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Dustin Fowler

New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Chris Carelli, SNY.tv

Leadoff hitters are typically a key to a team's success. In the Yankees' case, they've jumped out to an 11-7 record despite left fielder Brett Gardner's incredibly poor start at the plate. Is it too early to look at the future without the Yankees' home grown outfielder and is it too late to receive a good return in a trade?

Gardner is hitting .182 with a .318 on-base percentage, .236 slugging percentage and a 68 wRC+ (runs created per plate appearance where 100 is average) in 66 plate appearances on the young season. However, Gardner's troubles go all the way back to the second half of the 2015 season. 

The moment Gardner returned from his first All-Star game, he began to backpedal offensively. Gardner has stood at the plate 993 times since July 17, 2015. During the span, Gardner sports a .240 batting average, .334 on-base percentage, .333 slugging percentage and an 86 wRC+. Gardner, once prolific on the bases, has swiped a mere 26 bases (caught six times) in the stretch, though he has five this season. Gardner has managed just three months (out of nine, including this month) with a wRC+ above 100 since August 2015. These are not small samples.

Tags: Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mason Williams, Chris Carelli
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New York Yankees pitcher Luis Cessa (85) throws a pitch in the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. (Butch Dill)
New York Yankees pitcher Luis Cessa (85) throws a pitch in the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. (Butch Dill)

The Yankees have optioned Luis Cessa, who was in the running for one of the final spots in the rotation, to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced Friday morning.

In addition, New York has re-assigned INF Ji-Man Choi, OF Dustin Fowler, OF Clint Frazier, LHP Jason Gurka, and OF Billy McKinney to minor league camp.

Cessa appeared in five games this spring for the Yankees, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on 13 hits in 9.2 innings with four walks and seven strikeouts.

Tags: Clint Frazier, Dustin Fowler, Luis Cessa
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New York Yankees center fielder Dustin Fowler (95) rounds second base for a triple during the eighth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. (Reinhold Matay)
New York Yankees center fielder Dustin Fowler (95) rounds second base for a triple during the eighth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. (Reinhold Matay)

Yankees OF Brett Gardner has been very impressed with the talent and work ethic of outfield prospects Billy McKinney and Dustin Fowler this spring.

"I think they're both 22," Gardner told Dan Martin of the New York Post, accurately, on Wednesday. "They're both better players than I was when I was that age, I'll tell you that."

While Gardner has noticed the potential both prospects have to suceed in the majors, the veteran is also aware of the reality of playing in the MLB.

Tags: Brett Gardner, Dustin Fowler
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