Aug
01

Eagerly awaiting Curtis Granderson’s return

By
(Martin Griff/Times of Trenton)

(Martin Griff/Times of Trenton)

To date, this has been a lost season for Curtis Granderson. Two long-ish term fluke injuries have limited him to just eight (!) of the team’s first 107 games, and the Yankees have sorely missed his power production in the middle of the lineup. The injuries also came at a bad time for Curtis personally, since he’s due to become a free agent for the first time this winter. That’s unfortunate.

The good news is that Granderson’s time on the DL is about to come to an end. He wrapped up his six-game minor league rehab assignment yesterday, going 4-for-19 (.211) with four walks and five strikeouts with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. Granderson played left field in four of the six games — he was the DH in the other two, once because he had a stomach bug and couldn’t play the field as scheduled — and reported no problems with his left hand.

“Curtis has been a vital part of our offense,” said Derek Jeter to Wally Matthews. “He’s a guy that can change the game with one swing. We’re looking forward to him coming back, but just because Curtis is back doesn’t mean we can sit back and relax. Everybody has a job to do and everyone needs to do it.”

As a team, the Yankees have hit just 28 homers in 53 games since the calendar flipped to June, including a recent eight-game homer-less streak that was their longest since going ten straight in April 1984. That’s where Granderson, a flawed hitter who won’t hit for much average and will strike out a bunch, figures to give the team a big boost. They need someone who can put a run(s) on the board with one swing, and few hitters in the world can do that as well as Curtis. That his left hand was broken and not the right (front hand) bodes well for retaining that power after the injury.

There’s also this: the Yankees have become a very impatient team. They rank 19th in baseball with a 7.5% walk rate, their lowest since 1990 and their first time below 8.5% since 2001. Outside of Brett Gardner, who is seventh in baseball with an average of 4.24 pitches per plate appearance, not a single regular sees more than 3.75 pitches per plate appearance. That’s awful and leads to a lot of quick outs, as you may have noticed. In addition to hitting for power, one of Granderson’s strengths is drawing walks (11.0% in 2012, 10.1 % career) and seeing pitches (4.27 P/PA in 2012, 4.16 career). That will be a welcome addition to the offense.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

Although the Yankees are lefty-heavy, it won’t be tough to squeeze Granderson’s bat back into the lineup. I assume Melky Mesa will be sent to Triple-A to clear a 25-man roster spot and either Luis Cruz or Zoilo Almonte will be transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man spot, but that’s the easy part. Granderson should play left field every day, pushing Alfonso Soriano into the DH role. Ichiro Suzuki and Vernon Wells will have to duke it out for playing time in right. The regular lineup could look something like this:

  1. CF Gardner
  2. SS Jeter
  3. 2B Robinson Cano
  4. LF Granderson
  5. DH Soriano
  6. 1B Lyle Overbay
  7. RF Ichiro or Wells
  8. Third Base
  9. Catcher

That splits up the lefties a bit, rather than batting Soriano cleanup and having three straight lefty bats from the five through seven slots whenever Ichiro plays. It’s not perfect, but that suddenly looks like a competitive big league lineup. Four guys you can expect to be above-average, two you can expect to be about average, and three that range from below-average to awful. It’s not a classic Yankees lineup, but it’s far better than what they’ve trotted out there for most of the season.

So, this is it. The Yankees are at full strength now. With the exception of Alex Rodriguez, who is facing a Biogenesis-related suspension, all of the injured position players will be back as soon as Granderson is activated. Frankie Cervelli is heading to see Dr. Andrews and is unlikely to play again this year, and the trio of Cruz, Almonte, and Travis Hafner are largely inconsequential. This is it barring an August waiver trade. With Curtis back, the Yankees are as close to full strength as they’re going to get, and now is the time to make a run at that second wildcard spot.

Categories : Offense

64 Comments»

  1. Evan says:

    I love that everyone has forgot that Youkilis is on this team. I made the same mistake until Cash said they expect him back this year. Not counting on anything but just funny that he isn’t even mentioned as an injured player.

  2. Danny says:

    You think we’re at Full strength? What about Tex? This team will go through the entire year without once having their lineup at full strength. Tex is done for the year. Forget A-rod. Even if Youk was at 3rd, there will still not be one single game at full strength. You don’t win a pennant that way.

  3. Gonzo says:

    I love minor league logos.

    • vicki says:

      me too. i have some thunder and riverdogs stuff (tried and failed to get a luis sojo tampa yankees jersey). i treasure my sugarland skeeters clemens tee.

      boycotting railriders gear because of the stupid name.

  4. Harris says:

    Ichiro and Vernon Wells is far from an ideal platoon, considering Ichiro has and has had a reverse split much of his career. What should happen instead, is they give Vernon some 1B reps and he plays 1B against lefties.

  5. Yankeeparrothead says:

    Once thing that concerns me is how will Granderson fare against LHP. Especially if htey pitch him inside. He has often struggled against lefites in his career, but two lefties have broken bones and put him on the DL for extended periods this year. I am concerned he will be gunshy of any lefty that pitches him inside.

    • umbrelladoc says:

      Simple enough to put Soriano or Wells in left against a tough lefty.

      If Wells or Soriano can’t play first, you’ll want one of them to play the OF against lefties anyway.

  6. Mandy Stankiewicz says:

    Granderson gets HBP in the Bronx again this year, and I’m charging the mound.

    • Rob says:

      You better wear sneakers to the game because grandersons getting hit again this year. Dude gets hit a lot, bc teams want to pitch him in and also think he sets up close to the plate. Do it.

  7. Robinson Tilapia says:

    Cashman failed.

  8. Mandy Stankiewicz says:

    Brandan Inge was released. Another utility IF who can’t hit. Hmmm?

    • CashmanSUXShit says:

      Brian Cashman must have orgasmed when he got that news. Another dumpster turd for his massive pile of shit??? Time will tell.

  9. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    I’d rather stick Ichiro! and Wells on the bench and let Hafner try to figure it out.

    He’s the only one of the three who has been an above average hitter since 2010, and it’s not like he’s been worse offensively than Ichiro or Wells on the season.

    • Darren says:

      Are you crazy? Hafner has been atrocious since April. Ichiro has been pretty decent (in comparison to Hafner, not to other right fielders) and can at least play a pretty good right field.

      • Former ACE MannyGeee says:

        Not entirely true. Ichiro has had a pretty good (not awesome ICHIRO! Good, but pretty good) season since eating a shit sandwich in April/May… OPS+ of 108 & 113 in June and July respectively with 12 XBH. again, not amazing, but pretty good.

    • niko says:

      Hafner either can’t stay healthy and his bats been so awful of late, I’d rather just take the defensive upgrade of Ichiro over Soriano until Hafner shows any signs of breaking either one of those two statements.

    • Deathstroke Heathcott says:

      Maybe go

      Against LHP
      CF Gardner
      SS Jeter
      2B Cano
      LF Soriano
      RF Ichiro
      DH Wells
      1B Overbay or a righty-capable 1B if we can find one
      3B
      C
      with Granderson getting some games for any of the OF/DH spots

      and Against RHP
      CF Gardner
      SS Jeter
      2B Cano
      LF Granderson
      RF Ichiro/Soriano
      DH Soriano/Hafner
      1B Overbay
      3B
      C

    • Tom says:

      Depending in his health, I agree (I assume you mean against righties?)

      His shoulder might be more messed up than we know though.

    • Rob says:

      That would be an interesting idea if his shoulder ever gets healthy this year. Bc hes got big pop and patience , showed what he can bring in April.But Ichiro’s been solid lately after the bad start

  10. Dick M says:

    Anyone know what happened to Nuno? I kinda liked that guy. Could be very valuable next year if we lose Hughes, Andy and Kuroda.

    • Rob says:

      Yea I agree I like him, maybe not in the rotation, but maybe a swingman/spot starter or aceves type role, or even middle relief and we can use that out of the pen. Think he will be a valuable arm to have in the mix/as depth. he was injured in triple aaa, not sure how close to returning

  11. adjusts batting gloves says:

    Nuno pulled a groin muscle on June 8th and has not been heard from since. Nothing on SWB beat-reporter Donnie Collins’ feed or anywhere else on the internets. Boy that’s coming up on a two month groin strain.

  12. Former ACE MannyGeee says:

    Got to say, I have missed watching Granderson play this season. Despite the obvious need to produce more than 2 runs a game, I enjoy his style of play. He looks like a kid out there, enjoying every AB and every opportunity to shag a fly ball. Also, he seems a genuinely nice guy. Always well spoken and positive, doesn’t give off the ‘spoiled athlete’ vibe at all.

    I am gonna miss him next season, he is a good dude.

  13. Fernando Sanchez says:

    Yankees will go to the playoff…simple

  14. ralph says:

    Come on this team is marginally better with Granderson

    They need to make a deal of consequence; Headly, Stanton, Cargo .

    Trade Gardner if need be

    One of the big problems is that when the Yanks have gotten men on with no outs the next two guys who invariably K or pop out. We need guy who put the ball in play !

  15. kurt wright says:

    Lee Smith pitched exactly 8 innings for the Yankees in 1993…basically inconsequential career in terms of the Yankees.

  16. LemdaGem says:

    Bask in the glow of Mo Rivera’s farewell tour around MLB this year and hope the team DOESN’T make the play-offs so they won’t get embarrassed in the first round of the ALDS. The injuries and lackluster offense will only become more apparent this month, even with the emergence of Grandy.
    Soriano and Granderson will put on a wonderful strike out competition with runners in scoring position in critical at bats for the rest of the season. You heard it hear first.
    The good news > NO play offs, higher draft picks earlier.
    Do the math people, Boston, Baltimore and Tampa are NOT going to implode.

  17. yankeeparrothead says:

    They never mentioned the recruiting in the statement of why they were suspending him. I am curious as to what that actually is since all we have is what MLB leaked. If “recruiting” is giving the name of the clinic to a teammate/friend who asked that is very different than going to find people who were innocent babes and convincing them to start juicing. My gut says it was probably the former, but we have to see what evidence they actually have. I am very skeptical that their evidence is as strong as they have been leaking. If that was the case they would never have fought so long and so hard to keep the players from appealing. They would have announced the suspensions and let the chips fall where they may.

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