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And the Starting Left Fielder Is... Who Knows.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
After the announcement of the decision to sign veteran Randy Winn last week that put the official kibosh on any hopes of a Damon return in 2010, one might have come to the conclusion that the Yankees were pretty much set with their left field plans. They've got Gardner, they've got Winn, they've got no more money allotted to improving that position - that just about settles that, right?

Apparently not!

The Yanks have now invited 32-year-old righty Marcus Thames to Spring Training with the intent of having him compete for the left field gig with Garder and Winn. Or they may platoon two of them. Or all three of them! There doesn't appear to be any plan in place at this point - these three potentially-capable candidates will have to battle it out in March to see who sucks the least; the one or two still standing come April will be our starting left fielder.

Ya know what would have been easier? Scraping together a few million bucks from the spare change in Big Stein's couch and signing Damon for the everyday job.

But i digress.

As I said a couple of weeks ago when I was advocating that the Yanks should just settle on Gardner and be done with it, with the other 8 dudes in the lineup there's really nothing to be concerned about even if our left fielder does suck. That is not to say that whichever of these three guys (or combination thereof) ends up starting will suck - just that they might, and that's actually OK. Let's take a gander at these three dudes and discuss what they may be capable of adding to the team:

Brett Gardner: A youngster - just 26 years old with two seasons of experience, both with the Yanks. Lifetime .256 average and .325 OBP; his slugging percentage is just .352, but he's 39-for-45 on his stolen base attempts (in just one and a half seasons). While he is a lefty, unfortunately not much potential for taking over for Damon in the cheap right-field homers category.

Randy Winn: The most seasoned of the bunch at 35 years old and 12 years of experience, and the only switch-hitter. Lifetime .286 average, .344 OBP, and .418 slugging percentage, and he's averaged 21 stolen bases per season during his career. Not a ton of power, but could hit a few to right field (who couldn't?).

Marcus Thames: 32 years old, 8-ish seasons of MLB experience (not many games played in some of those seasons), including 7 games for the Yanks in 2002 (you don't remember because it was not memorable). Lifetime .243 batting average, .306 OBP, .491 slugging, has stolen a whopping THREE bases in 8 years... and been caught 9 times (for the non-mathletes among us, that is a very, very poor ratio). Potential for hitting a bunch of cheapo right-field home runs is not remarkable. On the bright side, he's been hit by pitches 11 times in his career!

At least you got on base, we'll take it.

You'll notice I didn't bother to compare the fielding skills of these lads - I've determined that aspect is a moot point after last year; as long as the 2010 left fielder runs himself into walls 10% less often and his relay throws make it an extra 4 feet, we can consider it an upgrade over Damon's fielding.

While Winn arguably has the best stats of the three, my money is still on Gardner for the starting gig. He plays hard and has been steadily improving since his time in the minors, and he's got youth on his side. Gardner's speed and hustle (perhaps he's a John Cena fan?) are unique on a team packed with older guys with ample power, and quite valuable. What he lacks in power will be picked up by the other guys, and when he gets on base we know he'll be jetting down to second base.

Winn won't be out of a job, though - I anticipate that he'll be playing a few times a week, or coming in to bat in certain situations (remember, he's a switch-hitter while Gardner's a lefty).

As for Thames... I don't even understand why they invited him. Hope he likes Scranton!


posted by Yankees Chick @ Tuesday, February 09, 2010  
  • At 6:48 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    i am soo hoping for gardner. i always liked him + he ist fast and a nice defensive player, i hope he will do well in spring t. and gets a chance as the starter.

  • At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Rob A from BBD said…

    I'm getting the feeling that the answer is...Curtis Granderson. I think Gardner will be their centerfielder.

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