Wednesday, December 9, 2009

We Just Got Grander, Son!

Let's all give a warm welcome to the newest member of the World Champion New York Yankees: Curtis Granderson!

This solves that pesky CF problem, and here are the pieces we gave up:

1) Phil Coke - decent regular season out of the bullpen before imploding in the playoffs and taking a back seat to fellow LOOGY Damaso Marte.

2) Ian Kennedy - young righty starter, didn't fare well in his first stint in the bigs two years ago, was sidelined with an aneurysm in his arm this year.

3) Austin Jackson - former hot-shot center field prospect, but his star has been in decline for the past two years. He's a good to very good defender, hits for decent average, but strikes out a lot and has very little power.

Not bad, all in all. It's a little sad to see Kennedy and Jackson go, just because you get semi-attached to the youth movement and sometimes mistakenly assume they'll be Yankees for 15 years, but that's the business. However, I am a trifle concerned about how good Granderson really is. Take a look at his 2009 stats:

.249/.327/.453, .780 OPS, 141 Ks, 30 HR, 71 RBI.

Granted, it wasn't his best year, but that OBP is a little low. Also, he's miserable against left-hand pitching, batting .183 last season. Also, he batted .187 with 2 outs and runners in scoring position, which are Robbie Cano type numbers. Still, the power numbers are solid, and will get even more solid with the short porch in Yankee Stadium, and he's a strong defensive piece in an outfield that might be pretty slow at the corners. Also, I very much doubt he'll be leading off for the Yanks; he strikes out too much, and his power is wasted in that position. After Jeter's performance this season, that spot is his. I see Granderson in either the second or fifth/sixth slot, depending on whether or not we keep Damon, and that should boost his RBI numbers as well.

And we really didn't give anything away to land him, so I can't complain. I just hope A-Jax doesn't become a star and make Cashman look the fool.

The obvious question is, what does this mean for Melky Cabrera? I have a huge sentimental attachment to the Melk-Man. I know his numbers don't really merit special treatment, but I love how often he comes through in the clutch, I love his personality, and I love his tenacity. He's one of those guys who's totally fearless, and even a little defiant in the face of hostile crowds. In the postseason, when he caught a third out, he'd turn to the crowd, fake a throw, and hold onto the ball as he jogged to the dugout. This may seem like a dick move, but anybody who's ever been to a professional baseball game understands that the level of verbal abuse these guys take is truly staggering. With the fake throw, Melky was saying "fuck you too." And you know his teammates loved it. It's the kind of gesture that brings a little swagger into a club, and it's part of the chemistry package that made the Yanks such a tight-knit, indomitable unit this season.

And he has a special handshake with every player, and he dances around before the game, and he's always smiling, and he's a tough little bastard under pressure, and on and on and on and on. I love the Melk-man.

I wouldn't trade him, and that's why I'm not a GM. My sentiment would get in the way of smart business. But I retain my right to emotional attachments, and I'm a little sad that this Granderson trade makes it more likely that Melky will find himself out of pinstripes in 2010. It's not a guarantee, by any means; the Yanks could decide not to re-sign Damon, and to keep Melky for left field and see if he'll develop over the next two years. But if Damon's back, or if we go out and get a Matt Holliday type, Melk-man is probably gone. He's not signed for 2010, and is an obvious choice when putting together a trade proposal to land a bigger fish.

So sayonara, Melky, if that's how it's gotta be. Rumors of your departure have been greatly exaggerated in the past (almost every year, in fact), but I've got a bad feeling this is the real deal. Good luck out there, and don't go quietly.

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