Brett Gardner: The Man On Fire

USA TODAY Sports

Who's the hottest cat who's an on base machine with all his at bats? BRETT!

Hey you. Yes, you reading this article. Have you been watching Spring Training Yankees games lately? If you haven't, shame on you. If you have, perhaps you've noticed something. Perhaps you've seen a certain outfielder, the one wearing #11 on his jersey, on base a lot. He's hitting. He's stealing bases. He's covering the ground as only he can. His name is Brett Gardner. He is the man on fire!

Now that we've gotten the praise out of the way, allow me to praise him some more. With Curtis Granderson on the early disabled list, all eyes have been on the Yankees outfield. Posts of doom have emerged, as well as curiosity as to whom the Yankees would put out there to cover for him while he heals. Could it be the often mispronounced Ronnier Mustelier? Might Almonte leave the Mark of Zoilo? Or will Cashman trade for Alfonso Soriano? Please let the latter question not be the case. The choice of Granderson's replacement is still up in the air. Down on the ground, our Gritty Gutty Brett Gardner is having an impressive Spring Training.

Gardner's impressive six games of Spring Training include nine hits in sixteen at bats. Those nine hits include a triple and three RBI due to said triple. He has also walked twice and stolen two bases. His current batting average is .563 and his on base percentage is .611 while his OPS is 1.299. I know I know, it's only been six games and it's only Spring Training. Still, you cannot help but be optimistic about how he looks for the 2013 regular season. With or without Granderson's injury, this is precisely the performance one wants to see out of him. Except for the sliding head first into first base. No one wants to see that. Stop it, Brett. Stop it now!

Gardner isn't just a key component regarding our current outfield situation. He's a key component for our future outfield situation as well. How he performs this year could very well determine what the Yankees decide to do with Granderson, the rookie outfielders, or perhaps determining whether to acquire one halfway through this season or during the next off season. The point was driven home on Sunday that Gardner will not be replacing Granderson in CF this year. This move seems to be for Granderson's benefit more than lack of faith that Gardner can handle the position. It's really no big deal. Gardner has the better arm, left field is still pretty big, and he probably has a better chance off throwing out more runners from left than center.

Gardner playing CF is the defense that we deserve but apparently not the one we need right now. We could always use Batman in CF, but I'd prefer him as our catcher. Or pitcher. Or coach. Batman can play any position. Hell, he could even own the team with his Wayne Enterprise billions. Nerd crap aside, just because Gardner will not play CF this year does not mean he won't play CF for the Yankees in the future. The best thing about Gardner is that even if he plays at his peak performance, he's not likely to be expensive when he's up for free agency. These new money conscious Yankees might even offer him an extension. Batman certainly would.

A healthy Gardner is a very nice weapon in our Pinstriped arsenal. The Yankees know this and I guarantee they'll be looking at him harder this year than any other. So will I, and I imagine so will a lot of other teams as well. A few of the outfield prospects are only a year or two away and Granderson will definitely cost more than Gardner. That's apparently a thing now with the Yankees: cost effectiveness. If you factor in all the Monopoly money that Robinson "This Game Is Easy" Cano will possibly be getting, the Yankees might stick with Gardner and outfielder rookies rather than go free agent happy and waste money on Park Place & Boardwalk, who I might add are hilariously represented by Derek Jeter and Babe Ruth in Yankees' Collector Edition Monopoly. Gardner was Baltic Ave. in the 2009 WS Champion Edition Monopoly.

I may be a shameful Brett Gardner fanboy, but I realistically believe that he and Cano's contract, will be the deciding factor regarding the future of the Yankees outfield situation. Also injuries. I really hope it's not due to injuries. Leave the Yankees alone this year, injury bug!

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