Have the Yankees given up on Melky Cabrera?
He was recalled from the minors on Sept. 5 and has had a grand total of three at-bats since. He’s been used as pinch runner or defensive replacement a few times but that has been it. He has been a ghost.
Center field is an interesting position to evaluate as the Yankees move into the offseason. The organization’s best position prospect, Austin Jackson, is a center fielder but has yet to play AAA ball. He has a chance to be a difference maker but probably not until 2010. It would be surprising to see him on the roster in April.
* Do you plug Johnny Damon out there for one more season?
* Give Brett Gardner a chance?
* Obtain a CF via free agency or trade?
* Try Melky again?
* None of the above?
I get the sense they’re going to give Gardner every chance. The coaches work a lot with him and Joe Girardi clearly loves the speed he brings to the game, both in the field and on the bases. Gardner has been thrown out trying to stretch in each of the last two days. He’s learning that his speed won’t force players into mistakes at this level like it did in the minors.
“I need to pick my spots,” he said. “Stay on first and steal second. That’s better.”
Ideally, the Yankees want Gardner and Jackson to have roles moving forward. That would give the roster a much-needed infusion of athleticism. That is something that has been lacking for a few years now. You watch the Rays, Angels or some other teams and the Yankees look like they’re standing still by comparison.
As you consider possibilities for the 2009 roster, don’t focus entirely on what a player can do at the plate. How many runs a player can prevent in the field is a factor. Gardner is going to roam deep into the gaps and take away bloop singles in front of him. Jackson was voted the best defensive outfielder in the Eastern League.
One of the reasons Tampa is going to win the division is that they made moves to improve their defense, trading for Jason Bartlett and moving Akinori Iwamura to second base. The Yankees have to think that way, too.