Saturday, November 6, 2021

Midnight in the Gardner of Good and Evil

In the spirit of the grand and glorious U.S. Congress, let's try to achieve a consensus. How about this as a Statement of Yankee Fan Agreement: 

We... the undersigned bloggers, readers and commenters of IT IS HIGH... firmly believe that, after 14 years with the New York Yankees, the earnest and loyal foot-soldier Brett Gardner - pride of Holly Hill, S.C. - has earned one more shot - at something.

The Yankees - corporate to the core - owe Gardy a final opening day, a ceremony at home plate, a shiny new car, several standing ovations, maybe a small plaque in centerfield or nightly postgame gig next to Buck Showalter. And cabbage - yes, moola, dough, scratch, quibbish, gloog, kabooga!  As a free agent, Gardy deserves a respectable offer - near the $2.5 million he made last year. 

Look... we can do this! Nobody wants Gardy's final at-bat to happen in a Royals jersey. Great minds must prevail. There must be a way - player coach? - to keep Gardner crashing his bat into the Yankee dugout ceiling - something, anything, to keep him in pinstripes to the very end. 

Thus far, this millennium sucks. The Yankees have been overtaken by Boston, San Francisco, Tampa, the Dodgers and maybe even the cheating Astros. If not for a Met-like collapse last summer by our crosstown rivals, they would have lost New York City. Still, at least we remain proud enough to keep a true-blue fighter like Gardner. Seriously: I never want him playing against us. None of us do.

But but BUT... retirement can be sticky. Nobody wants to hear that his legs are shot and his bat no longer brings the bling. The Yankees need a utility outfielder, not a nostalgia act. And Gardy has shown troubling signs, worthy of Blue Oyster Speedwagon.

Last season, he stole four bases. Four. Aaron Judge stole more. In 15 games, Greg Allen stole more. It's been five years since Gardy stole more than 20 bases. He remains a smart baserunner, but his speed is only a memory.

For most of 2021, Gardy absolutely sucked. As late as Aug. 6, his batting average remained below .200. Any other player probably would have been dumped. He heated up and finished at .222. Still... Greg Allen got screwed. He deserved more playing time. Could Allen have done worse?

Last year, Gardy was 38. If he deteriorates - even microscopically - yeesh. We can't do this again. 

Then there Estevan Florial, who - frankly - didn't bust down any fences. Overmatched at Triple A, he batted only .219 - though with 17 home runs. (He also stole 13 bases.) It's hard to portray Florial as a cog to the Yankee future - but he's 23.  If it comes to a choice between Gardy and Florial - even if the latter hardly dazzles... well, it's time for the Yankees to invest in the future, not the past. 

The Yankees must give Gardy a shot. But if he doesn't hit in April-May, there can be no June-July.  And Gardner must decide how important it is to be a Yankee for life. To remember John Berendt - Syracuse native, by the way! - it is midnight in the garden of good and evil. Gardy can leave with a smile or lunging at the silverware, but it will end. And his days are getting short.


Dantes said...

Nah, fuck that. Let them go sign Starling Marte for Center and Stanton and Gallo can balance Left/Right/dh. Florial can manage being the 4th/5th outfielder

HoraceClarke66 said...

I agree with the Big Lebowski here.

Gardy already got his gold watch, in the form of the $15.35 million he's received over his last two, wretched seasons. Last year, not only his running but his fielding visibly deteriorated. (Not to mention the nearly $88 million he's been paid, lifetime, as a Yankee.)

But the biggest reason not to bring Brett back is that, almost inevitably, Boone will end up starting him again.

Frankly, the Yanks have ALWAYS overrated—and overplayed him. We're talking about a lifetime, .256 hitter here, who averaged 13 home run—and only 26 stolen bases—over the course of a theoretical, 162-game season...

HoraceClarke66 said...

...In fact, Gardy has never actually played that 162-game season, in good part because he inevitably wears down as the year goes on.

Over his whole career, his first-half splits are .266/.350/.414/.764, with 85 homers and 158 stolen bases.

Second half? .244/.329/.378/.707, with 49 HRs, and 121 stolen bases.

When it comes to the postseason, he's been hugely overmatched. In 68 October games and 211 plate appearances, he's at .211/.284/.281/.565, with just 3 homers and 6 stolen bases.

Yeah, he has his occasional—and suspicious—revivals, e.g., that 21-HR season in 2017, and the 28-HR season in 2019. He did lead the league in stolen bases once—in 2011—and in triples, once—in 2013...

HoraceClarke66 said...

Really, Gardner should have never been anything more than a back-up outfielder, a role he would have played admirably on so many great Yankees teams of the past.

His continued presence in a starting role on the Yanks is a testament mostly to HAL's cheapness, and refusal to take a risk on much bigger boppers when they've become available—not to mention Brain's poor judgement. Looking at you, Bryce Harper, Carlos Beltran, etc., etc.

Give Gardy a nice day at the Stadium, once he does finish that month or two next year with the Pirates, or that season in Japan. But no more roster spots.

JimmyEatsHotDogs said...

Brett Gardner a very good Yankee should follow the lead of another baseball player who just retired. It's time for Yankees to move on into the future!

borntorun999 said...

A big thank you! To Gardner, but also goodbye. I think having him remain with the team in a non-player capacity would be perfectly acceptable to nearly every fan.

DickAllen said...

The only Yankee with any real heart. It’s just a shame his body is not equal to the task anymore.

I wouldn’t even give him two months of regular season. Let’s give them a parting gift Christmas, and move on.

And while we’re at it, let’s give Joey Gallo (aka Barney Google) the boot.

JM said...

It's sad, but Gardner should hang it up. He's not completely washed up, but he's close enough to have reached his expiry date. A solid Yankee, not a great Yankee.

His greatest achievement is, of course, shaving his head, exposing his eerie resemblance to David McCallum's "Outer Limits" classic supersped-up evolution character.

Kevin said...

Believe it or not, Gardner was in the 86th percentile for speed.

EBD said...

Get over it, duque. Gardner had a couple of very good seasons but was mostly a middling player and for the past couple of seasons a terrible player. If the Yankees could move on from Babe Ruth, they can move on from Brett Gardner. You want to see young players, yet you plead to clog the roster with a washed-up geriatric like Gardner. Strive for a modicum of consistency, duque.

Kevin said...

These Gardner stats brought to you by

Some of you will find this to be "interesting", others, well whatever.........

Gardner’s 44.3 career bWAR as a Yankee is good for 17th in franchise history. It’s more than Don Mattingly (42.4) and Jorge Posada (42.7), while ranking just behind Robinson CanĂ³ (44.4).
If his career was spent entirely in Toronto instead of New York, he would be the best position player in Blue Jays history by bWAR, ranking ahead of Jose Bautista (38.3). That is also true in Arizona (Paul Goldschmidt, 39.9) and Miami (Giancarlo Stanton, 35.7). He’d even be close for the crosstown Mets (David Wright, 49.2).
With 1,688 games played in pinstripes, just 12 other people in history have played more games for the Yankees. (With one more season under his belt, he will be in the top 10 in this category.)
Gardner has 1,470 hits as a Yankee. Just 21 individuals have more in pinstripes.

I have read some analysts who claim that an argument could be made that Gardner was the best LF in franchise history.

Looking at these numbers it is obvious that the Yankees front office knows more about winning baseball than most of us. 'nough said.

EBD said...

BUT HE IS NOW OLD. Telling us how great he was five or ten years ago is irrelevant to the present. His average WAR for the past two seasons is below 1. At his age, his performance can be expected to decline even further. It's time to move on, Kev. You'll still have your memories.

13bit said...

Gardy was never that great. I always put him the Miguel Cairo level of player.

THAT BEING SAID, whatever he stood for as "home grown," "big heart" and "clubhouse leader" blah blah blah ARE ALL HISTORY.

He is washed out, almost certainly juiced up - his head is twice as big as it used to be and he pounds the dugout with a broom handle - and he has been irrelevant for YEARS now. He should have retired two years ago.

He's a one-man logjam and he's blocking a spot on the roster.

Ditch the asshole now.

Kevin said...

Barney, I don't know what version WAR you are looking at, but I haven't seen it. But that is not the reason for my post. The Yankees have gotten their money's worth, even last year. There are sites where you can find out dolllars/WAR values. At this point, if he wants too much money, well it's been great, Brett.

Still, the man has earned whatever extra bone that Hal can toss his way. I think it's time for him to retire with dignity at this point. Anyone who believes that the team might have won anything extra because of his play, well there's a reason for the minor leagues, and a reason that teams, even Hal, pay for scouting coaching, and analytics.

EBD said...

Hey Kev--he had a 1 WAR in 2021 and less than that in 2020. That averages out to sub-1. If you need any further tutoring in first-grade arithemetic, I'm here for you. Get over it. Gardner is a washed up old man, and you're a washed up Gardner groupie.

Kevin said...

Read what I keep writing, it's time to move on. BTW, yes he earned a WAR of 1 this year, while being brought in as a 80-100 game fourth outfielder. As for last year, .8 WAR, but you forgot something. The season was cut to less than half, so his WAR was under-valued.

I can't feel sorry for a man who earned more than eighty million in his career, and will retire with the respect of his peers. Agree?