Monday, May 13, 2013

Curtis Granderson is within reach of playing his first Major League game of the season. The Grandyman has been out since the first game of Spring Training after a pitch from J.A. Happ broke Granderson's right forearm.

Granderson took swings in extended Spring Training before he reported to Triple-A Scranton to get in game shape. As of Monday morning, Granderson was 7-17 (.412) in the four games he played for the Railriders with a home run and three RBI.  It's possible Granderson could join the team at the start of the six game homestand that begins with Seattle on Tuesday. Brennan Boesch was sent to the minor leagues before the second game of Monday's doubleheader with the Cleveland Indians so the Yankees will need another
outfielder soon.

Oddly (to me) Yankees fans seem to be split over whether they want Granderson back or not. I can't understand how you would not want him back. There's no question that outside of the respectable .811 OPS he put up and the career high 43 home run he hit in 2012, Granderson had a bad season at the plate. He hit hit a career low .232 and struck out a career high 195 times. Before coming to New York, Granderson had a reputation for not being able to hit left-handers. Last year he struggled against righties and lefties.

Granderson is a guy that's easy to root for - he's a stand up guy with the press, a great ambassador for the game and for the team, a great role model for kids, his teammates like him, and oh yeah, he's a talented ball player. Fans point to his lack of production in the post-season - he's had only eight hits in his last 50 post-season at-bats and was a horrid 3-30 last year when the Yankees as a team did not hit - but Granderson is one of the guys (like Teixeira, like Nick Swisher) that gets you to the post-season.

Some people have forgotten about the MVP-type season Granderson had in the 2011 after hard work and adjustments made with hitting coach Kevin Long sent him to the second All-Star game of his then eight year career. Granderson's power was just as good as in 2012 when he hit 41 home runs, but the Illinois native also had 26 doubles, 10 triples, 25 stolen bases, 85 walks, a .916 OPS and led the AL with 136 runs scored and 119 driven in.

Granderson, like Teixeira, appears to have become pull happy in new Yankee Stadium. (Partial blame has to fall on Long in my opinion.) Granderson was unable to counteract the adjustments (different pitching approach, right side shifts) made by the opposition last year. His swing had too much of an uppercut and it appeared he attempted to hit one over the short porch in right field every time up.

With the new salary limits put in place by the front office, it's likely the Yankees will let Granderson walk after this season. The 32-year old is in the final year of the six year, $43.25 contract he originally signed while a member of the Detroit Tigers (The Yankees picked up his $15MM option for 2013.). Brett Gardner has taken over in centerfield and it appears he'll stay there when Granderson returns from the DL.

The Yankees also expect youngsters Mason Williams, Melky Mesa, Zoilo Almonte, and Slade Heathcott to make an impact in the Major Leagues soon .

Some fans though want Granderson gone before the end of the year and that's something I don't understand at all.

It's amazing how having a winning record and (surprisingly) being in sole possession of first place (entering Monday's play) in mid-May can change your attitude/mind on things. Fans who complained about the acquisition of Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, etc., suddenly don't want to mess with the mix. Based on their track record, can you trust that Wells and Hafner will continue to produce and continue to be healthy? Kevin Youkilis is already out indefinitely with a back issue. Ichiro Suzuki has struggled at the plate so far. Would you rather have Boesch and/or Ben Francisco on your team than Curtis Granderson?

Most importantly, the team is winning because of the pitching and clutch hitting. If the hitters go into a slump, the team can still win with pitching. The present Yankees lineup is not one that can overcome poor pitching. So even though he has struggled in the post-season, do you really want to diminish an offense that is not an 'A' list lineup?

I don't think so.

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