"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Scrappy Doo

Can the Yankees win with Brett Gardner as their starting left fielder? Why certainly.

Dave Cameron weighs in:

we should not be so surprised that New York is bargain shopping in left field, avoiding the likes of Matt Holliday and Jason Bay. They are at the other end of the win curve, and it doesn’t make much sense to spend a lot of money there either. The marginal value of the 101st, 102nd, and 103rd win in terms of playoff odds is really quite small. And that’s approximately the upgrade that Holliday would represent over the current production that Gardner offers in left field.

The Yankees have entered the prime area of significant diminishing marginal utility. They are so good that adding another high quality player doesn’t help them that much in 2010, and because of the long term contract that is required, they’d be risking future flexibility to add wins that may actually matter for an upgrade that just isn’t necessary.

It’s a rational decision made by smart people who understand just how good their roster currently is. In the past, New York has pursued every big ticket free agent on the market because they represented a real, tangible improvement in their quest to bring home another championship. Given how well Brian Cashman has put together this roster, though, a big ticket left fielder is superfluous. He’s right to keep his money locked up. They just don’t need another good player.

Share: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email %PRINT_TEXT


1 a.O   ~  Dec 30, 2009 11:35 am


But will he play left or center?

2 Chyll Will   ~  Dec 30, 2009 11:54 am

Hmm, I kinda wonder what Granderson would look like playing in, say, centerfield? Is that a reach?

3 a.O   ~  Dec 30, 2009 11:57 am

No, it's a reach-around.

4 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 30, 2009 12:11 pm

I prefer Brett in CF and I agree with the article.
What's most important to me is the possibility of having (another) cost controlled starter... even if he is a marginal player.
At $8m/yr average per player:
signing AJ means 1 'free' player to balance his salary
signing CC means almost 2 'free' players to balance his salary
signing Tex means almost 2 'free' players to balance his salary
signing ARod means 2+ 'free' players to balance his salary
signing Jeter means 1+ 'free' players to balance his salary

You get the idea.
Our Free players are a supporting cast, and while they may have minimal production, conceptually, thay are as important as ARod and CC, because they allow us to pay ARod and CC (and the others)

The Yankees are already at the top of their budget.
If you do the numbers for 2011 and 2012, you will see there is very little coming off the books that doesn't need to be replaced in kind. For example, losing Andy and Javy allows us to sign a 'Cliff Lee'.

The only 'Free' money I see in the next 2 years is when Posada retires and we can replace him inhouse (w/Montero Romine).

If Brett can be one of our OFers, it really helps Cashman, who has little cash to play with over the next 2 years.

5 Paul   ~  Dec 30, 2009 12:30 pm
6 Mattpat11   ~  Dec 30, 2009 12:33 pm

Brett Gardner still hurts my soul. But whatever. As long as we don't decide he needs to be a top two hitter when someone gets a day off. We did that last year

7 Alex Belth   ~  Dec 30, 2009 12:37 pm

5) Yeah, I saw that. Man, that's the kind of book that makes my head hurt. Academics pontificating on The Big Lebowski. But I'm just being a snob. Perhaps there is some good stuff in there. Joel and Ethan are smiling over this, I'll tell you that.

8 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 30, 2009 1:05 pm

Can the Yankees win Brett Gardner? Sure. But that's not really saying much. The question is how much more likely are they to win with Gardner versus a better player. The comments section of Cameron's post details a long list of flaws in his logic, but the two main ones are: (1) it defines marginal value in terms of regular season wins (i.e., making the playoffs), but not winning the World Series; and (2) assumes a best case scenario (i.e., no one gets injured or underperforms). Adding a Holliday has major "insurance value", which increases in marginal value as a "less than best case" unfolds.

The only reasons the Yankees should settle on Gardner is because they either have a budget, don't value the potential replacements or really covet another option in 2011. Making that decision based on marginal value of regular season wins in a best case scenario is foolish for a team with the Yankees resources.

9 RagingTartabull   ~  Dec 30, 2009 1:16 pm

on a mythical plain somewhere between Valhalla and the Elysian Fields there is a Yankee team where Brett Gardner, Bubba Crosby, Andy Phillips, and Miguel Cairo get to be starters.

Who the f*ck are the Knutsens?

10 MichiganYankee   ~  Dec 30, 2009 1:20 pm

An outfield of Granderson/Swisher/Gardner doesn't scare me too much, even if Gardner is in LF. After all, if you have a centerfielder who hits like a left fielder, you can certainly carry a left fielder who hits like a centerfielder.

What scares me is:
- #4 outfielder: Jamie Hoffman
- #5 outfielder: Colin Curtis

That's where a Mark DeRosa would have come in handy. Cashman, in defending the Vazquez trade, said that a left fielder is easier to find than a pitcher. Go find one, Cash, and I'm not talking about Jerry Hairston, Jr.

I would have rather gone with Hughes and Joba in the rotation with one or two low-risk/high-reward options (Sheets, Duchserer, Wang) for insurance/depth while leaving more payroll flexibility for the outfield.

11 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 30, 2009 1:25 pm

[8] I would say Budget and payroll flexibility over the upcoming years. Holliday would be great as he really is a perfect fit. Crawford, while a very nice player, is a career .335 OBP guy with a 103 OPS+. Even using wOBA (with includes SBs/CS%), he rates a .343 - a smidge above average.

I don't believe Cashman is passing on Holliday to wait for Carl.
I don't believe Cashman buys the 'marginal value' argument, as he knows injuries and subpar performances happen.
I believe it is simply about Payroll controll, for this year and the next few years.

Cashman knows what I know.
We must have some cost controlled players on this team.
Gardner is Melky's replacement, and at a savings of millions of dollars over the next 4 years... should Brett make it that far.
I don't think Brett outperforming Melky... considering O, D and speed is that far a reach. We can talk about Melky's POTENTIAL, but his performance is a 88 OPS+ and a poor .316 wOBA. I believe Brett can outperform Melky, and give us one more all-important cost controlled player.

But whatever folly this might turn out to be, Cashman will fix it mid-season. Cashman still has plenty of bullets. Out April roster will not be our PS roster.

12 RagingTartabull   ~  Dec 30, 2009 1:36 pm

I really believe that with every passing day he remains unsigned the chances of Damon coming back increase greatly

13 OldYanksFan   ~  Dec 30, 2009 1:46 pm

SG over at RLYW has some LH/RH lineup projections and says:

"For all the consternation about going into the season with a TSBG(Gardner)/Hoffmann platoon in LF, once we factor in baserunning and defense it's really not a bad thing. If we assume that TSBG will get 450 PAs and Hoffmann 225, that's a collective wOBA of around .334, which is a run or so better than a league average hitter. I've got a league average LF projected to have around a .338 wOBA, which makes a 675 PA TSBG/Hoffmann platoon about three runs below average with the bat. Add their projected 44 SB/11 CS to that and you get another 5.5 runs of offensive value. That makes them essentially league average, or 2.0 wins above replacement. Add in defense and they could potentially be 3 or 3.5 WAR."

14 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 30, 2009 2:10 pm

[13] That's all well and good, but I don't put much weight in projections based on very few MLB at bats.

15 RagingTartabull   ~  Dec 30, 2009 2:34 pm

over at LoHud Borden's ranked this decade's Yankee teams, good conversation starter.

1. 2009 – This ranking (along with the worst team) would seem to be the most obvious.
2. 2001 – Normally I’d say World Series champs HAVE to be at the top of the list but the ‘01 team won more games, scored more runs and allowed fewer than the ‘00 team while coming – literally – one pitch away from the title. To me, that’s enough to trump. Admittedly, it’s a controversial ranking.
3. 2000 – Subway champs but only 87 wins and a (relatively) small run-differential.
4. 2003 – If not for David Wells (and Jeff Weaver and Josh Beckett), this team would have been champs.
5. 2002 – This was my first year covering baseball in New York and I still remember how stunned I was to see the Yankees get run out by the Angels in the ALDS. This team had a plus-200 (!) run-differential and won 103 games. Their flameout remains a massive disappointment.
6. 2006 – Very, very solid year. Very disappointing October bust.
7. 2007 – I know this team finished second in the AL East; I still think they beat any of the teams below them in a seven-game series (with regularity, too). Terrific offense.
8. 2004 – Will always be remembered for the epic collapse but 101 wins obscures the difficulty of the regular season.
9. 2005 – Oldest team of the decade. Average age of hitters was 32, of pitchers was 34. On a related note, this was Randy Johnson’s first year.
10. 2008 – No explanation necessary.

16 williamnyy23   ~  Dec 30, 2009 2:58 pm

[15] I'd actually put 2003 in the #2 slot. The team has a higher run differential per game than in 2001 (.99 vs. .57) and also won an epic ALCS.

I'd leave the 2000 in the #3 slot even though it had a poor run differential. The reason for that is because I strongly remember the Yankees entering a quasi shut down mode over the final three weeks. Heading into September, the team's run differential was much stronger.

The 2002 team is correctly identified as a very good team with a RD/G of over 1.2 (25th best in Yankee history and best in the decade).

17 RagingTartabull   ~  Dec 30, 2009 3:04 pm

[16] I think '03 is just a touch behind '09...that really was a great team from top to bottom who had a couple of bad breaks/decisions go against them in Miami.

I think ranking '07 ahead of '04 is an interesting choice. The '07 offense and RD was much better, but the '04 team for all of the horribleness associated with it DID come within 3 outs of a pennant.

18 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Dec 30, 2009 6:37 pm

[17] If you call Aaron Boone striking out wildly chasing a high fastball a bad break.
(That ab will haunt me to my very grave.)

19 Raf   ~  Dec 31, 2009 11:29 am

[17] David Wells' back acting up was a bad break.

20 Raf   ~  Dec 31, 2009 11:35 am

That’s where a Mark DeRosa would have come in handy

How so? DeRosa has only played a handful of games in LF, is old and coming off injury.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver