Happy Holidays, everyone! Thanks for a great 2009, and I hope you get everything you want, need, and more this Holiday season and in 2010. Do not forget those less fortunate in this time of need.
I figured that this was news sufficient to drag me out of the cave to blog.
Word last night was that the Yankees were looking to acquire a pitcher, one who would not be dealt simply in a salary dump. This morning, multiple sources revealed that it was Javier Vazquez in whom the Yankees were interested and, later this morning, eventually re-acquired along with Boone Logan. In return, the Yankees dealt Melky, Mike Dunn, and a player to be named later to the Braves. In all, this is a good trade, albeit one that opens as many questions in the outfield–and the rotation–as it answers with the acquisition of Vasquez; not necessarily bad questions, but uncertainties nonetheless.
Due to make $11.5 million in the last year of his three-year contract, Vazquez has been largely good and continued to be very reliable since the Yankees, in essence Randy Levine, dealt him to Arizona for Randy Johnson after the 2004 season. Having thrown at least 198 innings in each season over the last decade, Vazquez has also fanned at least 200 batters in each of the last three seasons. His last season with Atlanta was impressive, with Vazquez posting a 15-10 record with a 2.87 ERA, fanning 238 in 219 1/3 IP while walking just 44. That ERA will likely rise a good run-plus/inning in the AL but, should he post as the fourth starter something such as 15-10, 4.20 ERA over the course of 200 innings, while striking out roughly 1 per inning and keeping the walks down, I would definitely be happy with that. While the kids would be fine options for the fourth and fifth starting spots, the Yankees got a guy who, if healthy, is sure to go 200 innings despite turning 34 next July, post a pretty good record, and strike out some guys with a fastball still in the low 90s, a good change, and a nice slider and curve. He gives up a decent amount of homers (28 in a 162-game average over his career), especially when he leaves his fastball up, so that bears watching. He also ended his tenure with the Yankees on more than a down note, surrendering the grand slam to JD in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS collapse. He won’t have it easy with some Yankees fans, but is also older and more experienced now, presumably without an arm injury, and without the burden of being a staff ace with a big new contract extension. Instead, he is a good veteran slotted into the fourth spot pitching for a contract next year. That might bode very well for the Yankees.
In exchange, the Yankees gave up Melky, who may have been their starting left fielder and who came off a resurgent 2009 season in which he hit 13 homers, drove in 68, and hit .274/.336 while returning to the starting CF spot. They also gave up hard-throwing lefty reliever Mike Dunn, whom the Yankees interestingly did not trade for Granderson. This does a couple things. One, it opens up a sizable hole in the OF. It could be that Gardner plays center and Granderson moves to LF, especially since he has the better arm, and perhaps Hoffmann gets some platoon time against lefties in LF, with Granderson playing CF when Gardner sits.
More likely, to me, is the Yankees’ acquiring another outfielder who is better offensively than Gardner, and plenty are available for a reasonable price. The Yankees have expressed some interest in Mark DeRosa, but he is going to be 35 in February and had surgery on his wrist, causing his average to dip to .228 in 68 games with the Cards. Marlon Byrd is still available and, although he doesn’t walk a ton, he hits for power and can play all three outfield positions. The Yankees could make a big push for Holliday or Bay, but that seems unlikely given the Yanks’ push to maintain payroll costs. I wouldn’t want Bay regardless, given his defensive limitations. Despite what Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News rightly said on ESPN this morning that JD’s ship with the Yankees might have sailed, I wouldn’t completely rule out his return. This bears watching.
The trade also adds a lefty reliever in Logan who, while not great in his career (5-5, 5.78 ERA in four seasons), is good against lefties (.231 BAA last year). They already have Marte, who came alive late last season as Coke faltered and was especially outstanding against the Phillies in the World Series. I thought that once the Yanks dealt Coke (pardon the pun) to the Tigers, Dunn would get a shot to make the club. Although erratic, Dunn’s arm is lively and, if he develops better control, he might get a chance to replace set-up men Soriano and Gonzales sometime in 2010. Now, perhaps Logan can be the LOOGY, and Marte can be freed up to work an inning at a time. If Logan doesn’t pan out, he is easy to replace.
We’ll see what this portends for a second lefty in the bullpen, but with the rotation consisting of a very deep C.C., A.J., Pettite, and Vazquez, this forces a decision on or competition between Joba and Hughes for the fifth spot. Both did very well in setup work–Joba to end 2007 and start 2008, and Hughes for much of 2009. I really cannot say who would be better suited for which role, for while Joba has more experience starting and has done better, the Yanks might see him and his comportment as better suited to relieve. The issue with that is a likely innings cap for Hughes in 2010, which would be about 150 since he only threw 86 innings last season. I am also not sure whether or not Hughes’s complementary pitches are sufficiently developed quite yet, whereas Joba has three good ones–fastball, curve, and slider.
Right now, it is tough for me to decide who should go where because each has been excellent relieving, and neither has a large body of work starting, so I am not sure whom to put in the rotation. At the same time, I don’t think they could go wrong with either in the bullpen. Both thrived there, and the bullpen is currently comprised of Rivera, Robertson, Marte, Aceves, possibly Gaudin and Melancon (the latter of whom would be better served with regular work in SWB if he doesn’t get/earn it in The Bronx), with Joba or Hughes to presumably assume the primary setup role. That’s pretty damn good. The more pertinent question to me is who starts, not who relieves, and it is more than a rhetorical ploy.
Look for another move from Cashman for an outfielder, though they might surprise me by sticking with Gardner and Hoffmann. Personally, I don’t see it. Good move from Cashman, to me, to re-acquire a guy in Vazquez whom he liked in 2004 and whom he did not deal to Arizona. That was Levine’s doing the Steinbrenner’s bidding. Vazquez had his struggles in the second half of 2004, no question, but apparently pitched with a bad shoulder. As a fourth starter, now in his early to mid-30s and entering the final year of his contract, Vazquez fits very nicely into the fourth spot behind Pettite. This gives the Yankees not just four very good starters, but ones with myriad strengths–C.C. and his hard-throwing repertoire, A.J. and his fastball/change/power curve combo, Pettite and his cutter/curve. and now Vazquez with a good fastball/change/slider/curve with sharp movement to all his off-speed pitches. Personally, I wasn’t worried when the Red Sox acquired Lackey. Now I am even less so, for Vasquez as a number four starter is better than most other teams will match against him.
Cashman deserves a lot of credit for a good hot stove season thus far–Granderson, Hoffmann via Rule 5 from dealing Bruney, re-signing Pettite, landing Vazquez while holding on to Joba, Hughes, and Montero, and keeping costs reasonable. Vazquez is costly but just for this year, and the Yankees can keep him if he succeeds in 2010, and jettison him if he does not. I am disappointed that they did not re-sign Matsui, but the offense is still the best in the majors, and they might still add to that.
Anyone fearing the consequences of Boston landing Lackey–not exactly a doomsday scenario–can rest a bit easier now, in my opinion.
Rather than simply disappear, this is to let you know that I am taking several weeks off to pursue some other things and, honestly, to decide what to do in the future with The Heartland. I will be in touch around the beginning of February. Happy Holidays to everyone, and be well.
Boston’s signing John Lackey makes it worth considering what the implications are for the East and, obviously, the Yankees. I am of the opinion that, while Lackey is a very good pitcher, this should not prompt the Yankees to do anything, or to pursue anyone, they had not planned to anyway. It should not prompt a series of counter-moves for their own sake, which is what the Yankees did before 2007 with Kei Igawa. Rather, the key is whether or not they are comfortable with Joba and Hughes as their back-end starters, and if they can solidify a formidable top three.
In Lackey, Boston signed a tough, hard-throwing righty who doesn’t walk a lot of batters, strikes out a fair amount, doesn’t surrender too many homers, and when healthy will likely give them 200+ good innings. His career numbers are quite good–not great, but quite good:
102-71, 3.81 ERA, 1.306 WHIP, 7.2K/9IP, 2.6BB/9IP, 22 HR (162-game average).
The big question for Boston is whether or not Lackey will be more like 2005-2007, when he was both very good and very durable, or 2008-2009, when he was pretty good but tapered a bit, and missed several starts. Clearly, they are hoping for the former for, in the last two years, Lackey was quite good but experienced elbow problems that reduced his innings. Below are his numbers from 2005-2007
One can see that Lackey, who was age 26-28 during this stretch, threw over 200 innings each year, went a combined 46-25, had a strong ERA (leading the AL in 2007, as denoted in bold), kept the homers allowed well under 20 each year despite the innings pitched, and reduced the walks. He was undoubtedly one of the best pitchers in the AL.
Yet he has experienced elbow problems the last two years and his numbers, while still solid, were not quite what they were in the previous three seasons:
Lackey’s ERA rose a bit but stayed under 4, and his control stayed sharp, keeping his walks well under 3 per 9 innings. In addition to his reduced innings, the biggest difference was his allowing more homers than before. Also worth noting was that Lackey, while still striking out over 7 per 9 innings, is beginning to fan fewer batters. This is not all bad for, while his velocity is a bit less than it was a few years ago, he atones by sinking his fastball more often to pitch effectively to contact. At the same time, when Lackey misses he pays a bigger price now than he did in the mid-2000s by giving up more long balls.
I certainly don’t think the Red Sox made a poor investment in acquiring Lackey. His five-year deal will pay him slightly more than Burnett’s $82.5 million from 2009-2013, according to ESPN. If he is healthy, he should give them 200+ innings, 15-18 wins, and 7K/9IP. A question worth asking is how he will fare in Fenway, where he has historically struggled, going 2-5 with a 5.75 ERA, and allowing 8 homers in 51 2/3 innings. Surely, part of that is due to Boston’s strong lineups during those years, which included winning the World Series in 2007, and beating the Angels in the playoffs in 2007 and 2008 (and of course 2004, but that is outside the years I have analyzed here). But part of that is also that ballpark, which is a hitter’s paradise–the handball wall of the green monster in shallow left, the extremely short Pesky’s Pole in right (302 feet) spreading out to a spacious 380 in right center. Lackey might do well with Boston by winning games and getting plenty of offensive support while at the same time sporting an ERA at or above 4 for the first time since 2004 (4.63), and allowing homers closer to 2007′s 26 than last year’s 17.
In addition to speculating how he will fare in a hitter’s park in Fenway, I think it is right to question how effective Lackey will be in the tough AL East, where he will likely face the Yankees several times, as well as the Rays. Historically, the Yankees have fared well against Lackey–5-7, 4.66 ERA, 1.534 WHIP, 12 HR in 102 1/3 IP. He’s no pushover, but he isn’t Halliday, either. He is more than capable, but has not historically overwhelmed the Yankees. The East as a whole has been a step above the AL West, no disrespect intended to Texas or Seattle, which appears to be making a push to unseat the Angels. As much as teams must now contend with Boston’s improved rotation, Lackey must in turn face stronger division competition.
I would still take the Yankees’ top three of C.C., A.J., and Pettite against Boston or anyone, and still think the Yankees’ top three can compete and more often than not best anybody. The question now is whether or not the fourth and fifth starters, right now Joba and Hughes, can provide the kind of consistency to allow New York to prevent sustained losing streaks, which their rotation did splendidly in the championship run of 2009. Joba will likely have the innings cap removed, allowing him to throw 200+ innings if healthy and work regularly after his inconsistency, and likely the inconsistent work down the stretch, resulted in a so-so 2009–9-6, 4.75 ERA, 21 HR and an unacceptable 76 walks and 1.544 WHIP in 157 1/3 IP. Granted, it was his first prolonged stint starting, and he was working back from his injury-shortened 2008. He might well have hit a wall. After a good first four months in which he posted a 7-2 record and a 3.58 ERA, he faltered down the stretch, going 2-4 with a 7.52 ERA. Whether or not Joba can pitch and pitch effectively over the course of a full, 200+ inning season is key to the Yankees’ fortunes generally, and the steadiness of the rotation specifically. He needs to be in good shape, something I am not sure just by watching was necessarily the case last season.
Equally important is how Hughes performs as a starter, should that be the case as it now stands. Last year, Hughes was clearly better relieving (5-1, 1.40 ERA, 2 HR, 65 K, and 13 BB in 51 1/3 IP) than starting (3-2, 5.45 ERA, 6 HR, 31 K, and 15 BB in 34 2/3 IP), experiencing a good bump in his velocity that allowed him to overpower batters, which he struggled to do in 2008. Worth noting is that while Hughes walked too many batters in his stint starting to begin 2009, he still fanned more batters per 9 innings (8.0) as a starter than he did in either 2007 (7.2K/9IP) or in 2008 (6.1K/9IP). His curve has been good, but with his pitches, two aspects are crucial for his and the team’s success in 2010–can he develop his complementary pitches, such as a cutter he worked on last year, to accompany his fastball and curve? Also, how much will he lose off his fastball, which he regularly threw at 95-96 out of the bullpen? He located it well at that speed, but will need to maintain even better control if he is throwing it for a still good, if reduced 91-92. As Joba’s transition to starting illustrated, it is reasonable to think that Hughes’s fastball will lose 2-3 mph as a starter, even as he appears to have gotten bigger and stronger. Should he start in 2010, Hughes may be allowed about 150 innings and would be slotted as the fifth starter to allow him, especially early then later in the season, to get skipped to limit his innings.
It would not surprise me to see the Yankees take a look at Ben Sheets and perhaps sign him to a deal no more than Harden got–$6.5 million for one year–as more or less the going rate for hard-throwing starters recovering from arm injuries. [Edit: Ken Rosenthal has sent word via Twitter that the Yankees are "very interested" in Sheets, "but believe he is in no rush to sign."] Maybe Gaudin gets a decent look to be the fifth starter, moving either Joba or Hughes to setup work. Yet I am more than fine letting the kids get a crack starting. They are kids, so some patience with the process and their development–which has been pretty good–is warranted. Also, if they are not allowed to start now, when will they? The Yankees have, in my mind rightly, protected them from overuse just for this reason, while using Hughes to shore up the bullpen in 2009 was a win-win. But he needs to be stretched out to be a starter while also having a limit to his innings. Using one of them as a reliever in 2010, which is not what the Yankees envision for them long term, will only set back the process of getting them ready for the rotation. Additionally, if the Yankees were unwilling to deal one or both of them for Halliday, why not use them in the rotation now? They are not being asked to be front-line guys now, but rather back-end starters which, matching up Joba and Hughes against other teams’ back-end starters, provides the Yankees a good edge–on paper, at least.
Back to the issue of how Joba and Hughes stack up against Boston’s back-end starters, which appear to be Matsuzaka, Buchholz, and/or Wakefield. Clearly, Lackey makes the entire rotation stronger by also bumping down two of those three to the putative back end. Buchholz had a good 2009–7-4, 4.21 ERA, 13 HR, 68 K, and 36 BB in 92 IP. Turning 26 next August, Buchholz is entering his prime and might well be the fifth starter for, while he has yet to throw 100 in the majors, he threw 99 in AAA Pawtucket last year, giving him 191 total for 2009–plenty to go ahead in 2010, to me.
The big question for Boston is whether or not Matsuzaka will be healthy and effective. His 2008 was so anomalous as to be untenable–18-3, 2.90 ERA, but an AL-high 94 BB in 167 2/3 IP. Last year, Matsuzaka experienced shoulder weakness and missed considerable time, going 4-6 with a 5.76 ERA, allowing 10 HR and 30 BB in just 59 1/3 innings. Yet he returned strong in the last month, going 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA. If healthy in 2010, expecting 18-3, 2.90 ERA from Matsuzaka still seems quite unrealistic. Yet as a number 4 or 5 starter, his 15-12, 4,40 ERA, 1.324 WHIP, and 201 K in 204 2/3 IP in 2007 might well be attainable for him and quite acceptable for the team. What to expect from Wakefield is also an issue, for his 11-5, 4.58 in 2009 was fairly good and would work from the back end, yet his back limited his work last year, in no small part because he seemed considerably out of shape–probably a cause-and-effect cycle with the back injury, not allowing him to work out either as it worsened, but he was still getting hefty. Being a knuckle-baller, and given Buchholz’s emergence, Wakefield might find himself in middle relief should Matsuzaka be 100% for 2010, ready to spot start if necessary.
The top three starters for New York and Boston are pretty even to me. Aside from what each team does to round out their lineups–and as of now, Boston is still behind New York after closing in on Mike Cameron–the key to their fortunes appears to be how the fourth and fifth starters fare, with Boston needing players, including two veterans to return to health and previous form, and New York needing two younger emerging pitchers to find their niches and realize their promise.
Tyler Kepner of The New York Times is reporting that Hideki Matsui has agreed to a one-year deal with the Angels, ending his seven-year tenure with the Yankees. Matsui was tremendous with the Yankees, hitting .292/.370, 140 HR, 597 RBI, thrice scoring 100 or more runs, earning the 2009 World Series MVP with his 8-13 hitting and driving in a Series-record-tying 6 RBI in the Game 6 clincher. He was always terrific as a player and teammate, well-liked, hard-working, absolutely clutch, even apologizing to his teammates for injuring his wrist in 2006 against Boston to break his consecutive games streak. The Yankees wanted to get younger and more flexible with the DH and the outfield, understandably so. That said, they will not find it easy to replace Matsui’s 28 HR, 90 RBI, .274/.367 with clutch hitting and solid work against lefties (throughout his whole career, really) in 2009.
Matsui-san, you will be missed. Outstanding Yankee.
This may make it more difficult for the Yankees to impose that “soft deadline” of two weeks on JD, whose negotiating position might just have improved with Matsui’s leaving and Boston’s moves today, signing Lackey and closing in on Cameron to play LF. JD back for two well-paid years is fine with me, pairing with Jeter for the sport’s best 1-2 tandem and providing the DH/LF flexibility the Yanks need. The Yanks could do worse than re-signing JD. Though some may disagree, I hope that, for terms acceptable for both sides, it happens.
The scuttlebutt among the Yankee beat scribes is that John Lackey is close to agreeing to a five-year deal with Boston for roughly the same amount of money for which A.J. Burnett signed with the Yankees last year. Hideki Matsui may be close to a one-year, $6.5 million deal to DH for the Angels. Additionally, Andy Martino of The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that Roy Halliday and his agent have checked into a Philadelphia hotel, perhaps indicating negotiations for a deal to bring Halliday to the Phillies. On a related note, Ken Rosenthal and John Paul Morosi of FoxSports are reporting that Cliff Lee might be involved in a trade that might also be a three-way deal, with a potential third team unknown, to bring Halliday to Philly.
First on Lackey, if Boston wants to sign him for that long and that money, fine with me. No offense to him, for he is a good tough pitcher. Yet the Yanks already have a strong rotation to match anyone, especially with Pettite’s return. They also have plenty of long-term contracts both among the pitchers and the position players. As I have mentioned before, probably to the point of ad nauseam, the Yankees are not in a must-sign position as they were after 2008. They have Joba ready to go sans the innings cap, and Hughes also stretching out to probably the fifth starter, which would allow him to start while also occasionally getting skipped to limit his innings. Moreover, the Yanks had some success off Lackey last year, so I am not exactly panicked should he go to Boston, even though he would certainly strengthen their rotation.
On Matsui, should that deal go through, it sure would make it harder to root against the Angels with Matsui on their roster. I admit to being a big fan of his, and would miss him. But if he were to sign for that amount, not a huge contract, it would probably be a sign of Matsui’s and Tellem’s unwillingness to wait long for an offer from the Yanks, who showed little interest in bringing him back. That would be a shame, but hardly surprising. I’ll miss Matsui wherever he goes; a great and maybe soon-to-be ex-Yankee.
On Halliday, we’ll see how any negotiations with the Phillies proceed, but it would be great for the Yankees–and others–should Halliday leave the AL and the East. Hopefully Lee won’t enter in his place, but they will cross that bridge if and when they come to it. Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News brings up a good point with which I agree–that if Lackey went to Boston, it would not mean the Yankees would necessarily pursue Halliday, especially if the Phillies are courting him. The Yankees have not been major players for Lackey thus far, and Halliday’s going to Philadelphia would please the Yankees enormously, so should the rumors mentioned above come true, the Yankees can benefit without pursuing Halliday and sacrificing young talent.
As with all hot stove proceedings, we’ll see. But with this slew of potentially big moves, I figured I would err on the side of relaying the information rather than waiting. Discuss if you are so inclined.
[Edit: Jon Heyman of SI.com is reporting that Halliday is going to Philly in a three-way deal with Seattle, having agreed to an extension. As of now, he is uncertain whom Seattle would receive. More to come.]
Mark Feinsand has posted that the Yankees have officially non-tendered Wang. Do not expect him back for an incentive-laden deal for Wang still has a sore spot that the Yankees, sporting a $200 million payroll, went to arbitration over $600,000 and appeared gleeful about winning. Not too surprising that he won’t be back. Best of luck to CMW wherever he might land.
According to Tyler Kepner of The New York Times, the Yankees will do what has largely been expected and not tender Chien-Ming Wang a deal for 2010. If they did, it would have to be at least 80 percent of his $5 million contract for 2009, and the Yankees appear to have serious concerns about both his recovery and his subsequent effectiveness. As Kepner rightly remarks, Cashman never even mentions Wang as a possibility to pitch as a fill-in or back-end starter in 2010. It is rather unlikely Wang returns to the Yanks, though it would be good to see #4o back at some point. Best of luck to CMW wherever he goes. He won 19 games in two straight seasons, helping to carry a thin rotation. That freak break rounding third in Houston in 2008, combined with a poor recovery plan in which Wang was told not to run (ala country club coach to geriatric blue bloods Marty Miller) resulting in diminished leg strength and screwed up mechanics last year, may well have doomed Wang’s future with the Yanks.
A few warm thoughts as I again employ coffee with a lump of sugar and a spritz of egg nog to defeat the cold–6 degrees this morning in The Heartland, with a wind chill of -14. Effing burr.
Hat tip to Mike for e-mailing this post from Joe Posnanski’s blog, a strong, detailed entry running through various point about Granderson that reveal the strength of the upgrade the Yankees made to CF. Well worth the read.
Cliff Corcoran at Bronx Banter has a good but more balanced entry in which he expresses some concern that, should Granderson not improve against lefties and cut down his K’s, he risks reduction to part-time status.
For good segments of an interview with Granderson, see Chad Jennings at LoHud and Tyler Kepner at The Times. A couple things stand out. The first is that Granderson not just says the right things, but appears to be genuinely humble, especially when he discusses learning from Cano and other lefties about hitting lefties. This reveals not just the characteristic willingness to improve, but also this facet from a proven major-league, all-star ball player. That impresses me a lot. Additionally, this is an intriguing bit at the bottom of Jennings’s post:
If Johnny Damon were to be re-signed, Cashman said Damon would likely return to the No. 2 spot in the order and Granderson would move into a more run-producing spot in the lineup.
Not a bad idea. Should JD return, and I would welcome that for the right terms, why mess with what has worked, as I posted the other day about Jeter remaining the lead-off hitter? Plus, Granderson has power plus speed, allowing him to hit say fifth through seventh (probably sixth or seventh given his high K numbers). I would prefer to see his speed used near the top of the order but, with JD back, keeping JD second would certainly not be a bad move. His bat control is sharp, he slaps the ball the other way but can yank it out to right, and that combination with Jeter is as formidable as any atop an order in baseball.
Speaking of JD, Buster Olney just posted on the ESPN CoverItLive chinwag that the Yankees are negotiating with JD right now, hoping to settle something quickly. Based on his and Boras’s exceedingly sanguine rhetoric, I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen fast, but would definitely welcome him back.
The Rays dealt newly acquired righty Jesse Chaves, obtained from Pittsburgh for Akinori Iwamura, to the Braves for reliever Rafael Soriano. Boston has dealt Mike Lowell to Texas for catcher Max Ramirez, and agreed to eat $9 million of Lowell’s $12 million salary for 2010 in a clear dump and move to become both younger, more athletic, and better defensively after Lowell’s struggles last season. [Edit: ESPN is now reporting that the deal is still being worked out, pending mutual concerns about each player's physicals. Also, Olney reports that should the trade go through, they may pursue Adrian Beltre to play third.] Orioles Yankee punching bag Chris Ray is gone to Texas for the perpetually overrated Kevin Millwood. Texas also signed talented but oft-injured Rich Harden.
No offense to The Mighty Abe, who did yeoman’s work establishing LoHud as the premier blog that it is with his hard work and wit, but the work in these segments from Chad Jennings reminds me that I don’t miss Pete Abe at all. Jennings does very good work, people.
Good stuff from Mark Hale and George King III of The New York Post on Curtis Granderson the person, teammate, and player from a former coach and teammate. More to like about Granderson, and it reinforces what I’ve said about him, as well as the acquisitions of C.C., A.J., Teixeira, and Swish before 2009–character counts. It seems Granderson has that and then some. Interesting to note, too, that former coach Andy Van Slyke sees Granderson as potentially a corner outfielder which, if he played left, wouldn’t be horrible, either. But I don’t see that right now. He’s the CF. Phil Rogers of The Chicago Tribune concurs while ruing the Cubs’ allowing a hometown guy to go to the Yankees.