Mood Music - Rain by The Seatbelts & Steve Conte
"If there is a hell, I'm sure this is how it smells. I wish this were a dream, but no it isn't!"
You've seen me post it or tweet it more times than you'd probably like to count, but here it is again. I miss Brett Gardner. I really miss Brett Gardner. I want Brett Gardner back in all his gritty gutty glory as soon as humanly possible. It really feels like it has been forever since I've seen him in left field making routine plays look as routine and harmless as they should look. How long has it actually bee...holy shit April 17th? I haven't seen Gardner play Yankee Baseball in over a month. Over a month without his patient bat at the bottom of the order. Over a month without him sliding into first trying to beat out a throw, even though I've repeatedly told him to cut that nonsense out. Over. A. Month.
Now that I've calmed down and taken a shower in between these paragraphs, my Old Spice Swagger smell is telling me to relax and remember that Brett Gardner will be back soon. Will he though, Old Spice? Gardner is scheduled for another MRI either Tuesday or Wednesday and if everything goes well he will head to Tampa later in the week to pick up a bat. To say that his recovery is my primary concern is clearly a vast understatement at this point. The Yankees really need him back. While Gardner-less for over a month, we have come to discover a glaring flaw in the Yankees so-called long term plans; the Yankees have absolutely no outfield depth at all. If this MRI on Tuesday or Wednesday shows that Gardner will need more time to recover, then the Yankees have a real problem.
Problems after the jump.
Raul Ibanez is playing LF in place of Gardner on occasion. You've watched the games and you've seen the gifs so I shouldn't have to explain why this is the most notable and glaring problem of Gardner's injury. There's not much reason to complain about Raul's bat right now. He's doing what he's paid to do with his bat. His bat is technically part of the problem right now. Ibanez is being paid to hit and he's hitting well or getting clutch dingers or whatever I should be apologizing for. The point is that it's hard for Girardi to take his bat out of the lineup right now unless a left handed pitcher is on the mound. Obviously he belongs in the DH hole or that hole the Itchy & Scratchy Land guards were going to take Marge.
The problem is that we cannot always put him in the hole. That particular hole is also occupied by Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter from time to time. They're old men and they need that hole to recover from being out there in the field, fighting for their meals. They don't need to be forgiven. Neither do people who don't know that "Baba O'Riley" is not named "Teenage Wasteland." They need to be scorned. At times I feel that this whole system needs to be scorned because it means that on an A-Rod or Jeter DH day in which a left-handed pitcher is pitching, we will see Ibanez in the outfield. We have seen this way too much already. We'll probably see it again even when Gardner comes back to us. It's as sickening as anyone who calls the song "Teenage Wasteland."
What's really sickening, or maybe just sad, is that we really don't have that many options to put out there in the first place. We were witness to this when Swisher was injured briefly. First we saw Ibanez and Jones in the outfield together. Then they tried Nunez out there before he was sent down. Then Dewayne Wise was finally brought up as a defensive replacement. I was kind of hoping Wise would hit better, but the point was that Ibanez defense has the clear potential to cost the Yankees runs. It's bad enough that we have to stomach that fear during the beginning of the game. It's downright unacceptable when we need to hold a lead at the end of one.
All my ranting has been about defense thus far cause defense is a key component of the game. I think. I'm not sure anymore, as the Yankees always preach "pitching pitching pitching" and such. Thinking about how well the Yankees are prepared for pitching injuries rather than position player injuries, then yeah I'm really not so sure anymore. It seems like outfield defense hasn't been a real concern. Hell we've seen that infield defense is not really on the radar as well. Oh right, catching defense is important. Catching offense is not. Russell Martin and Chris Stewart combine to make a wonderful black hole in the lineup in the 9th spot. Gardner's spot. It honestly makes me appreciate Brett Gardner even more. I've preached on about how important his defense is, but his offense is an obvious strength as well.
Be prepared, ladies and gentleman. I'm about to post actual stats. Before he went on the disabled list and crushed my soul a bit, Brett Gardner had a triple slash of .321/.424/.393. Okay yeah these stats only cover nine games and thirty four plate appearances, but I confirmed with Waffles that these are still good stats. Good god, he's only played nine games this entire year. His patience at the plate is an obvious advantage over Dewayne Wise or really anyone else from the minors we could bring up to replace him. Therein lies that problem I mentioned before. We really do not have anyone to replace Gardner. Or Swisher. Or Granderson. The players we could get from the minors cannot match the offense performance of either three and Jones/Ibanez cannot, and should not, play the outfield every day because their defense is a liability. Obviously more Ibanez than Jones.
I am not very happy with the bench right now. With the platoon DH system and the A-Rod & Jeter DH situation, I just feel as if we are missing something. It certainly doesn't help that our outfield defensive backups are not that great of hitters. It doesn't help that Chavez is pretty fragile. I guess I cannot just complain about the bench. The real truth is that I've been spoiled for a long time now. Perhaps we all have. I was having a discussion with a co-worker a few days ago. He's a Mets fan. If you have not followed the Mets since 2007, you might not know that they have been one of the absolute unluckiest teams when it has come to injuries. It's so bad that the Mets Medical Staff cannot be trusted with a headache. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong for them, while across the river we have pretty much remained healthy. In fact, 2008 is the only real year I can think of regarding injuries potentially costing us the season.I could be wrong.
This year may be the year that it finally catches up with us. We've taken some pretty big hits this year already with Pineda and Mo, but we've managed to remain relatively okay with filling their positions. Gardner is another story. We have not really replaced his offensive or defensive performance in any significant or consistent way. Worst of all is that we really cannot. The same is true of Granderson and Swisher. Our outfield clearly needs to be healthy and somehow protected by forcefields or some Shark Repellent Bat-Spray or something. WWJD wrote about this problem back in early March about the Yankees need for an outfielder when discussing Zoilo Almonte. It's been two months and we are clearly seeing that she was right. Applaud this woman! I'd say boo the Yankees front office, but we can wait and see on that.
Gardner's MRI on Tuesday or Wednesday will hopefully bring good news about his recovery. The Yankees could use some good news. I know I need to hear some good news about Gardner, and soon. I'm beginning to lose it here. Perhaps I'll just go walk in the rain. Come back to me, GGBG!