Thursday, December 10, 2009

Yanks trade for Granderson, solidify center field

The Yankees were involved in the most significant move of baseball's winter meetings, a three-team trade that sent All-Star center fielder Curtis Granderson from Detroit to New York.

In return, the Tigers got outfield prospect Austin Jackson and relief pitcher Phil Coke from the Yankees and pitchers Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth from the Diamondbacks. Arizona also got pitching help, acquiring Edwin Jackson from the Tigers and prospect Ian Kennedy from the Yankees.

I like this move for the Yankees. Granderson will replace Melky Cabrera in center and provide an immediate upgrade, both at the plate and defensively. Despite hitting just .249 last season and .183 against lefties, the lowest in the league, Granderson is a career .272 hitter with 40-home run potential in Yankee Stadium after hitting 30 in spacious Comerica Park last season.

He may never hit .300 again (.302 in 2007), but it's reasonable to expect a .270 average, 35 home runs, 110 runs scored, 80 RBI and 20-25 steals out of Granderson this season. And while his OBP was just .327 last season, his lowest as a full-time player, Granderson is slotted to bat second against righties and towards the bottom of the lineup against lefties, rather than leading off like he did in Detroit last season.

Defensively, Granderson has excellent speed and range in the outfield and makes plays coming in or going back to the wall, sometimes over it. He doesn't possess the arm of Cabrera, who will move to left field, but he improves the Yankees overall outfield defense immensely.

The Yankees gave up Jackson, Kennedy and Coke for the right to acquire Granderson and, while Jackson is a big-name prospect, I think they made out well. The 22-year-old Jackson's potential is similar to Granderson's, expect with a higher batting average and less power. Jackson hit .300 with just 4 home runs in 504 at-bats in the International League last season.

Kennedy will be 25 when the season begins and has less than 60 major-league innings on his resume. A first-round pick out of USC in 2006, his star has faded and with the Yankees rotation crowded over the next few seasons, he became expendable.

He has the talent to rebound from his recent rash of injuries, but at his age he will have to make an impact soon. In Arizona, he should get that opportunity, something he would not have found in New York.

Coke is what he is: An average, replaceable left-handed reliever who fell out of favor to Damaso Marte towards the end of the season. The Yankees shouldn't really miss him much.

Taken in an overall sense, this looks to be a deal that helps all teams involved. The Yankees get more athletic and stronger defensively in the outfield, while the Tigers cut payroll (Granderson - $5.5M, Jackson - $4.5M), added high-upside players in Jackson and Scherzer and added two left-handed relievers to their bullpen.

I've always liked Edwin Jackson, so I also like the trade for Arizona. Scherzer may have a higher ceiling than Jackson, but after a strong 2009 season and two straight years of significant improvement, it's hard to question acquiring a potential ace like Jackson.

He has increased his innings pitched and decreased his walks allowed each of the past two seasons, spinning an impressive 161:70 K:BB ratio in 214 innings last season, not to mention a 3.62 ERA and a 13-9 record on an average team. Moving to the National League, expect his ERA to drop under 3.50; he will be an excellent third starter behind Dan Haren and Brandon Webb, if Webb comes back healthy from shoulder surgery.

Daniel Schlereth gets rocked every time I see him pitch, so acquiring Kennedy and losing him is a win in my book; at least Kennedy has some potential.

In the end, each team should be happy with their end of the trade. As for what this deal does to make the Yankees better in 2010, I will reserve judgment on that until I see where the rest of the offseason takes us. There are still a lot of moves to be made.

No comments:

Post a Comment