From Steve Goldman:
Melky putters on. His season will culminate in something of a draw. He’s not the abject failure that he was last year, when he had to be sent back to the Minor Leagues, but he still hasn’t established himself as more than a placeholder starter. He’s hitting .273/.335/.415 right now. The average centerfielder is hitting .267/.335/.415. Cabrera isn’t hurting the Yankees, but he’s not a major asset. Now that he is 25, it seems clear that any growth he might experience is going to be incremental rather than exponential, if it happens at all. Cabrera’s swing generates too many ground balls for him to add much in the way of real power outside of Yankee Stadium II, where he has hit eight of his 12 home runs…..
They can’t make Austin Jackson into more than what he is, which is a guy who, whatever his other qualities, hit only four home runs this season. They also can’t make Gardner more than what he is, which is probably better than Cabrera but only fractionally. Perhaps the one thing they can do is prioritize center field in the offseason.
I like Melky, but it is becoming clear to me that Gardner is probably the more valuable player to the Yankees and should get the bulk of the playing time. That being said, the two have combined to produce above average results this year, and I see no reason that the Yankees could not continue to use them in a similar fashion in 2010. There is no reason to go out and make a deal (Goldman suggests Cody Ross) or sign a player when you are getting average-to above average results from your number 9 hitter. As devil_fingers of Driveline Mechanics notes:
But why should the Yankees trade talent for a guy who, if he’s better, is himself “fractionally” better than the alternatives (at best), older, and, yes, getting more expensive?
Finally, given that they have a massive holes opening up in left field and at DH with the free agency of the declining Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui (not to mention their relatively shaky pitching), it seems to me that the Yankees considerable organizational resources would be better spent elsewhere, say, on Matt Holliday (easily the best free agent outfielder this season — far superior to Jason Bay, but that’s another post) for LF. If they must trade, make it for Adam Dunn as DH (although I’d suggest trying to sign Jim Thome or especially Russell Branyan for that position — Branyan in particular can actually play the field a bit and will be cheaper).
These are much bigger issues than being “stuck ” with a player who is “only” average or above-average at center field, a problem that wouldn’t be solved by trading for an older player who isn’t any better.
The Yankees need to stick with what they have in CF. It is alright to have a position manned by non-All Stars, especially when the players filling that slot are providing above average production. There is absolutely no reason to bring in a new center fielder in 2010.
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