Yankees Can’t Give Up on Brett Gardner


Brett Gardner has been the favorite target of disgruntled Yankees fans so far this season and it is easy to see why. After last night’s game in Toronto Gardner is hitting just .128 with a .388 OPS. On top of that he has failed in three of six stealing attempts and has been unproductive in at least being able to move runners over.

Like I said, it’s not hard to see why he’s become the latest whipping boy, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. In reality, dumping on Gardner and even going as far as some have to want to see him sent down to the minors is just being a lazy fan.

As bad as he’s been, by calling for his head so early fans are ignoring the fact that he’s barely played at all this season. He’s played in just 15 games and logged only 47 at bats. What he’s in right now is a slump, to think that he won’t be able to return to his averages that he’s established over the past two seasons displays an extreme lack of understanding even basic statistics.

Things have been bad for sure, real bad, but it’s early and he’s been working on things. Hitting coach Kevin Long has identified a problem in his swing where he hasn’t used to bottom half of his body as much as he had last season. Joe Girardi has also noted that his timing is off. These are typical reasons to struggle early in the year when a player hasn’t had enough at bats to get his swing and his timing down 100 percent. It’ll get there, but the fact that it hasn’t after just 47 at bats is not alarming at all.

Maybe after 100-150 at bats, if he hasn’t shown any improvement at all it’ll be time to start looking at sitting Gardner here or there while he figures things out. Even then, who is going to replace him?

Andruw Jones is the obvious first candidate, but he is not an attractive one. Jones hasn’t been a regular player since 2007 and there is a good reason he isn’t playing that much anymore. If he starts playing everyday against right handed pitching his numbers will fall through the floor.

The other options in the minors are not attractive as everyday players. Chris Dickerson, Justin Maxwell, and Greg Golson might be decenth fourth or fifth outfielders, but would be over-matched as starters. The Yankees also can’t trade for another outfielder as they need their resources to improve their pitching staff much more than they would need to replace Gardner.

Just look at how Carl Crawford is doing in Boston. He’s hitting .143 with a .356 OPS in 15 games with 63 at bats. Nobody is really worried about him, people shouldn’t worry about Gardner either. At this point it is not anything more than a slow start.

About Rob Abruzzese

Rob Abruzzese created Bronx Baseball Daily in 2008 just before graduating from Brooklyn College. He currently serves BBD as its editor and works as a reporter at the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobAbruzzese.

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40 Responses to Yankees Can’t Give Up on Brett Gardner

  1. Bronx Knight says:

    Thanks for this post, Rob. Gardner's slump is worrisome but it's good to keep things in perspective.

    • Hiram says:

      It's not about being a lazy fan and keeping things in perspective.

      If hughes went to the DL and he'll be throwing in minors, so Rob why is Gardner so special to not do the same?

      Right now he is hurting the team, so he can go to scranton, practice with Long, adjust some things and then he could comeback

      • Frank Spero says:

        so what do you do put andrUe SNAIL inhis place every time a hit goes to left i hold my breath till he catches up to it and his hitting isn't any better especially onbase another posada

  2. af says:

    The thing with Gardner is that he has always seemed overmatched. He had a great year last season, but you couldn't shake the feeling that he was somehow playing way over his head and it wasn't going to last. So now it seems like it hasn't lasted.

  3. Hardcore Yankee Fan says:

    While I agree with your sentiments in being patient with Gardner, I'm not exactly sure what "he’s established over the past two seasons". His last two years basically comes down to a strong first half last year that could be considered just a hot stretch. Take that out and he has been either a well below average hitter or even downright horrendous. We could excuse the second half last year possibly due to injury but you never know how much of the performance is truly related to injuries.

    Bottom line, while we should be patient, Gardner in no way is an established player, and certainly not comparable to Crawford, whose one of the most overrated players anyway.

  4. The Pirate says:

    Gardner it's a good defensive outfield, he can play the 3 positions, he is fast and play hard but NYY need to play Andrw Jones full time until Gardner get going again,at this moment he is a sure out every time he come at bat, Last night his performance was horrible.

    • David K. says:

      That's right. He's such an automatic out right now, he has to sit for awhile. He made the two biggest outs in that game. He made a terrible bunt and got Martin caught in between. He then compounded that by getting thrown out stealing. Later he struck out with the bases loaded and Jays pitching on the ropes. Conversely, the Jays got the big hits when they needed. Even the worst slumping hitter in their lineup got the bit hit to win the game.

  5. john says:

    I agree He will get tonight off with the lefty going but he has to learn how to bunt that was god awful last night. He will come around with a larger sample size to judge from.

  6. Franco Kotos says:

    Gardner needs to hit, plain and simple…his average is around .128…when Mantle went into slumps he'd occasionally look to bunt his way out of it but Gardner's no Mickey Mantle…he's a weak hitting outfielder who may have had a career year in 2010…let him figure this out at AAA…

  7. Franco Kotos says:

    I'd also say that Posada needs to turn things around quick or give someone else a shot at the DH…you could go a month or two with Tex not hitting well (2009 and 2010), knowing that he's a big producer but Posada is on his way out…he can still deliver a clutch hit but if he can't bring up his average considerably, he should be a bench player…bring up Montero as DH and give him the backup job…

  8. Yankee Lover says:

    Brett Gardner has to stop looking at the first strike and then the second. It seems he is always hitting in the hole and swings defensively at every time at bat. Is it trying to locate the zone with the so called good eye or is he constantly being fooled. When your slumping as Gardner is, your head becomes involved in your failures and the failures start showing up elsewhere i.e. stealing bases.

  9. Packer says:

    I agree with the assessmet that he is in a slump. That being said it isn't just the slump. It's how he looks in the slump. He takes way too many pitches right down the pipe for called strike three. When he runs the bases in a straight steal, he always looks back at the catcher causing him to lose stride a tad. He even looked back the other night against Toronto with two out. Why? I too firmly believe he will come around but the way he looks now it is almost like he has forgotten everything he did before. He is not aggressive at the plate. Once he conquers that, his confidence level will rise. He also needs to work on his bunting, big time. For a man with his speed, he should be able to do that at will. Let's hope he rebounds soon.

    The Yankees are good enough that they can be patient with him and let him play his way out of it. A lot of teams don't have that luxury and that is to Garnder's benefit. Let's Go Brett!

  10. MarkG says:

    This issue with Gardner may be bigger than just him. I looked at the batting average history of the starting line-up. Jeter, Granderson, Teixeira, Arod and Posada each had their worst average in 2010 in their entire careers! Canoe and Swisher each had very good years for 2010. Swisher is not hitting yet this year though. Except for Arod and Canoe the rest of the starting lineup is not good again so far in 2011. If I'm management I have to look at the hitting coach. 91 million was given to these players and they had their worst hitting season. They let the pitching coach go last year because of basically one pitching performance – the rest weren't bad. So how (Long) will this hitting issue continue? They all can't be that bad. So, what do we do – Let's take Jeter's stride into the ball away – which is exactly what Gardner is doing. Front foot goes up and comes down before the ball gets to him and then he swings with his upper body. Anybody that has played baseball seriously can pick up on it over the TV coverage. We need change.

    • I don't think anyone needs to question what type of a hitting coach Kevin Long is. He's one of the best in the game. He can't hit for these guys.

      • highlander64 says:

        Let me be one of the first to question Kevin Long then…the Yankees have a great hitting lineup…that has little to do with Long and a lot to do with money spent…i'll give you Granderson…Long may be good but the best in the game is a questionable statement…let's see what he can do with Jeter, Gardner and Posada…

  11. Hiram says:

    So you said Brett Gardner is more productive than Melky even if he hits .150 all season long.

    Did you see Melky's walk-off today

    • Have you seen Melky's entire career? The guy is on fire right now and his OPS is still just .710. Just wait until he gives up on the season and his OPS drops back down to .650. Pass.

      • The Pirate says:

        Yes, in reference to their career batting average it's the following; Melky Ave. 267 Hr 41 RBI 282 OBP .327 ; Gardner Ave, 260, HR 8, RBI 88 OBP .350 ¿With this performance ¿who ity's the best?

        • Comparing counting numbers like HR's, RBI's doesn't prove one way or another who the better player is. Also, using batting average to compare two players isn't very helpful either.

          Melky's OBP of .327 is bad. Gardner's of .350 is pretty good.

      • David K. says:

        I'm surprised that so many people knock Melky Cabrera. He was a decent player and he was pretty clutch. I was sorry to see him traded away. More than anything, his biggest contribution was that he could make contact and sometimes get a hit in clutch situations. Something that most of the guys in the Yankee lineup are utterly incapable of doing. These guys play home run derby but can't get a single in a game winning situation if their lives depend on it. Other than A-Rod or Cano, I have no confidence in their ability to deliver in a clutch spot.

    • The Pirate says:

      It was the ninth time in Cabrera's career that he delivered

      a hit to win a game in walkoff fashion, all since 2006 (his first full season in the majors). ¿ How many walkoff Gardner have in his career?

      • Paul Knopick says:

        Who remembers a fellow named Bubba Crosby. Hit .276 in 2005, albeit with little power, and looked like he might be nice fourth outfielder, at least. Hit .207 the next year, when pitchers figured him out, and was out of baseball. This what we're looking at with Gardner?

      • How many walkoffs you have has no baring on how good of a ball player you are. Generally it is just a matter of circumstance and luck.

        Melky could have 20 more walkoff hits this year and it wouldn't make him a better player.

        • Franco Kotos says:

          that makes no sense to me Rob…if you're in the position and produce consistently, you become a clutch hitter…Melky was clutch…in some ways you can say that about Cervelli too who had some clutch hits to drive in runs in 2010..

          • Franco Kotos says:

            sorry, make that 2009…

          • The problem is that you are placing too much importance on the 9th inning. One RBI in the 9th inning is not more important to the runs scored or not scored in innings 1-8.

            If Brett Gardner produces better than Melky in innings 1-8, that's way better than 2 or 3 walkoff hits per year.

          • Franco Kotos says:

            you're making the assumption that I'm talking only about walk-off hits…let me make it a little clearer, walk-offs are just part of what makes a ballplayer clutch…Melky was the type of player that drove in those go ahead runs with 2 outs in the mid to late part of the game with more consistency then others imo…like I said, Cervelli has a knack for that as well…if I was just talking about walk-offs, your comments would be correct…

  12. Mike S. says:

    I remember Bubba. Gardner has far more talent than Bubba ever had. Just not getting the most of it at present.

    • Mike S. says:

      Bubba was a .216 hitter with 9 SB in 250 AB. Gardner is going badly, but can get 9 sb in two weeks if he gets on a hot streak. He's doing badly, but he isn't a .216 hitter. (or .128 for that matter). Crosby's .216 was an accurate reflection.

  13. Franco Kotos says:

    I would say right now, Bubba Crosby looks like an upgrade over Gardner. I remember Bubba, good comparison Paul…Gardner has more upside potential then Bubba had but not if he keeps hitting .128…let's see how fast he can get to .228 this early in the season…if he goes on a 10 for 15 tear, he might be there…

    • Mike S. says:

      Actually, if Gardner goes 10 for his next 15 (just saying), he would then be at .262, which is about where we'd have expected him to be, while hoping for higher than that. The sooner a hot streak comes, the better.

      A good reminder that I read yesterday. After games of May 25, 2004, Derek Jeter was hitting .189. That's MAY 25, not April.

      Jeter, of course, is not lighting it up right now, either. But it just may be that we should have more confidence in Gardner turning it around than Jeter.

      • Franco Kotos says:

        Mike, i haven't been watching too many of the games but i hear that Gardner's getting good wood on the ball at least…i was really hoping that he'd be the answer for a decent leadoff guy…i just remember Mickey Rivers followed by Willie Randolph…i'd even say Jeter and Damon filled that role…Randolph never got the limelight but he was a major sparkplug…

  14. Melky's overall OPS is .708 which is below league average and bad. To call him clutch would be to suggest that in important situations he would be good, or at the very least better.

    Unfortunately Melky hits worse with RISP – .689. He can't hit in 2-out situations – OPS of .662. He can't hit at all with 2-Outs and RISP – OPS of .620. In "Late and Close" situations he's slightly worse than usualy – OPS of .701.

    To sum up, Melky starts out bad and then in big situations he gets a little worse. He's just happened to have lucked out and won a couple of games in the 9th inning and now people are being tricked into thinking that he's somehow clutch.

    • The Pirate says:

      Rob, This is my first year using this media to track the comments of the fans and yours, my appreciation for the opportunity. In the particular case of Melky vs. Gardner my opinion it's that neither one shall be consider as regular players for NYY. Mr. Cashman shall be looking for replacement as soon as possible.

      Taking advantage of your bast knowledge of major league baseball, my question is the following ¿ Do you have names to replace Gardner if he continue with his poor performance?

  15. Franco Kotos says:

    The last we saw of Melky Cabrera he was a 25 year old kid putting up excellent numbers for a guy hitting at the bottom third of the order…he wasn't a power hitter but he drove in 68 with 485 at bats…that kind of production speaks to something he brought that 2009 team and many of those rbi's were important, not tack on…his OPS in 2009 was a very respectable .752…going beyond the numbers and stats were the important run producing hits in 2009 that made him a very valuable player on that team…i'd say that Melky's game 2 winning hit against the Angels in 2009 was no gimme…he was doing it all year long, game winning and just finding ways to drive in runs…that doesn't make him a superstar but he was clutch for that 2009 team…your definition of clutch appears to be different then mine…

  16. Susan says:

    He’s just happened to have lucked out and won a couple of games in the 9th inning and now people are being tricked into thinking that he’s somehow clutch

    Sounds a lot like Derek Jeter, who's not nearly as clutch as what most people think. But those big hits early in his career in the playoffs, along with a ridiculously over the top media, gave the myth that he's somehow Jordan, Bird, Rivera, Elway, Montana and Reggie Jackson all rolled into one in clutch situations.

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