Centerfield

DiMaggio. Mantle. Murcer. Henderson. Williams. Damon. Gardner:

“We’re going to start with Gardy in center,” Girardi said. “Both of them played great. Melky had a tough year last year, but he came into camp and was ready to go and played well. Gardy finished up strong and had a great camp.”

Gardner and Cabrera have had equal chances in spring training, with one at-bat separating them. Gardner is 20 for 52 (.385) and Cabrera is 18 for 53 (.340). Each has scored 10 runs and walked six times.

I see no basis for concluding that Brett Gardner is going to be able to replicate or even come close to this spring training numbers over the course of a full season. Not that Melky would either. What will the Yankees do when they realize that they’re getting nothin’ from these guys? I know it may not be ideal, but I can’t help but think we’re going to see a lot of Nick Swisher in center this year.

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Comments

  1. Matt said...

    I don’t think the Yankees are going to expect much of anything from Gardner. I’d think a .330-.340 OBP and 25-30 steals with good defense is what they can expect and will probably get. He’s definitely not as good as he’s been in spring training but he’s not as bad as he was for the majority of his cup of coffee last year. Almost as important as the potential offensive change of pace is the defense he can provide. For the first time since…well, a long time, the Yankees will have a good defender in center.

  2. Bill said...

    Rickey was primarily a LF during his 73-year career, but played mostly center when he was with the Yanks.

    It’s not like the Yankees (or any team) EXPECTS Gardner or Cabrera (or anybody) to match their spring numbers. No teams are that dumb, are they?

    I wish I had that kind of confidence that the Yankees would be hurt by this at all. Gardner seems to play excellent defense and has much, much better on-base skills than Melky. I think he’ll be fine, and if he’s not, it won’t be 50 games in before they have a Mike Cameron or Aaron Rowand or something.

  3. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Robert—I was debating putting Rivers on that list.  I’m mad at myself for leaving him off now.  Rivers was the shiz-nit.

  4. themarksmith said...

    Shyster,

    So who wins the Atlanta CF job? It appears to be Schafer, but I can’t help but feel they’ll go with Anderson.

  5. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Mark—I’m not sure. I haven’t been following.  My gut tells me that Atlanta is still really angling to compete in 2010 instead of 2009, and will therefore feel free to mess around some this year.  I actually like this strategy (even if you can’t publicly admit that it’s your strategy).  If you were going to do that, would it not be a good idea to start Anderson, hope he gets off to a hot start, and then try to flip him to someone who needs a centerfielder?

    At least that’s what I’d do.

  6. carl said...

    IF Gardner is a CF who can get on base, then he’s useful. 

    He may be a CF who struggles to hit .220, in which case I don’t much care how fast he is down the line.

  7. Mark said...

    I always liked the Chad Curtis moments in CF when Williams was out with whatever nagging hamstring injury he was suffering at the time.

  8. Jason @ IIATMS said...

    G’morning Shyster.  Here’s what Gardner isn’t: a power hitter.  Here’s what the Yanks don’t need: A power hitter.  What DO the Yanks need: A CF with speed and a hitter who can get on and help manufacture a run.  That’s what Gardner IS.  So much is made about what he isn’t but what he IS is a player who fits what the Yanks don’t otherwise have and something they desperately need.

    If Gardner can hit ~10 home runs this year, wonderful.  If he hits 5 but steals 40, fantastic.  It’s an element of the game that the Yanks have been missing for years.  Damon was sorta that guy but not a pure burner like Gardner.  Damon can still go 20/20 and Gardner won’t have that sorta power.  He’s got decent patience at the plate and batting out of the 9 hole, he’s got the speed to keep getting doubled up by Jeter (now batting first).

    Tell me I am crazy, but if Gardner’s on first, they are going to hit and run like mad as Jeter is so adept at slapping the ball towards rightfield.  As the 2B goes to cover the base (Jeter being righty and all), that creates a massive hole for Jeter to try to shoot the ball thru.  Gardy’s going first to third alot this year.

    Melky ain’t.

  9. VanderBirch said...

    Jason, don’t know that I agree with you. I don’t think the *type* of hitter that Gardner is will have any meaningful impact on his value to the Yanks. Just because he is a slap hitter doesn’t mean he *fits* better. Either he is a good player or he isn’t.

    Now, I don’t think Gardner is going to be sub-raplcement level. He can play some quality D, and he can take a walk. There is some value in that. Nevertheless, there is no way they should be sending him out there when Swisher can play a reasonable centerfield- he might be 2 or 3 wins better than Gardner.

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