So how does the deal for Curtis Granderson shape up for the Yankees? Pretty good, we think. The Yankees lose Ian Kennedy, who never struck us as much with a 6.03 ERA in 14 major league games, allowing more hits (63) than innings pitched (59.2). He’s 25, and that’s rather late in life for people to still be talking about his potential.
Phil Coke wasn’t bad, though his 4.50 ERA last year and terrible postseason stats raise doubts that he’ll ever be the first rate “hold man” the Yankees want. As for Austin Jackson, he’ll be 23 in February and in 565 games of minor league ball had a batting average of just .288. He hit only 30 home runs in more than 2200 at-bats and had an okay .356 OBP. He averaged almost one strikeout per game, a fairly alarming statistic in a projected leadoff man. Exactly what spot in the lineup or batting order did the Yankees really expect him to fill? (Pinch runner? But don’t they have Brett Gardner for that?)
Curtis Granderson, on the other hand, brings something very definite and tangible to the party: left-handed power.
In fact, very good left handed power — 30 home runs last year — and he’ll be playing his home games in a park that rewards power. Actually, Granderson brings even more than that: he can run (20 stolen bases last season) and he’s a good centerfielder (averaging 2.63 chances per nine innings for the Tigers in 2009; .30 above the league average).
By now, you know the drawback is that he can’t hit lefties. This gives him a huge platoon differential, a .275 BA with 28 home runs against right-handed pitchers and a .183 and just two home runs against southpaws. There’s some talk that working with the Yanks’ fine batting coach, Kevin Long, might bring that latter mark up a good 50 points, but we wouldn’t count on it. It’s clear that the Yankees are going to have to platoon him with someone. But isn’t that why God made Melky Cabrera? What isn’t clear yet is what the addition of Granderson means to the future of Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui.
All we can say right now is that the Yankees haven’t just gained a fine platoon centerfielder, they’ve gained a wonderful children’s book author. Check out Granderson’s All You Can Be — Dream It, Draw It, Become It! from Triumph Books, which teaches kids to, among other things to “choose the right friends,” “be a leader,” and “be yourself.” Our rumor mill says that Kate Hudson is buying a copy for someone special.