Back in December of 2009, the Yankees fresh off their 27th World Series Championship dealt for the then Tigers’ Curtis Granderson. A player who was known to cover a lot of distance in the outfield and hit well enough to be considered a good hitter. If you remember this trade was between three teams: the Yankees, Tigers, and Diamondbacks. They traded a combined seven players in the deal, Granderson being the most noteworthy of the bunch. The Diamondbacks received Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy. Jackson is now with the Nationals, but Kennedy is now considered the ace of the Diamondbacks rotation. The Tigers acquired Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke, and Daniel Schlereth. Each player was considered to have significant potential talent. It takes time for a trade’s true value to shine before you can grade it. Three years later I think its true colors are coming out.
The Yankees found themselves swept by the team they gave some of their young talent away to. Jackson hit .353 with a homer in the ALCS against the Yankees. While Phil Coke has saved two of the four Tigers’ wins for Detroit. Both players are doing damage to their former club while playing a role in why Detroit won the series.
Granderson is also doing damage, but to his own team. Granderson went 0-for-11 in the ALCS with an OBP of .154. Girardi was correct when he said his players didn’t made adjustments. Granderson is one of the players he was talking about. He consistently struck out on breaking balls in the dirt. It seems whether the pitchers threw inside or away he’d swing at a two-strike pitch in the dirt. So pitchers continued to throw it there and he never changed his approach.
It’s unfair to judge an entire trade on just four games though. So let’s look at the numbers from Granderson, Jackson, and Kennedy since the trade in 2009.
Curtis Granderson -
.247 AVG/.337 OBP/.506 SLG/.843 OPS
Since joining the Yankees, Granderson has been a good player. Over the past two years Granderson has hit over 40 home runs each season, but has also struck out at an incredibly horrible rate. He’s struck out 169 and 195 times in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Because of this Granderson will never give you an average north of .270. Granderson’s back-to-back 40 home run years are nothing to scoff at. It’s a truly amazing accomplishment and his swing fits Yankee Stadium’s short porch perfectly. The issue is when he’s not hitting home runs; he’s a less productive batter in the lineup. He’s become prone to either striking out or hitting pop ups. Those outcomes do not result in a runner being moved over like a ground ball. The streaky at-bats of Granderson weaken his value to the Yankees lineup.
Austin Jackson -
.280 AVG/.346 OBP/.416 SLG/.761 OPS
Austin Jackson’s numbers since the trade are good, but as his career progresses, Jackson will be a great player. He’s improved dramatically since 2011, posting a .300 AVG along with an OBP of .377. His strikeout numbers have decreased since 2011, going from 181 to 134. Jackson also plays excellent defense, covering a lot of real estate in Comerica Park. He’s a talented player that the Yankees didn’t have the patience to wait out. He had the 2012 season that the Yankees need out of Granderson. The numbers are definitely going in a different direction for Jackson and Granderson.
Ian Kennedy -
3.55 ERA/624.1 IP/1.19 WHIP/8.0 SO/9
Kennedy has strung together some great and decent seasons since the trade. He finished 4th in the NL Cy Young race in 2011 with an ERA of 2.88. Kennedy isn’t the same pitcher he was in New York. He won 21 games in 2011 — a Diamondbacks record. The Diamondbacks have had great pitchers like Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling over the years. Even though wins aren’t a direct result of how well a team pitched, it is an amazing feat when you hit 20 wins in a season. Combine that with a 2.88 ERA, and it’s a Cy Young caliber season. He would be an excellent number three pitcher behind Kuroda at this point.
The Yankees have to learn from this deal. They didn’t exactly lose this deal, and they didn’t exactly win. It’s kind of in the middle, but when Granderson eventually walks in a season it could be a loss as the Tigers and Diamondbacks thrive off the Yankees past potential talent.
They have plenty of talented outfielders in their system. The names that come to mind are Mason Williams and Tyler Austin. Would the Yankees potentially trade these two budding prospects for a name like Justin Upton? I’m not sure, and I hope we don’t find out. The days of spending big money on high profiled free agents and trading the farm for are hopefully over for the Yankees. Successful teams are now developing their prospects, signing low cost and high reward free agents, while sprinkling in a big name signing.
The Yankees have to follow suit with the rest of the league or they’ll find themselves old and at the opposite end of where they want to be.