New York Yankees: 5 Reasons Why Brett Gardner's Return Will Help the Lineup
The Yankees head into the month of June at third place in the American League East division.
The Yankees offense at times has looked very good, but a lot of times, the it looked very stale.
There have been games during the first two months of the season where the Yankee bats look like they were put to sleep, and not by great pitching either.
One of the big parts of the starting lineup has been missing since the end of April in Brett Gardner.
Gardner has been on the DL with an elbow injury since April 18, but is expected to be back within the next several weeks.
With the lineup filled with veteran hitters, Gardner may be able to breathe some fresh air into the Yankee lineup heading into the summer.
And here's five reasons why when Gardner does return to the Yankees, he'll be able to help ignite the offense.
The Running Game
Gardner flat out causes havoc on the base paths, and it's something the Yankees have been missing with him out.
Normally, Gardner leads the team in this category, as he did a year ago with 49 stolen bases.
So far, Alex Rodriguez is the current steals leader for the Yankees with six; Derek Jeter is next with four. Both aren't exactly tearing it up on the base paths.
That's Gardner's job. He creates distractions with his speed and causes the pitcher to notice when he's on base.
Bringing Gardner back adds that element that has been gone for nearly two months.
Table Setter for RBI Guys
Whether it be a walk or a hit, getting Gardner on base is very important to this team.
Not just because of his speed, but Gardner creates opportunities for the heavy hitters in the lineup like Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.
If the Yankees want to start scoring more runs, they will need to create more opportunities for the middle of the order.
Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson do that as the lead-off hitter and number two hitter, respectively.
With Gardner on base, he's likely to score a decent amount of runs and help the big bats with their RBI production.
The Lineup Becomes Deeper Again
With Garnder out, it's forced Joe Girardi to put in a lot of different lineups, some of which he probably would not like to use as much as he has had to.
Now, don't get me wrong, I really like Eric Chavez, but he's not an everyday player anymore. Yet, because of Gardner's absence, Chavez has been seen in the starting lineup more frequently.
The same goes with Andruw Jones. Jones was once an everyday home-run hitter, but not in 2012. He's the fourth outfielder for the Yankees and because of the injury to Gardner, Jones has also been starting more than he probably should be.
With Gardner back, it'll put Chavez and Jones both on the bench as late pinch-hitting options, which is where they are more valuable to the team.
When the Yankees signed Raul Ibanez, they saw him primarily as their DH.
Thus far, Ibanez has played a lot in the outfield, both in left and right field. Ibanez hasn't been awful for the Yankees in the outfield, but he's not going to win a Gold Glove out there either.
Ibanez's value to the Yankees is with his bat, as he's tied for second on the team in home runs.
Putting Gardner back in the outfield allows Ibanez to concentrate solely on hitting, with the occasional stint in the outfield.
By putting Gardner back in left and Ibanez at DH, it won't wear out Ibanez when the hot summer months come because the Yankees are going to need Ibanez's bat as the season progresses.
Fresh, Young Legs Needed
Lets take a look at the Yankees lineup right now.
Derek Jeter will be 38 at the end of the month.
Curtis Granderson is 31.
Alex Rodriguez is 36, going on 37 next month.
Mark Teixeira is 32.
Nick Swisher is 31.
Raul Ibanez will turn 40 on Saturday.
A lot of the Yankees' current lineup is 30 and older, with only Robinson Cano and Russell Martin not 30 yet; Cano and Martin are both 29.
Gardner is 28 and not only brings youth to the older lineup, but brings a certain energy that is important to the Yankees.
A lot of the older players like Jeter and A-Rod may need the occasional day off to rest their legs. Gardner doesn't need the days off because he's in the prime stages of his career.
Having him back will hopefully rejuvenate an older team with some fresh, younger and well-rested legs.