People far smarter than me (Keith Law, Rob Neyer, Dave Cameron, etc.) have labeled this a steal of a deal for the Yankees. I can understand that point of view and I can't come up with a solid counterargument against it. But my knee jerk reaction is that the Yankees had an average to just-above average centerfield platoon in 2009. Curtis Granderson is without a doubt an improvement upon that platoon, but outside of his outstanding 2007, he's been just very good rather than excellent over the past four years. I suppose that's still worth the price paid since Austin Jackson's ceiling is apparently to become Curtis Granderson, but it stings a bit to lose three guys that we've followed through the system over the past several years. I suppose any good trade has a price to pay, and the fact that I don't want to give up the likes of AJax, IPK, and Coke but that I'm not heartbroken over it means that it was a decent trade.
That said, the more I think about the deal, the more questions I come up with. In no specific order here are some thoughts and questions, some of which probably echo the multitude of thoughts already expressed on this deal:
- Where does Granderson play? At present the Yankees don't have a left fielder, but as above, they have a decent CF platoon. Does Granderson play left? A lot of Granderson's value comes from his ability to produce as he can as a centerfielder.
- Related to that, where does this leave Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui? There's virtually no chance they both return now, if not because of roster spots then certainly because of payroll. Does either return?
- Granderson can't hit lefties. Gardner's a lefty, Melky's a switch hitter who can't really hit lefties either. Granderson likely needs a platoon partner. Does this mean Reed Johnson, as suggested by Keith Law and a host of others? If so, does that not leave room for Melky or Gardner? Or do we ignore Granderson's numbers against lefties and chalk it up to insufficient sample size, or assume that he can turn it around like Paul O'Neill before him?
- Brian Cashman was quoted this week as saying the Yankees priorities are "pitching, pitching, pitching and then leftfield". I assumed that to mean they were going to acquire pitching, or at least firm up pitching. Well, they have a left fielder, potentially, but all they've done so far is subtract pitching. Don't get me wrong, no one is going to cry over Brian Bruney, Ian Kennedy, and Phil Coke. But in them you have three guys who have proven themselves capable of pitching at the Major League level in various capacities. Now all three are gone without another pitcher to show for it. It may not have a major impact on the overall talent level, but does impact the depth.
- So much for keeping payroll down, or even reducing it. Granderson has a manageable deal for the next three to four years, but he's guaranteed $23.75M over the next three years, including $5.5M this year, with a $13M option or $2M buyout for 2013. Again, manageable, but more than what the Yankees would have been playing for the likely CF alternatives during that time.
- The Granderson deal should all but prevent the Yankees from dealing for Roy Halladay. All Halladay rumors started with Joba or Hughes combined with AJax or Montero. While 3 of those 4 guys are still available, making such a trade would leave the Yankees nearly completely devoid of young talent at the Big League level and the top levels of the farm system. Losing AJax and IPK may not be the worse thing in the world, but I think it does make it more important to keep the likes of Hughes, Chamberlain, and Montero.
- The Yankees have lost two relief pitchers over the last two days. Again, no big loss. But, Damaso Marte has been consistently inconsistent in the last two years and may be in the mix to be "The Eighth Inning Guy (TM)". Joe Girardi loves to match up. With Coke gone, I have to figure that barring a trade, Mike Dunn will be in the Yankee pen next year. In fact, given that the Yankees insisted he be pulled from the initially proposed deal, I imagine they have plans for him. Dunn's K rates are very appealing, but his BB rates scare me. A lot. He may be left handed Bruney. in fact he may make Bruney look like Greg Maddux by comparison.
- Granderson appears to be another high character acquisition for the Yankees. Obviously his talent is what precipitated the deal, but given the number of talented "character guys" the Yankees have brought in over the past year following years of malcontents, I can't help but wonder if the organization is targeting players who contribute both on the field and in the clubhouse.
Anyway, those were the first things that came to mind. This one's been dissected a thousand different ways throughout the Yankee blogosphere already. I'm sure we'll have more to say over the next several days.