The New York Yankees signings of Brett Garnder and CC Sabathia ensure one thing: leadership will have a big presence.
CC and the Gardy Party are now set to embark on what very well may be a final season in pinstripes for both of the fellow veterans.
Both signings aren’t sexy. Both signings aren’t going to make this team any better, talent-wise, then they were a season ago.
But leadership comes in all types of shapes and sizes (no pun intended).
What the Yankees did more than anything else was assure a locker room presence that can’t be matched by a handful of teams. You not only get the position player of a leader in Brett Gardner, but you also have the old wise man putting his paw print all over the starting rotation.
No one should be looking for Gardy to be an integral part of this team. He is there as a fourth outfielder to that of Stanton, Hicks and Judge. He will be able to spell a below average Stanton for defense and be a valuable pinch-runner in tight spots.
Something the Yankees have lacked in recent years: speed on and off the bench.
With Gardner playing every fifth or sixth day, it allows him and his legs to stay fresh. Thus meaning, in late-game spots where they need to move runners over and or into scoring position, Garnder provides that lift from the bench.
His numbers last season aren’t a tell-tale sign of the player he was to the Yankees in his first 10 seasons. He hit a mere .236 at the plate and only reached base at a .322 clip, good for the second lowest in his career.
In simple terms, he was overplayed. At age 35 he is not suited to be the everyday player and energizer bunny he once was. He played in 140 games which are bound to be cut in half coming into the 2019 season. With that in mind, think about the production a fresh player like Gardner could bring to the team.
He also plays a sound left and center field in Yankee stadium meaning Boone doesn’t have to hesitate if Hicks needs a breather.
Yankees with 200+ career steals and 60+ career triples:
Derek Jeter https://t.co/x222DaNqSQ
— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) October 31, 2018
But what Gardner provides more than anything else, is a locker room presence. As the veteran position player on the team, he will continue to be able to groom and mature the young core of talent on this team. His fellow outfielder, Aaron Judge has already begun his road to El Captian, but don’t think Gardy hasn’t been part of that. He is the type of player that knows what should and shouldn’t be said and when or where it should be said. Players like that are so crucial to a team, that without them, your team can and will eventually crumble. There is a lot to be said for a player at the age of 35 who hustles out grounders as if it were his last.
And there is more to be said about a strong clubhouse. Players aren’t tense. Coaches feel they can coach, and chemistry is flowing.
First-hand we have seen Brett Garnder be a leader on this team. Whether it was standing in front of his locker answering questions about his team and personal struggles, he has remained a rock on the Yanks.
And where this all originates from?
Yes. His father. Even though that interview was from four years ago, it explains to you the makeup of what you’re getting with Brett Gardner. A non-stop motor and underdog mentality. Exactly what the Yankees could use in the 2019 season.
CC Sabathia provides a lift to the rotation that still needs nursing. Witnessing Luis Severino’s demise last season was head-turning. Clearly, it was just as much mental as it was physical and it began to show vividly in the second half of the season. That’s where CC comes in.
Sabathia, now entering his 19th season is a man amongst boys when it comes to pitching IQ, as compared to the rest of the staff. And even as it stands right now, Sabathia will be in the rotation considering the only two penciled in before him were Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka. Pitch is a priority, but as I said leadership also comes in all shapes and sizes.
CC is an old dog. He is a seasoned veteran and a fine, aged wine. He has reinvented himself as a pitcher and has been effective in doing so.
But his purpose to me really lies beneath the surface. With the anticipation of No. 1 prospect, Justus Sheffield joining the rotation in 2019, CC mus take his young, fellow southpaw under his wing. Sheffield and Sabathia have had conversations of advice and pointers, and CC was even quoted mentioning he felt Sheffield was ready for an opportunity last year.
Between the mystery of Sevy and the inexperience of Sheffield, CC will be a big voice in the starting rotation. He’s battled adversity. He’s conquered it. And he’s seen both sides of being a pitcher; a dominant overpowering ace and a finesse, precise veteran pitcher.
He’s here to nurture and lead. He also will eat up his fair share of innings barring his knee. At age 39, he isn’t getting any younger and neither is his surgically repaired knee. Overall, 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA in your 18th season ain’t so bad.
And the year before he was 14-5, so CC is showing us how to pitch effectively in all parts of his career. It’s something the whole staff can learn from and especially Tanaka, who has seen a dip in his fastball velocity.
Gardy and CC give a backbone to the Yankees necessary of winning a title. It’s not to get sidetracked from Mr. Judge, who ultimately is the face of the team and the unofficial captain, but one can figure Gardy and CC being his consiglieres.
Jokes aside, they both are pieces that shouldn’t have been missing from the potential 2019 roster.
Leadership was necessary for the front office’s eyes because not just one, but both were signed. They’ve each have earned these deals with the play they provide every time they step on the field.
Without a strong and stable clubhouse, there is no identity to a team. Fortunately, the Bombers have it present again.