After missing all of last season, Brett Gardner will be back with the Yankees. This has spurred debates over whether or not the Yankees should move Curtis Granderson to left field and let Gardner man center. It’s an interesting concept.
Granderson has played center field exclusively since coming to the Yankees in 2010. Last season was not his best year in centerfield. He spent a great deal of time misjudging balls. He often looked late to get to the play. Although Granderson is most comfortable in centerfield, he does have experience in the corner outfield positions and said he would be open to the idea. Read that HERE. The Yankees have a lot of options, and it is going to take a lot of consideration. It’s nice to have that kind of flexibility.
So should Gardner take over center? Let’s break this down by parts:
Speed: While Granderson is no louse in this department, Gardner wins this hands down. 2011 was a breakout year for Gardner, and he was arguably one of the best left fielders. He saved a lot of runs for the Yankees. Left center field is not an easy area to defend, and he did it well. Throw him in centerfield and I think his defense could shine even more.
Range: Granderson has been known to make incredible plays out in center. But I think that Gardner’s speed will give him the one up in this case. You have to be able to cover a lot of ground in Yankee stadium, especially in centerfield and that is why I think Gardner will excel there.
Throwing distance: After last year’s injury, it is possible that Gardner will lose this one to Granderson. The real test comes during spring training. Even though he is coming off of an injury, it is hard to forget how Gardner tied Austin Jackson for the most runs saved with 22 in 2011. Considering how Jackson played Center and Gardner played left field, it is pretty impressive considering that Jackson had more balls to track down. Also worth noting, Gardner did have 7 outfield assists that same year. If he did it once, he could do it again especially with consistent playing time and a clean bill of health.
The switch is not entirely outlandish either. Gardner played center field in the minors, while Granderson played left field with the Tigers before coming to the Yankees. They both have the experience, and even Brian Cashman said that it is a move that the Yankees are going to consider. Either way, the outfield will have lots of speed in it.
As it stands now, the Yankees have two center field possibilities. I like Granderson, but I don’t want to sit through another season of botched plays in center field. I like the idea of switching him and Gardner. If he has the throwing distance needed in center, I think the Yankees will give Gardner the opportunity to prove himself in the position.