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Yankees still deciding between Curtis Granderson or Brett Gardner in center field

Feb 5, 2013, 10:47 AM EDT

AP Granderson Gardner AP

Now that Brett Gardner is healthy again the Yankees have the option of shifting Curtis Granderson from center field to left field and apparently they’re still debating the switch.

“We have two center fielders, as we’ve had for three years, manning two-thirds of our outfield,” general manager Cashman said, via Bryan Hoch of “It’s something we’ll talk about. It’s certainly something that’s possible, but it’s not something we’ve moved on.”

Granderson has been exclusively a center fielder since joining the Yankees in 2010, but does have some previous experience in left field for the Tigers and has drawn some criticism for his defense recently. Meanwhile, Gardner has always played left field alongside Granderson, but he was a center fielder in the minors and would have stayed there for most other teams.

And they also have Ichiro Suzuki, who played more than 2,300 innings in center field for the Mariners and started five games there for the Yankees last year even at age 38.

  1. js20011041 - Feb 5, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    I think that this should be a no brainer for the Yankees. Gardner is clearly the better defensive option. Fangraphs has Granderson at negative 17.8 runs last year. In 2010 and 2011 Garder saved 25 more runs each year than the average LF. Granted, LF defensive numbers are skewed, but it isn’t hard to see Gardner being a pretty substantial defensive upgrade for the team. Of course having said this, I’m a Red Sox fan, so by all means Yankees, keep playing Jeter and Granderson up the middle.

  2. artthoumad - Feb 5, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    I think this can be classified as “good problems”

  3. barrywhererufrom - Feb 5, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    As a Yankees fan who watches every game I can. I hope that Gardner is the CF. Granderson will be fine in left. I would saw Granderson is an above average CF but Gardner will make the plays that Granderson can’t make. I just wish they had a little more offense this year. But that’s a story for another day or rant..

  4. mazblast - Feb 5, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Gardner is the better center fielder. Granderson is paid more and has more experience.

    Guess who’s playing center.

  5. Jeremy T - Feb 5, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    I think Gardner’s the better choice here, but I don’t think it makes that much of a difference either way. If Granderson’s in center, he’s going to have Gardner on one side and Ichiro on the other. He’s not going to have to range very far to either side.

    • Detroit Michael - Feb 5, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      I think it makes a bit more difference than you imply. The average LF gets about 75% as many fielding chances per season as the average CF. Assuming (for sake of simplification) that Gardner and Granderson are equally adaptable to fielding different positions, it does make a differece to get the best fielding in CF.

      I’ve seen graphs (such as from the Fielding Bible series of books) and the territory for the three outfielders doesn’t tend to overlap much. Teammates with wide range have a fairly small impact on the number of chances available fo the CF.

      • Jeremy T - Feb 5, 2013 at 12:45 PM

        Hmm, well I certainly don’t want to go against the Fielding Bible. Still, I know I read multiple accounts from 2010 and 2011 that said Granderson was able to play farther towards right field with Gardner in left. I seem to remember that being at least some of the explanation for Grandy’s poor fielding metrics those years (although the fact that he still wasn’t very good in 2012 would be an argument against that explanation). Still, though, even if there is an effect, then Gardner as a center fielder would be able to shade towards left, and cover a lot more ground than Granderson could. So either way, Gardner is the better choice, I suppose.

  6. uyf1950 - Feb 5, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    Just my opinion but I would keep Granderson in CF now that the Yankees have signed Ichiro to play RF. The combination of the Yankees best defenders manning both corner outfield positions should be able to cut down the area Granderson has to cover in CF for the Yankees.

    • bigharold - Feb 5, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      I think the Yankees are better served with Gardner in CF.

      I don’t fault you logic, nor do I think that Granderson is a liability at CF as some have suggested but I’d rather Gardner in CF for offense. I’m thinking Gardner is two years younger than Granderson. Granderson’s importance to the offense is his HRs. Spare the “older” guy the running around in CF and let him stay fresher for the plate.

      Either way, defensively the Yankee out field looks solid.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 5, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        I understand where you are coming from with perhaps there being a little less wear and tear on Granderson playing LF. But what concerns me is that Granderson in his entire career has only started 3 games in LF and only had 10 total chances when he’s played the position. I certainly don’t meanto imply that he can’t play LF but playing CF hasn’t hurt his power numbers so far and it’s unlikely that in the one remaining year he has left with the Yankees that it will.

        Yes, I know I said one remaining year left. Because if the Yankees are truly intent on getting to the $189MM Luxury Tax Threshold for the 2014 the simply can NOT afford to resign both Granderson and Cano. One will be gone my guess it Granderson is the one to go.

      • bigharold - Feb 5, 2013 at 6:21 PM

        “… Granderson is the one to go.”

        Then even more reason to Gardner out there all season. Let him get the feeling of what is to be expected of him.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 6, 2013 at 8:46 AM

        BigHarold, I don’t think the learning curve for Gardner will be as much as you may think. He’s played a fair amount of CF for the Yankees in the past. For Example:
        2008: 22 games
        2009: 99 games
        2010: 44 games
        2011: 18 games
        2012: out with an injury

        As you can see I think he probably has a pretty good feel for CF already.

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 5, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Gardner should be the CF. The Yankees should see what he has at that position this season so they can figure out their needs for next year. FWIW, I would imagine Granderson the LF might make a but less money in free agency than Granderson the CF, in which case he may be a bit easier for the Yankees to re-sign for 2014.

  8. Old Gator - Feb 5, 2013 at 1:33 PM

    What’s so hard to decide? That’s Granderson, there, on the left….

  9. randygnyc - Feb 5, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    Sabathia…8th- good, strategic points.

  10. cackalackyank - Feb 5, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    I would leave Granderson in center for the start of the season sticking to the theory that a CF might command more than a LF. Unless the NYY have a miraculous start to the season and find a hint of replacing the offense they have lost this offseasoon they would seem likely to approach the trade deadline in 3rd or 4th @ 10 games out. Maybe they can deal Granderson to a contender looking for a power hitting OF/DH for some prospects, rather than settling for a pick at best. On the other hand, given their likely position at the deadline, they could probably get more for Cano, who would cost them more to resign. Keep in mind NYY will have 2 maybe 3 rotation spots to fill, plus a closer situation to settle. Theoretically there may not really be anything much $ wise to speak of available to sign the @ 5 regulars they will need if they stick to the 189 million goal if Granderson and or Cano are 2 of them. Look for the possibility of BOTH Cano and Granderson being moved for prospects if the NYY are 10 or more out at the All Star break. #herecomestherebuild

  11. 4cornersfan - Feb 5, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    The one concern I have for Gardner in CF is his arm. Does he have a CF arm? I watch a lot of Yankee games on mlbtv but its hard to judge how strong and accurate an outfielder’s arm is on TV, plus it’s been a year since he has played regularly. It’s easier in RF because they have to make the throw to 3B. Anybody seen him live?

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 5, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      Not particularly strong, but generally pretty accurate. Having watched most games over the last few years, I would say it about the same as Granderson’s.

  12. jfk69 - Feb 6, 2013 at 9:54 AM

    Gardner is faster and reacts to the ball off the bat better. Granderson uses his speed to make up for his poor tracking off the bat. That said….How will it affect Granderson overall if he is moved at this stage to left. I know Garder won’t have a problem? Is the upside that great to fool with Grandersons psyche in his walk year. I don’t want first year hitting Grandy while he adjusts to left.

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