March 30, 2009

Is Gardner starting a good thing?

As promised, Joe Girardi anounced yesterday that Brett Gardner, not Melky Cabrera, will start in center field for the Yankees this season.
"Both of them played great," Girardi said. "Melky had a tough year last year, but he came into camp and was ready to go and played very well. Gardy finished up strong and had a great camp. We're just going to go with Gardy."
Girardi had no choice here.  It seems that Gardner has all the confidence in the world, and Cabrera is still mulling last season's failure.  Now I wonder if Gardner starting everyday is actually beneficial for the Yankees.

The Yankees have never really had a regular speedster in the lineup on a consistent basis.  And now, the Yankees don't have much speed up and down the lineup until you get to Gardner at the end of the order.  I feel Cabrera's bat is more valuable to the Yankees in the everyday lineup than Gardner's speed is.

There's no doubting Gardner's speed.  But he can't use his speed unless he gets on base.  Gardner's OBP this spring is .448, but when I compared that to his career OBP of .283, I got a little worried.  Cabrera's numbers last season were horrid, but his two seasons before that were terrific for a nine hitter.

Gardner on the bench as a late-game pinch runner and defensive replacement helps the Yankees more than him batting ninth.  I hate to praise the Red Sox, but did you see what they did against the Yanks with Dave Roberts in the 2004 ALCS?


Anonymous said...

I do not think that Gardener is going to take up all of the time in Center Field. I think for the first few months, both Melky and Gardener will split time maybe even 50-50. We know Melky has tons of talent, and I think last year may have been a reality check for him that he still needs to work. Melky has had a very good spring, and I think that by July he will be the every day starter.

I like your comparison of Gardener to Dave Roberts. That is definitely something to consider.

Lenny Neslin said...

I'm pretty sure Gardner will be the starter for most, if not all, of April. And if Gardner's doing well, he will hold the job for a long time. I see Melky as a late-inning defensive replacement for Damon. Maybe Melky will get one start a week in center though.

dylan555 said...

I got to see two games last year in August and Gardener played a role in both wins. The kid brings some grit and fire to the lineup and while it will be hard to lose his speed off the bench, it would be nice to give him a shot to make an impact. He might rub off on a few of the old guys.

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