Is Almonte the internal answer for Granderson's replacement? (Image: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Replacing Curtis Granderson: The Internal Options

Well, that was disappointing. With Curtis Granderson on the shelf for 10 weeks, maybe more, the Yankees will undoubtedly be looking to replace him. The 31-year-old outfielder was hit in the wrist from Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ and didn’t appear as though Granderson would miss any significant. However, an MRI later revealed he broke his forearm and now the Yankees are calmly scrambling to replace his production. Many have linked former Yankee, Alfonso Soriano, but is he the real answer for the Yankees? Let’s take a look at those who are already in camp and on the 40-man and see if there’s a better, more logical fit.

Many people are clamoring for Soriano with Granderson down, but the Yankees have a stable full of unproven outfielders ready to step in. It’s not the ideal situation for the Yankees, but it’s one they need to deal with.

Melky Mesa

The guy was good for 182 wRC+ last year! That was in two plate appearances with the big club when he was brought up for the cup of coffee in September. The 26-year-old has always been a slightly above average hitter in the minors, however, the Yankees value power in the outfield and Mesa doesn’t provide enough of it. Sure, he hit 23 bombs split between AA (14) and AAA (9), but he struck out 32.3% of the time in 133 plate appearances while in AAA last year.

His slash line (.230/.271/.524 while in AAA) shows that he swings at garbage and doesn’t have a great eye, but when he connects he can do some damage. His .270 BABIP last year in AAA is a little under the norm, but that stems from him swinging at bad pitches. He’s your prototypical AAAA player who can provide some good speed off the bench, as well as play decent defense.

Zoilo Almonte

Almonte is intriguing. While his walk rate decreased with each promotion last year (10.6% in A+ in 2011 down to 5.6% AA in 2012) his hitting as remained close to his career numbers. Last season was somewhat of a breakout year for him in AA when he hit .278/.322/.488 (120 wRC+). He is on the higher end of the BABIP range at .319, but that is to be expected from players who have above average speed like has does. Speaking of his legs, he was successful in 15 of 19 stolen base attempts (79% success rate). Out of the internal options he might find himself as the leading candidate, but MLB pitching is MUCH different better than AA pitching, so it remains to be seen if he can hold up against better competition.

Ronnier Mustelier

First, read this, by our own Hunter Farman. Mustelier is an older prospect (28 years old), but that doesn’t make him any less of a candidate. Now, he’s played the infield and outfield since joining the organization in 2011, but for the purposes of this article we’ll lump him in with the outfielders. Saying that, the guy has hit since he came to the club. Last year in AAA, he recorded a .303/.359/.455 slash line (128 wRC+).

He doesn’t provide much power (.153 ISO), but he did hit 10 home runs in 385 plate appearances. Over a full season he could hit as many as 20 if he held on that same plane. He doesn’t strike out very often (12.7% in 2012) and is a tad below average in the walk department (6.8%). Finally, his BABIP has been quite high throughout his short career stateside, which could definitely hurt his overall value at the plate if that came down to normal levels.

With respect to Ramon Flores, Thomas Neal, Adonis Garcia, Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin, and Jose Pirela, I don’t think they have the seasoning yet to make the club out of camp. However, the three players I highlighted above have the best chance to make the club in Granderson’s place on Opening Day. If I were to rank them, I would go Almonte, Mustelier, then Mesa. Again, this is not the most ideal situation for the Yankees, but it’s one they need to work through. Every team deals with injuries, the Yankees just got their first test of the young season.

Stats courtesy of Fangraphs

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