Granderson-Jackson deal was good for all

DETROIT — Tigers fans were stunned on Dec. 9, 2009, when the team traded fan favorite Curtis Granderson to the New York Yankees.

Nearly three years later, with the Tigers wrapping up their regular-season series with the Yankees, it’s a chance to look back and see how the three teams involved in the deal did.

The Yankees sent Austin Jackson, Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy to the Tigers for Granderson. The Tigers sent Kennedy and Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth.

Let’s start with the Diamondbacks. Edwin Jackson now pitches for the Washington Nationals. He went 6-10 with a 5.16 ERA in 21 starts with Arizona in 2010 before being traded to the Chicago White Sox.

The Diamondbacks had better luck with Kennedy, who went 9-10 with a 3.80 ERA in 32 starts in 2010, then had a breakout season in 2011, going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 33 starts. This year he’s 10-9 with a 4.34 ERA in 23 starts.

Before we get to the center fielders, let’s look at how the other players have performed for the Tigers.

Scherzer has gone 12-11 with a 3.50 ERA in 31 starts in 2010, 15-9 with a 4.43 ERA in 33 starts last year and, this season, is 10-6 with a 4.72 ERA.

Coke has been mostly a mainstay in the bullpen except for a brief experiment as a starter last season. The left-hander went 7-5 with a 3.76 ERA in 74 appearances in 2010, 3-9 with a 4.47 ERA in 48 appearances (14 starts) last year and, this season, is 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA in 49 appearances.

Fellow lefty Schlereth went 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA in 18 outings in 2010, 2-2 with a 3.49 ERA in 49 appearances last year and, this season, was 0-0 with a 10.29 ERA in six games before landing on the disabled list after being sent to Toledo.

Now, for the most-talked about players in the trade, Granderson and Jackson.

The Yankees got Granderson, 31, who was a rookie on the 2006 Tigers team that went to the World Series. Everyone in Detroit loved Granderson for his play on the field and his work in the community.

He has been very good for the Yankees, especially during his MVP-caliber 2011 season. In 2010, he batted .247 with 24 home runs and 67 RBI. Last year he hit .244 with a career-high 41 home runs and 119 RBI. This season, he’s hitting .244 with 30 home runs and 66 RBI.

Jackson, 25, has spent his first three seasons in the majors with the Tigers.

Jackson has certainly been Granderson’s equal in patrolling Comerica Park’s vast center field.

Offensively, he’s been pretty good as well. He came in second to Texas’ Neftali Feliz in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2010 by hitting .293 with 10 triples, 34 doubles, four home runs, 41 RBI and 103 runs scored.

He endured a bit of a sophomore slump last season, when he hit .249 with 11 triples, 22 doubles, 10 home runs, 45 RBI and 90 runs scored.

This year, Jackson got rid of his leg kick, and the results have been tremendous. He’s batting .318 with seven triples, 19 doubles, 11 home runs, 50 RBI and 70 runs scored.

“We traded a helluva player, and we got a helluva player,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We got a pitcher in the deal that’s pretty good. Granderson’s a helluva player now. But it worked out good for everybody.

“That’s what you want trades to be. That way you trade again. Maybe with that team. Sometimes, if trades don’t work out too good, they don’t want to trade with you anymore.”

Ramon Santiago is one of the few Tigers who has played with both Jackson and Granderson.

“As players, they’re both pretty good center fielders,” Santiago said. “I think Granderson’s got a little more power. I see Jackson in the future maybe hitting 20 homers, maybe drive in 80. He’s developing and getting better every time. They’re very similar. Granderson’s got a little more pop.”

It’s difficult to compare the careers of Granderson and Jackson because Granderson has been in the big leagues more than twice as long.

Here’s what Granderson did in his first three full seasons with the Tigers: In 2006, he batted .260 with nine triples, 31 doubles, 19 home runs, 68 RBI and 90 runs scored. In 2007, he hit .302 with 23 triples, 38 doubles, 23 home runs, 74 RBI and 122 runs scored. In 2008, he batted .280 with 13 triples, 26 doubles, 22 home runs, 66 RBI and 112 runs scored.

Granderson had the better second season, but Santiago’s assessment looks spot-on. Granderson just has more power, though Jackson’s could develop more as he gets older.

Granderson has been impressed with the man who followed in his footsteps.

“He had high expectations coming over and he’s been delivering,” Granderson said. “He’s been playing great center field, doing a great job leading off for them and kind of their igniter.

“When he gets things going for them, the team seems to follow suit very well. I think he’s been a big reason why the team has been playing very well.”

When Jackson came to Detroit, Leyland stressed to the center fielder that he should simply try to be himself, not Granderson.

Jackson has done exactly that and, the past couple of seasons, has really let his personality shine.

“They’re similar type of guys,” Santiago said. “Jackson’s more interactive. He’s joking around more, making fun of people. Granderson is more laid-back at that particular time. They’re kind of similar in how they behave but Jackson’s a little bit more spontaneous.”

As Leyland said, it’s one of those great baseball trades that seems to have worked out for all the parties involved, a win-win-win.

“Three teams win because the Diamondbacks, they got Ian Kennedy, (who won) 20 games for them last year,” Santiago said. “Everybody wins. It’s a really good trade. The GMs look like a genius.”