The MLB Winter Meetings came to an end and two of the pieces many expected the New York Yankees to trade are still on the roster. Last year’s Mariano Rivera Award winner — that’s for the best reliever people — Andrew Miller is still in pinstripes and so is Brett Gardner.
I don’t mind that both are still in the Bronx. I understand that the asking price was high on purpose, so the fact that they weren’t traded for the sake of being trade — like Justin Wilson seemingly was — I also understand.
What I don’t understand is the outcry on social media by Yankees fans about Brett Gardner leaving. Just like I didn’t understand when the whole world wept that the Yankees were “lunatics” to let David Robertson walk. Let me explain.
Let me reaffirm that I do not dislike Brett Gardner. He is a Yankee that I have come to like. He is home grown, he is scrappy and seems like he comes to the ballpark ready to play everyday, as long as he is healthy.
I also know Yankees fans are a sucker for anyone that is homegrown and at least halfway decent in pinstripes. I realized this when Derek Jeter retired and there was an outcry to make Gardner the next Yankees captain. You do realize that it took 30 years — THIRTY YEARS — for the Yankees to decide that it was ok to name another captain after the Iron Horse passed away. After Donnie Baseball retired as Yankees captain, it took them nearly ten years to decide that Derek Jeter — DEREK JETER — was a good choice for captain. The day he retired, there were articles about why Gardner was fit to be the next captain. Not me, my article for the Yankees site was about how there shouldn’t be a Yankees captain for a while. But I digress.
Now, fans are throwing a tizzy because Gardy may be traded. I know, I know. Fans aren’t the best source for factual opinions or what the team is doing, but the fans are who read these articles. I believe that sometimes it is ok to respond to what the masses are thinking, as long as it is backed up by some sort of evidence. Sometimes, I think it is our duty as writers to at least try to convince one person that there is actually another side to the fence. I mean hey, nobody is really missing D-Rob that much anymore, are they?
I’m not going to share the exact tweets (to protect the innocent) that I have seen the past two weeks, but here are some of my favorites:
“I will be a Mets fan if the Yankees trade Gardy.”
“I will spend the Christmas season crying if Gardy goes.”
“The Yankees are on a crack if they think it is a good idea to trade away Gardner.”
Why? What is so special about Gardy? Again, I like him. I think that if the price is too low that Gardy is more of an asset in pinstripes in 2016 than being traded and settling for anything less than what the Yankees brass have in mind (which, too, is frightening to think about).
This is Major League Baseball, and to get you have to give. If the Yankees are truly bought into the vision that they are restructuring (we all know the Yankees would never attempt a Chicago Cubs/Houston Astros/ Atlanta Braves rebuild) and readying the vastly improved Minor League system to become the next version of The Core Four, then Gardy is the best trading chip the Yankees have.
Nobody is going to want to take Mark Teixeira or Carlos Beltran‘s ludicrous contracts off the books. Jacoby Ellsbury‘s deal makes him practically un-tradeable. Seriously, go look at his stats. Ells is entering his tenth season in baseball and he has yet to put up three consecutive strong seasons. Why? He is an injury liability, yet he is being paid like he is the savior to the Yankees offense. A savior who didn’t start the lone playoff game the Yankees have been in since signing with the team.
Yet again, I digress.
Gardy’s rugged style of all-out play is beginning to show. He has been nagged by injuries, and he is one of the streakiest players offensively in the Yankees lineup. Did you see his numbers in the second half of last year after finally nabbing his first All Star Game honor of his career? He slashed .206/.300/.292. That wasn’t a rarity, that has been Gardy for most of his career.
His defense has taken a hit (his RF has dropped in each of the last three seasons), and no matter what you want to believe, he is in a decline.
That isn’t a negative bash on Gardy. I like the guy (yes, I feel like I have to constantly reiterate this), but facts are facts. Gardner is 31-years old. His days as a speed demon and extra base threat seem to be going by the wayside as he is settling in at the plate as more of a 15-20 home run guy as opposed to the 30 doubles-10-triples-8 home runs-40 stolen base guy he once was.
But one more year of injuries piling up could see his value drop even more. Think about how hard it has been for the Yankees to trade him right now. That’s the precise reason they should stay aggresively active and see if someone will bite. Getting some of these other outfielders off the free agency board would certainly help.
But again, if it’s not there, don’t go for it. The Yankees need pitching, and the younger it is, the better. I personally think the sentiment should be:
“If Gardy is traded for some lower-level pitching prospects we don’t know, I’ll sabotage Christmas.”
We have to remember we don’t always see December trades coming. Remember how excited Yankees fans were to be rolling into 2015 with Martin Prado? If the Yankees can find a solid young arm that is under team control for three or four years, Brett Gardner is going to be the best chance to go get him.
That’s what I thought.