January 13, 2010

Don't mess with the Law: Gardner ready for left

ESPN's Keith Law has become one of the most respected baseball analysts in the world, and I'm happy to say he agrees with me about one thing. That is, the person who should be patrolling the left field grass in Yankee Stadium this season. He had this to say in one of his Insider posts (thanks TYU):
“Either [Xavier] Nady or [Reed] Johnson represent marginal improvements that may not justify the cost. Neither is really a full-time player. Johnson is strictly a platoon player, and can back up [Curtis] Granderson, but they have [Brett] Gardner for that. Nady, even when healthy, was a platoon guy until ‘08. I’m not a Gardner guy, never have been, but their offense is fine even if they put a pointed stick in left field (if the ball hits the stick, the batter is out). So why not play for defense a little with the cheap guy in-house? Eventually, some other option will emerge and there’s no reason for the Yanks to spend money on left field simply for the sake of spending money.”
No need for me to reiterate the positives in going with Gardner. The one thing I would like to emphasize is the idea that the additional production of Nady or Johnson wouldn't warrant the cost of signing them. In other words, would an upgrade from Gardner to their caliber make a considerable difference in the lineup's ability to produce runs? Is the slight downgrade on defense worth it too?

Now, if you are still on the "bring back
Johnny Damon" bandwagon, an upgrade to his ability at the price he'd have to accept to fit the Yankees payroll (let's say $5 million or less) would make more of a positive impact on offense. He'd be hitting second and popping more homers than any other candidate for left field can at this point. But he's also a major downgrade on defense compared to Gardner and his services on offense aren't required for the Yankees to make a run at repeating as champs. Ask anyone: Whose lineup is more feared than the Yankees'?

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