Devizier said:The Yankees held Brett Gardner in the minors for five years, keeping him in AAA full-time for two seasons. And he debuted behind a not-very-good Melky Cabrera at age 26.
Both of these sentences are just flat-out wrong.
1) Gardner only spent three years in the minors (2005-07) before making his major league debut at age 24, not 26, in 2008.
2) He never spent a full season in AAA. He split time between AA and AAA in 2007, at 23, and between AAA and the majors in 2008 and 2009. He never had as many as 450 PA in AAA in any season.
3) Other being about a year and a half older, his path bears a remarkable resemblance to Bradley's. He debuted in 2008 with 42 games and 141 PA (Bradley: 37/107), and stunk up the joint with a 53 OPS+ (Bradley: 69).
So naturally, after that crap first season, the Yankees stashed Gardner back in the minors for 2009....oh wait. Actually they made him their Opening Day CF, and he started 15 of the first 18 games there before they benched the horrifically slumping Gardner in favor of Cabrera. After that, the tables were turned, with Gardner getting occasional starts behind Cabrera for the next month or so. Through June and July Gardner and Cabrera were essentially platooning; then the Yankees sent Gardner back down, making Cabrera the primary CF the rest of the year, though Gardner saw some garbage-time starts after the season was essentially over in early September.
So the Yankees played Gardner in his second ML season exactly as I'm hoping we'll play JBJ: gave him a shot to take the starting job and run with it, but had a strong plan B on hand in case he faltered, which he did. And that all worked out pretty well; the 2009 Yankees did OK as I recall.