Yanks rumored to be near Granderson deal

It’s not official, but all reports are that barring someone failing a physical, a 3-team trade between the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks is going to be completed in which the Yankees will get OF Curtis Granderson from the Tigers while giving up Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Tigers and Ian Kennedy to the D-Backs.

The Tigers would also get Max Scherzer and Dan Schlereth (son of ex-NFLer and current ESPNer Mark) while Arizona gets Edwin Jackson from the Tigers along with Kennedy.

Granderson comes with good and bad points. A good, from Chad Jennings at LoHud:

One thing to like about Granderson: He’s at his best when he’s pulling the ball. And managed to pull the ball roughly 50 percent of the time last season. And pulling the ball is a good thing for a left-handed hitter to do in Yankee Stadium. (My note: dead pull lefty hitter at Yankee Stadium. I’m thinking Maris and Nettles here).

A good, from me:

Granderson is 28, 29 in March, as opposed to Damon 36 and Matsui 35.  

A bad, from LoHud’s Sam Borden (stat by me):

“He can’t hit lefties”: No doubt, Granderson’s lefty splits last year were bad. But for those who use this as the cornerstone of their argument, how about you take a guess at how often the average player faces a lefty pitcher in a given season?

Stats by me (451 AB vs. RHP .275-28-62 with an OPS of .897; 180 vs. lefties, .183-2-9 with an OPS of .484; Career .292, OPS .894 vs. RHP, .210 OPS .614 vs. lefties)   

Borden: Last year, the Yankees faced lefties in just about 30 percent of their plate appearances – to me, that’s hardly enough to use it as a determining factor, especially when a) you have a hitting coach who you ostensibly trust to improve your players; and b) you’re talking about a correctable skill.

Consider this: In 1993, the Yankees brought in an outfielder who had an OBP of .273 against LHP the previous season. By 1994, he had a .439 OBP against lefties. That player was Paul O’Neill

Good point made by Borden here, emphasis mine, although I admit to hate losing the kid:

Coke wasn’t a closer of the future, which means that – as a bullpen piece – he’s certainly expendable; and Kennedy, while certainly talented, wasn’t nearly on the same level as Hughes/Chamberlain and had irked some Yankee officials with his ego. (A point from me: He irked some of us FANS, also. Jason called him “What Me Worry?” Ian E. Neuman Ian E. Neuman? on his Heartland Pinstripes blog).  So basically it comes down to how you feel about Austin Jackson and, as I’ve said before, when you’re talking about a team like the Yankees it’s almost always the right play to go with the established player over the player who is only potential.

Anyone who says they know what Jackson is going to be is lying. No one knows. Those who say the “best he could be is Curtis Granderson” don’t know that, just like those who say “he’ll be better than Granderson in three years” don’t know that either. All we do know is that RIGHT NOW Jackson is a player who has done very well in the minor leagues and Granderson is a player who has done very well in the major leagues. To me, that’s the part that makes this trade a steal – you traded a player who MAY be good for a player who IS good, and also happens to be young and economically friendly. (Granderson is said to be only $5.5M for 2010, $8.25M in 2011 and $10M in 2012, which, considering Damon and Matsui both made $13M in 2009, seems cheap). 

(By the way, it’s natural to compare Jackson and Granderson but the two aren’t similar players; Jackson has more speed, but also has yet to show anything close to the kind of power that Granderson has shown.)

(My note: .300-4-65 with 24 steals at AAA this year. .285-9-69, 19 SB at AA in 2008. .304-13-59 with 33 SB combined in 2007. A-Jax will be 23 in February. Granderson had 30 HR this year and Detroit isn’t as friendly as Yankee Stadium’s RF would appear to be for Granderson. Granderson has gone 19-23-22 and 30 HR over the last four years. On the downside, the average in that time has been .260-.302-.280 and .249. He was 10th in MVP voting in 2007 and an All-Star last year. Gardner-like speed with 23 triples in 2006 and 13 in 2007, both times leading the league, and a good basestealer, 26/27 in 2007, 12/16 in 2008 and 20/26 in 2009. One bad thing: his strikeouts. Over 140 of them in 2006, 2007 and 2009 with a whopping 174 (led league) in 2006. His 162 game average is .272-25-72 with 16 SB. OPS+ 113. 66 walks but 149 whiffs.)

Another good point made by Borden, emphasis mine again:

The Yankees are hardly done dealing this winter. With Hughes/Joba/Montero still on the roster, they can still at least talk about Roy Halladay. And with Granderson in the fold, the Yankees can take a harder – and appropriate – line on Damon.

Scott Boras has said Damon has multi-year offers and this is the Yankees calling that bluff. If Damon would come back for one year (or at most two), then he gives the Yankees a DH who can play the OF on days when someone else needs to DH – or just what they’re looking for in that spot. If anything, the Granderson trade may affect Hideki Matsui’s chances of returning to the Yankees more than it does Damon’s.

Of course, you now wonder about the domino effect. Ideally, the Yanks would like to have Damon back to DH and let Matsui go. I love Matsui, but Damon could still, as Borden states, play the OF once in a while while DHing most of the time—as opposed to Matsui who didn’t play an inning in the OF this past season. Granderson provides the Yankees with youth, and let’s face it…they were one of the older teams (Posada 38, Pettitte 37, Rivera now 40, Damon is now 36, Matsui and Jeter 35, Alex 34) to win a WS.  

Of course you also wonder about the effect on Melky and on Gardner. The Yankees could re-sign Damon, put him and his weak arm at DH and move Melky and his stronger arm to LF. Gardner could be a backup OF/defensive replacement (think Swisher)/top PR. You know how I feel about having two CFs—one in LF the better one in CF—in Yankee Stadium given its 399 LCF. This would accomplish that.

Of course the Yankees aren’t done. Maybe Melky or Gardner gets used in another deal, and I wouldn’t just write Godzilla off yet.   

Kennedy was expendable given his injuries and the emergence of Joba and Hughes. He will be 25 soon and has just 14 MLB games under his belt. 1-4, 6.03. Due to an aneurysm, he only pitched in four minor league games and one major league game this season, totalling 23 2/3 IP. In 2008, between 77 IP in the minors and his disastrous 0-4, 8.17 stint with the Yankees, Ian only totalled 116 2/3 IP. Even if he makes the D-Backs starting rotation, how many innings can he provide given his lack of them the past two seasons? How will Arizona use him?

Does trading Jackson mean the Yankees will try harder to keep other prospects like Zach McAllister or Jesus Montero? Does this rule out Halladay? 

Coke, 27, was 4-3, 4.50 for the Yanks in 2009 after going 1-0, 0.61 in a brief stint in 2008. He went 0-0, 0.00 in the ALDS and ALCS but gave up 2 HR in his 1 1/3 IP in the WS, 0-0, 13.50.

I wonder about the other lefty reliever. I saw a rumor about Mike MacDougal, a righty reliever but am not thrilled about that. Right now the only lefty would be Marte, unless the Yanks want to give a good, hard look at Zach Kroenke, who was 7-1, 1.99 at AAA in 2009 and who is 25. Kroenke was 7-0, 2.85 between AA/AAA in 2008. Other than that, I wonder who they have interest in as far as a lefty.

Rafael Soriano accepted arbitration from the Braves, so forget that interest unless there is a trade. Soriano could join Wagner and Saito in the Braves bullpen. It’d be interesting to see how outgoing manager Bobby Cox keeps all three happy.  

Interesting to see that Ivan Rodriguez signed a two-year deal with the Nats (no, he won’t be the player to come later in the Bruney deal! That will be the Nats top Rule-5 pick). Seeing what Pudge gave the Yanks in 2008 (very little), none of us thought the 38 year old had two years left.

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3 responses to “Yanks rumored to be near Granderson deal

  1. The more I think about this trade Mike, the more I like it. And believe me, I have been restrained about it primarily because I am wary of trading Jackson and especially of dealing talented youth. But Granderson is potential realized, a very good two-way player who, despite fanning too much and struggling with lefties, has power and speed, draws more walks than before, is excellent in CF, and is a good guy. He will fit in with that team well.

    He also comes at a good price–just over $8 million per season for the next three seasons, with 2010 at just $5.5 million. The OF defense just went up two notches, too, with better speed in CF and Melky’s arm now in LF.

    I don’t believe that both JD and Matsui will be gone. In fact, I can’t help but think that JD will be back for a moderate two-year deal. I hate to see Matsui move on, and hope there is a way to bring him back for at least a year. I think he’s kidding himself about playing the outfield more than rarely. But the guy can mash.

    Big trade, and a very good one. I don’t like losing Jackson, but coupled with Ian E. Neumann and Coke rather than with Hughes, fine by me. Interesting also to see two middle relievers gone in two days. I wonder if that gives Melancon and Dunn a shot, or if the Yanks have their eyes on Gonzales. If nothing else, Marte looks to be there, as does Robertson as the prime middle relievers, depending on what the Yanks do with Joba and Hughes.

  2. Yes, I wonder if (especially with Soriano apparently back with the Braves after accepting arbitration) if the Yanks are now targeting Gonzalez. You may recall he was very recently on their radar screen.

    Good point about Melancon, who (especially with Hughes bullpen outings and the emergence of Robertson, not to mention Aceves) seems overlooked.

  3. Definitely Ace in there, Mike. He’s a given, and key for that team. Aceves’s 10-1, 3.54 last year was huge.

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