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PECOTA, Pythag and Brett Gardner

Baseball Prospectus has posted it's predictions on the 2009 final standings.  They see the Yanks scoring 838 runs against 674 allowed.  That would be the best pitching staff in the league, paired with the second best offense.

And we'll finish a game behind the Red Sox*.

*For those of you keeping score at home, the Rays will win 92 games (8 more than the AL Central champ Indians and 10 more than the A's atop the West).

PECOTA predicts that the Yanks will score about 50 more runs than last year while allowing about 50 fewer.  A one hundred swing in differential is not as big as you'd expect.  The Red Sox cut 200 runs off their differential going from 4th in 2006 to first in 2007, and the Rays slashed 250 runs going from 66 wins in 2007 to 65 losses in 2008.

Is it too early to predict that the Spring Training ABs to watch belong to Brett Gardner?

I think he plays a better CF than Melky, and if BG can hit around league average (.767 OPS in 2008), the number of balls he'll track down in center plus allowing the corners to play closer to the lines could allow the Yankees to outperform PECOTA on both ends.