The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


Quick Thoughts on the Blockbuster

Crawling out of my hole to offer a quick take on a nearly-completed three-way blockbuster between the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks, I'm left with these take-home points.

• The Yankees get center fielder Curtis Granderson at the cost of Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke. It's a win-now move for a team that just won it all, which makes it rather curious. Granderson's performance collapsed against lefties (.183/.245/.239 in 2009) and during the final week his routes to the ball looked awful, but he's basically a plus defensively according to the major systems, and a relatively affordable player ($5.5/$8.25/$10 million in 2010-2012 with a $13 million club option and $2 million buyout for 2013). The Yankees' big-picture desire to decrease payroll from their 2009 level wound up costing them a decent prospect whose upside may be Grandersoneque in Jackson (#7 on Baseball America's list of top International League prospects). Kennedy has some upside as well, but he's managed to throw more than 120 innings in just one of three professional seasons, and is more likely to wind up a fourth starter or setup man at this stage. Coke is a lefty who can get guys out but has gopher problems as well -- a completely replaceable commodity.

Granderson's arrival strengthens the team's hand in negotiations with Johnny Damon. They're now dealing from strength, and don't have to dance to the tune Damon and his agent call. That may preclude him coming back, but it also precludes the team making an overly generous deal just to retain somebody whose value is a bit distorted by the euphoria of winning the World Series this year.

• The Tigers have $72 million of junk on their 2010 payroll in the form of contracts to Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, Jeremy Bonderman, Magglio Ordonez, Brandon Inge and Carlos Guillen, a group that was worth all of 3.6 WARP3 last year. They trimmed none of that deadwood while trading the two players, Granderson and Edwin Jackson, who might have enticed another team to eat salary in return for taking on a good player. In the past, Granderson would have been handcuffed to a Robertson or a Willis. The Tigers do get a decent haul in the form of Austin Jackson, Coke and the Diamondbacks' young hurler Max Scherzer, but this is the move of a team rebuilding, not a team contending.

• As for the Diamondbacks, all I've got on my scorecard are underpants gnomes, ? and profit. I like Scherzer (4.12 ERA, 9.2 K/9 in 170.1 innings as a 24-year-old) more than Jackson (3.62 ERA, 6.8 K/9 in 214 innings) because he's got better command of a more electrifying arsenal, though I suppose there's a bet to be made on Kennedy's upside as well.

Update: Apparently Daniel Schlereth, the Diamondbacks' #2 pitching prospect coming into the year, is also headed to Detroit. Schlereth grazed the majors last year, going 1-4 with a 5.89 ERA and 22/15 K/BB ratio in 18.1 innings. He's a pure reliever who offers mid-90s velocity from the left side, a rarity. The deal now makes even less sense for the Diamondbacks, and more for the Tigers.


The only thing I can think of is that Josh Byrnes knows something we don't about Max Scherzer, such as an injury, that wasn't fully disclosed in the medical records. Let's simply wait and see. By the way, Premio Foods is giving away exclusive gifts whenever your favorite team wins. See for yourself. Enjoy!
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