Around the Yankee Universe: Comparing this team to '98 not fair

Haven't been doing this regularly of late, but let's take a tour Around the Yankee Universe and see what is going on. After all, it is Friday and I know you guys are looking for un-productive ways to kill time while the boss isn't looking. So, here goes.

The 2009 team may have more position-by-position talent, but it's a team game, and the 1998 Yankees were greater than the sum of their parts.

The Daily News wasted a lot of ink, and Internet bandwidth, on this comparison. Even without all that, I could have told you the '98 team would come out on top. It's one of the great teams in history. Besides, it's way too early to judge the 2009 team. You simply can't do that until we find out what happens in the playoffs.

"We lost 'Gardy' for, I don't know, what was it? Six weeks, it seemed like,'' Girardi said, referring to Gardner's stint on the DL with a broken thumb. "And that element that we were looking for, we didn't quite have it. Jerry Hairston did a great job for us, and he continues to do a great job for us, but he's not quite the same speed as Gardner. And we missed it. And there were times during that six weeks when I said to myself, 'Man, I wish we had "Gardy" right now.' ... He came back and he's played well since he's been back - and it does seem that we can do a lot of different things now.

"It's just another way that you know that you can win a game,'' Girardi said. "He can steal bases anytime, whether it's second or third - he has not tried (to steal) home yet, but I believe at some time in the future, it will be there. But it's just a great element to have as a manager, because in these close games, there's always a spot where you look for him to be able to do it. The guy might hit a double or a triple, and you might put (Gardner) on third base where he might score on a short sac fly.''

Gardner's speed and defense are so valuable late in games they are likely to keep him from starting many playoff games.

"Whatever they want me to do to help the team win,'' he said. "Obviously, I'm not going to be playing every day, nine innings every day. But if I'm not, I'm not - I'll come off the bench and pinch hit or play defense, or run, or do whatever they need me to do.''

Gardner also appreciated having Girardi's words relayed to him.

"It means a lot,'' he said. "Anytime the manager gives you a compliment like that, it makes you feel good about the things you've been doing and for me, I obviously just need to continue to do the things I've been doing and trying to find ways to help the team win.''

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