How many times has this happened to you? You live in Tampa. You can’t watch the Yankees on MLB.tv because, as the log-in error message states, you used a left-handed keyboard to enter your password on the holiest day on the Druid calendar. So, you’re forced to listen to John Sterling’s broadcast on ESPN radio. After Sterling mistakes about fifty in-field pop-flies for home runs, he finally calls a Granderson mash into the upper decks of right field correctly.
In the euphoric state that follows, your brain releases endorphins which cause you to momentarily forget what’s coming next. You don’t turn off your Smartphone fast enough. John Sterling starts singing his “Grandyman Can” song. It enters your head.
“Oh, the Grandyman can!…”.
It’s too late! You can’t un-hear it. You quickly try to cleanse the impurity that has desecrated your auditory canals by pumping Metallica’s Disposable Heroes at high volume through your headphones. You even close your eyes and start violently nodding your head to and fro, but to no avail, you can’t get it out. Your ear drums have been permanently profaned.
I don’t blame Curtis Granderson though. I actually like him. I liked the trade that brought him to New York. I like his 95 home runs, 252 runs and 290 RBIs as a Yankee. I loved his 2011 season when he hit 41 home runs, 119 RBIs and scored 136 times. As my BBD colleague Chris Barca noted yesterday, he finished fourth in MVP voting and the Yankees will almost certainly pick up his 2013 option to the tune of $13 million for the year. But I hope they don’t. If you delete 2011 his offensive productivity is merely above average and his defense is truly offensive. If 2011 hadn’t happened, this wouldn’t even be a discussion. Betting on another 2011-like season is foolish at best, especially as he advances past the 31 year age-meridian-line.
The time has come to let him walk. Or we can keep him and watch him strike out a lot Again!
It’s not simply a matter of his projected cost. The Yankees already have more than their fair share of social security-contracts. A-Rod will be paid through his 42nd birthday, Derek Jeter through his 40th, and CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira through their 36th. Should the Yankees re-sign Granderson, they likely will pay him Andre Ethier-type money, on the order of $16 or so million per year for four or five years through at least his 36th birthday. That would double his current contract average of $8 million per year (which concludes with either a $13 million option or a $2 million buyout) during an age span where history and biology dictate that skills generally decline.
Lesser known amongst his statistics are ones which I’m sure his agent, Matt Brown, will probably try to either hide, ignore, or challenge the validity of, when broached during contract talks. In Pinstripes, Granderson has amassed a -22.4 UZR and 423 strike outs. This is simply another way of stating that Granderson can neither play defense nor make his opponents play any. Or, alternatively, if you pasted his Fathead likeness to a piece of cardboard, then propped it up with a stick in centerfield, you’d get only slightly less defensive production. This year, his 138 strike outs ranks him second in baseball (thank God for Adam Dunn!) and his .258 batting average is pulling the Yankee’s team average (.266) down. Granderson currently ranks second in home runs tied with Josh Hamilton (30) behind, you guessed it, Adam Dunn (31). Interestingly, Granderson and Dunn each have WARs well below their Colleagues-of-Swat. Dunn’s is 1.6 and Granderson’s is holding steady at two. Meanwhile, Hamilton’s is 4.1, Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo and Josh Willingham, all of whom are tied for fourth place with 29 home runs apiece, have WARs respectively of 5.5, 4.7, 3.6, 3.0 and 3.7. In other words, Granderson is going to have to keep hitting 40+ home runs per year to offset his horrible defense and to justify being one player above replacement level. The Yankees would have little choice but to play him in the field since A-Rod’s ridiculous contract all but locks him into the DH spot for the next five years.
Even if Granderson’s contractual expectations turn out to be more reasonable than predicted, he still doesn’t fit into what appears to be the direction of the new and improved New York Yankees. The Steinbrenner Bros Austerity Plan (SBAP) aside, the Yankees have approximately $80 million tied up in only four players – Sabathia, Jeter, Teixeira, and A-Rod next year. I doubt that the SBAP will actually become reality in 2014, but it will provide the cause célèbre for Cashman to seek out certain player prototypes and to justify player salary caps. The Yankees, in other words, will be seeking both bats AND gloves from here on. And while there is no bigger fan of the home run than yours truly, if I had to choose a single Most Valuable Statistic (MVS), for me it’s Base-Out Percentage. A player’s BOP indicates the ratio of his bases to outs. To give a brief explanation, you shouldn’t be in the majors with a BOP of less than .5, unless you are a pitcher; .6 is above average and .8 is Barry Bonds. Curtis Granderson, as of Wednesday night, posted a BOP of .67 which is above average. While it has been all but determined by the commentariat that Granderson will be re-signed at the expense of Nick Swisher, it should be noted that Swisher’s BOP is approaching great at .75. That’s the second-highest BOP on the Yankees, Robinson Cano’s .78 being the highest. Furthermore, his UZR is at least approaching above-average at .6. Add to that the fact that two of Swisher’s slash numbers are better than Granderson’s (.261/.345/.458 compared to .242/.337/.494) and that he is cheaper should translate into a deal.
Granderson doesn’t fit into the Yankees’ long term plans. Hopefully, Cashman will make this as painless as possible and buyout Granderson’s remaining year rather than pick up his option. We move Brett Gardner to centerfield, keep Swisher in right and maybe re-sign Ichiro Suzuki and/or Raul Ibanez to play left. Gardner, you will recall, played centerfield, along with Melky Cabrera, in 2009. His UZR/150 (a metric which predicts UZR across 150 games) is a RIDICULOUS 17.1. Or we trade, or pick up a free agent, or pull up a prospect or two from Triple A. Any of these options represents a guaranteed upgrade defensively and savings that might be used to buy something the Yankees really need – a young, ground-ball inducing pitcher.
And of course, there’s the added advantage that the“Grandyman” songs would stop.