That all might be changing though, if the words of general manager Brian Cashman are any indication. Making an appearance on The Michael Kay Show yesterday, Cashman was asked about possibly starting Gardner as the series moves to Detroit, and he responded by saying, “You could very well see Gardner in this big outfield that Detroit has. The way our offense is, it is a possibility. He deserves consideration considering what is going on right now.”
I’ve more or less understood where the Yankees’ reluctance to press Gardner into service is coming from, and so far it hasn’t really bothered me, but I think those days have come to an end. For one thing, the defensive upgrade could be a big factor in spacious Comerica Park, especially with Phil Hughes pitching tonight. Hughes is a fly ball pitcher, and with all of that ground to cover and Justin Verlander to match, he could use all the help he could get. Secondly, even if Gardner hadn’t taken a hack in two years, he couldn’t really be a worse option than Swisher or Granderson right now, who are not only black holes on offense, but have basically become near automatic strikeouts to boot.
If it were my call, Gardner would be starting in center field tonight and Granderson would be on the bench. I’m not super committed to playing Swisher over Granderson by any means, I just feel like the defensive difference between the two is largely overstated, and that Swisher was at least having solid at bats as recently as the ALDS, while Granderson has looked completely lost at the plate for over a month now. Either way, I think you have to give Gardner a chance, at least, at one of their expense, if only because you have everything to gain and nothing to lose if you’re the Yankees.