By Christian Pierre-Louis
Let’s see if I have the events of the last two or three days correct…
On Thursday, Brian McCann was officially introduced and actually became the first member of the Yankee organization to acknowledge Jacoby Ellsbury was a Yankee now as well. Soon after, we wondered if the Yankees had made any progress with Robinson Cano, only to learn that he was on his way to Seattle. Thursday night Cano and Jay-Z met with the Mariners brass and a deal appeared close.
Friday morning, the deal was falling apart. Later Friday morning, it was back on. Before Friday morning was over, Cano was a Mariner for the next ten years. By Friday night, Carlos Beltran was a Yankee.
Somewhere in between, the Yankees had a deal to bring back Hiroki Kuroda.
Oh, and Curtis Granderson also signed with the Mets.
Pardon me while I take a moment, to collect myself.
Okay, so now the important question–are the Yankees better?
Well, a lot of people said and wrote before that the Yankee off-season could not be a success with Cano playing somewhere else, and some still believe that to a degree. They needed significant upgrades even with Cano, and now have to fill that void too.
Yes, they are somewhat better. They have improved at catcher and their outfield is better. The infield still has some questions, especially with the known returnees Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira coming off major injuries.
The pitching still has some holes, namely at least 1 quality starting pitcher with 30 start durability, and some extra bullpen arms after the losses of Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and that other guy who used to wear 42.
The Yankees still have work to do. And to see how much money they’ve sunk into this already and all the holes they still have to fill kind of shows you what a smoke and mirrors trick it was to get 85 wins out of the 2013 team.
So…better than they were in 2013 right? Let’s put it this way:
Here was the Opening Day starting lineup, April 1 vs. Boston:
And here was the lineup vs. Tampa Bay from September 25, the last day the Yankees were still in mathematical playoff contention:
That’s 15 different players between those two lineups, and you can probably only guarantee that Alfonso Soriano and Brendan Ryan are on the roster next Opening Day, let alone the starting lineup. That’s an amazing amount of turnover. Is there a possibility the Yankees have nine completely different names for Opening Day in just one year?
The Yankees are in transition like we haven’t seen before, not even after 2008. With the core of this team either coming off injuries or suspensions/appeal hearings/other legal proceedings, it is an unbelievable revamp.
And, again, the Yankees aren’t done.
Let’s face it–this Yankees off-season is more exciting than the regular season. Too bad they can’t sell tickets to watch this stuff.
Christian Pierre-Louis is a journalism major at Seton Hall University. He is a HUGE fan of the, LA Lakers, NY Giants, and NY Yankees. He is also an assistant sports producer at Seton Hall’s radio station WSOU 89.5 FM. You can follow him on twitter at @CPL_78.
By Ben Ozur
With the recent news that Curtis Granderson is meeting with the Mets, we weigh the pros and the cons in this two-part series. To see the cons, click here.
Could it be, the Mets are making a big splash in the free agent market? In almost any other season in recent history, this would be a laughable statement. Not this year. With the big contracts of Jason Bay and Johan Santana, among others, expiring, the Mets have a decent amount of money to spend. They must be cautious to not put themselves in a similar situation to the one they just escaped from. They gave big contracts to Bay and Santana when they had the money to spend, and they didn’t really pan out. This offseason, the Mets are making it clear that they would like to be more aggressive on the free agent market. Top free agents, including Cano and Ellsbury, have been nearly ruled out. They could go after other top-of-the market guys, like Shin-Soo Choo or Stephen Drew. But what about Curtis Granderson?
This is a guy who is not far removed from superstar status. Beginning his career with the Tigers, Granderson was seen as an excellent catalyst for Detroit for many years. He hit for a high average, played elite centerfield defense, and had excellent speed. After being traded to the Yankees in a three-way trade with the Tigers and Diamondbacks in the 2009-10 offseason, some of this changed. His average fell a bit, defensive metrics didn’t favor him as much (though they are very difficult to measure), and he wasn’t quite racking up as many stolen bases (though it was still well above league-average). But what he was doing was hitting bombs, and plenty of them. 24 in 2010 (in an injury-plagued season), followed by back-to-back 40-homer seasons. In 2011, he finished in 4th in the AL MVP race but won the Players Choice Award for the Most Outstanding Player in the AL. Talk about a superstar.
2013 is the season that everyone will make people question his abilities going forward. It was an injury-plagued season in which he only played in 61 games – such a small sample size that the numbers aren’t too significant. But let’s keep in mind: these were freak injuries; he got hit by two pitches in the arm. Not easy injuries to recover from and still play at full strength. As long as these weren’t nagging injuries, like a hamstring or concussion, I’m not too concerned going forward.
Now, what does this all mean for his free agent stock? He just turned down a qualifying offer from the Yankees to remain with them for at least one season at a salary of $14.1M. (Whether or not he should’ve accepted the qualifying offer is up for a different debate.) He did this in order to obtain a multi-year contract. He’s still just 32, which isn’t too old, so a three or four year deal isn’t unreasonable. I don’t know if he’ll be a centerfielder wherever he goes, but he showed last year that he could handle all three outfield positions pretty well. With a career OPS of .828, being an excellent defender in the outfield, and averaging 17 SBs a season, there aren’t too many things not to like about Granderson. I’d expect somewhere around a three year/$50M contract for Granderson.
Now, going back to the original question: would the Mets be willing to get a top free agent like Granderson? If the Mets really want to get a guy who has shown that he can handle both sides of the ball very well, why not? He won’t command the dollars that other top free agents are asking for, and he fills a HUGE void for the Mets in the outfield. He’s been on playoff teams, so he has the experience and the veteran leadership that the Mets are seeking. Should the Mets make it to the postseason in a few years – which they seem to be set up for – I think Granderson can be a key piece in making a run
Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.
By Dan Lagnado
With the recent news that Curtis Granderson is meeting with the Mets, we weigh the pros and the cons in this two-part series. To see the pros, click here.
If there is one thing that Mets fans want this offseason, it’s for Sandy Alderson to spend the money that everyone claims that the Mets have. It was recently learned that free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson will be meeting with team officials. Many fans on hearing this news probably uttered something like, “ugh finally it’s about time they signed a free agent”. Of course it’s important to note that this is not an indicator that a deal is imminent. However there have been a few people who have predicted Queens to be a potential landing spot for Granderson. He is not terribly expensive and fills a position of dire need for the Mets, the outfield, as well as providing a power bat in the middle of an anemic lineup.
All that said, this signing, should it happen, is not an indicator of clear skies to come. First, Granderson will turn 33 next season and probably expects to get a multi-year deal. Will Granderson still be able to play the outfield at a high level at age 36 or 37? Next, Granderson would still need to figure out the transition to a corner outfield spot. This is not confirmed of course, but I would presume that the Mets would like to keep Juan Lagares in centerfield after the spectacular defensive numbers he put up last year. In his limited playing time last season (Granderson missed 101 games with injuries) Grandy still logged more innings in center than in left or right field combined. In addition, the Mets are pursuing Granderson most likely for his power as a hitter. He had two consecutive seasons with 40+ homeruns and 100+ RBI in the Bronx in 2011 and 2012. However he was aided by the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium, and Citi Field is a significantly larger ballpark. Finally, in his last full season in 2012, he played to his lowest WAR (wins above replacement) ever (the exception being 2004 and 2005 where he only played 56 combined games). It may be better for the Mets to look elsewhere in free agency or perhaps to make a trade for an outfielder. Many people have reported that the Mets have been active in talks and so obtaining an outfielder could be easy enough to do.
Given these statistics it is easy for disgruntled and pessimistic Mets fans to see the potential for another free agent bust being paid more than he deserves. We will just have to wait to see how it plays out.
Dan Lagnado is studying communications, law economics and government at American University. He’s a fan of both the Mets and Jets and has been writing about sports for four years. You can follow him on twitter at @dlag1995