Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Offseason Decisions: Curtis Granderson

Yes, Curtis, your phone is cool, but I'm going to talk about your option instead.

My initial thought was that the Yankees should not pick up Granderson's option. It's kind of crazy that if you take out Granderson's 43 home runs, and replace him with a guy that hit zero home runs, then the Yankees still would have finished 4th in MLB in total homers. That makes me wonder if they need a guy that was "HR or nothing" in 2012.

Another thing that bothers me about Granderson is that his defense is only decent, and that's because of his speed. Watching Curtis run to a fly ball is like watching a car drive down Lombard St. in San Francisco. There are a handful of times in the postseason alone where you heard people say "Gardner would have gotten to that". For example, there was the run-scoring double that Miguel Cabrera hit in the bottom of the 5th inning of Game 3. I'm sure it didn't help that that hit gave Detroit a 2-0 lead, and turned out to be the winning run as the Yankees could only put up 1 run in the game. However, that was a well struck ball, so I'm not sure if Gardner or anybody else would have gotten to it, but it seemed like Granderson got a bad read.

Speaking of bad reads.

Going back to Curtis' speed... where did it go? Although I shouldn't be surprised, as that's been the pattern. His stolen base total between 2007 and 2012 is 26, 12, 20, 12, 25, 10. Maybe he steals 30 next season... I don't know. I'd like to see him steal 25 bases like he did in 2011, along with hitting 35 or more bombs, if he was brought back. Especially if he were to hit 2nd again ahead of guys like Cano and Teixeira, who would surely rack up a few more RBI during the season if Granderson was able to steal his way into scoring position.

Bloggie McBlogger made a great point on Twitter, which was that a guy that hits 43 home runs only needs a tweak, not an overhaul. It seemed like Kevin Long had hit upon something huge in August of 2010, as Granderson went on to bat .263 in September/October, then .262 the following season, on top of 50 home runs. To be fair, perhaps Grandy got a bit unlucky in 2012. His batting average on balls in play was a low .260 (career .305), while his line drive percentage was actually a bit higher than last season (18% to 16%). I think what it comes down to is being a bit more patient at the plate (he saw 4.43 pitchers per at bat in 2011, and 4.26 pitchers/PA in 2012), which could help him get better pitches to handle. And that could help him cut down on something that hurt too... a high strikeout rate (24.5% in 2011, and 28.5% in 2012).

Hey, Curtis, I found it!

What really makes me think the Yankees should pick-up Granderson's option for next season is the list of outfield free agents...

Left fielders
Travis Buck (29)
Melky Cabrera (28)
Jonny Gomes (32)
Scott Hairston (33)
Josh Hamilton (32)
Eric Hinske (35)
Reed Johnson (36)
Andruw Jones (36)
Austin Kearns (33)
Carlos Lee (37)
Ryan Ludwick (34) - $5MM mutual option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
Darnell McDonald (34)
Juan Pierre (35)
Juan Rivera (34) - $4MM club option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
Drew Sutton (30)
Delmon Young (27)

Center fielders
Alfredo Amezaga (35)
Rick Ankiel (33)
Michael Bourn (30)
Scott Hairston (33)
Mitch Maier (31)
Angel Pagan (31)
Cody Ross (32)
Grady Sizemore (30)
B.J. Upton (28)
Shane Victorino (32)

Right fielders
Brian Bixler (30)
Travis Buck (29)
Matt Diaz (35)
Kosuke Fukudome (36)
Torii Hunter (37)
Andruw Jones (36)
Ryan Ludwick (34) - $5MM mutual option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
Xavier Nady (34)
Juan Rivera (34) - $4MM club option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
Cody Ross (32)
Ichiro Suzuki (39)

There's not a single player there that I'd like to see the Yankees bring in, at least to fill the hole left by Curtis. What it comes down to his "Curtis Granderson for 1 year at $15 million, or any of those guys", and that's a resounding "Grandy!" to me.

While I don't think the Yankees need a guy that's "HR or nothing" again in 2013, I believe Granderson has more than that to offer. I totally expect him to have a year more like 2011 than 2012, and he finished 4th in MVP voting in 2011.

No, I'm not going to get ahead of myself.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)