These days, Brett Gardner is wearing a massive brace on his right arm. It keeps his arm being fully extended, which seems like an extreme step for a strain and a bone bruise, but considering he’s had two setbacks already, maybe it’s a necessary precaution.
“Even though we have played extremely well as of late, we have missed him,” Joe Girardi said. “We miss his ability to create runs. We miss his defense in left field. We miss a lot of things. I’m looking forward to getting him back.”
Can I make one request concerning Gardner’s absence? Can we stop being outraged when a ball drops that he might have caught?
A team inevitably loses something when a player goes on the disabled list. A designated hitter is usually kept out of the field for a reason. A backup is usually on the bench for a reason. A Triple-A player is usually tucked away in the minors for a reason.
Plan B is never as good as Plan A. If it is, it’s Plan A that’s flawed, not Plan B.
Yes, Ibanez is not nearly as good of a defensive left fielder as Gardner. Neither is Andruw Jones. But who is? Gold Glove or not, Gardner just might be the best defensive left fielder in baseball, and what makes him special is his ability to cover a lot of ground. Of course there are balls he could get to that Ibanez can’t. It’s one of the things the Yankees are missing while Gardner’s on the DL.
To moan each time a ball goes out of Ibanez’s reach is to underappreciate Gardner. It’s to suggest that every corner outfielder should have such range, and it’s just not true.
Ibanez is not an elite defensive player, but he’s certainly a passable defensive outfielder. That’s what the Yankees wanted him to be when they signed him. He was signed for his bat. His glove a backup plan, and with Gardner on the disabled list, the Yankees are losing some speed and defense.
It’s not an outrage. Given the circumstances, it just comes with the territory.
Associated Press photo