New York Yankee 2009 Season Outlook: Outfield
CENTER FIELD: The Yankees 2009 outfield is a little crowded and the 8-spot is no exception. The Yankees opted not to make a trade for someone like Milwakee’s Mike Cameron (and rightly so in my opinion) and instead seem content letting the consistently regressing Melky Cabrera and the gritty and grinding Brett Gardner battle it out.
Brett Gardner has been compared to the style of Brett Butler because of the two men’s ability to bunt, slash line drives and work a walk. Gardner’s best tool is his speed, rating out as a 70 on the classic 20-80 scouting scale. He is an impeccable basestealer and can put himself in scoring position by taking an extra base. His speed plays well in centerfield, but he can also cover left and right if need be. His arm is adequate in center and he covers it by making good reads, taking good routes and using his speed to have above-average range.
Melky Cabrera The league has started adjusting to Cabrera and he has not yet made the necessary adjustments to keep up. His defense remains an asset, although mostly due to his plus arm. His range is middling and his reads and routes slightly below average. He is a switch-hitter, although his offense has dropped significantly each of his three seasons with the Yankees. Cabrera must respond to his late-season benching and eventual demotion.
LEFT FIELD: Johnny Damon will make most of the starts in left given his health. Damon enjoyed a bounceback year in 2008, after stuggling with injuries and inconsistencies in 2007. Damon’s range has lessened with age, although he’s still acceptable in left. His arm leaves much to be desired, but plays suitably in left. Damon hits off his front foot, slashes the ball to left and still has significant pull power, especially in Yankee Stadium. If Damon gets banged up Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady could see extended time in left field. Hideki Matsui’s surgically repaired knees will limit his exposure in the field for the Yankees.
RIGHT FIELD: Much like centerfield, the Yankees have multiple options in right field. The departure of Bobby Abreu opened up the position and the acquisition of Mark Teixeira bumped Nick Swisher off first base and into the outfield mix.
Capable of covering all three outfield spots, in addition to first base, Nick Swisher is looking to come back from a down year where White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen used him inconsistently. Epitomizing Billy Beane’s moneyball approach, Swisher is an extremely patient switch-hitter with surprising power both left-handed and right-handed. He’s an all out player which leads to occasional recklessness in the field and on the basepaths. Swisher works the count, leading to a lot of walks and strikeouts.
Xavier Nady, acquired from Pittsburgh along with RP Damaso Marte, was tabbed as Bobby Abreu’s replacement in right field until Nick Swisher was bumped off first base. Nady is a run producer coming off a career year. Playing in his contract year in 2009, the Yankees hope for similar production. Lacks the plate discipline to become an elite outfield bat and the mobility to become an elite defender. Has an suitable arm to cover right field, and more range than his predecessor.