MLB

Acquiring Granderson hurts Yanks chances at Doc

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Bob Klapisch

Bob Klapisch covers baseball for The Record in New Jersey and worked at the New York Post and New York Daily News. The author of five books, he was recently voted a top-five columnist in the country by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

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INDIANAPOLIS

The Yankees' interest in Curtis Granderson was piqued a month ago at the general managers' meeting, when Brian Cashman learned the Tigers were open to dealing the missing piece in the Bombers' puzzle.

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Granderson, Cashman decided, was the perfect blend of power, speed, youth and affordability, all wrapped in a neat package. The Yankees wanted to complete Tuesday's three-way trade with Detroit and Arizona so badly, they did so at the expense of acquiring Roy Halladay. One American League source says it's now "unlikely" the Bombers have the prospects to convince the Blue Jays to deal their ace. Having shipped Austin Jackson to the Tigers, the Yankees intend to hang on to Jesus Montero, their up-and-coming catcher. That effectively narrows the field for Halladay to the Red Sox and Angels. Cashman knows he's taking a risk, giving Boston a free shot at a confirmed Yankee-killer. Theo Epstein is loathe to trade prospects, and has said he wants to hang on to righty Clay Buchholz. But after seeing the Yankees fortify themselves yet again, the Sox GM may have no choice but to pick up the phone and call the Jays. Halladay, after all, has a career .750 career winning percentage against the Bombers, third all-time among pitchers with at least 20 decisions against them. The Yankees, meanwhile, made a difficult decision trading Jackson, having groomed him to be their centerfielder by 2011 if not sooner. But as with any pre-prime time talent, the Yankees weren't completely sold on the idea that Jackson, who struck out once every five at-bats at Class-AAA last year (while hitting just four HRs in 504 at-bats) would ever be better than the man who'll now patrol centerfield through 2012. Granderson has the energy and charisma of Johnny Damon in his prime, and the home run capability of Hideki Matsui. He'll also play at 29 for the 2010 season and comes at a very reasonable $25.75 million over the next three years. The only give-backs are Granderson's struggles against left-handed pitching (.183 last year, .210 for his career). He also strikes out often, approximately once every four at-bats. That approach doesn't jibe with the Yankees' philosophy of long, controlled at-bats; they finished with the second fewest strikeouts in the American League in 2009. Despite his penchant for swinging and missing, Granderson's other skill-sets were too tempting for the Yankees to resist, including his durability (he's averaged 155 games a year since 2006) and his maturity and professionalism, which would allow him to easily assimilate in New York's overheated environment. Mostly, though the Yankees now have another threat in a ball park that rewards left-handed hitters with an uppercut. Privately, club officials believe Granderson could hit as many as 40 home runs in 2010, which will compensate for the presumed departure of Hideki Matsui or Damon. And it'll make it somewhat easier to pass on Halladay, especially if both Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes will be back and Andy Pettitte signs a one-year worth an estimated $12 million in the next few days.
Tagged: Red Sox, Tigers, Yankees, Blue Jays, Andy Pettitte, Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Clay Buchholz, Austin Jackson

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