This One or That One

Over on the Banter, Cliff Corcoran aims his gimlet eye on the Yankee centerfield competition between Melky and Brett Gardner. Melky gives up 40 points in OBP; Gardner gives up 40 in slugging. Melky has a bigger (though dim) chance to improve into a complete hitter; Gardner's likely to get on base more often, be a bigger threat when he's on, and has better range on defense. Seems like Gardner is the logical choice, but I'm not entirely sanguine about his prospects, and the fact that Melky is out of options, and recently signed a $1.4m contract indicates he's going to get this job, unless Gardner really torches him in Spring Training. 

29 comments… add one
  • The fact that NY spent over 400 million in the offseason, and are still contemplating Melky v. Gardner in CF is the real issue here.
    But, I guess a dollar doesn’t go as far as it once did.

    Brad February 24, 2009, 8:21 am
  • I’d go for Gardner and that speed any day over Melky. Damon led the team with 29 SB last season, and Gardner had 13 in only 127 AB. Give him 120 games in CF and he’ll easily steal 50+. That’s not even mentioning the defense.
    Damon is gone after this season too, so the Yankees will need a long-term lead-off solution. I think Gardner fits the bill better than Melky.

    Atheose - SF February 24, 2009, 8:41 am
  • right on brad, but i think the yankees will make a more dramatic decision about center field after they receive their stimulus check…
    for all of the outfielders the yankees have on the roster, none of them really excite me…in addition to damon, i think matsui is gone after this year too, and nady was resigned only for 09…next offseason should be interesting as they sort out that mess…

    dc February 24, 2009, 8:51 am
  • Good point dc. Assuming they go in-house for their CF, they’ve still got the corner spots to fill. Here are the 2010 free agents. The only promising ones I spot are Holliday and Crawford, the latter of which has a club option for 2010. Everyone else is either too old or too crappy.
    Jason Bay is on that list too, but I’m going to hope that the Sox extend his contract.

    Atheose - SF February 24, 2009, 9:08 am
  • Man.
    I would love to have Carl Crawford, but something tells me that guy is staying in Florida or close to it. He’s played for Tampa for what seems like 25 years now. ha.

    Brad February 24, 2009, 9:31 am
  • Yeah, it’s easy to forget that he was injured most of last year and the Rays still dominated. If he’s healthy this season they’re going to be pretty damn strong.
    The Yanks could always trade for Nate McLouth as well. That would complete their trade-away-our-entire-outfield strategy.

    Atheose - SF February 24, 2009, 9:47 am
  • I’m a firm believer that two points make a line, so while I think the Rays will be good, I have to limit myself to the idea that repeatability is key. They had so many career performances last year, and a great set of stats from bullpen guys who had years so different than their career trend lines, that I need to see them do it again before I believe.
    Granted, last year we all waited for the fall that never happened, I still think they played way above what history told us they should.
    That pitching staff was just so good last year, and without the Kazmir hiccup, they were pretty healthy all year as well.
    Everyone has Price penciled in as the next ROY, but at this point last year it was Buchholz and Hughes being looked at in the same light. The AL East hitters adjust fast – faster than most pitchers ever could.
    I just need to see it again. They’ll be better than Baltimore and Toronto, but I think they’re going to take their spot back behind NY and Boston.
    Just my opinion.

    Brad February 24, 2009, 11:08 am
  • so sorry for that.
    I kept getting an error message when posting so I was trying to refresh and post again.
    My bad.

    Brad February 24, 2009, 11:09 am
  • No worries, Brad. I cleaned up the dupes. Sorry we can’t get these things sorted.

    attackgerbil February 24, 2009, 11:32 am
  • Yeah, Price reminds me of two other youngins: Kennedy and Buchholz. Both were brought up at the end of the season for a few starts before the playoffs, posted sub-2.0 ERAs, and then performed horribly the next year. Hopefully Price will take the same route, especially considering the way us Sox remember him from October. An ERA around 6.50 would put a smile on my face.
    Wow, one thing I didn’t notice: last year was Price’s first season in the minors. He was mediocre in AAA (4.50 ERA in 18 innings), so maybe they’ll start him off in the majors and he’ll suck.

    Atheose - SF February 24, 2009, 12:28 pm
  • from what i could find via the net, melky had a pretty decent dominican winter league .300+ with a dinger. rumor has it he even walked once or twice.
    on the whole, the yankees outfield upgraded through subtraction (abreu). regardless, we will still be treated to damon and matsui chasing down balls that have come to rest before reaching the warning track a couple times this year.
    here’s an idea, start working on making hughes the next ankiel. they were very similar as pitchers. just saying…

    sf rod February 24, 2009, 2:37 pm
  • wait.
    I’m missing something, I think. Yeah, they saved money, but they hardly got better when a guy who drives in a hundred runs a year walks away and he’s replaced with someone not better.

    Brad February 24, 2009, 3:52 pm
  • brad- i’m talking in the field. abreu was a softball beer league outfielder at best. he approached the wall like there was mote in front of it.

    sf rod February 24, 2009, 4:18 pm
  • Crawford is no answer and I’d be horrified if my team signed him. He’s never had plate discipline and now he’s losing his power. Please, for the love of God, I pray they stay far, far away. Holliday is fine, if they’re prepared to spend another 100 million. This was the year to relatively cheaply solidify the OF.
    Swisher is far superior to Nady, but the Yankee OF is an absolute mess. Damon could go any which way this year. While I think Gardner is superior in CF because he gets on base more and is more dangerous once there, the problem is they completely squandered two of Melky’s options and they can’t ship him back to AAA. So they’re forced to carry him even while he’s only 23. Making him the 5th OF ruins any remaining chance he has to develop. So I think they give Melky every chance to start. His upside isn’t great, but given the unknowns in next year’s OF, they can’t afford to DFA him this year.

    Rob February 25, 2009, 7:21 am
  • Speaking of Nady vs. Swisher, Corcoran has a post on the topic.

    Rob February 25, 2009, 7:24 am
  • Crawford may not have good plate discipline, but that’s not unusual for a speedy lead-off hitter; Jose Reyes’ lifetime OBP is .336, Jimmy Rollins has .333. Crawford’s defense is superb, he’s unbelievably fast, and he’s still only 26. He was injured for most of last year, but has been healthy aside from that. He’d be a great addition to the Yankees, and I hope the Sox go after him.
    Aside from that, I personally think Cashman has Holliday penciled into the lineup for 2010.
    Good point about Melky’s options, I didn’t even think about that. That really ties Girardi’s hands.

    Atheose - SF February 25, 2009, 8:01 am
  • Crawford’s above average but only in left field. Problem is, his bat was below average for the position last year. And without the plate discipline, he has to hit for +.450 power. Last year he slugged .400 and only CHONE projects him to be as high as .454. And speed doesn’t usually age well – he’s as fast as he’s ever going to be and that seems to be slipping a bit. I hope the Sox sign him AND let Bay go because he’s not good enough to play CF.
    At those rates, better to re-sign Damon who still gets on-base more (last below .350 OBP in 2004) and hits for the same power (if you believe, like I do, that he wasn’t healthy in 2007). The contract will be cheaper. Still, Dunn or Burrell were better contracts.
    Holliday has to prove he can hit in the AL. Still, I’m not so sure based on the cost and years. What kills me is they could get the same production for half the total outlay by signing Manny right now.

    Rob February 25, 2009, 9:00 am
  • Problem is, his bat was below average for the position last year.
    He was injured all year in 2008–it was awful to watch him play because you could see the pain he dealt with when he ran before they finally put him on the DL. Before last year’s injury he steadily improved every season: OPS+ of 81, 105, 111, 113, and 117. And the stolen bases: 55, 59, 46, 58, 50. Before last season his slugging was .450, .469, .482, .466. Did I mention he’s only 26?
    The highest slugging projected for Damon in 2009 is .428, with only 22 SB. He’s also 35, 9 years older than Crawford. Crawford is a long-term option that would give the Yankees the speedster lead-off hitter they’ve lacked for several years. Unless of course Gardner catches lightning in a bottle.

    Atheose - SF February 25, 2009, 9:26 am
  • I wouldn’t put too much stock in Crawford’s resurgence materially helping the Rays next season. The Rays went 25-17 while he was on the DL (.595 winning percentage versus .599 on the season). I guess you could always argue they would have won that many more games, but I recall thinking his loss would send them into a tailspin, which of course it did not.
    To be fair to Crawford, he says he had a hamstring injury he was fighting all year, which is why his numbers tailed off. Up to then, he had improved his OBP every season, topping at .355, and his slugging was .450 or better the four previous seasons. And, true, Crawford hasn’t played center field in four years, but when he was there, he was well above average there, as well. In fact, his defense in left was so good, it more than made up for his poor bat (18.8 runs above average versus 2.5 runs below average with the bat). Even accounting for position, Crawford nearly three wins above replacement (and one win above average). He was worth $12.2 million last season, according to Fangraphs — not as good as Damon or even Jacoby Ellsbury, who spent a lot of time in left, but still sixth-best in the AL. And Crawford’s just 27. It’s hard to see how Damon in any way projects as the better acquisition going forward.

    Paul SF February 25, 2009, 9:35 am
  • Yeah, if I recall correctly TB was always testing their talented rookies in CF; when Dukes, Young and Upton are coming up the system it’s easy to justify keeping Crawford in left and testing out the range of the others. I don’t think Crawford’s return will suddenly make the Rays the best team in the East, but they’re certainly a much better team when he’s healthy.
    I have family in Clearwater and so I went to almost a dozen Rays games last season, and you could see how much effort Crawford was giving. He’s a great guy in the community down there and he’s well loved by everyone, and seeing him run out ground balls was painful. He did OPS .801 in the postseason though, with 7 SB.

    Atheose - SF February 25, 2009, 9:49 am
  • It’s hard to see how Damon in any way projects as the better acquisition going forward.
    Damon will be the better value going forward, especially in the current market and for another two years. He almost guarantees a .360 OBP and a .430 SLG. Crawford might hit the same OPS but with a .330 OBP. That .355 OBP was the best of his career.
    Still, I’m not saying the Yanks should sign Damon. Just that Crawford is very overrated.
    And, true, Crawford hasn’t played center field in four years, but when he was there, he was well above average there, as well.
    You do realize the nonsense in that statement, right? Four years is decades in baseball especially when you’re headed down the other side of your peak. He’s not a CF. And he’s got a light bat for a LF. It’s exactly why the Rays will let him walk.
    Like I said, I’ll be happy to see the Sox sign him. Over the five years of his contract, he’s going to lose speed, his OBP will look that much worse, and his power won’t carry the position.

    Rob February 25, 2009, 10:31 am
  • And saying the sixth best LF in the AL, is that like saying an average AL left fielder? If that’s his peak, I shudder to think what he’ll be two years from now.

    Rob February 25, 2009, 10:39 am
  • Most of his Crawford’s stats are still steadily trending upwards–at age 27 he probably hasn’t peaked yet, and will probably put up a better line than the .315/.355/.466 he did in his last healthy season, with 50+ SB’s to boot. At 35 Damon is on the decline. I know which talent-trend I like best. I’d love to see the Yankees put Damon in LF at 13+ mil for two more years!

    Atheose - SF February 25, 2009, 10:57 am
  • Sixth-best LF in the AL during the worst season he’s had in five years, after four consecutive years of upward trends in OPS and OBP. The Sox aren’t going to be signing him, but if they did, I wouldn’t be upset. I think we’ll see him surpass that .355 OBP this year, as every healthys eason he’s had in baseball has seen him reach base more and more often.
    Why are you placing so much value on only the most recent year of Damon’s and Crawford’s career?
    Damon’s win values, 2004-08: 4.0, 2.1, 2.9, 2.2, 3.8
    Crawford’s win values, 04-08: 4.7, 4.9, 4.5, 3.3, 2.7
    Damon is 35 this year. Crawford turns 28. Damon makes $13 million this year. Crawford makes $8.25 million.
    Last year was the first time since Crawford came into his own that Damon has been the more valuable player (and even the 3.3 from 2007 is because of his defense, not his offense). Taking age into account, there is simply no way Damon will be more valuable going forward. Regression to the mean is real.
    As for what Damon “guarantees,” last year was the first time in three seasons he broke .360, and given his age, I would say it unlikely he approaches it again — particularly given his BABIP was 20 points higher than his career average last season. Heck, his career OBP isn’t even .355. Crawford, barring injury, is nearly certain to reach base more often and slug better than Damon in 2009 and for the foreseeable future.

    Paul SF February 25, 2009, 11:31 am
  • Wait, so you’re expecting Crawford’s best season to this point to be his typical season going forward?

    Rob February 25, 2009, 11:33 am
  • I think we’ll see him surpass that .355 OBP this year, as every healthys eason he’s had in baseball has seen him reach base more and more often.
    Why? He’s never, ever topped that in his professional career. Not even in the minors.

    Rob February 25, 2009, 11:36 am
  • you’re being a little too critical of the yanks money saving moves brad…true, they did nothing to upgrade the outfield, and that’s troubling, but it may not be a huge issue…next season, as i pointed out earlier, will be the one where they have to make some serious moves…remember for less money they added tex, big upgrade, and significantly upgraded the pitching, which had been killing them the past few years…the outfield is no less ordinary than it was last year, just cheaper with abreau gone…can you tell despite his offense, i wasn’t a big abreau fan?

    dc February 25, 2009, 11:43 am
  • Atheose - SF February 25, 2009, 11:48 am
  • Trend, Pt. 2. And age.
    Hey, I hope I’m wrong and Crawford’s peak is something less than what he showed in 2007. That only benefits the Red Sox. I just don’t think, given his age and trendlines, that we’ve seen his best work yet — assuming, as always, good health.

    Paul SF February 25, 2009, 12:50 pm

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