Wednesday, December 9, 2009

All Granderson, All The Time

Good morning Fackers. My gut reaction to the Curtis Granderson trade was indifference. Or confusion maybe. As best as I can describe, I don't think it's a bad trade, I'm just not sure it was a necessary trade. Perhaps this stems from some bias on my part, as from the start, I thought the Granderson-to-the-Yankees rumors were just unfounded rumors.

People far smarter than me (Keith Law, Rob Neyer, Dave Cameron, etc.) have labeled this a steal of a deal for the Yankees. I can understand that point of view and I can't come up with a solid counterargument against it. But my knee jerk reaction is that the Yankees had an average to just-above average centerfield platoon in 2009. Curtis Granderson is without a doubt an improvement upon that platoon, but outside of his outstanding 2007, he's been just very good rather than excellent over the past four years. I suppose that's still worth the price paid since Austin Jackson's ceiling is apparently to become Curtis Granderson, but it stings a bit to lose three guys that we've followed through the system over the past several years. I suppose any good trade has a price to pay, and the fact that I don't want to give up the likes of AJax, IPK, and Coke but that I'm not heartbroken over it means that it was a decent trade.

That said, the more I think about the deal, the more questions I come up with. In no specific order here are some thoughts and questions, some of which probably echo the multitude of thoughts already expressed on this deal:

• Where does Granderson play? At present the Yankees don't have a left fielder, but as above, they have a decent CF platoon. Does Granderson play left? A lot of Granderson's value comes from his ability to produce as he can as a centerfielder.

• Related to that, where does this leave Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui? There's virtually no chance they both return now, if not because of roster spots then certainly because of payroll. Does either return?

• Granderson can't hit lefties. Gardner's a lefty, Melky's a switch hitter who can't really hit lefties either. Granderson likely needs a platoon partner. Does this mean Reed Johnson, as suggested by Keith Law and a host of others? If so, does that not leave room for Melky or Gardner? Or do we ignore Granderson's numbers against lefties and chalk it up to insufficient sample size, or assume that he can turn it around like Paul O'Neill before him?

• Brian Cashman was quoted this week as saying the Yankees priorities are "pitching, pitching, pitching and then leftfield". I assumed that to mean they were going to acquire pitching, or at least firm up pitching. Well, they have a left fielder, potentially, but all they've done so far is subtract pitching. Don't get me wrong, no one is going to cry over Brian Bruney, Ian Kennedy, and Phil Coke. But in them you have three guys who have proven themselves capable of pitching at the Major League level in various capacities. Now all three are gone without another pitcher to show for it. It may not have a major impact on the overall talent level, but does impact the depth.

• So much for keeping payroll down, or even reducing it. Granderson has a manageable deal for the next three to four years, but he's guaranteed $23.75M over the next three years, including$5.5M this year, with a $13M option or$2M buyout for 2013. Again, manageable, but more than what the Yankees would have been playing for the likely CF alternatives during that time.

• The Granderson deal should all but prevent the Yankees from dealing for Roy Halladay. All Halladay rumors started with Joba or Hughes combined with AJax or Montero. While 3 of those 4 guys are still available, making such a trade would leave the Yankees nearly completely devoid of young talent at the Big League level and the top levels of the farm system. Losing AJax and IPK may not be the worse thing in the world, but I think it does make it more important to keep the likes of Hughes, Chamberlain, and Montero.

• The Yankees have lost two relief pitchers over the last two days. Again, no big loss. But, Damaso Marte has been consistently inconsistent in the last two years and may be in the mix to be "The Eighth Inning Guy (TM)". Joe Girardi loves to match up. With Coke gone, I have to figure that barring a trade, Mike Dunn will be in the Yankee pen next year. In fact, given that the Yankees insisted he be pulled from the initially proposed deal, I imagine they have plans for him. Dunn's K rates are very appealing, but his BB rates scare me. A lot. He may be left handed Bruney. in fact he may make Bruney look like Greg Maddux by comparison.

• Granderson appears to be another high character acquisition for the Yankees. Obviously his talent is what precipitated the deal, but given the number of talented "character guys" the Yankees have brought in over the past year following years of malcontents, I can't help but wonder if the organization is targeting players who contribute both on the field and in the clubhouse.

Anyway, those were the first things that came to mind. This one's been dissected a thousand different ways throughout the Yankee blogosphere already. I'm sure we'll have more to say over the next several days.

1. I think Cashman has a series of moves planned to follow this one up, such as signing Pettitte, signing Damon/Matsui, and bringing in one or more high risk/high upside guys such as Sheets. He may also have a stealth trade ready to go using Mekly or Gardner plus Joba/Hughes for a starting pitcher. Should be interesting.

2. The view from Red Sox Nation...this is a GREAT deal for the Yanks. He is a lock down Centerfielder. A catalyst at the top of the lineup with wheels and big power to left field in the stadium. I think he makes the lineup even more potent. Did they need to strengthen the lineup...not really but this sure does. I would imagine Melky moves over to a corner

3. oops...Right field

4. I like Granderson coming to town. I appreciate the stats thrown around that bring up questions about him, but I can't help thinking that they only tell part of the story. Granderson has proven himself an excellent ballplayer. I think the atmosphere a player is in has an effect on his game as well. There is a world of difference between Detroit and New York in terms of winning mentality. I am pretty excited to see how he handles the spotlight of NY. So he has been weak against lefties... so what? That can be worked on. I hope Girardi doesn't 'platoon' him in the late innings either.

I'm not so sure we sign Damon unless we move Gardner. I'd like to hold onto Matsui, but thats mostly sentimental. Personally, I like holding onto Melky and Brett and letting Granderson play left.

I'd really like us to get some more young pitching, so if Brett can boost that package, then sure, move him. I actually hope we DO NOT go after Halladay. We already have Sabathia who throws A LOT of innings each year. Adding another 30+ guy in that mold makes me nervous. I still have nightmares of the Yankees signing Randy Johnson instead of going after Carlos Beltran (my hand just started shaking). Sure, Johnson wasm uch older than Halladays' 32 and Beltran was younger than 29. But...nevertheless, I'd rather try to swipe a young guy.

5. I still don't really know how I feel about this trade. Like you, when I first heard about it, I pretty much shrugged it off thinking there was no way they would part with AJax. When the rumors continued to swirl around in the late morning, I started to look into it a little more but finding myself looking at things that would make me okay with it.

At heart, I enjoy watching prospects come up and in my mind, they are always far better than what they actually are or can become (ie. I was a huge Rubin Rivera fan etc.). So with that, it was tough to see AJax departing especially after taking time to go to RI to catch the AAA series this past year.

To me, there are still an awful lot of questions that need to be answered. I think this bulks up the outfield questions more then sovling them.

Rumors are floating that we will try to get rid of Swisher just makes me upset that I spent that cash on the Swisher Salutes shirt. Damn you Bald Vinny.

6. Ruben Rivera. Supposed to be the next Mantle. Had that huge game winning hit over Roberto Alomar's head in the big September series against the O's in '96. Centerpiece of the deal for Irabu, and would have had a second go-round in the Bronx if he didn't steal Jeter's glove in Spring Training 2002.

As for Swisher, I think this latest "rumor" is just as much garbage as the ones about him earlier this post-season were. Why would they sign an older, more expensive Damon for a year or two and flip Swisher? Makes no sense. With Granderson in tow now, I really think they should look to package Melky or Gardner. They have a surplus of ML caliber CFers. I think the dealing is far from done.

7. Oh man, Ruben Rivera. I haven't heard that name in a few years now. We had our CF of the future!! I met him, Jeter and Mariano when they were still at Columbus. I was so excited at the chance to see them, I didn't bring anything to get signed. I bought a Syracuse Chiefs ball and got all 3 autographs on it. Mariano smudged his and I'll always remember his quirky, eyebrow-raised expression when I asked if he would sign it again (Iwas as polite as could possibly be!). He muttered something in spanish to Ruben, chuckled a bit, and signed the ball with a big smile. I could care less that he probably made fun of me, lol. The next year I added another name to the ball. Alphonso Soriano.
Pretty cool, huh. I would never sell it, but I am sure I would have done quite well if I had sold it when Ruben swiped Derek's glove in '02. Oh man.

Oh yeah...there was another Yankee who was there with Jeter, Ruben, and Mo.... Kevin Maas. Ahaha of course he is on that ball too!! Probably devalued it some too. That was a great day, wow.