Comparing Bernie, Melky, and Gardner

Mark Carig made an interesting point this morning about Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner by comparing their credentials with those of a young Bernie WIlliams:

What if Bernie Williams (the 1992 version) were involved in the Yankees’ current position battle in center field? How would he stack up competing against Gardner and Cabrera? Would he go on to earn a chance to play enough to develop into the steady star that he became?

Gardner isn’t in the same offensive universe as the other two, though his speed and glove in center might help offset some of the difference, though certainly not all of it. Melky and Bernie appear more comparable, with one big difference. Cabrera has already had chances to prove himself, thus exposing a limited upside. This was not the case with Bernie, who didn’t log his first full season until he was 24.

Anyway, I’ve pulled out two -year chunks during somewhat similar times in their respective careers. Using this year’s CHONE projections to forecast the 2009 season for Cabrera and Gardner, here are the comparisons:

BERNIE WILLIAMS
1992: Age 23, 62 games, 261 at-bats, .280/.354/.406
1993: Age 24, 139 games, 567 at-bats, .268/.333/.400

MELKY CABRERA
2008: Age 23, 129 games, 414 at-bats, .249/.301/.341
2009: Age 24, 146 games, 515 at-bats, .280/.345/.402

BRETT GARDNER
2008: Age 24, 42 games, 127 at-bats, .228/.283/.299
2009: Age 25, 119 games, 446 at-bats, .258/.371/.360

Melky compares favorably to Bernie, while Gardner needs to point to his speed and defense to justify being included in the conversation.… Click here to read the rest

Gardner named starter in CF

Manager Joe Girardi continues to make the fans happy as he names Brett Gardner the starting Yankee centerfielder, according to the NY Post.  “It’s not going to be day by day, Gardy is our center fielder,” Girardi said.  “He brings a little more speed to the lineup and defensively he brings a little more speed. Offensively, they were pretty even this spring and Gardy will steal more bases.”  Melky hit .340 this Spring to Gardner’s .385.… Click here to read the rest

Burnett: Championship Or Bust

From Mark Feinsand:

For years, Jeter has preached that the season is a failure if you’re not the last team standing.
“I agree with him 100%; that’s why we’re here and why we play this game,” Burnett said.
But is a World Series-or-bust edict more pressure than players need over a 162-game season? Burnett doesn’t think so.
“I think it’s a good mind-set to take to the field with you every day,” he said. “I’ll start thinking that in my preparation now, because I think it’s true. There are 25 guys in here, but we’re not just playing for ourselves. We’re playing for the fans, we’re playing for the city and we’re playing for the world of pinstripes.”

Burnett seems to have really taken to the Yankee way of approaching the sport. When the Yankees signed him, some doubted that he had the right mentality to fit in in New York. However, he has surprisingly taken a leadership position, mentoring Joba and CMW while making himself available to the media on a regular basis.… Click here to read the rest

Managers Using Statistics

From Peter Gammons:

Years ago, managers just snubbed their noses at sabermetrics. Now, it’s mostly media members and former players who reject such studies. Not managers.

Washington’s Manny Acta will lay an occasional “VORP” on you, and Brewers manager Ken Macha was so intrigued by “The Fielding Bible,” compiled by John Dewan and Bill James, that he copied sections and gave them to players. He wanted the players to understand the relationship of bases and outs to runs, and how outfielders cutting balls off and hitting relay men and how baserunners’ aggression and hustle add up at the end of the year. So add the Brew Crew to the list of teams using sabermetrics.

I was thinking about this very thing when the Yankees flipped Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon earlier this week. The company line was that the Yankees liked the lefty-batting Damon’s ability to move the runner over, and therefore decided to make the switch. However, there are multiple statistical reasons to flip Jeter and Damon, and I am fairly confident that Joe Girardi considered factors such as contact rate and GB% when making his decision.… Click here to read the rest

Bernie’s wishful thinking

From ESPN:

“I felt really good about playing,” Williams said. “I am my worst critic and I didn’t feel very bad about it. It took me a while to get acclimated. But after a while, I felt very encouraged.”

“I can still play,” said Williams, 40, who was in New York to tape an interview for the YES Network’s “CenterStage” program. He went 0-for-5 with two walks during the WBC.

Williams has yet to ask his agent to contact any big-league teams and would not say if he’d play for a team other than the Yankees. But he did say he’s not interested in playing for an independent league team or working his way back through the minors.

“At this point, I don’t want to be the guy that tries to come back and goes to the independent leagues or the minor leagues for a couple [of] weeks,” Williams said. “I would certainly welcome the opportunity to play in the big leagues at some point, even though the window is very short right now.”

Bernie, if you want to play again you’re going to have work your way back just like everyone else.… Click here to read the rest

Final Roster Spots: Center Field (Updated: Gardner Wins Spot)

Throughout the day, I looked at the battles for the final spots on the Yankees roster: the last reliever, the battle for CF, and the utility infielder fight. I started with the 7th reliever, continued by looking at the utility infielder role, and will now wrap up the series by discussing the battle for center field.

Unlike the last two roster spots that I discussed, it seems that this fight is not for a spot on the team:

The competition between centerfielders Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera is likely to end with both players making the Yankees.

“That’s probably my expectation right now,” manager Joe Girardi said Friday.

Girardi was not ready to reveal which player he wants as the starting centerfielder, though he did say he has one in mind. He and other Yankees decision-makers, most notably general manager Brian Cashman, plan to sit down and discuss that and other roster decisions in the next couple of days….

“The thing is we have two capable centerfielders,” Girardi said.

Click here to read the rest