gardner would have made that play in the 1st inning last night that Jones didn’t run down, which resulted in a run or two. It wasn’t because of lack of effort, but Gardner absolutely catches that flare.

      We’re not getting blown out. The bullpen has been incredible, which really isn’t a surprise since this is always a strong point for the team. They aren’t losing because of issues like the Red Sox are having for example. The Yanks caught a few tough breaks the first week or so.

      Last nights lose pissed me off a little, but all in all, I’m not overly concerned about the lose of Gardner for 2 weeks and the team as a whole. What I do want to see is Hughes pitch well tonight.

      If off subject and maybe Mike can start a new thread about Hughes particular to tonight, but if Hughes fails again, I propose Cashman picks up the phone and calls Dipoto and makes a deal with the Angels. The Angels can really use both a rotation and bullpen arm right now. Trade Hughes and Warren or Mitchell for someone like Jean Segura, considering they just extended Aybar. It’s probably crazy talk, but Hughes has a connection to Cali and the Angels. If not, we just put him back in the bullpen, but that’s it. His career essentially is a confirmed as a reliever. We need Hughes to pitch like a #2 or #3 tonight.

      Oh yeah, freaking Morneau. I bet Cashman is watching him. Looks like he likes hitting in Yank stadium. I don’t see the Twins trading him, nor do we need someone like him at the moment, another DH, and he may not even stay healthy, but the guy has Yankee DH written all over him.

  • David Ortizs Dealer

    I’d rather Ibanez/Jones in RF than LF at home with the smaller RF area. In Fenway just the opposite. If you can take two steps you can “cover” LF in Fenway.

  • Darren

    Can we talk a little more about Jeter? Forget about the average and power (which warm my heart like an old piece of jerky on a campfire), he looks absolutely amazing in the field and running the bases.

    Can’t remember who hit it, but there was a nasty one-hopper to Jeter that he speared with incredible quickness and fired a bullet to first I always thought his defense was underrated, but I don’t recall him ever looking this quick.

    Blood spinning? Recovering from weak legs due to Minka Kelly? (thank you Vilmer Walderamamama for taking her off his hands!) Making sure that he (Jeter) lasts longer than A-Rod?

    Whatever it is, it’s awesome and i hope it lasts all year.

    • thenamestsam

      Just to be clear: You always thought Jeter’s defense was UNDERrated?

      • Darren

        Ok, not always, because his defense was accurately rated as above average for many years, but the last few years when everyone was absolutely slaughtering Jeter based on his lack of range, I felt that his defense was, in fact, very underrated. People devalue the error stat as if it means nothing, but I think it still has value.

        You only need to watch Nunez for a game or two before the panic sets in and you start wishing for Jeter.

        Can you remember the last time he made an error in a meaningful moment? Can you remember him ever doing that? Can you remember his defense (including a lack of range) EVER costing the Yankee a game? I could be frustrated with his lack of range and inability/unwillingness to ever dive for a ball but I never worry that he’s gonna throw a ball away or be poorly positioned, or muff an easy grounder.

        • Rookie

          I assume you’re disregarding the many, many, many erratic throws to first — the vast majority of which were salvaged by Tex — and the slothful movement to his left where his range and speed, according to more than few observers, including myself, is painful to watch?

          That said, I’m amazed and delighted that he seems to have found the fountain of youth and hope he keeps it up and doesn’t get injured (as many players his age often seem to do) and even manages to earn what he’s being paid with his performance (as opposed to his iconic status, past performance, and box office appeal). If he does, I’ll be delighted to have had him prove doubters like me wrong. Again, I’m amazed and delighted with his offensive performance in the second half of last year and, of course, even moreso so far this year.

          That said, it would have been nice if he had saved some of the magic and hadn’t played like a 37-year old with his .280 OBP and .572 OPS and eight strikeouts in 25 ABs in the post season last year.

          • Darren

            Right, unlike all of the other younger players and their amazing performance in the post-season, like Swisher, Tex, A-Rod, Martin and Granderson. All of whom also hit like 37 year olds or worse.

            So, essentially, you have no point.

  • Typical MIT Nerd

    Exactly where Maxwell would have been a nice keep for a few weeks as the season shook out. The article on Chavez has more bearing here. Maxwell brought two tools to the bench – speed and defense. Chavez only brought one – defense. Recognizing that the Yankees had coverage at 1/3B with Nunez and Swisher would have been the right call, especially since Martin can be an emergency at 3B.

    I understand that these players are available (Dickerson, Golson, Darnell MacDonald) but Maxwell struck me as a guy that could peak late. He has the size and athleticism.

    • GardnergoesYardner

      I’m sure they wanted to keep Maxwell, but he was out of options and could not be sent down without being exposed to other teams. The Astros were only happy to take him.

  • Midland TX

    I hope there is no significance to the fact that this is the same arm on which Gardner had surgery the winter before last.

    • Mike Axisa

      Yeah I hope not. At least it was two fluky injuries (HBP, awkward slide) and not something recurring.

      • Jimmy McNulty

        Any chance that the arm is too damaged?

  • Rookie

    I love Gardner, and I think he’s very underrated. But I hope he won’t prove to be quite as fragile and injury prone as he seems to be so far for the rest of his career. I definitely think he’s a very valuable player who can get better and better and is a definite keeper. Again, hopefully he can manage to stay healthy.