All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Brett Gardner

Strange as it may seem, the Yankees may be short of outfielders. Matsui has a bad knee (and is possibly out for the year). Damon ran into a wall in today's game, and injured his shoulder. Melky Cabrera has been pretty terrible. Shelley Duncan, down in Scranton, dislocated his shoulder diving for a ball and is likely out for the year. He wasn't hitting very well, anyway. Justin Christian got a cup of coffee, but was sent down in favor of Brett Gardner.

Gardner reminds me a bit of Bubba. He's left-handed, and a little guy...even smaller than Bubba. Wears his socks high. He's got a nice glove and crazy speed. Good eye, but not much power. Like Bubba, he's "all ears and enthusiasm." ;-)

Gardner is a player many fans wanted to see get the call. In particular, many have been clamoring for him to take over center field - and for Melky Cabrera to be benched, traded, or sent down.

The other day, Melky got the day off while Gardner started in CF. Gardner had a great game, and Melky looked pretty bummed. He's usually smiling and joking around, but he looked very down that day.

Perhaps it lit a fire under him. Melky was on an 0-for-19 skid until then. The next day, he got two hits. He got another hit today.

Still...I don't think he's the center fielder of the future. At least for the Yankees. He's still young (age 24 next month), but he doesn't seem to be improving:

2006 .280 .360 .391 .751
2007 .273 .327 .391 .718
2008 .244 .310 .351 .661

Many were expecting that he'd develop some power as he matured, but there's no sign of it so far. And his average and on-base percentage have fallen each year since 2006. According to some number-crunchers, he's the worst center fielder in the majors (even taking into account defense).

I really think 2006 was fluke. His strong suit was his OBP...but at the time, many of the stat-heads were skeptical. They pointed out that a good eye is something that usually develops early, and Melky had shown no sign of that kind of patience in his minor league career. Now, it's looking like they were right.

I don't think Gardner is the center fielder of the future, either. The Yankees like sluggers, and Gardner has no power. Probably he and Melky both will just be keeping center field warm for Austin Jackson or some other young stud.

Though Johnny Damon's injury will likely keep both Melky and Gardner on the roster, at least for now.

But it should be interesting to see what happens at the trade deadline, at the end of this month. The Yankees have a lot of holes to fill. They need a starting pitcher. They could use a right-handed hitter, and a center fielder with a good stick. This being Cashman's "walk year," he might feel more pressure to get something done than usual.

Happy Independence Day!

posted by BubbaFan, 5:58 PM


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