• Brett Gardner Wins CF Job

    Posted by on March 29th, 2009 · Comments (10)

    Via the AP -

    Brett Gardner has won the Yankees’ starting center field job.

    New York manager Joe Girardi announced Sunday that Gardner beat out Melky Cabrera this spring for the starting spot on opening day.

    “Both of them played great,” Girardi said after the Yankees beat Pittsburgh 9-8. “Gardie finished up strong and had a great camp. Right now I think Gardie has a little bit of the edge. He brings a little more speed to the lineup.” The speedy Gardner had a .228 batting average over 42 games in 2008, but was successful on 13 of 14 stolen-base attempts. He is hitting .385 with five stolen bases in 22 spring training games.

    The Yankees plan to have Cabrera on the regular-season roster in a backup role.

    “Melky had a tough year last year, but came into camp, was ready to go and played very well,” Girardi said. “Melky is going to have a lot of important things to do for us. He’s a switch-hitter, can put him anywhere in the outfield. He can run.”

    So, does three years count as a fast track?

    Well, many know that I’ve been a Gardner fan for a while. And, I still think he can be, for the Yankees, what Jacoby Ellsbury is for the Red Sox.

    And, having Melky Cabrera on the bench is not terrible. He will probably spell Gardner against tough lefties and be a defensive caddy for Xaiver Nady. He can also pinch-run for Jose Molina when needed. These are all tasks that Leche can handle.

    What should Yankees fans expect from Gardner this year? Great speed, a decent glove in center, a willingness to work the count, and a hard-nose attitude. Nuthin’ wrong with any of ‘dat…

    Comments on Brett Gardner Wins CF Job

    1. Evan3457
      March 29th, 2009 | 9:07 pm

      Gardner’s ability to play everyday will depend on his hitting.

      His hitting will depend on being able to turn on high fastballs, especially inside, and drive them to the gaps for extra bases.

      If he doesn’t show he can handle the high fastball, especially from lefties, they will challenge him up in the zone, and his K’s and popups will rise, and his walks and BAVG will plummet.

      He’ll likely struggle at first, and his ability to make it as a regular will depend on two things; how long the Yanks give him to adjust, which will depend in large measure on how the race goes early in the season (they usually don’t give struggling rookies very much time), and how fast he can adjust.

      I think he will adjust, if given enough time, and become a .270-280 hitter with a decent amount of walks, very moderate power, and more K’s than you’d like from a “contact” type hitter.

      His defense will be fine; he’ll make up for his weakish arm by getting to the ball quickly and getting rid of it in a hurry. He’ll be a holy terror on the bases.

      So his career as a regular hinges on his bat, especially vs. LHP.

    2. March 29th, 2009 | 9:25 pm

      Is it crazy for me to expect him to be a legitimate ROY candidate?

      If he can hit .270, he’ll have an OBP around .350. Over 500-600 plate appearances, he could realistically steal 60 bases. Clearly, as shown via his spring training performance, he’s improved his bunting-for-hit ability. That and the ability to walk are the two most important abilities that a speedster can have.

      I would be ecstatic if the Yankees can field an OF of Jackson-Gardner-Swisher in 2010.

    3. March 29th, 2009 | 9:50 pm

      Melky is decent off the bench and it will give him a chance to be around the team and get better. He’s in a better position than Shelley Duncan.

    4. butchie22
      March 30th, 2009 | 1:21 am

      hallofamer2000 wrote:

      Is it crazy for me to expect him to be a legitimate ROY candidate?
      If he can hit .270, he’ll have an OBP around .350. Over 500-600 plate appearances, he could realistically steal 60 bases. Clearly, as shown via his spring training performance, he’s improved his bunting-for-hit ability. That and the ability to walk are the two most important abilities that a speedster can have.
      I would be ecstatic if the Yankees can field an OF of Jackson-Gardner-Swisher in 2010.

      You are that sold on Ajax-Swish and Gardner? This is before the 2009 even has a conclusion….and they were in third place last year and they just might repeat that standing this year. Ajax is just a prospect so who knows how great he’ll be. Gardner? I like his speed on the basepaths and he does work the count BUT can he hit over .275 for the whole season? Gardner is a gutty and gritty player (which I like to a certain degree) BUT will he be productive enough to remain in center? Swish has such a shitty season last year, so what version of Swisher will show up in the Bronx this year…last year’s model or an approximation of his Oakland as run? I think it will be between his work with both clubs ,not bad BUT not great either.

      Steve ,you mentioned Melkman being on the bench… he belongs there quite frankly! He is a fourth outfielder on this team.Yes he is still young BUT the Yanks can’t afford to make the same mistake again this year with him because they need to field a better team in order to make the playoffs.

    5. March 30th, 2009 | 10:10 am

      I would be ecstatic if the Yankees can field an OF of Jackson-Gardner-Swisher in 2010.
      ==============
      Yeah, I’m not sure I would be ecstatic with that. There’s not much power in that outfield. I’m not really sure Jackson has the bat for a corner. A good hitting CF is merely an adequate LF.

      On the other hand, it seems like it might happen, and it could be worse. The optimist in me says that it’s possible it could work out quite nicely, actually. But, in general, I’m with Butchie on this one.

    6. Corey
      March 30th, 2009 | 10:16 am

      let’s not discount jackson’s power just yet…bernie didn’t really start hittin for power until he entered his prime, and jackson is entering his 22 year old season

    7. March 30th, 2009 | 10:23 am

      let’s not discount jackson’s power just yet…bernie didn’t really start hittin for power until he entered his prime, and jackson is entering his 22 year old season
      ======================
      This is fair enough. But it’s not going to help in 2010.

      Also, I’m not sure it’s fair to expect Jackson to turn into Bernie. That’s a pretty high bar to set. Would be nice, though.

    8. Corey
      March 30th, 2009 | 10:43 am

      i wasn’t really sayin jackson is gonna be the next bernie(although that’d be fantastic, bernie is my all time fav), but i felt if i just said the old adage “power is the last thing to develop” it wouldn’t have hit home enough without an example

    9. roadrider
      March 30th, 2009 | 12:13 pm

      I’m skeptical about Gardner being anything more than a stop gap solution. He did do better than I thought he would after his recall last year but I’m not convinced he’ll ever hit enough at the big league level to be a regular.

      I’m heavily discounting his spring training stats because he wasn’t facing the same pitchers he’ll have to deal with in the regular season and unlike established players, he hasn’t proven himself yet. Even the Melk Man had decent numbers this spring and we know how he’s done in regular season play.

      Yeah, Gardner’s fast and he can work the count and bunt but if the improved power production he’s shown this spring proves to be a mirage then he’ll be very easy to pitch to and defend. And if he can’t get on base his speed will be useless (from an offensive standpoint anyway). I’m afraid there’s a much higher probability that Gardner is a slightly better version of Bubba Crosby than he is the equivalent of Jacoby Ellsbury (and I’m not sold on Ellsbury either).

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m rooting for Gardner to be successful but even if he is I doubt he’ll make me forget what a blunder the Yankees made in not signing Carlos Beltran a few years ago.

    10. Corey
      March 30th, 2009 | 1:17 pm

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m rooting for Gardner to be successful but even if he is I doubt he’ll make me forget what a blunder the Yankees made in not signing Carlos Beltran a few years ago.
      ——
      ya then it’d be us yelling on the FAN about how beltran looked at a called third strike to end the season

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