And so it was that at the Winter Meetings, Brian Cashman satisfied two of his major offseason priorities: settling the left field/center field question by acquiring Curtis Granderson in the three-team, seven-player swap with the Tigers and Diamondbacks. On the surface, it looks like the Tigers win this trade in a landslide, getting two young lefty relievers, a hard-throwing righty starter, and a major-league ready outfielder all while shedding $25.75 million in salary over the next three seasons.
The coverage was fairly bland, as it can tend to be when hammering out details of a trade. There were subtle nuances, though. For example, the Post, in my surfing, was the only outlet to cite that the Diamondbacks entered the fray a few weeks ago when Cashman balked at not including Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes in the deal for Granderson (maybe this gives a hint regarding their 2010 status?). ESPN claimed Buster Olney broke the story. How do we know? Jon Heyman tweeted the components of the deal yesterday, and Alex Belth dutifully posted them here.
A couple of items and intimations that appeared everywhere:
- Granderson’s 2009 decreased OBP and OPS, his strikeout total (141) and average against left-handed pitchers (.183), plus poor home/road splits somehow signaled a decline when he’s in his prime at age 29. Joe Posnanski took those stats and put them in context with Granderson’s career numbers against lefties, adding that he faced tough lefties in the AL Central (Sabathia and Santana), and playing 81 games a year at an unfriendly ballpark for left-handed hitters. Cliff Corcoran took a more analytical turn on a similar premise in this space.
- Granderson’s personality is perfect for New York.
- Now the Yankees can more easily make a decision on Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. Thursday morning, the Yankees were reportedly negotiating with Johnny Damon’s representatives, but in the evening, George King of the Post submitted a story, complete with quotes from Cashman, refuting the earlier reports.
- The questions as to which Granderson the Yankees will get: the 2008 version that emerged into a perennial 20-20-20-20 threat or the 2009 item that frustrated fans with inconsistent offense and defense, despite the “plus” numbers aggregated in various fielding metric data. And then there is this item, which was not mentioned in the first wave of coverage but could appear within the next couple of days: a NY Times column from William C. Rhoden touting the importance of this acquisition from a cultural standpoint, highlighting the fact that Granderson could bring African-American fans to the Bronx and carry that torch/example set by Derek Jeter. The caveat: with CC Sabathia on the team also, and with him being there first, this may be a non-issue.Most of what was printed centered on the Yankees’ piece to the deal, which was Granderson. Looking deeper, though, I noticed more attention paid to what the Yankees were able to maintain — Chamberlain, Hughes, and Jesus Montero — than what they gave up.
Beyond the obvious, there was little to no mention of the trickle-down effect the losses of Kennedy, Coke and Austin Jackson could mean for the future. Was Kennedy more expendable because he hasn’t pitched a great deal in the last two years? In the Post, King hinted that Coke pitched himself out of a Yankee uniform when Damaso Marte demonstrated success in the postseason, and that Mike Dunn, who threw like Wild Thing Vaughn in his cup of coffee in September but posted excellent numbers in the Arizona Fall League, is seen as a potential second lefty reliever. As for Austin Jackson, is he the next in a line of top prospects who are traded and then thrive, like Fred McGriff, Bo Jackson, Doug Drabek and Jose Rijo? To that end, will fans be upset if IPK thrives behind Brandon Webb, Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson in the desert on the grounds he wasn’t given a fair chance in New York? What about Coke and A-Jax? What happens if they help lead the Tigers to a title and Granderson is a scapegoat in a Yankees playoff loss?
Is this a Roberto Kelly-for-Paul O’Neill type win for the Yankees? What about Eric Milton and Cristian Guzman for Chuck Knoblauch? Or, more appropriately, if we’re going to talk three-team trades, is this a bomb like the 2002 mess that sent Ted Lilly to the A’s, Jeremy Bonderman to the Tigers and Jeff Weaver to the Yankees? All are possibilities.The thought here is thus: as numerous comments in BB threads have posited over the last couple of days, with Cabrera, Granderson and Swisher as the regular outfielders, Brett Gardner in reserve and perhaps Johnny Damon, the Yankees have their best and deepest outfield in some time. All five are southpaws, which is odd and cool; each possesses a combination of speed and power; and two of them are switch hitters. Joe Girardi can mix and match based on any situation.
The Pettitte story is a bit different, especially now that it’s a done deal. It came together quickly, and there wasn’t much of a story to tell except that both sides wanted to expedite matters. To me, the most interesting part of the deal itself is that the entire $11.75 million is guaranteed. There are no incentives this time around.
Getting Pettitte signed quickly buys Cashman time to evaluate the resources necessary to potentially land Roy Halladay in trade, or if John Lackey is a target, how much budget can be allocated to signing him to a long-term, high-eight-figure deal.
Now, more analysis is rolling in and additional projections are coming forth relating to the big fish available. What’s certain is that the Yankees are in the mix with everyone, and on the other end of the spectrum, the Mets are trying like hell to turn the spin machine into a centrifuge and create some kind of positive messaging.
With the two transactions announced yesterday, one thing the Yankees did not do, and it hasn’t been mentioned enough — if at all — is set the market level for the big names still floating. Cashman’s coy aggressiveness has served him well in the past 14 months. It looks like he’s on a good roll, and even though it appears the local columnists are trying to influence re-signing Damon, for the most part, they’re riding the wave with him.