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Yankees first-half missing piece: Brett Gardner

It’s the Yankees pitching staff that’s been truly crushed by injuries this season. They haven’t seen a single pitch from of Michael Pineda or Joba Chamberlain, Mariano Rivera won’t be back until next season, Andy Pettitte’s going to miss the next month and a half, Dave Robertson missed a month and CC Sabathia has missed two starts.

But because of Rafael Soriano, Phil Hughes, Boone Logan and lately Freddy Garcia, the Yankees have filled each and every pitching void. Clearly they’ve missed these guys, but they’ve weathered that storm.

What the Yankees have been unable to replace is the playing style of left fielder Brett Gardner.

The Yankees lineup is built on power hitters, and that’s been an effective strategy. But the power has disappeared from time to time, and when that’s happened, the Yankees have struggled to manufacture runs. That’s when they miss Gardner. Without him or Eduardo Nunez, the Yankees have lacked a regular stolen base threat. Gardner is a unique player on this roster, and that’s made him hard to replace (it doesn’t help that Gardner’s left veterans Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez to play the field a little more than expected).

“He was different,” manager Joe Giradri said. “You miss his speed element and how he was able to create runs. His defense. He’s a really good player.”

Gardner’s certainly not as significant a loss as Rivera or Sabathia, but he’s the one player the Yankees haven’t been able to quite replace with a similar type of production.

Associated Press photo

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Posted by on July 11, 2012.

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