The Yankees' surplus of outfielders doesn't mean they have to make a trade now

Why the Yankees shouldn't trade Brett Gardnerů yet

1/29/14 in MLB   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

Jul 24, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner (11) bats during the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Texas won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
In spite of their maniacal spending spree, the Yankees still have significant holes to fill and a surplus of outfielders from which to trade. The obvious – and only – choice to deal is Brett Gardner. Still inexpensive for 2014 and with multiple marketable talents, Gardner would be an ideal candidate for the Yankees to bolster their starting rotation, bullpen or infield. In short, he’s not a player they’re looking to get rid of because of a redundancy. They could actually get something of use for him.
 
Given the outfielders currently on the Yankees roster—Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki and Gardner—it’s easy to look at the one player who would have the most value on the market and is expendable and say to trade him now to fill a glaring hole before the season starts. But that would be a mistake. Here’s why:
 
Frailties
 
Ellsbury’s talent is undeniable. Nor is his penchant for winding up on the disabled list. In fairness to him, the injuries that cost him large chunks of the 2010 and 2012 seasons with the Red Sox were impact injuries. He’s also had problems with his wrist and his core in the past, so while he’s not a malingerer, he’s a risk to get hurt and miss a couple of weeks to a month at least.
 
If the Yankees trade Gardner and Ellsbury gets hurt, they’ll be relegated to playing a combination of Ichiro, Beltran, Zoilo Almonte or whatever short-term center field option they can find. Beltran has stayed healthy for the past three seasons, but he’s about to turn 37. There will be junctures in the season when he’s unable to go even without a serious injury. Having a legitimate outfielder who can play center field is not something to dismiss or deal away because there are other holes and a passable offer has been made.
 
Oct 30, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury hits a double against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning during game six of the MLB baseball World Series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY SportsVersatility, defense and speed
 
Without Gardner, the Yankees have no everyday player who can run at all. Beltran can still steal bases with canniness. Who knows what Derek Jeter’s legs are going to tolerate after his injury? Ichiro can steal 20 bases, but he’ll play three times a week, if that.
 
Without Gardner, they’re a plodding and limited lineup. Naturally the idiocy that permeated the fan base and media that the team would be better with more small ball and fewer home runs in 2013 was proven to be a disastrous exercise in baseball cluelessness, but to have no players who can run leaves the club as a station-to-station and vulnerable entity. If they encounter a team that keeps them in the park, there won’t be any stealing of runs through a Gardner walk, stolen base, bunt to third and sacrifice fly. The 4-5 games that can be decided through the talents that Gardner brings to the table could be the difference between winning the division, getting the Wild Card or being left out in the cold entirely. 
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1/30/14   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

davewakeman wrote:
I think this Yankees' team is going to be a disaster. As for Cashman, you and I have been on the same page about a lot of this stuff for a long time. He has ridden Gene Michael's work for much longer than anyone should have a right to believe is possible. 

The only reason I don't think it'll degenerate to disaster levels is that they're all-in and will gut the system to save this season. It's a poor long-term strategy, but it should get them to 88+ wins this season.
Cashman, if he truly wants to prove he's anything more than a checkbook GM, would have to go elsewhere. 

1/30/14   |   davewakeman   |   1 respect

I think this Yankees' team is going to be a disaster. As for Cashman, you and I have been on the same page about a lot of this stuff for a long time. He has ridden Gene Michael's work for much longer than anyone should have a right to believe is possible. 

1/30/14   |   PAULLEBOWITZ   |   109 respect

autmorsautlibertas wrote:
Paul, As always, superb insight, but I think you always sell Cashman short. I think he has the hardest job in baseball, and I think Randy Levine is constantly meddling and second guessing him, as well as manipulating the malleable Hal. The Rafael Soriano signing over Cashman's objections is a prime example.

I can't cut Cashman a break when his farm system has gotten significantly worse since he was given control of it and he has the amount of money to spend he does. Every GM answers to ownership. The way Cashman runs the team now could be replicated by an average fan. It takes no skill to buy players.

1/29/14   |   autmorsautlibertas   |   1 respect

Paul, As always, superb insight, but I think you always sell Cashman short. I think he has the hardest job in baseball, and I think Randy Levine is constantly meddling and second guessing him, as well as manipulating the malleable Hal. The Rafael Soriano signing over Cashman's objections is a prime example.