Cashman: Brett Gardner is our left fielder
If you’re like Jason Bay and fully expect the Yankees and Johnny Damon to resolve their contractual differences, reach an agreement this month, and reunite for the 2010 season, then you might be disappointed by the following post.
Yesterday, Pete Caldera of the Bergen Record spoke briefly with GM Brian Cashman and, from that abbreviated conversation, we learn that the Yankees already have a left fielder and his name is, you guessed it, Brett Gardner. “Our team is, for the most part, set,” said Cashman to Caldera. “We have a left fielder,” he continued, adding, “We do like Brett Gardner.” While this public affirmation of Gardner’s role in the outfield may seem awfully similar to the Bubba Crosby play Cashman famously employed prior to signing Johnny Damon to play center field in 2005, at this point, with no clear upgrades available via free agency outside of Damon (the trade market may still be in play), who the Yankees have already “replaced” in the lineup with the on-base machine that is Nick Johnson, it appears as though Cashman is holding steady this time around. Instead of upgrading in left field, according to the team’s crafty GM, the Yankees have chosen to simply fill out their bench and wait for the upcoming season. The heavy lifting is “done,” apparently.
“With the money we had to spend, we chose to spend it in those spots,” said Cashman regarding the team’s winter budget and referring to the starting rotation, center field, and designated hitter. “We’re just playing with the bench right now,” he concluded (i.e., “Our team is, for the most part, set.”). With regards to the bench, then, Cashman “acknowledged” that the club is currently searching for a right-handed bat as one would think that such a player could be used to occasionally spell Gardner in left field on a day that features a tough southpaw on the mound (see Jon Lester). With this information at hand, one would assume that of the options that are currently available, Reed Johnson (.313/.378/.463 vs lefties) Rocco Baldelli (.295/.346/.485), Jonny Gomes (.274/.369/.517), Marcus Thames (.256/.329/.516), and maybe even the more defensive-minded Jerry Hairston Jr. (.264/.323/.386), remain bench possibilities for the team. Further, unlike Xavier Nady, each one would likely fit within the club’s offseason spending structure.
Though I certainly am hesitant to say this — and for good reason, of course — it seems like the roster for the 2010 Yankees is nearly complete. Left field is currently set, according to Cashman, yet it may a receive a right-handed boost via the bench, which still needs to be sorted out a bit. However, beyond that, there doesn’t appear to be any significant lineup moves on the horizon (that is, assuming Brian Cashman is being totally open, which isn’t always the case).
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