Yankees CF Gardner KO’d with broken thumb

Yesterday, the New York Yankees were dealt a blow with the news that centerfielder Brett Gardner would miss at least two weeks (and that’s liberally conservative, if that even makes sense to you) with a broken left thumb.

Gardner, who is proving himself as an option as a longterm leadoff man, will have his thumb in a cast for a minimum of two weeks. Barring setbacks, he would probably need a week or so in the minor leagues before he could be activated. This keeps him out of commission until the end of August, at a time where the Yankees are dueling with the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox, both on the field and in the standings.

25, Gardner is hitting .275/.354/.400 on the year in exactly 200 at-bats. He’s notched 20 stolen bases, three home runs, four doubles and six triples. With a 31/23 K/BB ratio, he’s also showing an ability to keep the ball in play to take advantage of his legs.

On defense, his legs clearly help him. He’s posted a stellar 15.9 UZR/150, while contributing with the arm, posting a 3.5 Outfield Arms Above Average. Gardner wasn’t starting full-time, as he had Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera all to contend with. However, he was immensely useful in his ability to keep Damon and Matsui rested while serving as a pinch-runner off the bench.

Now, his place is filled full-time by Melky Cabrera who at age 24 is still incredibly young. After posting a .280/.360/.391 line at age 21 in 460 at-bats, many people were high on him. Despite more than ample opportunities to succeed the next two years, Cabrera slid down to being a backup outfielder. He’s surged back up this year to post the best OPS (.786) of his career and show developing power with eight home runs (tied for a career high) and 16 doubles (10 away from tying his career-high).

Cabrera’s knock is his defense. He’s posted a career -8.3 UZR/150 in center, although the last two years has balanced out to zero, with his 2007 season holding him back. He does have a proclivity to being able to play right field, but the small sample size and poor arm don’t lend him long-term stability in that position.

The Yankees clearly downgraded with the loss of Gardner, to the point where it may cost them a win or two while he’s out. In the American League (B)East, that can’t happen.

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Comments

  1. Evan Brunell said...

    Swisher plays right, while Matsui is largely limited to DH. I seem to recall Matsui gets time off on a fair basis.

    But you’re right, Swisher gets time off as well. There’s no true starter, I wouldn’t think, at least not one that comes to the park every day and knows he’s in the lineup for sure.

  2. Adam said...

    I noticed in your article that Gardner’s arm was seen as a plus, while Melky’s a minus.  As someone who has watched both play a good deal, Melky’s arm is far stronger, although I concede that accuracy is more difficult to judge in isolated cases.  What I wonder though, is how much of Gardner’s ARM UZR can be attributed to his getting to ball in the gaps faster than the base runners would expect, thus being able to hold/throw out more runners.  If this is the case, I would expect his ARM UZR to decrease in the following seasons.  I guess we’ll see, but I just felt the need to comment because to a Yankee fan, it is startling to see Gardner’s arm ranked better then Melky’s.

  3. Evan Brunell said...

    Adam,

    Good comment. I was almost compelled to mention something similar in the article because the way I’ve always seen them play, Melky has a pretty decent arm while Gardner’s is less than impressive. I’m not sure of your theory, but it certainly sounds plausible.

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