PLAY HICKS, SIT GARDNER

    Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 6:39 PM [General]

    Play Hicks, sit Gardner. When DiDi, Sanchez return, Yankee line-up with Hicks batting ninth is better than Yankee line-up with Gardner batting first.
    We know what Gardner is -- .260 hitter who turns every at-bat, every (increasingly rare) time on base, into a nut-scratching odyssey that slows the game into a ponderous, passive sludge-crawl. He hates to swing the bat and he apparently hates to run, playing a hesitant, cautious, conservative style of baseball that has fans in the stands scrolling iPhones for a soccer game to relieve the tedium. Give gritty, gutty Gardner a new career role: 'Sparkplug' off the bench with his defense, running (maybe he'll be more aggressive) and pinch-hitter who will (give him credit for what he does best) make pitchers throw and work counts ad naseum.
    Meanwhile, we don't know what Hicks is. Give this former top prospect a chance to play on a daily basis. He's a switch-hitter with some pop who can run and play all three outfield positions in a pinch. He's off to a good start, so let him either play himself into the everyday LFer spot or find out if he -- like Gardner -- is not part of the future. For Hicks, the future is now. I may be wildly optimistic, but I think Hicks could be a 20/20 guy in the 9th hole if he plays at least five times a week. Maybe better.
    Playing Gardner every day now does nothing to answer questions about the outfield in the coming years. They're stuck with Ellsbury (so far, so good this year) and Judge is the RFer, hopefully for years to come. Let's find out if Hicks is part of the future, even with Frazier in the wings. Gardner still gets plenty of playing time. He can still be a valuable contributor. But Hicks, right now, is the better player. Play him until he shows otherwise.

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