Jim Bowden and Jody MacDonald interviewed Brian Cashman on Sirius XM yesterday, and he had the following to say about the Granderson v. Gardner for center field debate (h/t Ben at RAB):
I think that what’s taken place is when you’re asked questions like ‘Is there a possibility of Gardner playing center?’ I’m like, well, if we feel Gardner makes us our best team with Gardner at center because we’re blessed to have two above average center fielders patrolling Yankee Stadium’s outfield out of the three man alignment. So we have [Nick] Swisher in right, Granderson in center and Gardner, assuming he holds it down and wins it, will be in left.
But Granderson’s our center fielder. He’s an above average center fielder and that’s why we acquired him. But to be quite honest if somebody asked, ‘Hey, but is it possible Brett Gardner might be a better center fielder?’ Our defensive metrics on Brett Gardner made him one of the elite center fielders in the game. I’m not saying he’s the top but he’s close to it.
So in fairness we acknowledge that but does that mean it’s the right thing to do to move Curtis Granderson over to left? I’m not saying that but I’m also open minded to say, alright, we’ve got a new player. We’re gonna see how our team fits and we’ll make decisions accordingly as we see things playing out. But Granderson’s our center fielder.”
Cashman is alluding to what we have discussed in this space a number of times: while there might be a small statistical advantage to having Gardner in center field, practical concerns make Granderson a better fit in center field. Firstly, Gardner will likely be sharing time with Randy Winn and one of Marcus Thames or Jamie Hoffmann. Granderson would play center over all of those players, so it would not be prudent to have him moving back and forth every couple of days. Furthermore, the Yankees do not know at this point whether Gardner is a long-term solution for them. If they need to replace him next offseason, it is significantly easier to fill a hole in left field than it is to find a solid center fielder. Moving Granderson to save a few runs in 2010 only to move him back in 2011 does not seem like an efficient use of resources.
The second thing Cashman discussed was to state that Nick Johnson, he of the amazing on-base abilities, would be batting second. I do not know if Cashman is simply making an assumption that Girardi will bat Nick second or if Joe has told him as much, but let’s take that statement at face value and assume that Johnson will bat second. What might the batting order look like? This would be my expectation:
Cano, Granderson, and Swisher are interchangeable here, but I like having Granderson sandwiched between a switch hitter and Cano, who hits lefties well.
What would your lineup look like?