Its good to see that after the circus that was the first week of Spring Training things have by and large quieted down. Its good for the Yankees, but not so good for bloggers who need something to write about. I did read a good story in the NY Times about Joe Niekro's son, Lance Niekro whose learning the knuckleball, but alas, it doesn't fill my need for Yankees news. So in my search for Yankees news I went over to the Peter Abraham blog, and saw a poll on the right asking who we thought should be the center fielder this season with the options being Melky, Damon, Gardner, Swisher, and make a trade. To my surprise Gardner was way in the lead.
Now don't get me wrong. I think Gardner can really help the team, and I think he should have a roster spot. But people have lost their minds if they think Gardner is our best center field option. Now, considering that more than double the people voted for Gardner over Melky, I know I'm going to have to explain my point of view. Allow me to explain.
Most people don't want Melky because of the horrible season he had last year. Further more, Melky has yet to really have a distinguishable season. He has shined defensively, and has had some great moments in the past at the plate, but he hit .280 and .273 his first two seasons before having a major decline in production last season. Melky hit .249 last season, but the numbers that really concern the team are the .301 OBP, and the .341 slugging. Basically, the kid couldn't hit, couldn't walk, and when he did hit, it was rarely for extra bases. Now enter Gardner. Gardner impressed many last season with his speed and some walk off dramatics. A left handed hitter who could lead off in a pinch. That's certainly a valuable player to have. However, where many were concerned about Melky's lack of power, walks, and batting average, they seemed very willing to over look Gardner's .228 average, .283 OBP, and .299 slugging. Of course this was limited play, but I still didn't see anything that told me that this guy could out hit Melky. With a swing that only incorporates his upper body, we really cannot expect much power out of Gardner, but that doesn't really matter since his bread and butter is his ability to steal a base. However, he didn't show much of an ability to get on base either (30 strikeouts to 8 walks). Don't get me wrong. Gardner is still young, and could certainly fill the role, I also believe he can do better than his numbers from last season, however, I also know Melky can do better than last season, and given his three years of big league experience, his switch hitting ability, and his age (Melky's 24, one year younger than Gardner), I think Melky is the better player for the position.