Thursday, June 28, 2012

Is Ibanez the Answer in Left?

Just recently Yankee outfielder Brett Gardner suffered a setback in rehabilitation of his right elbow injury. The team was forced to place him on the 60-Day disabled list and have set mid to late July as his earliest possible return. The July date in mind might just be a dream, as Yankee fans seem to have given up hope that Gardner will contribute at all this season. Especially after cameras caught a bummed looking Gardner on the bench in a cast this past week.


Throughout the year Raul Ibanez has seen most of the playing time in Gardner’s absence. However, is Ibanez the right guy? At age 40, Ibanez does not run like he used to. He is a liability in the base paths and in left field. He has an average throwing arm and struggles to cover enough ground in the outfield. To me, he is just another low average, high home run power hitter in a Yankee lineup full of them with the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson


Back in May I posted a piece outlining the importance of Brett Gardner to the Yankee lineup. I stated that Gardner provides speed and aggression on the base paths and is a pesky hitter who works the count. Gardner turned the Yankee lineup into a “small/smart ball” team that strategically manufactured runs. Without Gardner the Yankees have none of that, but instead are completely predicated on the long ball and other big plays to score. Although the Yankees have proved me wrong and gone on a tremendous run without Gardner’s presence, I still stand by my believe that come October, especially in the unfavorable cold air, the Yankee bats will go cold and fail them. The style they currently play is not a championship formula. Runs win games; “small/smart ball” wins championships. 


Who should replace Brett Gardner? Dewayne Wise. Although not as talented, Wise fits the mold of what Brett Gardner provided to the Yankee lineup. In his limited chances this season, Wise has stolen six bases and not been thrown out once. Ibanez has played far more than Wise and only stolen two. Wise’s running ability is also clear in that he is the player Joe Girardi always calls on for late game pinch running. One can argue that Ibanez is a better hitter than Wise, but as Ibanez is cooling down, Wise is heating up.  In the last seven days Dewayne Wise has batted .375 to Ibanez’s .294. Furthermore, for the entire month of June Wise has batted .286 to Ibanez’s .177. And really, how many home run hitters do the Yankees need in one lineup. What they need is a table setter that can get on base and manufacture runs when the bats cannot; Dewayne Wise is currently the closest thing the Yankees have to Brett Gardner. 


Also unlike Ibanez, Wise is a defensive strength. He has above average speed which allows him to cover ground that Ibanez could only dream of. Wise also possesses a stronger and more accurate arm than Ibanez and is a magician with the glove. Did you see the catch he made as he ran into the stands the other night? Okay, he really didn’t catch the ball, but the point is Ibanez wouldn’t have even made it a play. Remember the home run Wise robbed to preserve Mark Buehrle’s perfect game when he played for the Chicago White Sox? That is an example of what Wise can do. 


It appears that Joe Girardi might be seeing things like I am, as he slowly incorporates Wise into the lineup more and more. Dewayne Wise fits perfectly in the nine hole of the Yankee lineup where he can be protected, but still act as a lead-off hitter when the lineup turns over. As good as the Yankees regular season may end up, don’t expect the Yankees to be a sure championship pick until they get some kind of table setter that can manufacture runs even when the bats go cold. 

2 comments:

I agree with this except for the very last sentence.

Okay, that's fair. Maybe I was a bit harsh on the last sentence because they can be a championship contender with this offense as long as the pitching stays the course.

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