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Jan 082010

Brett Gardner

…that is the question. However, it would seem that the question has been answered. From Moshe’s post, via Pete Caldera:

Out in the Bronx, there is no cause to add a slugging left fielder to the Yankees’ lineup.

“Our team is, for the most part, set,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday by phone from his office at Yankee Stadium……..

“We have a left fielder,” Cashman said, adding, “We do like Brett Gardner.”

“With the money we had to spend, we chose to spend it in those spots,” Cashman said. “We’re just playing with the bench right now.”

Still, the Yankees have room for another outfielder – preferably a right-handed bat; Cashman acknowledged that he’s searching for a right-handed hitter.

.

It would seem, then, that the Yankees will only be searching for:

“right-handed hitting outfielder that Joe can look on the bench and say, I’m not going to start one of my left-handers, I’m going to start a right-hander.”

We heard recently, though, that Cashman may be open to signing Damon to a one year deal. I’d imagine that scenario would only happen if/when Johnny Damon’s price comes down. If he could be had for one year at about $6MM or so, that’d be a great move. But, is it possible that a platoon could be more valuable to the Yankees than Johnny Damon? Let’s investigate it, using Wins Above Replacement as our template. I’ll be comparing Johnny Damon by himself against a platoon of Brett Gardner and one of the following: free agents: Reed Johnson, Rocco Baldelli, Xavier Nady, and Johnny Gomes and the in house option, Jamie Hoffmann. I’ll be using the players’ CHONE projected wOBAs, which can be found on the players FanGraphs pages.

From this post, we get our process. Instead of using the CAIRO projections, though, I’ll be using CHONE projections for wOBA this time.

Using the previously mentioned process, Gardner projects to be a 1.25 WAR player. Now, let’s pair that with Johnson, Gomes, Baldelli, and Nady.

Johnson: 1.20 + 1.25 = 2.45 WAR*
Gomes: 1.19 + 1.25 = 2.44 WAR*
Baldelli: 1.23 + 1.25 = 2.48 WAR*
Nady: 1.31 + 1.25 = 2.56 WAR*
Hoffmann: 0.42+ 1.25 = 1.67 WAR*

* There were no UZR projections for LF for either Baldelli, Nady, or Hoffmann (who scouts say is a plus defender, so he could be much better) so I assumed 0 runs for them; it’s also worth noting that these projections include entire projections, not just projections for vs. LHP, which is when these would get the majority of, if not all of their playing time.

Now that we’ve got the possibilities of a platoon–anywhere from 2.44-2.56 WAR–let’s see what Johnny Damon projects to bring to the table. Damon would bring, by himself, 1.89 WAR. He actually projects to have the highest wOBA of any of the players–.352–but his negative position adjustment and a -2 projection in left field bring him down quite a bit. Signing Damon would, however, be slightly better than sticking with Hoffmann and Gardner.

It would seem, based on this rather unscientific experiment, that the Yankees would probably be better off if they did, in fact, let Johnny Damon be on his way and picked up a free agent right handed bat to caddy along with Brett Gardner for around 700 plate appearances.

UZR Projections

Image Credit: NY Daily News

16 Responses to “To Platoon or Not to Platoon”

  1. I like UZR, however, I think this is one of those moments where math systems are not going to tell the true tale. First, Hoffmann is a Rule V pick. It’s asking a lot for him to step in and take a major role on a championship team, considering he didn’t make the 40 man on another good team. There is a legit shot that Gardner gets exposed more (I hope I’m wrong. I love Gardner). Nady is a massive injury issue, as is Baldelli. Gomes is a statue out there, and in one of the most difficult left fields in all of baseball would make his numbers even worse. Reed Johnson is a nice add if they can get him. Not many people have talked about the fact that left field is more difficult at YS then most other ballparks, and I believe this will make people like Gomes for instance even worse (Statistically speaking). I just think there is a very, VERY strong chance that left field could become a disaster, and “he Yankees would probably be better off if they did, in fact, let Johnny Damon be on his way and picked up a free agent right handed bat to caddy along with Brett Gardner for around 700 plate appearances” proves false at the end.  (Quote)

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  2. Of the remaining candidates, I think Nady is the most likely. He has the most upside, and could start in LF should Gardner fail to produce. The probability that he won’t be ready to start the season on time actually plays into the Yanks hands as well. If Nady were healthy, he would have many offers, some of them I’m sure good ones with serious guaranteed money. But since he’s not, GMs will be setting their rosters and he’ll have to wait for someone’s starting outfielder to get hurt. The Yanks are in the position to sit back, wait for him to get in shape and sign him after Opening Day.

    Also, don’t forget that Nady kept trying to rehab so he could play last year when he knew he was hurt. He could have opted to have the surgery right away, which would have been in his own best interest. Had he done so, he’d be fielding offers right now. But he chose to keep trying to come back since the team needed him. I know it’s a business, but I’ll guess the Yanks remember these kinds of things. Maybe there was even a tacit agreement made last year, an understanding reached between Cashman and the agent (Boras).

    I think the Yanks will sign Nady sometime in April/May.  (Quote)

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    Jay Reply:

    I agree, but I think Nady signs more like mid-Feb.  (Quote)

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  3. I am sure Brett will be a very dependable LF or CF player for the Yanks this year. If one looks at the history of his movement through A, AA, AAA, Yankees, one will see he aways has trouble the first few weeks/months. After the adjustment time he comes on stronger. With Longs help last year, he was hitting with his lower half and doing well. After coming back from injury, it seemed as though he was lost and went back to slapping at the ball (which is a thing that happens when a player gets in a funk) like he always did.
    Even those that criticize Brett, admit he is a very productive out fielder, what does it take to be a #9 hitter on the Yankees….300 BA or a .400 OBP? Come to think about it, it would be nice!  (Quote)

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    Matt Imbrogno Reply:

    I highly, highly doubt, even with improvement, that Gardner will ever hit .300 or OBP .400.  (Quote)

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    Steve S. Reply:

    No pop and strikes out too much. Bad combo, and opposing pitchers notice these things.  (Quote)

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    Jay Reply:

    Ken, I believe you made this same argument LAST offseason on RAB about Gardner. I hope you’re right, but I think .275 is his MAX of AVG and .350 OBP would be a blessing. .400 OBP is Nick Johnson-ish; I don’t think he ever sees that. Just doesn’t seem the type.  (Quote)

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    Ken (O.R.) Reply:

    Even those that criticize Brett, admit he is a very productive out fielder, what does it take to be a #9 hitter on the Yankees….300 BA or a .400 OBP? Come to think about it, it would be nice!
    ——————————————-
    Relax guys, it was tongue in cheek…like I said….it would be nice, not that he would do it.
    I expect something like .265-.275 with a .350ish OBP, his BB/SO history is good (in the minors) but, major league pitchers are not AA or AAA pitchers are they?
    I think he will come through and do a good job, if not…AAA is waiting.  (Quote)

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    Ken (O.R.) Reply:

    Jay…
    Your right, I did!
    Bretts 2009 numbers are in line (somewhat) with what I said+/-.
    .270/.345/OPS.724 and this takes into acount his baaaad 2nd half. I look for him to do better then that this year…if he plays full time.  (Quote)

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  4. I can’t believe any serious Yankee or for that matter baseball fan would want Brett Gardner/any combination of the mentioned players above over Johnny Damon up to bat in a key situation in the ALCS/WS. I don’t care what WAR/UZR or any other stat says.

    I’m still astounded we couldn’t find a way to keep Godzilla for 6.5 mil a year yet somehow think Nick Johnson is a decent replacement for 500K less. That’s another case where I can’t take you seriously if you would prefer Nick up at bat in the ALCS/WS vs Hideki.

    The problem with these stats is that they are heavily weighted towards the regular season. We’re making the playoffs pretty much guaranteed, either as a division champ or WC. We should be making sure our roster is built for the postseason, not for a July game against the Orioles.  (Quote)

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    JMK aka The Overshare Reply:

    I wrote this at RAB in response to your comment:

    “Sure, but that’s not the argument. This only if he’s affordable. If we have only $5 million left and Damon won’t sign for that, it doesn’t matter if you want him up in a key situation or not. Not for nothing, but do people ever really want to see a #9 hitter up in a key situation of a playoff game? Of course not, but this isn’t a video game—there are disadvantages to every team. Brett Gardner + one of the above listed options is probably one of the best deficiencies in baseball. No team is perfect. He’s [BxBomber] creating a strawman right before your eyes.”

    Also, it’s a false equivalence since offensively, they’d be matched up in different lineup spots with completely different responsibilities, expectations. So, in summary, virtually all of what you said is incorrect, hyperbolic, anti-science, and full of logical fallacies.

    My conclusion: Yes, you are totally right. Can I sign up for your newsletter?  (Quote)

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    BxBomber Reply:

    What is this, some physics class in college where you use an equation to come up with the answer? Anti science? This is sports not calculus!

    No stat in the world can dispute that in the money moments come playoff time, you want Melky/Matsui/Damon up vs Gardner/bum LF’er/Johnson/Granderson.  (Quote)

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    JMK aka The Overshare Reply:

    Oh boy…we’re in The Matrix.  (Quote)

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  5. So far, the decisions made this offseason have me scratching my head. Its like we’re going out of our way to hit less AND repeat past mistakes (see Nick Johnson, whose bat and eye I love but whose body does not cooperate, and Javier Vazquez, who uses the NL to get paid better than any pitcher in recent memory).  (Quote)

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  6. gardner was the answer for melky not damon , grandy spells damon  (Quote)

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    Ken (O.R.) Reply:

    Very good point!  (Quote)

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