The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

CBS Sports: Yankees consider moving Granderson to LF, with Gardner in CF

The Yankees are considering an outfield switch that would see Brett Gardner in center, with Granderson moving to a corner spot, sources say. While they believe they have two capable center fielders, Gardner is clearly the better defensive player.

If both Granderson and Gardner are going to play every day—and it appears they will—it could make sense for Gardner to take over in center.

It makes so much sense I’m surprised the Yankees are considering it.

--Posted at 3:41 pm by SG / 20 Comments | - (0)


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This makes so much sense that the Yankees will “consider” it, deny considering it, and then switch back to it at the end of Spring Training, after Girardi mentions his gut feeling right about Gardner in CF.

Meh. Can Gardner even stay healthy? THBG (The Healthy Brett Gardner)

His injury this year was bad luck, more than anything else. Even through the rehabilitation process. Before that, 150 games, and 159 games. I forgot his injury from ‘09, though I really should remember everything from that glorious season. A thumb, I think? It’s a little unfair to describe Gardner as injury prone, though. Really hope the Yankees do this. Gardner-Granderson-Ichiro would be one of the best defensive outfields in baseball, and the lack of power could be offset by Granderson providing a slight bounce-back, and Suzuki continuing to handle right-handers. Add in a backup bat like Gomes, along with a jack of all trades fifth outfielder (Melky Mesa?) and the depth chart would be ready to go.

Gardner-Granderson-Ichiro would be one of the best defensive outfields in baseball, and the lack of power could be offset by Granderson providing a slight bounce-back, and Suzuki continuing to handle right-handers.

I’d be careful for reading *too* much into Ichiro’s 240PA with the Yankees. Prior to coming over his wRC+ as actually lower in 2012 than it had been in 2011 (77 compared to 79).  His defense was still elite, though single-season UZR and all that (and was actually negative w/ Yankees).  Also of course he makes the OF completely LH.  At 39, I think he’s more a role player.  And I have doubts after his strong showing at the end of the year, he’ll accept anything less than being the strong-side of a platoon role.

Gomes…beware.  He’s coming off a career high wRC+ at age 31, with both his 2nd highest BABIP and 2nd highest ISO.  Both of those coming during his age 24 season.  I wouldn’t want him as the 4th OF.  5th OF getting some bats against lefties as the DH sure.  Mesa…I like but should probably start the year at AAA and be first-callup in case of injury.

FanGraphs put out their contract crowdsourcing.  Some of the OF options we’re talking about…

Swisher 4/56
Upton   4/52
Pagan   3/30
Hunter 2/20
Ichiro 2/16
Melky   2/16
Gomes   2/10

I think (not sure) that when FG has done this in the past they’ve been fairly accurate.  If so, I would stay away from Ichiro and Gomes.  Upton I’m now thinking that may be a bit high, or at least there isn’t surplus value; though he still has the upside of having the talent and the youth to exceed expecations.  Pagan I wouldn’t be totally against, and he’s a switch-hitter.  Hunter is a stop-gap, but a righty and a good one; though at his age he could fall off a cliff in a hurry.

So the other two options are…Swisher and Melky.  Swisher that’s actually probably a good contract.  People for some reason are tired of his “act”, like being a consistent 3-4 win player, a good teammate, and enjoying playing baseball.  But at 5-$6M per win (Dave Cameron has been opining that this year a win may go for $6M), $56M is paying for maybe 11 wins (after discount).  Swisher woudl probably do that.  Melky…honestly, if the going rate for him is 2/16, why not build in some options/incentives and allow the contract to be worth as much as 4/52?  If he’s really a 4-5 (or higher) win player entering his age 28 season, he’ll easily outearn that.  If he’s not, that’s why it is options and incentives based to protect Yankees.  If his best offer is 2/16 and Yankees guarantee $30M (say 3/30 is guarantee), will he turn doen $14M more?  Bit of a risk, but I think a low one.

3rd option I hadn’t thought much of, crowdsource has Victorino going for 3/30.  That to me is a buy-low on a player who has consistently been 3-4 wins (and was last year) with the chance to be much better, who had what appears to be a down year.  Maybe it’s the start of a quick decline, but at 31 I’d bet more just an off year.  And even if it wasn’t, still worth 3 WAR.  At I think he’d put up at least 6 WAR over the next 3 years, possibly twice that.  $30M is paying him for 6.

[5] Swisher at 4/56 is a no brainer among those players, so is Melky at 2/16. Victorino and Pagan at 3/30 are also solid deals. I don’t think Melky goes that cheaply, I think fangraphs readers are punishing him too much for his PED suspension, I do think he lost himself money, but I think he’ll be close to the 3/30 crowd than 2/16.

[5] This may be an odd way of thinking about it, but should you consider that signing Swisher will actually cost you a supplemental round pick? There is basically no chance he accepts the qualifying offer. And the Yankees have made moves to address minor league player development issues very recently (Contreras and Connors were both reassigned within the past few months.) EDIT: So I wonder if they are gearing up for having a bunch of high draft picks this year.

For my money, I grab Melky on 2/$18 to make sure I get him, get Pettite and Kuroda, and work to build a really deep bench capable of getting a .900+ OPS hitter into the DH spot every night. I’m thinking Youkilis vs LHP and Chavez vs RHP. One of those guys are in the line up every night either at DH, or 1B/3B to give Rodriguez or Teixiera a rest. Youkilis can cover a corner OF spot in a pinch.

[7] I agree that Melky should be the Yankees #1 choice, but they should strongly consider bringing Swisher back if he is only going to cost 4/56, it’s marginally more than the Qualifying Offer annually and way less than many were predicting.

People for some reason are tired of his “act”, like being a consistent 3-4 win player, a good teammate, and enjoying playing baseball.

We all know his “act” is that he’s consistently good in the regular season, and consistently horrible in the post-season.  You can argue small sample size, but don’t pretend like people are just randomly tired of a consistent, 3-4 win player.  He also didn’t do a great job handling the booing during the playoffs, which may be a sign that it’s time for him to move on.

And I really want no part of Melky, who may be a replacement-level talent without PED’s.  I’d rather give Chris Dickerson a shot than bring back Melky.

But for me, I’ll take Torii Hunter for 2/20, and try to get Ichiro to take some kind of one-year deal, or a one-year with a second year option.

[6-8] I did think of the draft pick.  So it’s all about factoring in what the pick is worth, and how good of a deal the player is.  Just like any signing that would cost you a pick.  Also of course, maybe if Swisher’s going-rate (what the market will pay him) is 4/56, perhaps he gives the Yankees a discount.  Minus this past post-season, he really seemed to enjoy playing for the Yankees.  It wouldn’t be MUCH of a discount, but anything helps.

I think going cheap on Melky is a mistake.  I mean, don’t pay him 5/75 even if he’s “worth” that as a player, if the market for him is 2/16 or even 3/30.  But guarantee him a little more, sweeten it with incentives, and get team options.  I mean, ideally, if they can find a way to get 6 years of Melky, you’re getting him ages 28-33.  And if they pay him (after incentives and everything) $72M, you’re basically paying him to be average for the course of the contract. 

There’s a very, VERY good chance that Melky will be worth twice that.  Of course, you protect the team by getting option years and incentives.  It isn’t at all unprecedent for the team to have multiple option years on a player.  David Cone’s deal after 1995 I believe was 3 years guaranteed and 2 option years.  I think Manny Ramirez’s deal with the Sox was 6 guaranteed and 2 options.  So if possible, guarantee 3/30 or whatever, try to get incentives and options so that if he earns it he gets paid.  And, then they have the chance of having a (relatively) cheap, good RF during the austerity years, which will help them make budget.  Best thing…if minor league players come up aces and are all ready to be major-performers in 2016, Pick up Melky’s option(s) and trade him, if he’s producing like a 3-4 win player.

And I really want no part of Melky, who may be a replacement-level talent without PED’s.  I’d rather give Chris Dickerson a shot than bring back Melky.

PEDs are not miracle baseball drugs. They don’t reform your DNA into that of a baseball machine. Injecting yourself with PEDs is not the same as Peter Parker being bitten by a radioactive spider.

Melky clearly had talent when he broke into and performed at a ML level at age 20, then he back slid for a year or two, had a completely terrible season, figured something out and was good to great. I’m not saying that PEDs had nothing to do with his resurgence, but I guarantee you they were not the primary reason.

PEDs aside, there is evidence that Melky began to take baseball more seriously and take care of his body in a more responsible fashion, maybe PEDs assisted in this, maybe they helped his confidence level, but the raw baseball talent that Melky owns has always been apparent, even when he clearly was not using it.

It might be crazy to expect him to repeat his 2012, but I don’t think it’s crazy to expect a 2-3 win performance out of him, and for <10 million a year, that’s a spectacualr deal.

[9] I’m not going back and checking every post in September, but I’m pretty sure that more than one person complained about being tired of Swisher’s “act”.  The “act” being the way he talks and acts in interviews, his demeaner on the field, etc.  And “don’t pretend” that isn’t there, because it is.  A number of people - including on this site - quite simply don’t want Swisher back regardless of the cost.  And the basis is how he comes up small in big situations (that argument was brought out in a slump in September and went silent when he got hot later in the month), and his deameaner.

I have doubts that Melky is *entirely* a result of PED usage.  He’s shown glimpses in the past of having the talent, and he’s so happened to have his best two years at 26 and 27.  I’d be fine with Hunter at 2/20, but Hunter’s concerns are 1) he’s at “fall of a cliff” age.  It may not happen, but it could 2) he’s just a stopgap, and really not even a stop-gap until the kids are ready.  Whereas Melky and BJ Uptin are solutions that should still be playing average or better when the kids are ready.  And that’s true to a lesser extent with Pagan and Victorino.

Injecting yourself with PEDs is not the same as Peter Parker being bitten by a radioactive spider.

Well, ARod was bitten by a radioactive centaur, so it *is* plausible.  But you defended Melky much better than I did.

Edit: And I don’t think it’s at all crazy to repeat his 2011, which was 4 fWAR in a full season.  2012 projected to be about 6 fWAR.  So I think pay for 2-3 (which is an overpay strictly on market) in order to get him to agree to sacrifice potential future $$‘s.  Worst likely case, you pay market rate for 3 years.  Best case, he excels and you have a cheap All Star.

[13]  I think you may be confusing ARod and Heracles, who was actually killed by the poison of Arod’s blood, rubbed inside a cloak.

[11]  I really liked Melky when he was coming up with the Yankees, and can see your point.  But even if his true talent level is in the ballpark of his fine 2011 season in KC, which nobody really knows, I just think there’s too much uncertainty and potential headache with Melky, even at 2/16.  To be caught using PED’s, which is clearly cheating these days, and then with the website, there’s some serious character issues there.  Let him be a bargain for another team.

[12]  My point with Swisher is that while people are tired of his personality, their frustration also includes, and is mostly related to, his horrible post-season performance.  You can’t talk about why people are tired of Swisher without addressing this.  You can write it off if you want to, but you can’t avoid it.

[15] All I know is what people write.  Sure, maybe if his post-season was awesome they wouldn’t care about his persona - they may even embrace it.  But I know that a few people have written his, “hey bro!” schtick is wearing on them.

As for his post-season play…well, people may factor that in.  But hopefully the Yankees are smart enough to know that isn’t indicative of his abilities, and if they can get him for under $14M per year he should definitely be in play.

FanGraphs has Swisher as #1 value-FA:

Edit: And BJ Upton is #2.

[17] The most interesting on there is Matsuzaka at #5 worst with a projected 1/4 contract, the blurb basically saying “he sucks.”

[18] I know right?

I like that a lot of players Yankees are - or should be - interested in are in the top 15 or so.  One I thought may be a good pickup is Oswalt, if he goes for that price (1/6).  Should be an intersting off-season.  I could see the Yankees going two ways.  Be aggressive early and fill their holes (whether 1 year or looking towards future), or more like last year and don’t do much until Jan/February, with the idea of just getting the best 1-year stopgaps they can for 2013 and reevaluate for 2014 after season.

[12] Swisher’s regularly at the top of the player-least-liked-by-players list, isn’t he?  He hasn’t annoyed me personally, though I never see any of his behavior.  But perhaps there’s reason to dislike him as a person.

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