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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


To Be Decided

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Feb 16, 2010 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

“I know a town where real life’s a game, baseball’s all that’s real. At night all the faces light up, as the players take the field.” Widespread Panic

———

On the calendar above my desk, I’ve written two words on the date February 16: Spring Training. My flight to Tampa leaves in a few hours. Pitchers and catchers officially report tomorrow.

Baseball is back, and the Yankees have 47 days to answer these 10 questions before opening day.

1. Who is the No. 5 starter? Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or a surprise choice from the Alfredo Aceves Group of dark horse candidates? I honestly believe it’s an even race between Hughes and Chamberlain. Best pitcher this spring wins the job.

2. Where does the rotation’s odd man out open the season? In the bullpen or Triple-A? It’s difficult to keep that sort of talent out of the big leagues, but there is a lot to be said for stretching out both Hughes and Chamberlain, giving them enough innings to start this season and in the future. I don’t think Triple-A will happen for either of them, but Brian Cashman has said it’s a possibility.

3. Is Brett Gardner an everyday outfielder? With Randy Winn and Marcus Thames coming to camp, the Yankees have two veterans to fight for Gardner’s job.

4. Who is the starting center fielder? If Gardner is an everyday outfielder, should he start in left or center? It will either be him or Curtis Granderson, and neither is a bad defensive option. Either one would be a defensive upgrade in left.

5. Who bats second? Derek Jeter will return to the lead-off spot, but who replaces Johnny Damon in the No. 2 hole? Nick Johnson has the on-base percentage. Granderson has the speed. Could someone else sneak into this conversation or is it two-man race?

6. Is it worth keeping a Rule 5 pick on the roster? Not so long ago, Jamie Hoffmann was the Yankees best option as a right-handed, reserve outfielder. That might not be the case now that Thames is in the mix. There’s a lot to like about Hoffmann — including more speed and better defense than Thames — but will a team like the Yankees really carry a Rule 5 pick when there’s a more proven option available?

7. Does the team need a second lefty? Count on Damaso Marte making the opening day roster, but will he be the only left-hander in the bullpen? Boone Logan, Royce Ring, Kei Igawa and possibly Wilkin De La Rosa will be pleading their case?

8. If not a second lefty, who rounds out the bullpen? Let’s not forget that Jonathan Albaladejo opened the past two seasons in the big leagues, and frankly, I’m not willing to completely rule him out for a third opening day roster. Albaladejo, Mark Melancon, Sergio Mitre, Ivan Nova, Edwar Ramirez, Romulo Sanchez and few other dark horses could be competing for a bullpen spot that might or might not be available. Another related question: Could anyone from that group beat out Chad Gaudin, Alfredo Aceves or Dave Robertson?

9. Who is the utility infielder? Unless the Yankees make a move between now and April 4, there are only three candidates for the utility job: Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez, Kevin Russo and Reegie Corona. Of that group, only Pena has major league experience.

10. Have any bullpen roles shifted? Mariano Rivera is set in the ninth, but how does the rest of the bullpen stack up. Assuming Hughes or Chamberlain is in the major league pen, is he definitely the eighth-inning guy? What about Robertson? Is Aceves a long man or a one-inning, late-inning reliever? Does Marte pitch to lefties or play a role in the setup competition?

Comments

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158 Responses to “To Be Decided”

  1. Erica - always OPPC - aka Simon February 16th, 2010 at 9:47 am

    5. Who bats second? Derek Jeter will return to the lead-off spot, but who replaces Johnny Damon in the No. 2 hole? Nick Johnson has the on-base percentage. Granderson has the speed. Could someone else sneak into this conversation or is it two-man race?

    ***************

    Maybe Johnny Damon comes back……

    (Oh yeah, I said it)

  2. SJ44 February 16th, 2010 at 9:49 am

    That’s the neat part of ST. Fleshing out roles on the team.

    That, and checking out the progress of some of the young guys like Montero, breaks up the monotony of ST.

  3. upstate kate February 16th, 2010 at 9:50 am

    It had to be said Erica :)

  4. Frank February 16th, 2010 at 9:50 am

    One fan’s answers:

    1) I’m guessing Hughes. Not buying anyone else besides Hughes or Joba. Rest of the guys in the “competition” are just window dressing.

    2)8th inning guy.

    3)Maybe, but I see 400 PA’s tops.

    4)Granderson

    5)Reluctantly say Granderson. Not wild about it.

    6)No

    7)Need? No. Wouldn’t be a bad thing though.

    8)12 pitchers early on? Mo, Joba, Robertson, Marte, Aceves, Gaudin, Melancon.

    9) Don’t know, but it will probably be someone different by the trading deadline.

    10)Mo closes. Joba/Marte/Robertson get outs 19-24. Gaudin long guy. Other two as needed.

  5. Wave Your Hat February 16th, 2010 at 9:53 am

    A competition between Phil and Joba in ST is the wrong way to decide the 5th starter job, IMO. I don’t think that’s what the Yanks will do, although they may publicly appear to have a competition.

    The Yanks know Joba’s and Phil’s strengths and weaknesses very well. Six weeks of one spring training should not materially affect their judgment as to who the 5th starter should be.

    My guess is the Yanks already know who they intend to give the job to, and it will be that guy’s job to lose, not the other guy’s job to win.

  6. Erica - always OPPC - aka Simon February 16th, 2010 at 9:54 am

    upstate kate
    February 16th, 2010 at 9:50 am
    It had to be said Erica
    ************

    I agree!

  7. blake February 16th, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I agree with SJ on re: Granderson/Gardner in CF. The stats on Gardner do not have sufficient sample size to draw any real conconclusions. He has a good UZR but you need a lot of data before that even comes close to being accurate, a half a season of defensive numbers is nearly meaningless.

    Granderson was aquired to play CF and he’s one of the best in baseball and of they move him to LF then they likely will be moving him right back next year if they sign or trade for a LFer.

    I wouldn’t be shocked if Winn beats Gardner out of a starting job anyway.

  8. Paco Dooley February 16th, 2010 at 9:56 am

    Lots of questions, but no really critical ones – what a luxury for the 2010 Yankees. They have too many options for a quality 5th starter (5th! – who else in baseball has this problem). They have a lot of bullpen arms and so their only really critical question is about how to get the outfield set. I suppose this is where the Damon situation is a sad one since he would answer many of these questions all in one go.

  9. Wave Your Hat February 16th, 2010 at 9:58 am

    “I wouldn’t be shocked if Winn beats Gardner out of a starting job anyway.”

    I would.

  10. Frank February 16th, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Wave:

    I agree. It’s not a good way to settle it. I too think they have a plan in mind and will deviate only if someone is injured or massively ineffective.

  11. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Wave I disagree. I think the coaching staff will make the decision this spring. I don’t think spring stats will play into it at all. Girardi, Pena and Eiland will look to see what kind of shape each guy comes into camp in, what their stuff is like, if one or the other is healthier, etc. Then they’ll weigh in past performance and make a decision.

    I think the main thing is they probably want to see which guy has better stuff right now. I think if Joba comes in to camp in shape and is sitting at 95 with his fastball the job is his. If he doesn’t, Phil wins.

  12. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 10:00 am

    From Hoch: CC Sabathia is loosening up for his first workout of the spring
    half a minute ago from txt

  13. Doreen - Ain't it Just "Grand"? February 16th, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Chad -

    RAB had a piece about whether the Yankees could send Hughes to the minors. It had to do with options and major league service time. Apparently, if the Yankees send Hughes to SWB AFTER April 26, he would have to pass through waivers. It’s revocable waivers, so the Yankees would take him right back, but that would basically end any opportunity to send him down, because next time, waivers are irrevocable. The same deal applies with Joba, but the clock doesn’t start until August.

    I do think this is an interesting twist. No? Or just so much more dust thrown in the air?

  14. Wave Your Hat February 16th, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Patrick-

    The Yanks have seen both Joba and Phil for over three years. They must have formed a judgment as to who they think the better starter will be.

    They will want that guy to be the starter. Sure, if that guy comes into camp overweight and out of shape, he could lose the job. But he won’t come into camp fat and out of shape.

    Perhaps if they are planning to see some specific improvement in that guy, and they don’t see it, that could factor in their decision. Or if the guy can’t get anyone out and the other guy is lights out, that could make a difference too.

    But that’s what I mean by it being that guy’s job to lose.

  15. MTU February 16th, 2010 at 10:06 am

    1) Joba

    2) BP

    3) Yes, unless he proves he can’t handle it.

    4) GGBG in center

    5) Depends on L/R starter. Grandy against R, NJ against L.

    6) Has to have a great spring to stick.

    7) Same as Frank on this.

    8) Lot’s of possibilities.

    9) Pena, or Russo.

    10) Chamberlain or Hughes.

  16. Phil February 16th, 2010 at 10:06 am

    I know I am a fool, but I want the Yankees to surprise me on March 1 (though they could wait til April 1) and resign Johnny D. I like Johnson, but he’s no Damon. Clutch is the key word and I think Chemistry is important. I may be the last holdout, the old fool on the hill – but bring back Johnny – all is forgiven

  17. teddy February 16th, 2010 at 10:07 am

    please no Jonathan Albaladejo. i also would say no to melancon too

  18. Doreen - Ain't it Just "Grand"? February 16th, 2010 at 10:07 am

    SJ44 – In previous thread I asked this question to you: do you think they asked Granderson about playing LF as a courtesy in case they need to do that, as opposed to a sure-intent to play him there?

    Also, if we say that Gardner can play CF (and I am with those who are not as enamored of his overall play out there, speed notwithstanding), why would the Yankees have any doubts about his being able to play LF? Isn’t LF easier than CF?

    One of the reasons I prefer Granderson in CF is because of his experience there, and because he is more veteran and I wouldn’t have concerns about who was “in charge” out there. One of the few complaints I had about Melky in CF is that he at times seemed to defer to the RF or LF, who were more veteran than he, and I’m concerned Gardner would do the same. This tactic had led to some almost botched plays out there.

  19. NYY626 February 16th, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Does anyone else have the Yankees fact of the day calendar? Cause I have a bone to pick with whoever decided on today’s fact…

  20. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 10:09 am

    NYY626
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:08 am
    Does anyone else have the Yankees fact of the day calendar? Cause I have a bone to pick with whoever decided on today’s fact…

    **********************
    I don’t, but I think my dad has one.

    What is today’s fact?

  21. Erica - always OPPC February 16th, 2010 at 10:10 am

    NYY626
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:08 am
    Does anyone else have the Yankees fact of the day calendar? Cause I have a bone to pick with whoever decided on today’s fact…

    **************

    I used to have that one, but I opted for the Stupidest things ever said calendar instead. I need more laughter at work

  22. stuckey February 16th, 2010 at 10:10 am

    I’m still shocked to see that anyone actually still thinks Hughes should go to the minor leagues after ST if he’s not chosen the 5th starter.

    There is no way in ANY equation he winds up pitching MORE innings for the Yankees in 2010-11 with any significant time in Scranton, at which point one has to ask themselves, what then is the point to begin with?

  23. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Wave I still disagree. Both guys have changed over the past 3 years, it’s not like they have been consistent performers. Joba was better in 2008, Hughes was better in 2009. I think the Yankees will wait to see which one looks the best in the present.

  24. Bronx Jeers February 16th, 2010 at 10:11 am

    C-Grand looks like he’s having a good time already.

    From NY Times.

    http://www.nytimes.com/imagepa.....ees-1.html

  25. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Bronx Jeers
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:11 am
    C-Grand looks like he’s having a good time already.

    From NY Times.

    http://www.nytimes.com/imagepa…..ees-1.html

    *************
    That’s a great picture! Love seeing the Captain in the background :)

  26. Wave Your Hat February 16th, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Both Gaudin and Mitre are out of options. If the Yanks keep them both, and barring injury, that will fill up the pen at 12 with only one lefty (the six starters, plus Mo, Robertson, Aceves, Marte).

    My guess is they trade one of Gaudin or Mitre to make room for the second lefty, whoever he may be.

  27. Doreen - Ain't it Just "Grand"? February 16th, 2010 at 10:13 am

    SJ44 -

    Went back and saw your answer. Thanks.

  28. Betsy -Romine wasn't built in a day February 16th, 2010 at 10:14 am

    I don’t see any reason why Gardner should be in CF; I don’t even think he’s that great defensively. In any case, I admit I don’t regard him highly at all and much prefer to see Granderson in CF. I don’t think CG should be moved out of CF to accomodate Gardner.

    I expect Joba to win the 5th spot and would much prefer Phil be sent to AAA. Another year of being a set up man will not help him. I keep seeing comments to the effect of “well, Santana started out in the pen”. Santana, to my knowledge, was not a set up man. Phil as a short man will not be able to throw his change, he will barely use his curve and he won’t develop at all as a starter. That means that next year, not only will he have innings restrictions (and worse than this year, because it will be another year of few innings pitched), but he will have not learned anything about being a starting pitcher. My expectations for Phil in 2011 would then not be very high and I think that’s a shame.

    Albaladejo stinks and I’m sorry to have to say that as I liked him a lot at one point. I hope Melancon pitches well and makes the team, but IMO, he’s got a lot to prove and I’m not counting on him. I’m not a fan of the pen overall, I admit.

  29. MTU February 16th, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Patrick-

    FWIW. I agree with you on Joba/Phil. I would add that I think Joba has an edge due to innings/age/4 pitches.

  30. stuckey February 16th, 2010 at 10:15 am

    “I like Johnson, but he’s no Damon. Clutch is the key word and I think Chemistry is important.”

    What makes you think Damon has been particularly “clutch” in the postseason in his career?

    And as to chemistry, why are you assuming Johnson and Granderson can’t echance the chemistry?

    Change isn’t inherently negative.

  31. Wave Your Hat February 16th, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Patrick-

    It’s one of those things we’ll never know, so neither one of us will ever have to admit he is wrong.

  32. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Erica – always OPPC
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:10 am

    I used to have that one, but I opted for the Stupidest things ever said calendar instead. I need more laughter at work

    *************************
    what’s today’s quote?? :)

  33. NYY626 February 16th, 2010 at 10:16 am

    What is today’s fact?
    ____________________________________________________________
    It’s about the yankees being the only team to blow a 3-0 lead in the playoffs. I usually look forward to fun little trinkets like “Jeter was the first and only yankee to win the MVP all star award”, not some junk about us losing. Not.Cool.

  34. Yankee U February 16th, 2010 at 10:16 am

    “Unless the Yankees make a move between now and April 4, there are only three candidates for the utility job: Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez, Kevin Russo and Reegie Corona.”

    I may be misreading this, but isn’t that 4 candidates?

  35. SJ44 February 16th, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Betsy,

    Pitchers work to refine their other pitches more in side sessions than in games. Where Hughes works won’t change that.

    He is one of the best 10 pitchers on the team. Those guys don’t end up in AAA unless they are on injury rehab.

  36. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 10:19 am

    From Hoch: A bunch of initials playing catch. That’s CC and A.J., of course
    12 minutes ago from txt

  37. stuckey February 16th, 2010 at 10:19 am

    Another year of being a set up man will not help him.

    Phil as a short man will not be able to throw his change, he will barely use his curve and he won’t develop at all as a starter. That means that next year, not only will he have innings restrictions (and worse than this year, because it will be another year of few innings pitched), but he will have not learned anything about being a starting pitcher.”

    Betsy, may I genuinely inquire about the origins of your assumptions about the best way to develop a major league starting pitcher.

    Do you have any factual support, anecdotal, statistical or otherwise, to support the assumption throwing pitches, rather learning to succeed at the major league level is a superior method of development?

    To be clear, you may be 100% correct, I’m simply asking what past or present is informing your opinion?

  38. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 10:21 am

    NYY626
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:16 am
    What is today’s fact?
    ____________________________________________________________
    It’s about the yankees being the only team to blow a 3-0 lead in the playoffs. I usually look forward to fun little trinkets like “Jeter was the first and only yankee to win the MVP all star award”, not some junk about us losing. Not.Cool.

    *****************************
    I agree-definitely not cool.

  39. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 10:22 am

    “Patrick-

    It’s one of those things we’ll never know, so neither one of us will ever have to admit he is wrong.”

    Haha true enough

  40. Betsy -Romine wasn't built in a day February 16th, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Patrick, that seems awfully unfair. Phil should be penalized for not throwing 95? Phil has great stuff even at 92-94 because it has late life; he also has fantastic command when he’s healthy. If they really think that little of Phil in comparison to Joba, then they should have traded him when they had the chance. Now, I don’t believe that’s the case, but I’m just saying. Basing their decision on velocity would be absolutely ridiculous and it would tell me that this team has zero clue.

  41. blake February 16th, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Wave,
    Why would you be shocked if Winn beat out Gardner for a starting job? Winn has been a regualar for years and as recently as 2008 was a very good regular. If something close to the 08 model of Randy Winn shows up thens he’s playin I would say.

  42. Erica - always OPPC February 16th, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Erin
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:16 am
    Erica – always OPPC
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:10 am

    I used to have that one, but I opted for the Stupidest things ever said calendar instead. I need more laughter at work

    *************************
    what’s today’s quote??

    ********************

    No idea. I am working at a client today.

    It took me two hours to get set up properly here on the internet which is a huge problem. I mean, obviously I love the internet, but I also need it to access all of my client files. I can’t do anything if I can’t get online.

    So annoying

  43. blake February 16th, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I don’t think the Joba/Hughes decision matters as much to the Yankees as far as their role as it does to Yankee fans. If they were bound and determined that both develop as starters in 2010 then they wouldn’t have traded for Vazquez and theu would have out them both in the rotation. Winning in

  44. CountryClub February 16th, 2010 at 10:33 am

    SJ44
    February 16th, 2010 at 9:35 am
    Nothing we saw from Gardner last year shows he’s a better defender than Granderson. That’s fan talk not rooted in any fact.

    Until September, when he struggled defensively, Curtis Granderson was one of the best defensive CF’s in baseball.

    Brett Gardner had trouble going back on balls all last year, culminating with misplaying Ibanez’s routine flyball into a double in Game 6 of the WS.

    He may end up being a good defender.

    Right now though, it’s silly and inaccurate to say he’s better defensively than Granderson.

    —————————

    IMO, this is inaccurate in a couple of different spots. but you’re entitled to your opinion.

  45. bdog375 February 16th, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Wow Chad, a Widespread Panic quote, I am impressed! What a great band.

  46. Betsy -Romine wasn't built in a day February 16th, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Aww, AJ and CC playing catch? I’ve missed that……

    SJ, don’t you think at some point that Phil is going to have to use these pitches in game situations? Being set up man for 2 years in a row may have some positives, but is it really all sunshine and roses? Being a starter is a completely different beast than a reliever and, in 2011 (assuming Phil is short man in 201), I guess I don’t see how he can be ready to be a very good pitcher. It just seems like wasting potential to me. He’s saying the right things because he’s a good kid, but I wonder how frustrated he is that he can’t start.

  47. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Hoch: CC stopped to chat. He thinks the Yankees are hungry to repeat. Bullpen tomorrow.
    7 minutes ago from txt

  48. Rick February 16th, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Players can’t be judged from what they show in spring training or September but the fact remains that Joe Girardi and coaches will have some decisions to make especially from what they see from mid-March to the end of spring training.

    - the LF situation

    - the infield utility role

    - the No. 5 starter

    - a RH bullpen setup role and a long reliever

    - a LH compliment to Damaso Marte

    The team is otherwise set going forward.

  49. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 10:35 am

    Betsy,

    The best pitcher wins the job, period. If you look at it objectively, when both guys are on their game, Joba has better stuff. Last year Joba had weight and mechanics issues which decreased the speed of his fastball and the control of his slider.

    I think this is Chamberlain’s job to lose. If he comes into throwing like he did in previous years he has better stuff than Phil Hughes and thus should win the job.

  50. Bronx Jeers February 16th, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Widespread Panic?

    Maybe we can name them the official band of LoHud game threads?

  51. Wave Your Hat February 16th, 2010 at 10:36 am

    blake-

    My guess is the ’08 version of Winn isn’t showing up.

    Also, Gardner is a lot younger than Winn and I’d think the Yanks want to see what he can do. If he can get on base at a .360 clip the Yanks really could have something.

    Also, if the Yanks weren’t comfortable with Gardner as the starter I think they would have pushed harder for Damon or been in on Cameron or someone else. I don’t think they would have waited so long to sign Winn.

  52. Erica - always OPPC February 16th, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Erin
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:35 am
    Hoch: CC stopped to chat. He thinks the Yankees are hungry to repeat. Bullpen tomorrow.
    7 minutes ago from txt

    *************

    Well, I am sure hungry for a repeat so I am glad everyone is on the same page!

  53. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Bronx Jeers
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:36 am
    Widespread Panic?

    Maybe we can name them the official band of LoHud game threads?

    *************************
    LOL

    I second this!!

  54. blake February 16th, 2010 at 10:37 am

    I interupted myself…winning in 2010 is the priority and they will put Phil and Joba in whatever roles best help them accomplish that. Just from what I’ve seen to this point I think Hughes in the rotation and Joba setting up is the way to go but if Joba comes to ST in shape throwing 97 then that could change.

  55. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Erica – always OPPC
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:37 am
    Erin
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:35 am
    Hoch: CC stopped to chat. He thinks the Yankees are hungry to repeat. Bullpen tomorrow.
    7 minutes ago from txt

    *************

    Well, I am sure hungry for a repeat so I am glad everyone is on the same page!

    **********************
    LOL me too!!

  56. Rishi February 16th, 2010 at 10:38 am

    NYY626
    February 16th, 2010 at 10:08 am
    Does anyone else have the Yankees fact of the day calendar? Cause I have a bone to pick with whoever decided on today’s fact…
    ============
    I have it – not a fun way to start the morning…

  57. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Yeah I don’t think Winn has much of a chance to win the LF job.

    He could take it sometime during the year but I expect Gardner to be given an opportunity to start on this team.

  58. Doreen - Ain't it Just "Grand"? February 16th, 2010 at 10:40 am

    stuckey -

    Just to clarify.

    I do not want to see Hughes go to the minor leagues. I just saw the article and it was information I didn’t know before and it does add an interesting twist.

    Because no matter what I or you or anyone else here thinks, we have no idea what the Yankees are thinking. We can guess. But we don’t really know.

  59. Betsy -Romine wasn't built in a day February 16th, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Stuckey, it’s just my opinion. I’m certainly willing to have my mind changed, but I honestly don’t see how being a set up man for 2 years in a row is going to help Phil become a good starter. For me, what it’s going to do is get him in the mindset of being a reliever and it’s going to condition his body to being a reliever (more innings limits in 2011). I just haven’t seen any good answers as to why Phil will be anything more than a decent #5 starter in 2011 (if that) coming off of a long stint as set-up man. How does being a set up man help him actually be a starter, where he has to throw most of his pitches in game situations? How does it help him get through major league lineups multiple times? Again, I’m willing to have my mind changed, but just saying “oh, he’ll have the confidence” isn’t enough evidence for me.

  60. Betsy -Romine wasn't built in a day February 16th, 2010 at 10:42 am

    We’ll have to agree to disagree, Patrick……

  61. Frank February 16th, 2010 at 10:43 am

    “Hoch: CC stopped to chat. He thinks the Yankees are hungry to repeat. Bullpen tomorrow”

    Nothing against Sabathia as I say this, but if spring training isn’t the greatest source of banality this side of a congressional hearing, I don’t know what is.

  62. blake February 16th, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Wave,
    You might be right but Gardner won the starting job out of ST last season and promptly lost it to melky. They never seemed particuarly comfortable with Gardner as a starter. You could also say they signed all this outfield depth because they are not confident in Gardner.

    I think you are right about them seeing what he’s got but if he can’t get it done then I think the plan becomes get through 2010 and sign Crawford in the offseason.

  63. blake February 16th, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Wave,
    You might be right but Gardner won the starting job out of ST last season and promptly lost it to melky. They never seemed particuarly comfortable with Gardner as a starter. You could also say they signed all this outfield depth because they are not confident in Gardner.

    I think you are right about them seeing what he’s got but if he can’t get it done then I think the plan becomes get through 2010 and sign Crawford in the offseason.

  64. Wave Your Hat February 16th, 2010 at 10:44 am

    As between Gardner and Granderson, the Yanks will know by the end of ST who they think the better defensive CF is. When you watch the same two guys all day every day for six weeks, you really don’t need fancy defensive metrics to tell you which guy is the best defender.

    I don’t know which guy will win the CF job, but my personal hope is that BG wins it, because if BG becomes the LF I think over time the Yanks will grow dissatisfied with him, because his bat won’t match baseball veterans’ notions of what a LF bat should be.

    I know it won’t make any actual difference to the team’s offense, but psychology is always very important.

  65. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Hoch: We’ve got position players. Jeter, Granderson, Pena, Gardner and more hit field 1.
    1 minute ago from txt

  66. SJ44 February 16th, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Joba’s velocity is always slow to come around in the spring. Its that way for a lot of power pitchers.

    I don’t think velocity is going to play much of a role in the spring.

    I think conditioning, ease of throwing, mechanics and effectiveness will play more of a role.

    I think the Yankees would love to see Hughes win the slot and put Joba back in the bullpen.

    Mariano pitched hurt most of the post-season last year (little known fact….he would have not been available to pitch if there was a Game 7 because his hip was hurting so much), and I think some of the baseball people see Joba as the heir apparent.

    It may not turn out that way but, I believe many of the baseball people in the operation would like it to shake out that way.

    That means, its up to Hughes to show he can handle the fifth starters spot and have a solid spring.

  67. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 10:49 am

    “We’ll have to agree to disagree, Patrick……”

    About what? That when both are on their game, Joba has better stuff than Phil?

    That’s not a matter of opinion, it’s fact.

  68. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 10:52 am

    SJ44,

    Ok maybe velocity won’t play into the decision but my point still stands. The Yankees coaching staff will look at both guy to see how they are throwing and base their decision on that.

    I do think that the decision on a starter won’t come until very late in the spring. It’s unfair to look at them in the first week of March and expect them to be showing their best stuff.

    To be quite honest, I’m more of a Hughes fan myself but even I can’t deny that when he’s on his game, Joba has better pure stuff.

  69. SJ44 February 16th, 2010 at 10:53 am

    They negotiated with Damon as long as they could. When that didn’t work out, they signed 2 veteran players (Winn and Thames) as a hedge against Gardner not being able to pull his weight.

    The starting job is definitely Gardner’s to lose.

    It will be interesting to see if he can take advantage of this opportunity.

  70. GeorgeInJax February 16th, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Staying on the positive side of the outfield situation.
    I think if Gardner gives us .285BA .400OBP 5-10HR 75RBI 90R 35SB with solid defense it would be a very successful season & not completely unrealistic expectations. Winn & Thames have more experience and are nice complimentary players to have on a bench, but they have already reached their ceilings B.G. is still very much on the climb.

  71. SJ44 February 16th, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Pure stuff doesn’t mean much though. You have to be able to bring it from the bullpen and be able to carry it over to the games on a consistent basis.

    Thus far in his young career, Joba hasn’t been able to do that consistently as a starter.

    The league has caught up to the predictability of when he will throw his slider and they lay off the pitch late in counts. That leads to his increased walk totals.

    Fastball command was fleeting most of last year. Those are issues that can get fixed working out of the bullpen because you just air it out and are not conscious of pitch count.

    Its a tough call. Both guys bring positives and negatives to each role.

    That’s why you have 6 weeks in the spring to flesh it all out.

  72. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 11:01 am

    .400 OBP for Gardner is most certainly unrealistic.

  73. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Hoch: Javier Vazquez is in camp. CC met him today, said he seems like a good guy.
    4 minutes ago from txt

  74. SJ44 February 16th, 2010 at 11:03 am

    George,

    If he does that, he’s a borderline All Star. I think that’s too high a bar to set for him.

    Hit .260, with a .340 OBP, steal 35 bases, score 80 runs, and play solid D and that’s a pretty good season from your #9 hitter.

  75. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 11:04 am

    SJ44,

    Look at Joba at his peak – latter part of 2008 before the injury. He was blowing people away with his fastball, slider, curve and change-up. 4 plus pitches, 3 of them plus-plus.

    Now look at Hughes at his peak – probably last year. 2 plus pitches, insane fastball command and movement.

    Both are really good but you can’t deny that Joba has more potential. If he shows a glimmer of that in the spring it’s his job to lose.

  76. Betsy -Romine wasn't built in a day February 16th, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Patrick, We’ve only seen Phil in spurts and I’m just not going to judge him as a starter, against Joba or anyone. That game in Texas last year was unbelievable – and he pitched great against the Tigers, too. Outside of those starts, he definitely showed flashes. However, due to various circumstances, he just hasn’t been able to start consistently. I have no idea if he will be better than Joba or not, but I’m not going to say he won’t because Joba has better pure stuff. Phil’s stuff is very good and he has incredible command (when he’s right); that means a lot.

  77. Frank February 16th, 2010 at 11:08 am

    “I think if Gardner gives us .285BA .400OBP 5-10HR 75RBI 90R 35SB with solid defense it would be a very successful season & not completely unrealistic expectations.”

    Not much to suggest that the .400 OBP is something other than unrealistic. If he can reach .360, it would be a good year. 10 homers? 75 RBI? He has 12 homers and 164 RBI as a pro….in nearly 2200 plate appearances. 2200 is roughly 3 years worth of everyday playing. 3 homers, 50-55 RBI? That’s realistic.

  78. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Betsy don’t take this the wrong way but I think you are being a bit biased on this subject.

  79. Betsy -Romine wasn't built in a day February 16th, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Patrick, Phil was in the pen last year- of course he was going to show only 2 pitches. I refer, again, back to the game in Texas, which people have forgotten.

  80. Patrick from CT February 16th, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Granderson should be the everyday CF because he is a proven ML player. Gardy may have more speed but that does not mean he is better than Grandy. Lets remember Grandy is an all start CF with good speed as well.
    Also, Gardy may win a starting OF spot but he is still not going to play as much as Granderson. Gardy is not proven and may end up in a platoon or bench roll. Granderson should play center and not be bounced back and forth to a corner spot depending on if Gardner proves to be a starter or not. My guess is that Winn will play nearly as much as Gardy assuming no injuries…

  81. Betsy -Romine wasn't built in a day February 16th, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Patrick, maybe, but I also don’t think you’re being fair and acknowledged that Phil has also thrown some gems as a starter.

  82. John in Ohio February 16th, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Things being equal, wouldn’t it make sense (because of the huge left-center gap at YS) to have the righty thrower (Granderson) play center. and the lefty in left?

    It’s quite a luxury to have a guy who can handle center playing left field at Yankee Stadium.

  83. SJ44 February 16th, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Patrick,

    Problem is, his “peak” stuff-wise, began to fade after about 75 innings and his stuff diminished greatly.

    That’s why its not a given he’s a starting pitcher.

    For example, if his stuff holds for 75 innings and then begins to show signs of decline (which it has) then he’s better suited for bullpen, IMO.

    That’s why its such a tough call with him.

    Potential? Yes. However, potential can only take you so far. You have to be able to carry it over in games.

  84. blake February 16th, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I agree that the job is Gardners to lose, I just won’t be shocked if he loses it. CF was his to lose last year also unless I am misremembering.

  85. Frank February 16th, 2010 at 11:15 am

    “Look at Joba at his peak – latter part of 2008 before the injury. He was blowing people away with his fastball, slider, curve and change-up. 4 plus pitches, 3 of them plus-plus.”

    Three plus-plus??? His change-up hasn’t been even a plus offering at the MLB level at all to this point. Curve certainly wasn’t plus-plus. I’d grant you the heater and slider were awesome.

  86. MTU February 16th, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Patrick-

    “If he shows a glimmer of that in the spring it’s his job to lose.”

    IMHO, He’s gonna show more than a glimmer. ;)

  87. rover February 16th, 2010 at 11:19 am

    If Gardner can hit 280 or better? If he can keep the ball on the ground. If he can do ob of 350,making himself a contact hitter. He would be a better number 2. hitting in to the double play would be a freak. Granderson #3 Arod next. tex or cano finish it out. But then neither Roger Whittaker or I believe in IF anymore.

  88. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 11:20 am

    “Patrick, maybe, but I also don’t think you’re being fair and acknowledged that Phil has also thrown some gems as a starter.”

    I haven’t forgotten any of Phil’s games. I’ve been a big fan of his since he was drafted. As I said earlier, I like him more than Chamberlain. I want him to succeed as an ace of this team. I’m simply saying that despite all that it’s pretty apparent that Joba has more potential as a starter.

    Phil only showed 2 pitches out of the pen because he only has 2 plus pitches. Both are very good but his change and cutter are both below average and that is a fact.

  89. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 11:22 am

    SJ44,

    His stuff diminished because his shoulder got hurt. It’s unfair to judge him on one injury.

    —-

    “Three plus-plus??? His change-up hasn’t been even a plus offering at the MLB level at all to this point. Curve certainly wasn’t plus-plus. I’d grant you the heater and slider were awesome.”

    Fastball, slider and curve are all plus-plus offerings. Change is above average. This is a pretty well accepted fact among scouts and coaches, not really sure what you’ve been watching the past 3 years.

  90. Crawdaddy February 16th, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I wouldn’t say Phil’s cutter is below average.

  91. GeorgeInJax February 16th, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Understatement of the day:
    I went a little overboard on the OBP projection! ha ha

  92. MTU February 16th, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Patrick-

    On Joba:

    2 ++, Curve +, Change- average

    On Phil:

    I have no idea what an “average” cutter is like but I do believe that Phil’s cutter is a work in progress.

    For a changeup, I would like to see him throw either a “palmball”, or a “split”.

    By the way, does Phil throw a 2 seamer ?

  93. SJ44 February 16th, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Patrick,

    His shoulder wasn’t hurt last year and his stuff diminished after 75 innings.

    Go back and look at his college career and the same thing occurred.

    That’s why its so complicated with Joba.

    He shows great potential but hasn’t yet shown the endurance needed to have his stuff carry over to a starters workload.

    I think Hughes’s cutter is at least average, getting to be above average.

    He used it a lot last year and it was very effective.

    The problem is, many folks who follow the game via Pitch Track don’t know that because often the pitch is described as “fastball” and not a cutter.

    He can win as a starter with his fastball, curveball and cutter right now. The changeup is needed to keep hitters off balance.

    Stuff-wise though, Hughes’ stuff is pretty impressive when healthy.

  94. lets go yankees February 16th, 2010 at 11:27 am

    SJ44
    February 16th, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Nothing we saw from Gardner last year shows he’s a better defender than Granderson. That’s fan talk not rooted in any fact.

    Until September, when he struggled defensively, Curtis Granderson was one of the best defensive CF’s in baseball.
    Brett Gardner had trouble going back on balls all last year, culminating with misplaying Ibanez’s routine flyball into a double in Game 6 of the WS.

    He may end up being a good defender.

    Right now though, it’s silly and inaccurate to say he’s better defensively than Granderson.

    ——————————–

    Gardner has been an very good to elite defensive CF at pretty much every level he has played at so far in his career. If the Yankees did not think Gardner was a better defensive CF they would not be going through this whole circus of discussing it with the media and calling Granderson to see if he would be willing to play LF.

    The Yankees invested a lot of their major resources in Granderson. If they thought he was better than Gardner in CF then there would be no discussion.

    Granderson has gone from a great defensive CF 2 years ago, but he has been declining for the past 2 years. He is still good but at the moment he is not one of the best CF in baseball. On the other hand both Girardi and Cashman have come out and said they believe Gardner can be one of the best CF in baseball next season. Why are they not saying the same about Granderson?

    Additionally, last season whenever they brought Gardner in as a defensive replacement they slotted him in CF. Melky is an above average to good CF like Granderson. Why would they shift Melky over if they did not believe how good Gardner was out there?

    Anytime you do not agree with something you just refer to it as “fan talk.” However, in this case the “fan talk” is really that Gardner is not a good defensive CF based on a few plays that stand out in your mind from last season.

  95. randy l. February 16th, 2010 at 11:28 am

    on the other hand here’s another set of the “the ten most important questions”:

    #1 will sabathia be consistently good this year and not get off to a slow start ?

    #2 will arod go back to having a monster year ?

    #3 can jeter still have an elite year defensively and offensively and avoid decline?

    #4 will burnett raise his game to be more good AJ than bad AJ?

    #5 will cano finally put it all together and be the all around best second baseman in the league?

    #6 will mariano be able to defy age and stay at his high level?

    #7 will teixeira avoid his early season slump and put up the numbers to win an MVP ?

    #8 will posada keep up his amazing overall stats at his age in the demanding catcher position?

    #9 will granderson emerge as a superstar in yankee stadium or is he held back by his inability to hit lefties?

    # will pettitte continue to defy age and be the guy you want after sabathia in a big game?

    there’s a school of thought that focusing on the big things brings more results than focusing on the little things.

    in my small business for example if i increase my best seller’s 10 %, i can increase my sales much more than if i increase a weak seller even 50 %.

    when time is an issue and you can’t do everything it’s likely more productive to make sure the big questions are answered.

    the real question is does cashman run such a tight ship that there is time to get to the small stuff? obviously doing both is the ideal management scenario, but that’s not easy for any business.

    for instance last year at this time he was in the process of totally mishandling wang by not knowing he had a weak hip caused by yankee prescribed winter inactivity. he in effect set up the dominoes that fell as wang’s season progressed.

    making sure wang was right was more important than any micro managing cashman may have been doing in spring training. because wang went down, the yankees had to scramble right through the world series.

    the good news is cashman pulled it off, but it could have been much easier for him and the yankees had he paid more attention to a big question like wang health and picked up that he wasn’t right from the beginning in spring training.

    i say pay the most attention to where the most important things are and not focus on the the small stuff that isn’t that important.

  96. blake February 16th, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Phils cutter could make him an elite starter if he learns to use it properly. This other guy, Roy something…does it nicely.

  97. Frank February 16th, 2010 at 11:31 am

    “On Joba:

    2 ++, Curve +, Change- average”

    This is about where I see it, MTU. I have read where scouts say the potential is there for an outstanding changeup, but he hasn’t shown it at the big league level.

  98. lets go yankees February 16th, 2010 at 11:32 am

    This is not to say I think Gardner should start in CF. I believe Granderson should because I am not convinced that Gardner is a everyday player yet and Winn should not be playing in CF over Granderson when he plays. It would be too much shifting and uncertainty for such an important position.

    However, if the Yankees had a guarantee that both Gardner and Granderson would play 150+ games next season, Granderson would be in LF.

  99. MTU February 16th, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Blake-

    have to disagree with you on PH being “elite” with his current arsenal.

    IMO, for PH to take it to the elite level he is going to have to have at least an average change.

  100. Erica - always OPPC February 16th, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Saw this on MLBTR and thought it was worth passing on-

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....-2010.html

    Its a list of players who are out of options. For the Yankees, Mitre and Gaudin.

    So basically if you are the antsy type who likes to declare “Send Mitre to the minors”. Don’t bother!!!

  101. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 11:35 am

    #5 will cano finally put it all together and be the all around best second baseman in the league?

    ***********************
    in my biased opinion, he already is :D

  102. MTU February 16th, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Frank-

    That’s still pretty freakin’ good.

    I also think the velocity will be back more consistenly.

    Wouldn’t it help for joba to thin down some if it were possible. Might help with his stamina.

    He came to camp early and this was a very good sign. Shows he is motivated. That’s part of what he needs.

  103. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Hoch: Infield practice on field 1, bp in the cages, while camp appears to be wrapping up for the day.
    5 minutes ago from txt

  104. blake February 16th, 2010 at 11:47 am

    MTU,
    I didn’t say PH could be elite with his current arsenal. I agree he needs the change which he already dabbles with. I just think he should continue to develop the cutter and if he can learn to use it the way halladay does then it could he very beneficial

  105. MTU February 16th, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Randy-
    yes,yes,yes,no,yes,yes,no,no,yes,yes.

    Enjoyed your questions.

    Here’s another:

    Will Marte and Robertson be effective in back of Mo ?

  106. Frank February 16th, 2010 at 11:49 am

    MTU:

    I don’t get to dazzled about guys showing up early. More seem to these days than don’t. Only the real divas, like the Pedro Martinez of old, would wait til the last possible day.

    However, if he’s in shape and perhaps a little less stubborn in his approach, great things could be ahead. SJ44 makes a fair point about how his game drops off after a certain number of innings.

  107. MTU February 16th, 2010 at 11:50 am

    Blake-

    sorry I misunderstood you.

    We have discussed PH and the type of change he might throw in past threads.

    good to hear from you.

  108. MTU February 16th, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Frank-

    I think that has more to do with conditioning than anything else.

    If he was “really” serious he would have gone to a place like API over the Winter. I am sorry he didn’t.

    IMO,He needs to shed 10 to 20 lbs. and do lots of cardio, along with some extra endurance weight training.

    I hope he puts in “extra” work beyond what is required this Spring.

    And you are right he needs to trust his catcher more.

  109. m February 16th, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Wow! Lots of discussion here, would be so much better with the “reply” function. I kid, I kid!

    It’s so nice to have options, I hope they key players stay healthy.

    Healthiest rotation wins the East.

    Jeter, Tex, Posada, and Alex stay healthy, we’re okay.

  110. Rich in NJ February 16th, 2010 at 11:59 am

    I still think, all things being equal, that Vazquez is the key to the season.

  111. RayVT February 16th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    My 10 Questions!

    1) Will the Gardner folks come back to reality?
    2) Will UZR be upgraded or fixed?
    3) Will Sabermetrics move to HumanMetrics?
    4) Will Erica recover from the loss of Damon?
    5) Will GB politely tell these Nay Sayers to get lost?
    6) Will SJ give up sharing his insight to a deaf board?
    7) Will Joe G progress or will he become more controlling again?
    8) Will RSox be crowned elite 2010 World Champs at end of April again?
    9) Who is the 40th man on the 40 man roster?
    10) When will Jesus hit his 1st HR in Yankee Stadium?

  112. randy l. February 16th, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    “Will Marte and Robertson be effective in back of Mo ?”

    mtu-

    they have the potential to be very good .

    i was just playing devil’s advocate of what the most important questions are.

    on another day i could as easily say it’s the little things that count..

  113. blake February 16th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    MTU,
    You as well my man.

  114. Frank February 16th, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    #1 will sabathia be consistently good this year and not get off to a slow start ?

    Not sure how he’ll get there, but I’d guess another 19-20 wins with a similar 3.35 ERA.

    #2 will arod go back to having a monster year ?

    Not ’07-like, but 45/135 with his OPS crawling back to the high .900′s

    #3 can jeter still have an elite year defensively and offensively and avoid decline?

    Only though of him a elite offensively and very good, but not elite, defensively. I’d expect more of the same.

    #4 will burnett raise his game to be more good AJ than bad AJ?

    Not much reason to think he’ll be more of what he’s been for a decade plus. Some good, some bad. 15-16 wins, 4.20 or so ERA

    #5 will cano finally put it all together and be the all around best second baseman in the league?

    I think so, yeah.

    #6 will mariano be able to defy age and stay at his high level?

    SJ’s mention that he’d have been unavailable for Game 7 of the WS because of a hip gives me pause, but I’ll say yes til he shows otherwise.

    #7 will teixeira avoid his early season slump and put up the numbers to win an MVP ?

    Not if Arod goes for 45/135

    #8 will posada keep up his amazing overall stats at his age in the demanding catcher position?

    If he gave the same numbers in 540 PA’s in 2010 that he gave in 440 PA’s in ’09, I’d be thrilled.

    #9 will granderson emerge as a superstar in yankee stadium or is he held back by his inability to hit lefties?

    No. Very good player. Not a superstar in my mind. Lefties? Fuhgeddaboutit!

    # will pettitte continue to defy age and be the guy you want after sabathia in a big game?

    Yes.

  115. SJ44 February 16th, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Gardner has never been an elite defender. Don’t sell me on UZR. Watch him play in the field. Even in the minor leagues, he took bad routes to balls and his speed often made up for those routes.

    It wasn’t a “few bad plays” last year. Even the Yankees acknowleded his routes to balls were bad last year.

    Sometimes, its because guys are playing for the first time in their lives in stadiums that have more than decks. That hurts depth perception.

    Other times, its because they just aren’t that good.

    In Gardner’s case, if he was an elite defender, he would be an everyday player. He’s not.

    The Yankees always like to move guys around and have flexibility. I wouldn’t read too much into the discussions about where they are placing guys in February.

    If the Yankees felt Brett Gardner was an elite defender, or an everyday player, they wouldn’t have signed 2 veterans to to hedge their bets and negotiated into January with Johnny Damon.

    All I’m saying is, don’t overrate the kid. Hopefully, he turns into what some fans would like to project him to be.

    So far though, he isn’t close to that kind of player both offensively and defensively.

  116. Patrick February 16th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Joba’s change is a plus pitch, he just rarely throws it.

    Phil’s cutter is average at best. It’s more like a weak slider actually. He got lucky with it a lot last year, he doesn’t have good control when throwing it and hitters will eventually make him pay.

    And saying joba’s stuff diminished last year after 75 ip is false. It was weak all of last year. He had one or two games where his fastball was there and his slider command was there but otherwise those two pitches were diminished all year long.

  117. Erica - always OPPC February 16th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    RayVT
    February 16th, 2010 at 12:00 pm
    My 10 Questions!

    1) Will the Gardner folks come back to reality?
    I hope they are proven to be correct cause that means the Yankees will be aweseome
    2) Will UZR be upgraded or fixed?
    I don’t know silly!!!
    3) Will Sabermetrics move to HumanMetrics?
    The tyrannasaurus rex will come and eat all of them
    4) Will Erica recover from the loss of Damon?
    We can only hope, but I am not optimistic :cry:
    5) Will GB politely tell these Nay Sayers to get lost?
    Outlook not so good
    6) Will SJ give up sharing his insight to a deaf board?
    No, but maybe his imposter will!
    7) Will Joe G progress or will he become more controlling again?
    Gi Joe will start sleeping with his trusted notebook
    Will RSox be crowned elite 2010 World Champs at end of April again?
    Hahahaha- don’t you know there is major bragging rights for first place on APril 30th?
    9) Who is the 40th man on the 40 man roster?
    Me!
    10) When will Jesus hit his 1st HR in Yankee Stadium?

    September 4, 2010

  118. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes February 16th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    nytime you do not agree with something you just refer to it as “fan talk.” However, in this case the “fan talk” is really that Gardner is not a good defensive CF based on a few plays that stand out in your mind from last season.
    =====

    I don’t know how many games you get to let’s go, but Gardner’s struggles on backflight were no aberration.

    As a season ticket holder who attends most home games, I can tell you he routinely had trouble reading the ball when it was hit over his head and further confounded his problem by turning the wrong way, stretching out his glove hand while running (!), etc.

    Perhaps it’s you who are remembering plays coast-to-coast that “stand out” in a positive way?

    Hearing this player referenced as an “elite” CF is far-fetched. He has a great pair of legs – but he doesn’t have that natural instinct for floating to the ball or getting good jumps.

    He will have to do a lot of extra work to compensate for what obviously does not come naturally to take better advantage of his speed defensively. Let’s see if he can solve these issues that plagued him often in 2009.

  119. Rich in NJ February 16th, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    “In Gardner’s case, if he was an elite defender, he would be an everyday player. He’s not.”

    The reason that he hasn’t been an everyday player is that he hasn’t hit on a consistent basis.

  120. SJ44 February 16th, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I would sign on tomorrow for a repeat of good health for the core guys again.

    Overall though, I agree Vasquez is a big key to the season.

    If he is effective, that’s 800 innings and maybe as many as 70 wins from the top 4 starters.

    That means the bullpen will be lights out because those quality arms working less innings can’t help but be good.

    It also renders who the fifth starter is moot because no matter who it is, they will be successful. Especially with a rested bullpen to back up their starts.

    It would be a dominant team and probably too good for anybody to catch.

  121. Tom in NJ February 16th, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Wang to the Nat’s looks done:

    The #Nats have agreed to terms with right-hander Chien-Ming Wang. The #Nats have not confirmed the agreement

    http://twitter.com/washingnats/status/9192250454

  122. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Hoch: Looks like everything is wrapping up. Players leaving the field … Minor league workouts coming to a close. Cervelli took grounders @ SS
    less than 20 seconds ago from TweetDeck

  123. m February 16th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    However you rate Gardner’s defense, he’s still one of our better defenders.

    If he can hit, get used to seeing him out there.

  124. RayVT February 16th, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Erica – always OPPC
    February 16th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    LOL! I enjoy your comments!!

  125. blake February 16th, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    UZR is the most inaccurate stat of them all and becomes even more unreliable with small sample sizes. Gardner does take bad routes occasionally and has yet to prove that he won’t be overmatched by big league pitching. Some of this may be inexperience but there is also a chance that is just who he is as a player.

  126. Wave Your Hat February 16th, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    The Yanks signed Winn and Thames because they are worried about Gardner’s bat and Granderson’s ability to hit lefties, not Gardner’s glove.

    Gardner is an excellent defender. He will be an excellent defensive center fielder if the Yanks choose to play him there; he will be an excellent defensive left fielder if that’s where he plays.

    The question is can he hit enough to be a regular at either position. I think he will, but only time will tell.

  127. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes February 16th, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    It wasn’t a “few bad plays” last year. Even the Yankees acknowleded his routes to balls were bad last year.
    Sometimes, its because guys are playing for the first time in their lives in stadiums that have more than decks. That hurts depth perception.
    =====

    It does hurt depth perception, but that only explains running bad routes – not getting a bad or a slow break off the ball – also his problem at times in 2009.

    He has a lot of work to do.

  128. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes February 16th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    m
    February 16th, 2010 at 12:10 pm
    However you rate Gardner’s defense, he’s still one of our better defenders.
    If he can hit, get used to seeing him out there.
    ====

    He is, because of his speed. We also do not have particularly good OF defenders, so that’s not really saying all that much.

  129. Frank February 16th, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    “And saying joba’s stuff diminished last year after 75 ip is false. It was weak all of last year. He had one or two games where his fastball was there and his slider command was there but otherwise those two pitches were diminished all year long.”

    Generally agree, though his first 80 innings (3.89 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, .769 OPS against) did go a bit better than his second 80 (5.66 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, .835 OPS against in 77 IP).

  130. SJ44 February 16th, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    An elite defensive player is a player with plus range, plus arm, and plus ability to track and catch balls.

    Gardner, at least as of yet, only demonstrates plus range. He doesn’t track balls well and doesn’t have a good arm.

    The term “elite” when describing his defensive prowlness is not applicable.

  131. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes February 16th, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    He’ll be a better defensive LF than a CF. Dead center is his problem.

  132. G.R. February 16th, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    SJ at 12:03 -

    Absolutely great take on Gardner! So many of the plays he’s made in the outfield that “look” to be great are only that way because of his bad reads on the ball in the first place. It would be great if he could improve on that, but some things you just can’t teach. He’s a good option, but not even close to being “elite”.

  133. RayVT February 16th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Wave Your Hat
    February 16th, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Gardner is not an excellent defender. He has no arm! He takes bad routes. He turns the wrong direction quite often. He plays too deep to try & compensate for his poor judging of balls & more hits fall in. He stands flatfooted when catching balls instead of moving into the catch/throw. He flouders out there between fielders often yielding to the corner OF. He doesn’t have a feel for the dimensions of the park and warning track.

    The pros are he is really really fast and can make up for some of his mistakes. He can make some spectacular plays. He doesn’t appear to be afraid of the fence.

  134. m February 16th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    If we are asked to ignore a UZR of +16, then what do we do with UZR’s in the -2 to +2 range? Do we downgrade those as well? Or is UZR at least useful in ranking players?

  135. Rich in NJ February 16th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Gardner has a decent arm for CF and his ability to track flyballs improved over the course of the season. He got hurt making a stellar catch crashing into the wall that few CF would have caught.

    “He’ll be a better defensive LF than a CF.”

    You can say that about anyone, Granderson included.

  136. SJ44 February 16th, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Look at Joba’s splits last year. His stuff and effectiveness did diminish with more innings under his belt.

    Gardner is not an excellent defender. He may turn into one but, he sure wasn’t one last year.

    I agree with the poster who stated that Gardner is better off in LF than CF.

    Its easier for him to chase balls down the line and I like having both Granderson and Gardner not having to spin around and make throws from the left CF gap.

    If you reverse the two, both guys have to spin to make that throw. I don’t think that’s an optimum use of their talents.

  137. Rich in NJ February 16th, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    With very few exceptions, UZR dovetails with observation. It is flawless? No, but neither is observation.

  138. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes February 16th, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Tom in NJ
    February 16th, 2010 at 12:09 pm
    Wang to the Nat’s looks done:
    The #Nats have agreed to terms with right-hander Chien-Ming Wang. The #Nats have not confirmed the agreement
    http://twitter.com/washingnats/status/9192250454
    =======

    You make a grown man cry :(

  139. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes February 16th, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    …but GOOD for Wanger. All the luck in the world to him.

  140. m February 16th, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    bodhi,

    So it makes him the tallest midget. That says more about the other oufielders than himself.

    Don’t know when speed became a bad tool for an outfielder.

  141. Wave Your Hat February 16th, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Whether Gardner is “elite”, “excellent”, “exceptional”, “very good” or what have you is a semantic argument that others can enjoy if they like.

    The only real question is he, or can he become, a better center fielder than Granderson? I don’t think anyone knows for sure now but we’ll have a much better idea by the end of ST.

  142. Rich in NJ February 16th, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Wang made a very short-sighted decision.

  143. Rich in NJ February 16th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Joba’s stamina was compromised by the fact that he never fully regained arm strength after the shoulder injury.

  144. Frank February 16th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    “Wang made a very short-sighted decision.”

    Why do you say that?

  145. Erin February 16th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    New Post: An insight into the no-extensions policy

  146. RayVT February 16th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Gardner in LF could really be exciting!! Balls quite often slice to LF (or RF) and they can challenge the best of fielders. In CF usually the ball is hit straight, so Gardner having trouble with those reads makes it a bit disconcerting. I think he will struggle mightily in LF, thus the talk of playing him in CF. Personally, I believe Gardner will end up on the bench or another team before the season is half over if not before. I think it will be a mistake to take the best CF and move him to left. The best CF for the Yanks is Granderson.

  147. Rich in NJ February 16th, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    “Why do you say that?”

    Because I think his recovery will be slow and as a result he would have been better served by signing a mL contract. Of course, if he never recovers, he made the right decision.

  148. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes February 16th, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    He stands flatfooted when catching balls instead of moving into the catch/throw.
    =====

    He does have a disconcerting habit of extending his glove – thus slowing down his legs – as he approaches the ball. He doesn’t close well on it – which is a waste of the speed he enjoys in the first place.

    Let’s hope he can improve. Yes, whoever said it (sorry), he made a fabulous catch in Philadelphia.

  149. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes February 16th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    m
    February 16th, 2010 at 12:20 pm
    bodhi,
    So it makes him the tallest midget. That says more about the other oufielders than himself.
    Don’t know when speed became a bad tool for an outfielder.
    ====

    Speed is essential for CF. He has a ton of it, but he has some fundamental problems out there. Can he improve? Of course he can. But for my money, he HAS to improve to make the speed he has defensively more relevant – especially for CF.

    I think he will be plus running down the ball in the LCF gap, as he moves to the ball much better at an angle.

  150. Joe Monte February 16th, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    LOVE the WSP reference! Best live band in the country! That was the only music FOX used during the World Series when they ended each inning and into commercial.

  151. Bodhisattva - Destiny Wears Pinstripes February 16th, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Wave Your Hat
    February 16th, 2010 at 12:20 pm
    Whether Gardner is “elite”, “excellent”, “exceptional”, “very good” or what have you is a semantic argument that others can enjoy if they like.
    ====

    Wait a minute – you an others have provided the “semantics”? You’re using a hyperbole to describe this guy’s level of defense, and I am challenging it by telling you, with specific detail, why he doesn’t qualify as “excellent.”

    In fact, I have yet to see anyone in here, who waxes poetic about Gardner’s defensive abilities, respond to any of the specific criticisms of his outfield play (turning the wrong way, sticking his glove out, etc.).

    All that is offered is the chirping about UZR and UZR/150. Even the creator of this dubious metric admits at least 3 years are needed for it to be relevant.

  152. champ809 February 16th, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    The innings splits argument regarding Joba is flawed due to the fact that his last 30 innings or so came during the inane abbreviated starts period which skews all the #’s negatively.

    The Yanks I think in this case would be bestserved with Joba as the 5th starter and Hughes assuming the role that Aceves had last year as the 6th starter/long man where he may be asked to go 3-4 innings depending on the situation and his availability.

    Ace can move back to the 7th inning with DRob and D Marte handling the 8th depending on matchups!

    for ex. Andy’s gone 5 innings and is holding a 5-1 lead. Phil could take over in the 6th and maybe pitch the last 3 innings. In a role like that you’d be able to get him 100-120 innings and he’d be stretched out for 80-90 pitches and the hidden benefit of that would be allowing you to save some wear and tear on the arms of CC, AJ, and Pettite particularly the 1st 6-8 weeks of the season.
    Having to go at least 1 time through the lineup affords Phil the chance to use his entire arsenal of pitches including the change.

  153. Brad February 16th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Widespread Panic, the West Wing and the Yankees. Three cultural touchstones of my life. Thanks for keeping it interesting, guys. I was concerned when Pete jumped ship, but I now look forward to following the blog this season.

  154. The Dude February 16th, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    I see Joba bursting out of the gate, and winning the 5th starter job. I think Hughes will pitch well in Spring training, but will just miss out. I think the pen is good without Hughes or Chamberlain, especially in the early running. I would start Hughes in Scranton, and call him up if there’s an injury, or Joba falters down the line. I think Hughes would take a demotion better than Joba, and go about his business. Joba is a touchy subject. He’s a high strung personality, so you do have to watch how he perceives things. He could even take a demotion to the pen hard, if he falters as a starter. I just hope if the plan is to keep him a starter(and he’s happy), he can give us 6IP a game, and less than 4R.

    Does anyone else agree on Joba’s makeup?

  155. YankFanDave February 16th, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    1. Hughes #5 starter.
    2. Set-up man becomes Chamberlain.
    3. No, Gardy is platoon/stop gap LF.
    4. Granderson in CF.
    5. Johnson bats 2nd.
    6. Depends on #3, which means bye bye Hoffman.
    7. Would be nice but only one lefty in pen.
    8. Gaudin, Aceves & Robertson (no one beats them out), add Marte, Chamberlain and Melancon.
    9. Pena is super util. guy.
    10. See #2; Gaudin long man/spot starter; Marte pitches to all. Deep bull pen with all getting innings.

  156. Stephen Denner February 16th, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    Kudos to the Widespread Panic quote, my favorite blog just got better!

    ; )

    One of my favorite lines fron any song!

    “All the faces light up, as the heroes take the field.”

  157. Brendan February 16th, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    “there are only three candidates for the utility job: Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez, Kevin Russo and Reegie Corona.”

    Someone has a counting problem or needs an editor.

  158. Lisa February 17th, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Ah, baseball and Widespread Panic. It can’t get much better. I’ve been counting down the days (often on my FB statuses) ’til pitchers and catchers report since November, and here it is. On top of that you quoted my favorite band to commemorate the occasion. It is a good day. Cheers Chad and Sam, here’s to a great season.

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