Just when we all thought the center field job was being handed to Brett Gardner, ESPN's Jason Stark throws a monkey wrench in the works.
According to his latest "Rumblings and Grumblings" column, Stark claims that the Yankees are speaking again with the Brewers about Mike Cameron. This should put a little bit of a damper on the Brett Gardner love fest going on in Yankees Universe. Gardner's "gritty, gutty" (read: little white guy) style of play gets rave reviews from fans and writers alike, but the simple fact remains that it does not necessarily translate to the Major League playing field.
Through Spring Training so far, Gardner has put up regoddamneddiculous numbers in 34 at bats: .382/.447/.765. Good for him. That and $2 will get you on the subway. Unfortunately for Li'l Gardy, the Yankees just found out that they have lost the biggest offensive threat in the American League for, what could be, two months of the regular season, and that offense needs to be made up somewhere.
This may come off as a harsh assessment of Brett Gardner's body of work (or lack there of), but I am obviously not the only person that feels this way, nor am I the most important. Brian Cashman is obviously exploring other options for the center field job, and we agree. Actually, we agreed when the Cameron deal was supposedly done back in December. The Yankees are obviously in wait-and-see mode regarding Austin Jackson. To start a young, inexperienced player in center on a championship caliber team is borderline irresponsible. If Gardner does what equates to a solid job in 2009 as the starter, and Jackson tears up AAA like he did Trenton, Gardner will be supplanted by Opening Day of 2010.
At this point in his career, Brett Gardner is a good, young fourth outfielder with a ton of speed coming off of the bench. The move to make, in this instance, is to capitalize on the dominant spring that Kei Igawa has put together, eat some of his contract, and send him to the pitching starved Brewers for Mike Cameron. He will provide the serviceable stopgap that the Yankees are looking for while providing 20-25 home run power and a superior glove.