Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Are we nuts to think Brett Gardner can last a season?

Brett "Not Yet" Gardner put up big numbers last year. Loftonian numbers. Ichironian numbers. He hit .323, with an on-base percentage of .417. That led all starting Yanks in batting average. Not only that, but he whiffed only 7 times. Whole season.  That's 3 percent of Curtis Fanderson's total. Now, we hairplugs of the Yankiverse - and places like the Daily News - wonder if he can do it again.

Of course, he can! Over 16 games.  Because that's all he played last year. A whopping 37 plate appearances. Then he disappeared like Garth Brooks (as Chris Gaines, of course.) Austin Romine and Dave Aardsema have nothing on him.

So... now he's our everyday LF? And maybe our CF? And maybe our lead-off batter? And maybe our best OF? Who assembled this team, Rube Goldberg? And what can we expect?

Well, in 2011, Brett played in 159 games. But that number is deceiving. He came in late for defensive purposes or he pinch ran. And you'd have a hard time calling him durable. He banged himself up and went on roller-coaster streaks as loopy as anything the Grandman can do.

Check this out: In April of 2011, Brett batted .188 and stank out the Bronx. He stole 4 bases, but was caught 3 times. He looked so bad, you wondered if he would stay. Then he caught fire.

By May 25, he had smashed his way up to .270. The Yankees went on a run, too. On June 19, he had soared to .294. The guy was being touted as a possible addition to the All-Star squad. Then he wracks up a shoulder and - poof - by July 9, he's dropped to .264. That's 30 points in three weeks. That's a big o-fer.

So then he gets hot again. On July 20, he's back up to .291. Then another nagging injury. Through August, the cheese drains out of him. He finishes August at .265 and ends the season at .259 - mediocre, but with 49 stolen bases. If he could have clipped a couple slumps, we're talking .280 and 60 SBs. We're talking about a LF on a pennant winning team. We're talking about a legitimate replacement for Nick Swisher. IF HE CAN CUT THE SLUMPS.

I go into this wretched detail for a reason: Gardner is as up and down as they come. Thus, that nice little .323 average last year would probably have been wiped out by May 15. We really don't know what we've got. He's missed a year. But can he go a whole season?

(By the way, in 2010 he stole 47 bases and batted .277. He played in 150 games - again, a lot of late inning replacements.)

One of the weirdest parts of the winter was the Yankees' two-year-deal with Ichiro, while passing on younger OFs.  We have nobody ready in the minors. (Sorry, Melky, but .230 won't cut it.) We're going with Brett Gardner all the way. I appreciate the loyalty to the guy. But seriously, does anybody think he'll hold up? It's not like Cashman to forsake a Plan B. But I don't see one. And neither does the Daily News.

1 comment:

SanJoseKid said...

When the Yanks didn't re-sign Swishalicious, it seemed they were preparing to snag Michael Bourn. Never dreamt that Nick & Mike would be teammates on the shores of Lake Erie. But, to be fair, how can the Yankees compete with a big market town such as Cleveland? The Indians' 27 World Championships make the Buckeye State the place to play, apparently. All those fabled monuments in the Jake's centerfield! Can't blame those boys for wanting to play on the same turf once occupied by Kenny Lofton.