Girardi said Thursday that he will use the rest of Spring Training to try out Derek Jeter as his leadoff hitter and move Damon to the No. 2 hole, believing that the Yankees may have accidentally happened upon something to increase production.
Probably not, Joe. Assuming something like consistency out of both hitters, the main change will be that, if you persist with that batting order through all 162 games, Jeter will bat about 20 more times than Damon. The lineup synergies don’t really exist, although there could be a placebo effect. The fun thing about this decision is that we will now get into the “after, therefore because” territory of logical fallacies. If Jeter hits .350, some people will cite the move as a reason. If he hits .250, the move will be the reason too. In the former case, he’ll be getting more fastballs. In the latter, he’ll be trying too hard to work the count. The same thing will go for Damon, and for the offense as a whole–if the Yankees are more potent this year, it will be cause of this change. It almost certainly won’t be, and if you think about it, there’s no reason that it should be–why should flipping one spot in the batting order lead to a vastly different outcome? It’s like saying that if you fry an egg with your left hand on the skillet instead of your right, the egg will taste better. It’s an insignificant change.
It is with matters such as this that we keep busy during our time here on planet Earth.
SO IS IT GARDNER?
Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yankees “appear open to moving Cabrera.” This would seem to be an amazing bit of non-news, but if accurate, it does suggest that Brett Gardner will get the bulk of center field time going forward. Meanwhile, Cabrera is having a fine spring–in today’s game he went 2-for-4 to raise his batting average to .313 and also swatted his first home run (as did Nick Swisher, but enough about that). Melky’s skill and tool set is such that he’s going to have to hit over .300 to contribute, and if you believe he can do that in the regular season, grand. Be aware, however, there are very few true .300 hitters. Even for those batters who often reach the mark, there is a lot variance in there–some years of .285, which in Melky’s case would not be all that valuable, some years of .310, which would be. You end up taking the good with the bad with batting average-based players.
There are some teams who are so poor in the outfield that it makes sense for them to take a look at Melky’s spring, believe a little in spite of themselves, and take a flier on catching a rebound year. The Yankees are not in that position–they have better choices in Gardner and even Swisher. It now falls to Brian Cashman to figure out which teams are window shopping (the White Sox?) and see if he can get them to give up a bit more than they would prefer.
OFF TO RUTGERS
Tonight at 6 PM. Scroll down for details; hope to see you there.