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


Thursday notes: Yankees downplay upcoming outfield decision

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Feb 21, 2013 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

When the Yankees outfield went to shag fly balls this afternoon, Curtis Granderson went to left field and Brett Gardner went to center. But after a few plays, Gardner shifted to right field, Granderson went to center and Ichiro Suzuki moved to left. A minute or two later, Ichiro moved to center, and both Granderson and Gardner were in right. On Twitter, I wrote that the Yankees had to be messing with us. I was kidding. Turns out, I was also right.

“We noticed a couple of you guys noticed when we were out there,” Gardner said. “So we tried to move me to right and Ichiro to center so you guys would really figure something weird was going on.”

Clearly the Yankees are doing all the right things to diffuse the situation — both Granderson and Gardner seem to be legitimate team-first guys who won’t make a fuss one way or the other — but it’s obviously a bit awkward. There’s no way to look at it other than the Yankees believing Gardner is a better center fielder than Granderson, and whether right or wrong, that can’t be an easy reality for Granderson.

“I’d love to play center,” Granderson said. “That’s what I’ve been playing. But at the same time, I just want to play in general. No matter where it happens to be, that’s where I want to be at. … I have played (left field) before, but it’s been a while, so I’ll have to get some balls back out there just to see how things are going. Just work with the lights, the sun and the angles, different things like that. And all of that just comes with getting repetitions.”

Granderson has played 22 major league games in left field, but he hasn’t been there in a regular season game since 207. He played left field 105 times in the minors, but almost all of those came a decade ago in Class A or lower. Gardner, on the other hand, has played center field 197 times in the majors — including the final game of last year’s American League Championship Series — and he was always considered a strong center fielder in the minors.

Basically, the change is going to hinge on Granderson more than it hinges on Gardner. Granderson has to be able to play left field. There’s little reason to doubt Gardner can play center.

“How they play individually, but how the tandem works together in covering from right-center all the way over,” Joe Girardi said. “Reads on the ball, jumps on the ball, throws, decision making, everything. … I don’t know how much defensive metrics are going to give me (to help make the decision). For me, it’s visual, and just something I thought might help us.”

• So Saturday is our first chance to see this new outfield. Who’s going to be in center field when the Yankees open the spring schedule? “I think Melky Mesa,” Girardi said. Oh, well, that doesn’t help.

• Actually, Girardi said he wants to get Mesa in some early games because Mesa has been added to the Dominican Republic roster for the World Baseball Classic. Shortstop Gil Velazquez is also going to play in the WBC for Team Mexico. Girardi said he was pretty sure lefty Juan Cedeno is also going to play, but I didn’t see Cedeno in the clubhouse to make sure.

• Also making Saturday’s road trip: Both Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira. “I think Robbie is scheduled to play six out of the (first) eight games, and Tex is five out of the eight,” Girardi said. That’s an attempt to get them plenty of playing time before they leave for the WBC.

• Didn’t see Phil Hughes today, but Girardi said Hughes felt better today. “Good sign,” Girardi said.

• Also feeling better is reliever Mark Montgomery who came through today’s workout with no problems with his back. He’s still scheduled to throw a bullpen tomorrow.

• J.R. Murphy was hit in the side during a fielding drill — I didn’t see it, but I was told he was not participating in the drill when a bad throw hit him — but he’s apparently fine. Girardi said there were no injuries today. That’s one of those no-news-is-good-news situations.

• Girardi said Vidal Nuno is probably going to start the third game of spring training (David Phelps and Adam Warren are starting the first two). Girardi guessed that the regular big league starters probably won’t get in games until the first week of March.

• Talked to Triple-A hitting coach Butch Wynegar for a while today. Add him to the list of people raving about Ramon Flores. Wynegar said his nickname for Flores is “Bobby” because Flores reminds him of Bobby Abreu. Just has a knack for hitting.

• Also impressing Wynegar this spring: First baseman Kyle Roller. Wynegar likes his mature approach in the cage.

• My own observation from today: I can see why the Yankees like Cito Culver. I realize he hasn’t hit much, but he was pretty slick during fielding drills. And he wasn’t even really fielding balls. He was simply moving from shortstop to cover second base while the team was practicing 1-6-3 double plays. He’s very quick and fluid making that catch, transfer and release.

• Another observation: Corban Joseph spent some time going through drills with Kevin Youkilis at third base this morning. Youkilis was talking to him the entire time, seemed to be especially explaining his approach to charging bunts.

• Today’s random clubhouse conversation was with Shane Greene, the 24-year-old starter who pitched in Tampa last year. He’s overshadowed in this organization, but he’s a tall kid, and while I was talking to him I remembered that one position player — honestly can’t remember who — was talking earlier in the week about facing Greene early in spring training as if it were entirely unfair because of his huge fastball. Greene said he had Tommy John in 2008 and returned from the surgery suddenly throwing in the low to mid 90s (he’d never been above 89 before the surgery). First time he faced hitters after Tommy John was at a pre-draft workout with the Yankees, who drafted him a few weeks later. This whole thing happened incredibly fast for him, but the fact he’s in big league camp tells you he has the Yankees attention.

Associated Press photos

 
 

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25 Responses to “Thursday notes: Yankees downplay upcoming outfield decision”

  1. blake February 21st, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    I do think the Yanks are smart by seeing how Granderson adjusts to LF before making a decision……but I doubt it’ll be a problem for him

  2. Shame Spencer February 21st, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Ultimately if a team needs a CF in the off season, they aren’t going to overlook Grandy just because the Yankees moved him for one season out of his entire career.

    But this isn’t just about this year. You have to assume Gardner is your CF in 2014.

  3. randy l. February 21st, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    “But this isn’t just about this year. You have to assume Gardner is your CF in 2014.”

    after which he’s a free agent.

    it’s a never ending vicious cycle.

    poor hal.

    it’s all so challenging.maybe he should just quit :)

  4. Rich in NJ February 21st, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Small differences in performance probably matter more this season than few in recent memory. They have no choice but to maximize every possible advantage. Personal feelings can’t be allowed to matter.

  5. Nilsson February 21st, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    I don’t blame Grandy for being disappointed. He’s been playing center most of his career and he’s a competitor like everyone else. I’m pretty sure though he’ll be professional. He ain’t Gary Sheffield. He won’t sulk.

    The possible transition to corner outfield won’t be too difficult for him. Especially after playing the most difficult outfield position. It’s like a shortstop transitioning to other infield positions.

  6. randy l. February 21st, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    if the yankees weren’t going to extend granderson right away they shouldn’t have made the effing trade for him.

    seriously , the yankees are about two or three years late n too many things.

    why be proactive?

    why not put off today what you can also put off tomorrow.

  7. blake February 21st, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Grandys value for next year is much more so tied to his bat….hitting the 35 homers and improving his BA and cutting the Ks than what position he plays …..

    I think it’s possible that Granderson could become somewhat undervalued going into the winter….

  8. blake February 21st, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    @Joelsherman1: A-Rod update quote thru spokesman “Right now I’m dedicating 100% of my energy and focus on my rehabilitation (cont) #Yankees

    @Joelsherman1: “I am conducting two rehab sessions each and every day in an effort to get back on the field and rejoin my #Yankees teammates (cont)

    @Joelsherman1: I think we have a great team and I want to be a part of it.”

    @Joelsherman1: Spokesman said A-Rod working in NY rehabbing surgically repaired hip under supervision of Dr. Brian Kelly and his trainer Pete Draovitch

    Joel really needs to find a way to link this stuff to another site where he can just say it all at once

  9. Jerkface February 21st, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Joel really needs to find a way to link this stuff to another site where he can just say it all at once

    You mean like Sulia? Maybe he can sweet a link to his sulia which contains an excerpt from his blog which is a transcript of his podcast which is a reading from his book.

  10. Rich in NJ February 21st, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    It may be that AVG and 2B are more important stats for Granderson’s value than HR, in relative terms. He needs to show that he can be a .260ish hitter again and hit around 25 2B.

  11. Yankee Trader February 21st, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Randy-
    I thought Hal has seen the light of preseason decreased ticket sales.

    With regards to Granderson who has the better arm, Gardner or him?

  12. Yankee Trader February 21st, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Rich-
    It’s unlikely that Granderson’s batting average will improve unless he can learn to beat the shift.

  13. blake February 21st, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    “You mean like Sulia? Maybe he can sweet a link to his sulia which contains an excerpt from his blog which is a transcript of his podcast which is a reading from his book.”

    Yea is that what Feinsand does?

  14. Rich in NJ February 21st, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    YT

    I’m not saying it’s likely. My point is that if he wants to convince prospective employers that his offensive value isn’t primarily a function of YS park effects, that would be a way to do that.

  15. randy l. February 21st, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    “I thought Hal has seen the light of preseason decreased ticket sales.”

    hal has seen he can spin signing cano without actually having to sign cano. it buys him 18 months.

    to tell you the truth i don’t care much about granderson because the yankees have already decided to not sign him next year. i don’t care where they put him.

  16. Shame Spencer February 21st, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    There’s a thing called WhoSay and TwitLonger that link straight to Twitter.. someone should tell Joel. This sounds like a job for Fake Peter Gammons.

  17. Yankee Trader February 21st, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Rich
    There was an interesting article last year in the USA Today baseball weekly on the Madden shift and how Granderson is affected.
    Just about every ground ball that he hits on the ground to the right side is an out.
    Making matters worse the Tampa Bay Rays and the Baltimore Orioles use the shift more than any other team.

  18. Nilsson February 21st, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Grandy’s BABIP last season was the lowest of his career. It’s a good bet there’s a correction coming his way this season particularly to his batting average. He’s likely due for regression to his career norm.

    Plus it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a similar campaign like he had in 2011, when he was an MVP candidate.

  19. Rich in NJ February 21st, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    YT

    There is little doubt that being too pull-conscious is limiting Granderson’s offensive upside, and that it started before he got to NY. So we’re really talking about the same thing, his approach at the plate being the cause, and the AVG and 2B, the effect.

    Despite what Cashman wants to pretend, we all like HR, but not at the expense of almost everything else.

  20. G. Love February 21st, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    No Rich, you can only have HR’s. There’s no such things as HR’s plus average and on base skills anymore. Just home runs or no home runs. There’s no grey area. If you want more than HR’s, you get nothing and like it!

  21. Chip February 21st, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    I can’t stand Granderson’s approach at the plate. He’s Adam Dunn without the ability to get on base but with better defensive ability.

    Yes, home runs are great and Granderson hits a lot of them. But if he doesn’t go yard he doesn’t get on base and he doesn’t even make productive outs – as we saw in the playoffs – just throw him three curveballs in the dirt and he’ll swing at all three.

  22. Chip February 21st, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    G. Love February 21st, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    No Rich, you can only have HR’s. There’s no such things as HR’s plus average and on base skills anymore. Just home runs or no home runs. There’s no grey area. If you want more than HR’s, you get nothing and like it!
    —————-

    This is why I was actually happy that Ibanez and Martin were let go. Yes, both guys hit for power, but neither one had any on base skills – Travis Hafner has great power and on base ability. And Romine is the gap hitter that Martin should have been.

  23. blake February 21st, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    “Grandy’s BABIP last season was the lowest of his career. ”

    K’s don’t correct though and the shift was at least part of it as well…..problem is that his 2012 was actually a lot closer to what he’s been in his career than his 2011 was…..Id expect maybe a marginal improvement in BA….but I think what we saw last year is pretty much what he is now most likely

  24. pat February 21st, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Navy_58
    Whole Team by Navy 58: http://youtu.be/OHIVedfs7Jw?a via @YouTube

    Track 2 from lil Dante and Mason

  25. Frankg February 22nd, 2013 at 11:53 am

    Shane Greene is the potential replacement for Chamberlin, who in my opinion doesn’t fit the Yankees’ personality profile. He needs to grow up and put less emphasis on his needs, and the Yankees could help with some tuff love. He’s probably less well-accepted than he thinks.


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