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What a “Grand” idea – Yanks mull trading for Tigers Granderson

November 19, 2009

Curtis Granderson would excel as a Yankee. I guarantee it.

Yankees brass are internally debating which of their top three free agents — Andy Pettitte, Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon — will they resign, and what moves could be made if they can’t.

The hot stove buzz has led fans to believe that the Yankees could trade for Detroit Tigers centerfielder Curtis Granderson, who is under contract by the Tigers for the next three years at a nominal $25 million.

My advice? Make the trade — unless they want Joba or Phil Hughes. Granderson, 29, is exactly what the Yankees need if they were to depart ways with Damon and Matsui. Last year was a down year for Granderson, who batted .250 with a .327 OBP and struck out 141 times, which is not the kind of production you want out of the two-hole. He also batted a paultry .187 against left-handed pitching.

But there’s a huge upside to go with his not-so-impressive 2009 campaign. He did hit 30 HRs, which was the fourth-most by a left-handed hitter in the American League last year. Batting in Yankee stadium, he could hit 35-plus jacks. He also scored 91 runs, hit nine triples, and had 150-plus hits for the fourth year in a row.

In 2007 and 2008, Granderson led the AL in triples and was second and third in runs scored, respectively. In addition, in 2007, Granderson finished in the Top 10 for AL MVP, and in 2009, represented the Tigers in the All-Star game.

Granderson is an excellent fielder, and though he hasn’t won any Gold Gloves, he does play in the AL, which has the likes of Ichiro Suzuki, Tori Hunter and now, Adam Jones, roaming the outfield. Those guys are phenomenal outfielders, but just because Granderson couldn’t beat them out for a Gold Glove, doesn’t diminish his valuable defense. ESPN ranks Granderson in the Top 5 outfielders in the AL.

Granderson is only owed $5.5 million next year, but one stipulation with a trade for him is that Tigers owner, Mike Ilitch, is looking to dump his big salary guys and to land Granderson, the Yanks might have to take on 37-year-old Magglio Ordonez and his bloated $19 million he’s owed next year.

Magglio Ordonez is no longer an elite player.The Yanks need to stay away.

That would suck. I hate Ordonez. He’s washed up and overpaid. But Granderson — from reports I’ve read — indicate that he’s a great clubhouse guy and good with the media. Those traits are essential for player who wants to come to New York, where every move is microscoped and scrutinized.

If the Yankees were to resign Damon, they would have less need for Granderson, and the NY Daily News is reporting that the Yanks could be interested in signing super-utility man Mark DeRosa. He could play left-field when Damon DH’s or needs a rest, as well as hop in at third base for A-Rod when he needs a day off. DeRosa is 35, and has a littany of health issues, starting with a bad wrist.

Yanks should stay away from DeRosa. Though he did hit 23 HRs and drove in 78 runs in 139 games, it would deter the Yankees from their ultimate goal: get younger, faster and more defensive, with a focus on pitching.

The Yanks don’t need more power. They set a franchise-record in homeruns in 2009, and led the majors in myriad offensive categories. Re-sign Jerry Hairston, Jr., and he could play the same role for way less money. Granderson is versatile, young, fast, and most importantly, cheap.

Add that to the fact that he’s played in 140-plus games four years in a row and can steal 25-plus bases, I think it’s a no-brainer, as long as Magglio stays away.

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