"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: Curtis Granderson
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Ace of Cakes

Victor Martinez led off the second inning on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium and CC Sabathia fell behind him, 3-1. On the Fox broadcast, Tim McCarver said that Martinez was probably looking for a fastball on the inside part of the plate. When Sabathia delivered just that, Martinez hit a home run over the left field fence. Adrian Beltre doubled and then Mike Lowell doubled Beltre home.

But that was the only scoring the Red Sox would do as Sabathia pitched eight innings and the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 5-2. Sabathia fell behind hitters in the early innings but found his way, throwing more off-speed stuff than gas. He had some help from the home plate umpire, Jerry Layne, who called some wide strikes, particularly to David Ortiz.

Perhaps the late afternoon shadows gave Layne as much trouble as it seemed to be giving the hitters. The Yanks tied the score in the bottom of the second when Curtis Granderson tripled home Lance Berkman and then Ramiro Pena, a last minute replacement for Alex Rodriguez who was accidentally struck by a line drive off the bat of Berkman during batting practice, grounded out but collected an RBI (Rodriguez is day-to-day).

Then, John Lackey went to work and looked impressive. The shadows were looking especially tough as Lackey cruised through the first two batters in the bottom of the fifth. But then four straight singles–Swisher, Teixiera, Cano and Posada–gave the Yanks the lead (man, does Cano ever look good swinging the bat these days). Pena’s RBI single in the sixth was the cherry on top. Mariano Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and the Yankees’ lead over Boston is back to six. Even better, the Bombers gained a game on the Rays, who were blitzed by the Jays this afternoon, 17-11.

So, for the moment, my nerves have settled. Curtis Granderson had a couple of hits, Pena had a nice game (despite making an error and looking uncomfortable at third), and even though Berkman went hitless, and got booed as a result, I think it’s just a matter of time before Fat Elvis starts hitting.

This was a game the Yanks had to have. AJ Burnett is on the hill tomorrow night and that won’t fill Yankee fans with confidence, but who knows? Maybe Burnett goes out and throws a gem. Hope is the thing with feathers, said Emily D. And that’s word to Todd Drew.

[Photo Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images]

Punchless Pinstriped Palookas Put in their Place (Red Sox Revenge, Part I)

Well, I’ve had a gnawing feeling about this weekend for a few days now. The Red Sox lose Kevin Youkilis for the season, the team is reeling, trailing the Yanks by six games coming into the series, and yet, all these signs did nothing to soothe me. In fact, they only encouraged my irritation. Which is how it goes for the true baseball neurotic, doesn’t matter that I root for the Yankees, doesn’t matter that they’ve got the best record in the baseball. Nuts is Knuts and I plead guilty.

Right on cue, Javier Vazquez came up small, serving up a 3-2 cookie to David Ortiz in the first inning that Ortiz promptly deposited over the center field fence. In the second, Vazquez and Francisco Cervelli let a harmless pop-up drop (Cervelli dropped it but Vazquez didn’t help matters any–they looked like a Benny Hill routine minus the laughs). Then Vazquez walked the ninth place hitter and the struggling Jacoby Ellsbury and when the smoke cleared the Sox had scored three more runs.

And Yankee Stadium was virtually silent–a mausoleum.

Mark Teixiera stayed back and waited on a curve ball in the bottom of the first and hit a two-run home run. After that, Clay Buchholz settled into a groove. Thanks to a throwing error by Marco Scutaro, the Yanks put runners on first and second with nobody out in the bottom of the fourth. Curtis Granderson, whose entire season appears to be fouling good pitches off and then bouncing out to second or popping out to center, smacked a line drive, hit in on the screws, right at Mike Lowell at first. Double play.

Alex Rodriguez fisted an RBI single to left the following inning, pulling the Yanks to within one run, but Vazquez, again, seemingly on cue, gave up a two-run home run to Ryan Kalish, who will later drink his first beer and pop his cherry with a 12th Avenue Jackie.

Vazquez pitched good enough to lose; Buchholz, good enough to win. Yankee fans sat on their hands. With AJ “Putting Out the Fire with Gasoline” Burnett and Dustin Mosley set to pitch two of the next three games, CC Sabathia cannot afford to lose  tomorrow. This could be a long, frustrating weekend at the bright, shinny mallpark in the Bronx.

Final Score: Red Sox 6, Yanks 3. The Sox now trail the Yanks by five games.

The good news? I get to feel righteous about being right, at least for one night. Wait, that’s not good news. The Rays lost, right, that was the good news.

Back tomorrow for more fun–especially since the game will be televised on FOX. Get ready for another four-and-a-half-hour affair to remember.

One Day a Real Rain Will Come…

Phil Hughes gave up three runs on a couple of homers through five innings today but had a lead when the skies opened-up thanks in part to two dingers off the bat of Curtis Granderson. It started pouring by me in the north west corner of the Bronx before it hit the Stadium. The tops of the trees whipped around in a frenzy and I had half a mind to go outside and run around just cause. You know, little kid stuff. Then the old man in me sighed, thought better of it, and sat my ass right back down.

Pretty soon the tarp came on the field at the Stadium and it wasn’t until two hours later that play resumed. The Yanks rolled from there. The only blip came when Joba Chamberlain walked the lead off runner in the eighth and then gave up a two-run homer. But the Yanks piled it on late and ran away with it. One scary moment in the eighth when Alex Rodriguez got plunked on the forearm and had to leave the game.

Fortunately, he was okay, didn’t need to go for x-rays and is expected to play tomorrow. The bum didn’t hit a homer. Stuck on 599. Only got two hits and three RBI. Loser. Jeter had three hits, Teixeira had two, and so did Robinson Cano, who got the 1,000th base hit of his career.

Final Score: Yanks 12, Royals 6.

The Rays won but the Sox lost. Yanks stay three ahead of Tampa and are now eight ahead of Boston. And we prepare for the week ahead and go to sleep the heppiest of kets.

[Photo Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images]

The Kid From Left Field

Randy Winn has been DFA’d as Curtis Granderson rejoins the team. It was for the best. Seems like a nice guy, like he’s cousins with Bernie Williams or something, but he couldn’t catch up with a good fastball. It was time to go.

On a more somber note, Gary Coleman passed away today. He was 42.

I was a huge fan of Diff’rent Strokes when I was growing up. Coleman was a major comic influence, right up there with JJ from Good Times. Reggie was a guest star on Diff’rent Strokes and so was Ali, who helped Arnold deal with a bully named the Gooch. Along with Steve Martin’s “Wild and Crazy Guy” bit, “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout Willis?” was a seminal catch phrase, the can’t-miss-sure-to-make-you-laugh-schtick. The rasberry. The verbal banana peel. He delivered it well.

My sister and brother loved it, kids at school loved it. The beauty part was that we waited all week for him to say it and so did he. My favorite part was how Coleman sometimes looked like he was going to break character and crack up, because it was that funny. Just like they used to crack up on the Carol Burnett  Show.

I visited my grandparents in Belgium for the summer when I was twelve. Summer of ’83. I was starved for the English language. They had Happy Days and Starsky and Hutch on TV but they were dubbed into French. Fortunately, a Belgian TV station played what they called  Arnold in English with Flemish subtitles. It was life-saving.

Colman was like Spanky McFarland from the Our Gang comedies–irrepressibly great when he was young. Completely charming. Effortless.

As they got older, the freshness wore off and they weren’t as natural or cute. They became self-aware, polished. The downside of child acting–washed-up at fourteen. Still, Coleman hit the high notes plenty of times and set the bar for child stars in the Eighties. Few of them could touch Coleman at his best.


Yankee Panky: Hope Springs Eternal (when your roster is stacked)

Alex Belth said it perfectly. Spring seems eons away here in New York. Especially since we haven’t seen grass here in two weeks — longer if you live in Pennsylvania and further south in the mid-Atlantic region.

But pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training brings vitality to the discussions had in the local media marketplace and here in the blogosphere over the past three months. The Yankees have an unofficial count — if you pay attention to talk radio and are on top of the beat — of three questions:

1) Who will be the fifth starter?

2) Which young gun will be in the bullpen, Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes?

3) What will the batting order look like?

Taking these questions individually, the answer to the first questions will likely answer the second. Sunday afternoon, Sweeny Murti and Ed Coleman had Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland on WFAN and asked him point blank about taking the reins off of Joba, and whether that would give him an edge heading into spring workouts. Eiland said Chamberlain and Hughes are on equal footing in terms of the competition for the fifth starter, along with Chad Gaudin, Sergio Meat-Tray, and Alfredo Aceves.

The most sensible option outside of Chamberlain and Hughes, it seems, based on the numbers, is Gaudin. He didn’t post Aaron Small 2005 numbers by any means, but as Joba insurance, he was serviceable, allowing less than a hit per inning, 7.3 K/9, and a 125 ERA+. Not great, but not bad. Just what you expect from a fifth starter. But when you think of the dropoff from Javier Vazquez to Chad Gaudin, yikes.

Eiland said on Sunday in that WFAN interview that Hughes would be on an innings limit this year, but not with the same level of stringency as Joba Version 2K9. If that’s the case — just speculating here — the ideal situation is to have Joba in the fifth slot and Hughes in the bullpen. This wouldn’t be as difficult a decision if both twentysomethings hadn’t done so much to inspire confidence that either is better suited to be the last piece in the bridge to Mariano Rivera, or even Mo’s heir apparent.

Re: the batting order, there’s a consensus among the pundits on the following spots:

1. Jeter
3. Teixeira
4. A-Rod
5. Posada
6. Cano
8. Swisher
9. Gardner

The issue becomes who bats second: Curtis Granderson or Nick Johnson? And really, it’s a toss-up. Based on Johnson’s on-base percentage (.402 career OBP to Granderson’s .344 career OBP, Johnson has the edge. But despite Granderson’s propensity to strike out, his speed may allow him to see ample time in the two-hole. Granderson has grounded into just 18 double plays in his career, while Johnson grounded into 15 last season alone. Nick Swisher could even slide in, given the number of pitches he sees per at-bat. Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada could flip-flop at 5 and 6.

None of this is news. Given the way the Yankees entered camp last year, when we were discussing the merits of Selena Roberts’ book, Alex Rodriguez’s sincerity, whether CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and AJ Burnett had what it takes to thrive in New York, and overall, what it would take for the Yankees to make the playoffs, let alone win a World Series, maybe that’s a good thing. The only off-field issues left to talk about are the contracts of Girardi, Rivera, and Jeter, and those likely won’t be negotiated until after the season. Rivera may retire. But we have eight months to go before that speculation becomes more rampant.

For now, as Girardi said in his 30-minute powwow Wednesday, “It’s nice to be talking about baseball.”

And while we look out the window and see a wall of white with no threat of a thaw, it certainly is.

Yankee Panky: Can’t Winn For Losing

Last week’s signing of Randy Winn was met with a thud the likes we haven’t heard since the Road Runner was leading Wile E. Coyote off of cliff after cliff. The reaction appeared to have little to do with the clusterf— that proved to be the back-and-forth hearsay between Brian Cashman and Scott Boras regarding Johnny Damon. No, it was more that the Yankees actually committed a seven-figure dollar amount to, well, Randy Winn, and didn’t loosen the waistband for the once Unfrozen Caveman Outfielder.

Some of us are still trying to wrap our brains around the pretzel logic that led to the release of a soon-to-be 36-year-old who, despite his defensive foibles, has a stroke tailor made for the New Yankee Stadium and is a perfect fit for the Yankee lineup, only to sign a soon-to-be 36-year-old who is, um, Randy Winn.

There was a great deal of rancor in the Yankeeland Blogosphere in the days following the Winn deal. Over at the Yankeeist, Larry Koestler, a friend to the Banter (well, this Banterer, anyway) likens the Winn acquisition to that of Tony Womack:

Randy Winn…may have at one time been a reasonable ballplayer, but that was back when Honus Wagner was suiting up for the Buccos. I know he’s coming aboard as the fourth outfielder/platoonmate, but sweet Jesus we’d have been better off flushing the money directly down the toilet. It would’ve taken what — an extra $3-$4 million to get Damon back into the fold? We couldn’t do that, but we could spend a third of the presumed cost of Damon on an absolute and utter complete waste of space like Winn? Better to have let Gardner at least try to hold the position down — I’m not even much of a Gardner fan but I’d still rather Grit in there every day than waste any at-bats on the second coming of Wilson Betemit.

Honestly, Brian Cashman knows better than this. Signing Randy Winn and his sub-.700 OPS in 2009 for any amount is craziness. It doesn’t make any sense nor fit with the Yankees’ work-the-pitcher, high-OBP MO.

Oh, but it gets better. The New Stadium Insider notes that Winn was the last straw in pushing a certain 2009 season ticket holder to the point of canceling his plans to upgrade in 2k10.

Backtracking a bit to Koestler’s item, it’s important to note that earlier in the piece, he shows startling similarities between Winn’s weighted on-base average over the past four seasons, and Womack’s during the last four years of his career. Combining Winn and Brett Gardner, you basically have the same skill set (.325 OBP, .700 OPS, etc.). In other words, two people providing replacement-level numbers. Not good if you’re banking on Curtis Granderson summoning his 2007 self and Nick Swisher repeating his regular-season production of last year.

Maybe left-field should be considered an afterthought. Consider that when the Yankees went on their dynastic tear in the late 1990s and early part of the oughts, left field featured the All-Star cast of Gerald Williams, Tim Raines, Darryl Strawberry, Chad Curtis, Ricky Ledee, Shane Spencer, Ryan Thompson, Chuck Knoblauch, Rondell White, and Juan Rivera. The Yankees made six World Series trips in eight years with that motley crew because the other eight members of the lineup were able to make up for whatever deficiencies existed by the 399 sign. This Yankee team is good, but is it good enough to overcome left field, the unknowns of Granderson and Swisher, and despite their productivity, the ever-increasing age of Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter?

Perhaps a more apt comparison to this year’s left field situation is the right field situation of 2002, when a noncommittal Joe Torre rolled out a combination of Spencer and the inimitable John Vander Wal on a platoon basis. Spencer, despite his desire to be an everyday player, never recaptured the bottled lightning of September 1998. At least, he never came close enough to putting up numbers worthy enough to merit his everyday presence in the lineup. Vander Wal eventually regressed into what he always was: a pinch hitter. The two of them gave way to Enrique Wilson playing right field against the Mets. Wilson misplayed a couple of balls so badly that within days, the Yankees traded for the ball player formerly known as Raul Mondesi.

If history repeats itself this year, Ramiro Peña will have to make an emergency start in left and bungle it so badly that in a fit of panic, Cash will trade for Milton Bradley by the Fourth of July.

This is all figuring, of course, that Granderson is playing center field and not left. Certain pundits on certain afternoon drive radio shows have already put Granderson in left, and have said that Winn was not a terrible signing, Nick Johnson was an upgrade and a solid No. 2 hitter, and Gardner is not a terrible player, either.

We’ll find out soon enough, right?

Yankee Panky: Grandy, Pettitte

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.


What Do We Have Here?

2008 ToppsOkay, first thing’s first: Curtis Granderson is a Yankee, so who the hell is Curtis Granderson?

Granderson grew up in the suburbs south of Chicago and attended the University of Illinois in the Windy City before being drafted by the Tigers in the third-round of the 2002 amateur draft. A slender center fielder with a nice power/speed combo who bats left and throws right, he moved steadily up the Tigers’ ladder. After a cup of coffee in September 2004 at age 23, he returned to the majors in July 2005 and took over Detroit’s center field job for good that September. In his first full season, Granderson led the American League in strikeouts with 174, but his outstanding defense in center field and average bat against righties helped the Tigers topple the Yankees in the ALDS and claim Detroit’s first pennant since 1984. In his sophomore season, Granderson cut down on his Ks, added 42 points of average, and led the league with 23 triples, turning in by far his best major league season with a .302/.361/.552 line, 26 steals in 27 attempts, and a 14.2 UZR in center, becoming the first American Leaguer to have twenty or more doubles, triples, homers, and steals all in the same season.

Granderson has been trying to live up to that season ever since. In 2008 he posted his best strikeout and walk rates at the plate, but his slugging percentage dipped below .500 and he stole just 12 bases and rated 8.9 runs below average in center according to UZR. This season, both his strikeout and walk rates regressed and he posted a career-low .249 batting average which dragged down his overall line to an underwhelming .249/.327/.453. His steals and defense rebounded, but the latter only got up to about average. Thus, despite making his first All-Star team and reaching 30 homers for the first time in 2009, he arrives in the Bronx off a very disappointing season, one in which he had a lower EqA and UZR than either Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner.

As you’re surely aware, Granderson’s big bugaboo is left-handed pitching. For his career, he’s hit just .210/.270/.344 (.208 GPA) against lefties, and in two of the last three seasons he’s been significantly worse than that against southpaws:

2006: .218/.277/.395 (.223)
2007: .160/.225/.269 (.169)
2008: .259/.310/.429 (.247)
2009: .183/.245/.239 (.170)

The good news is that Comerica Park, while it is a triples-hitter’s paradise, is hell on left-handed hitters, especially left-handed power hitters. It’s next to impossible to hit a triple in the new Yankee Stadium, but it is already well-known as a home-run hitting paradise for hitters of both hands, which means that Granderson is likely to get a significant boost from his home park, particularly as his triples already started to turn into home runs this year. Just a .261/.334/.451 career hitter at Comerica, Granderson has hit .284/.353/.516 on the road, and 20 of his 30 home runs in 2009 came outside of Detroit. As a Yankee, he could well reach 40 home runs in a season, a total which has been reached by a Yankee center fielder just five times, four by Mickey Mantle and one by Joe DiMaggio.

That’s quite exciting, but Granderson isn’t anywhere near a Hall of Fame player, and one wonders just how viable he’s going to be defensively in center field going forward. Once praised for his routes and jumps, both have become shaky over the past two seasons, as anyone who watched the All-Star Game or the Tigers’ one-game playoff against the Twins could tell you. Then again, the Yankees still have Cabrera and Gardner, the latter of whom had the best EqA and UZR (admittedly in a smaller sample) of the trio in 2009. The Bombers could easily slip Granderson’s pop into left field, let Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui low-ball one another for the DH job, and be both content and no less productive than they were in their just-completed championship season. To my eyes, where Granderson is going to play in 2010 is entirely up in the air right now.

As for the years beyond, Granderson is signed for a total of just $23.75 over the next three years and comes with a $13 million club option for 2013, his age-32 season. That’s a good deal for a player with his skill set, which mixes in some decent patience (138 unintentional walks over the last two years) with the power and speed, and one that ends at exactly the right time (Granderson’s top PECOTA comparable player prior to the 2009 season was Andy Van Slyke, whose last productive season came at age 32). If his new ballpark gives him the boost many expect, and Yankee hitting coach Kevin Long can finally solve his struggles with lefties, Granderson will become an absolute bargain and a true star. Of course, the latter is a huge “if.” The flip side of that is that he could prove to be a platoon left fielder as early as 2010, one who could be dangerously miscast as a number-two hitter despite having the high slugging and middling on-base percentage of a five or six-spot hitter.

So what did the Yankees give up to get him? The three-team deal that brought Granderson to the Bronx breaks down this way for the three teams involved:

  • The Yankees get Curtis Granderson for Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy, and Phil Coke
  • Tigers get Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, and Phil Coke for Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson
  • Diamondbacks get Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy for Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth

Jackson and Kennedy were two of the Yankees’ top prospects. Phil Coke was a key member of the 2009 bullpen. Coke was expendable because of the strong late-season comeback of lefty set-up man Damaso Marte, who is signed through 2011 with a club option for 2012, and because of the emergence of rookie lefty Michael Dunn, who was initially part of this trade but salvaged by the Yankees. Marte and Dunn have their issues (Marte will be 35 in February and was on the DL with shoulder trouble for most of 2009, Dunn is an unproven rookie with alarming walk rates above A-ball), but Coke had his own, specifically his gopheritis (1.5 HR/9IP). The Yankees made something out of nothing with Coke, who was converted from starting at age 26 late last year, and they’ve cashed him in before he had a chance to go back to being nothing.

Austin Jackson was the Yankees’ most advanced hitting prospect, but given the speed with which Jesus Montero has progressed, was no longer their top hitting prospect. A center fielder who projected as very much of a Granderson-like player (20 homers, 20 steals, but not a middle-of-the-order hitter, solid but not spectacular defense), Jackson was supposed to spend 2009 getting ready to take over the major league job in 2010, but despite earning rave reviews from scouts, his Triple-A performance left a lot to be desired as he hit a heavily average-dependent .300/.354/.405 with just four homers and 123 strikeouts. In Jackson’s favor is the fact that he’ll be able to repeat Triple-A at the still-tender age of 23 in 2010 and that he was a late convert to baseball as the Yankees’ money was really all that kept him from going to college to play basketball. However, in Granderson the Yankees get one of the better-case scenario versions of Jackson’s future now, and for up to four years. There’s an outside chance that Jackson could prove to be a better player than Granderson, and the Tigers will own him for six years prior to free agency, but by giving up two years and a lot of uncertainty, the Yankees get that player in their lineup immediately, using him to reinforce a world championship squad that had a big hole in its outfield.

Some of the uncertainty the Yankees are giving up comes in the form of Ian Kennedy. Drafted ahead of Joba Chamberlain in the first round of the Yankees’ extremely successful 2006 draft, Kennedy was the third amigo in the young starting-pitching trio of Chamberlain, Kennedy, and Phil Hughes which emerged in 2007. All three had their detours, but Chamberlain returned from his admittedly successful bullpen exile in the second half of 2008, and Hughes made a strong rebound from a pair of injury-plagued seasons by replacing Chamberlain in the bullpen this year. Both are now headed for the 2010 rotation behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and, most likely, Andy Pettitte. Chamberlain and Hughes are both top-notch starting pitching prospects with filthy stuff and ace potential. Kennedy, the oldest of the trio (he’ll be 25 a week from Saturday) is more of a mid-rotation arm, a three-pitch pitcher whose best pitch is his changeup. Kennedy frustrated the Yankees in 2008 by nibbling and refusing to throw his curveball, making him a very hittable two-pitch pitcher with some attitude problems. An aneurysm robbed him of most of the 2009 season, but he made a strong comeback at the end of the year, even making a courtesy appearance with the big club in September, a show of renewed faith on the part of the team. Organizationally, Kennedy is replaced by another 2006 draftee, six-foot-six righty Zach McAllister, a third-round pick who thrived after making the leap to Double-A last year and just turned 22 yesterday. If McAllister continues his progress at Triple-A in 2010, the Yankees will never know Kennedy is gone.

So the Yankees gave up two pitchers they could afford to lose, both 25 or older, one of whom has already reached his major league ceiling, and an unproven minor league version of Granderson. Jackson and Kennedy, the latter of whom has spectacular minor league numbers (19-6, 1.95 ERA, 273 Ks in 248 2/3 IP, 0.99 WHIP, 3.55 K/9), both hold the potential to give the Yankees and their fans some buyer’s remorse down the line, but it’s just as likely that neither develops into anything special. Then again, that’s also true of Granderson, who arrives in New York for his age-29 season not as an established star, but as a talented-but-flawed player hoping to fulfill his potential and in danger of becoming a part-timer.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver