Sunday, February 24, 2013

Things Are Not Grand in Yankees-land

Yeah, that hurt. (photo courtesy of AP)

Everyone held their breath for about an hour or so until the bad news was delivered Sunday afternoon. Curtis Granderson, hit in the right forearm in his first at-bat of spring training, will miss 10 weeks and hopefully will return in May.

Toronto Blue Jays starter J. A. Happ nailed Granderson, who made it down to first base, but immediately left the game for x-rays.  The injury further saps a team that is missing much of its power from last season. Granderson (84 home runs over the last two years) joins Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list, while free agents Nick Swisher (24 home runs in 2012), Russell Martin (21 HR), and Raul Ibanez (19 HR) all signed elsewhere.

Barring a trade the injury gives both Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera a better chance of making the team rather than just one of them. (Be glad Bubba Crosby is retired) Those of you who are thinking 'what about moving Eduardo Nunez to the outfield", forget it. Joe Girardi was adamant on today's telecast that Nunez would only play shortstop in hopes of improving his defense, while also not messing with his promising bat. (Girardi said it before he knew the extent of the injury, but I don't see it changing anything regarding Nunez.)

Diaz and Rivera are both well past their prime and both are right-handed hitters. One was expected to share right field with Ichiro Suzuki and DH at-bats with Travis Hafner. The only other outfielder that could possibly win a spot out of spring training would be Ronnier Mustelier.

The Cuban-born fireplug (5'10", 210 lbs) tore up pitching at Trenton ('AA') and Scranton ('AAA') last season in 114 games played. 82 of those games were at the Triple-A level where he posted an .815 OPS with 10 HR and 49 RBI in 347 at-bats. Mustelier was even better in the Eastern League where he compiled a 1.010 OPS in 25 games.The 28-year old is also a right-hander hitter.

"We need guys to step up" is already an overused quote down at George M. Steinbrenner III Field, but it has never been truer of any Yankees team in recent memory. Hafner will need to stay healthy and productive; the same can said for third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

The Yankees could find someone productive off the waiver wires prior to the end of spring training or Brian Cashman could pursue a deal (though he will say the Yankees will look for a solution within the organization.)  Among the outfielders that are potential free agents after this season are Texas' David Murphy and the oft-injured Nelson Cruz, Arizona's Jason Kubel, and KC's Jeff Francoeur. Players like Carlos Beltran and Shin-Soo Choo are likely not to be moved before the Major League trade deadline. Basically, I don't see the Yankees obtaining anyone more than an average player.

As for Granderson, he's in the final year of the deal he originally signed with Detroit and is scheduled to be a free agent after the season. Missing significant playing time could be a significant dent in his wallet.

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