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, all the time

When Brett Gardner was called up on June 30th, it was pretty clear that he had a chance to win the starting job in center. No one came out and said it, but Melky's offensive struggles left the door wide open. When Damon went on the DL, I figured this was it. Both guys would start and we'd see the competition for the job take place during the games.

Well, two weeks later, here are the stats:

Gardner
  • 36 at bats
  • 6 runs
  • 6 hits
  • 0 extra-base hits
  • 6 RBI
  • 4 walks
  • 11 strikeouts
  • 5 stolen bases
  • 0 caught stealing
  • .167 average
  • .262 on-base percentage
  • .167 slugging percentage
  • .429 OPS
Melky
  • 43 at bats
  • 3 runs
  • 9 hits
  • 1 double
  • 1 home run
  • 2 RBI
  • 0 walks
  • 1 HBP
  • 8 strikeouts
  • 1 stolen base
  • 0 caught stealing
  • .209 average
  • .227 on-base percentage
  • .302 slugging percentage
  • .529 OPS
Pitiful numbers across the board. So how do you make this decision, if you're the Yankees? They've been equally bad, so I guess the first solution would be a platoon, with Gardner playing against righties and Melky against lefties. The only problem with that is Melky's horrible performance from the right side.

For me, the decision probably comes down to a couple of factors. Number one, Gardner has looked like a below-average outfielder. He doesn't seem to get a good jump on the ball, he doesn't have a strong arm, and his angles have been poor. Melky is a superior defender. At the plate, Gardner will get on base more than Melky, and he's a legit stolen base threat every time he does get on base. Melky has more pop in his bat, but that really isn't saying much.

If I had to make the decision today, I'd probably go with Gardner. He's a downgrade on defense, but this team's biggest problem right now is scoring runs. Gardner gives you a catalyst at the bottom of the lineup. It's not a clear cut decision, though, because outside of the one win in Toronto, he's really looked over matched so far.

Damon isn't expected back immediately after the break, so maybe one of them will get hot and make the decision easier. At this point, we're either going to have a solid defensive center fielder with a good arm and no bat in the starting lineup and a burner off the bench. Or, we'll have a burner who hits the occasional single, draws a few walks, steals bases and plays a below-average center field in the starting lineup and a defensive replacement on the bench with little value as a pinch hitter.

Then again, last July Melky hit .368 with a .939 OPS, so maybe they should just stick with him and hope he heats up. There are no simple answers.
by Brian on Jul 14 2008
Tags: Brett Gardner | Melky Cabrera |