Skip to content

Alfonso Soriano as a Granderson replacement seems far-fetched

Feb 24, 2013, 6:30 PM EDT

Curtis Granderson Reuters

The silver lining about a 10-week injury to Curtis Granderson: Opening Day is still more than a month away.

Losing Granderson’s power is far from an ideal way for the Yankees to start the spring, but it’s hardly a season-wrecker either. And while there might be some concern over whether Granderson will regain his power right away after his broken forearm heals, I think that’s less of an issue than it would be were it a wrist or hand injury.

One problem the Yankees do face here is that they released their best Granderson replacement last month. Veteran Chris Dickerson hit .316/.417/.514 with 17 steals in 69 games for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and also popped a couple of homers in 14 at-bats in the majors last season. A plus defender in a corner still capable of manning center, he was the fourth best outfielder on the Yankees’ roster at the time of his release. The main issue is that, like the three guys ahead of him, he’s a left-handed hitter, which made him poorly suited for a spot on the team’s bench.

The Yankees also lost Russ Canzler on waivers earlier this month. Like Dickerson, he’s now an Oriole. He would have been a liability in left field, but he projected better offensively than any of the Yankees’ current internal options, a group that includes journeymen Juan Rivera, Matt Diaz and Thomas Neal and prospect Zoilo Almonte and Melky Mesa.

The one internal option not getting much play yet is Eduardo Nunez. Nunez started three games in left field for the Yankees last season, but the team was committed to keeping him at shortstop this spring with Derek Jeter rehabbing. Perhaps that will change next month if Jeter shows he’s ready to play shortstop on Opening Day.

Of course, then there are the external options. Alfonso Soriano is the name on everyone’s lips, even though he still has two very expensive seasons left on his contract. Also, he wields a no-trade clause and he presumably wouldn’t be happy about shifting to a part-time role once Granderson returns. Soriano was asked about the Yankees possibility by CSN’s Patrick Mooney today: “If they call for me, I have to think about it because I don’t want to take a quick reaction and say yes or no.”

The Cubs would presumably cover a heavy portion of the $38 million left on Soriano’s deal in order to move him, but still, even taking on $5 million or so for 2014 would hurt the Yankees as they try to get under the luxury tax. For a one-month Granderson replacement, he wouldn’t make much sense.

Other external options include free agents Scott Podsednik, Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu, none of whom figure to hold much appeal. The Mariners have Casper Wells and Eric Thames expendable after loading up on veterans. The right-handed-hitting Wells would actually be a pretty nice fit as a fourth outfielder after Granderson returns. The Tigers’ Brennan Boesch and Padres’ Jesus Guzman could be made available. There are also veterans like Ben Francisco (Indians), Conor Jackson (Orioles), Darnell McDonald (Cubs), Tony Gwynn Jr. (Dodgers), who might not make their current teams and could be had next to nothing, though they’re not necessarily better bets than Rivera and Diaz.

The guess here is that Rivera is the Yankees’ Opening Day left fielder.  He doesn’t have a whole lot left, but he’s a better bet than Diaz and none of the younger prospects are ready to hit in the majors. Keeping Mesa around as a defensive replacement might make sense, though only until Granderson comes back.

  1. shawnuel - Feb 24, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    If Jason Bay continues to look revitalized in Seattle, what about NY native Casper Wells to the Yanks as a fill-in? His power would play up in The Bandbox.

  2. deathmonkey41 - Feb 24, 2013 at 6:52 PM

    I’d rather bring up a young player.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 24, 2013 at 7:46 PM

      Unfortunately, their young players worth a damn have a combined total of 8 PA at AA. You don’t jump guys from the Sally league to the majors.

      • tfbuckfutter - Feb 24, 2013 at 10:56 PM

        Albert Pujols thinks your comment is stupid.

      • gammagammahey - Feb 24, 2013 at 11:45 PM

        Pujols is a once-in-a-generation player. Using outliers like him to justify personnel moves is a bad idea.

      • ctony1216 - Feb 25, 2013 at 9:27 AM

        The Yanks have two outfielders who played at Double A last year who could fill in for Granderson for a month: Zoilo Almonte and Ronnier Mustelier. The nice thing about bringing up one of these guys now would be that he would get to play every day, and even if he struggled, it would be a good experience and could speed up his development at the big league level.

        The tough part about bringing up prospects as bench players is they don’t get enough at bats to get into a groove at the plate. So, this would be a nice opportunity to bring up one of these guys.

      • anxovies - Feb 25, 2013 at 7:30 PM

        Mustelier is a good bet to replace Granderson for a while. He is a 28 year old Cuban defector who has hit for average and power wherever they have played him (.314 and 15HR at AA-AAA last year). Despite the fact that he looks like a fireplug, 5’10” or 11″, 200+ lbs, he is pretty fast and a plus infielder/outfielder (he can play 2B, 3B and the outfield). I have been intrigued about how he has rocketed through the minors and it would be nice to see him get a chance.

    • dickclydesdale - Feb 25, 2013 at 12:44 AM

      Girardi is a donkey for playing starters in these meaningless spring games.
      Fonzy Soriano is the only legit option the Yankees have.

      • bolweevils2 - Feb 25, 2013 at 9:40 AM

        I believe there is some kind of requirement (sometimes openly flaunted though) that teams play a certain number of starting lineup guys in all spring games to keep the road games from being a joke with just minor leaguers playing. The starters have to play sometime to get ready anyway.

    • dickclydesdale - Feb 25, 2013 at 12:46 AM

      That could very well have been Jeter getting drilled. Time for starters to skip spring training and only participate in intrasquad games.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Feb 25, 2013 at 1:33 AM

        …..and prepare for real competition how?

      • bolweevils2 - Feb 25, 2013 at 9:47 AM

        That brings up an interesting question: Would it actually have been worse for the Yankees if it had been Jeter? The Yankees have a more viable replacement for Jeter in Nunez than they do for Granderson. And, based on WAR at least, Jeter was only slightly better than Granderson last year and Granderson’s 3 year WAR is 5 wins better.

        That of course ignores the intangible “The Captain”, the gritty face and leader of the Yankees stuff, which depending on your point of view is either the most important factor or entirely irrelevant.

    • southofheaven81 - Feb 25, 2013 at 7:24 AM

      Well, as the article said, they HAD Dickerson, but why not bring in the ghost of someone who was great in 1989 instead?!

  3. pisano - Feb 24, 2013 at 7:15 PM

    I don’t see Soriano coming in, they have enough in house help, and besides, no offense to Granderson, but if he wasn’t hitting HR’s he was striking out. I think they have enough in house to replace his .230’s BA. As my friend says, just my opinion.

    • Kevin S. - Feb 24, 2013 at 7:44 PM

      Not a particularly informed one. Here are some of the other things he did when he wasn’t hitting his (nearly league-leading) 43 homers: 73 singles, 18 doubles, 4 triples, and 75 walks. Those all have value. Also, he’s not at the age where we should be expecting a constant decline, so it was highly likely he was going to bounce back to his previous levels. But hey, if his replacement hits an empty .270, it’s totally the same thing, right?

      • pisano - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:23 PM

        Yeah, remember he hit .232, that’s not getting on base all that much, and that average. is totally informed.

      • Kevin S. - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:32 PM

        Actually, his OBP was league average last season, and his slugging was significantly higher than league average. In a season he was likely to bounce back from. Look past the BA, he’s not the scrub you make him out to be.

      • cackalackyank - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:40 PM

        I notice you left out his 195 strikeouts in 596 at bats. That is striking out almost one third of the time, while only getting an extra base hit 17% of the time. 18 doubles for a guy with his supposed speed is ridiculous.

      • Kevin S. - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:44 PM

        You know what the difference between a strikeout and an out is? Almost nothing. Given all the hand-wringing I saw in the other thread about GIDP, it’s actually the lack of opportunity on those. Quit focusing on the minute differences – a few balls in play advance runners, but it’s fantastically overblown – in bad outcomes and embrace the positive. In Grandy’s case, it outweighs the whiffs.

      • jwbiii - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:48 PM

        Granderson also had a career low BABIP while having a career high LD%. That suggests fluke and likely to rebound.

      • cackalackyank - Feb 24, 2013 at 9:08 PM

        Some outs are acknowledged to be “productive outs.” There is no such thing as a productive strikeout, but there is in fact such a thing as a “strikeout/throw out double play.” There is almost twice the likelyhood of him striking out as hitting a homerun. That can be replaced…just not by any spare parts outfielders the NYY have now.

      • Kevin S. - Feb 24, 2013 at 9:13 PM

        Argh, since we’re getting so damned hung up on looking at strikeouts and HR, the league had 7.38 Ks for every home run last year. Granderson’s ratio was only 4.53. That’s significantly better than your average hitter. Each HR brings a lot more positive value than the Ks bring negative value.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 24, 2013 at 9:37 PM

        That can be replaced…just not by any spare parts outfielders the NYY have now.

        No, it can’t. Since Granderson joined the Yanks in ’10 through last year he ranks 4th in total HR hit by anyone in baseball. He’s only 1 HR behind Pujols for third. Yeah he struck out a lot, but you rarely find a CFer with that kind of power.

      • jolink653 - Feb 25, 2013 at 10:49 AM

        I completely disagree with your assertion that a strikeout is very different than any other out…Granderson last year was one of the worst hitters in making productive outs that I can remember seeing…I can’t even count how many times he came up with men on base and couldn’t even get the ball in play to move runners along, let alone bring them in…A big part of winning championships is being able to move runners and at times play small ball and Granderson was completely useless when it came to that…Kevin Long has essentially turned him into Adam Dunn/Carlos Pena, an all-or-nothing type hitter, when Granderson used to be a doubles and triples machine with Detroit…I’m still upset they gave up Austin Jackson in that trade, a trade I was against from the start, and we can see how that’s turned out

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 25, 2013 at 11:45 AM

        Granderson last year was one of the worst hitters in making productive outs that I can remember seeing,

        [citation needed]

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 25, 2013 at 11:53 AM

        I can’t even count how many times he came up with men on base and couldn’t even get the ball in play to move runners along, let alone bring them in

        2012 splits per bref [HUGE SAMPLE SIZE WARNING]

        runners on 2nd and 3rd:
        .308/.444/.692 for a 1.137 OPS, this is a 179 OPS+ vs league average (sOPS+)

        bases full
        .400/.417/.750 for a 1.167 OPS, or 219 sOPS+

        times he hit worse than league average:
        runner on first only, 73 sOPS+
        runner on third only, 13 sOPS+ (17 PA)
        runner on first/second, 75 sOPS+
        runner on first/third, 42 sOPS+ (14 PA)
        runner on first, 2 out, 83 sOPS+

        Overall he was league average with men on (100sOPS+) and was 22% better than average with RISP.

      • jwbiii - Feb 25, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        johnk653, church. . .:

        Granderson was below average at making productive out last season. Granderson 27%, NYY 31%, AL avg 32%. For Granderson to be average, he would have had to have three more productive outs, or one every two months. Since PO% was negatively correlated with wins in the AL last season, and four of the five AL playoff teams had average or below PO%, I don’t see where that is a big deal.

        Scoring runners from 3b with less than 2 out: Granderson 50%, NYY 48%, AL avg 52%. There only four AL teams below average at scoring runners from third with less than two outs. All four of them made the playoffs.

        The Yankees score a lot of runs and win a lot of games not because they are particularly good at these things but because they lead the league in getting runners on base and have more opportunities.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/AL/2012-situational-batting.shtml

    • genericcommenter - Feb 25, 2013 at 8:07 AM

      I hope you weren’t one of those guys who posted ridiculous stuff a couple months ago about how they had to re-sign Ichiro and other guys who “get on base” and drop Granderson and let Swisher walk… even though those guys get on base MORE than guys like Ichiro

      I will take lines like these:
      .232/.319/.492 w/ 195 SO
      .272 /.364/.473 w/ 141 SO

      Over these every day:
      .272/.310 /.335 w/ 69 SO
      .283/.307/.390 w/ 61 SO

    • cackalackyank - Feb 25, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      Oh well, I guess there is no convincing some people that Granderson is not the reincarnation of DiMaggio and Mantle combined.

      • Kevin S. - Feb 25, 2013 at 12:06 PM

        Define: straw man

  4. barrywhererufrom - Feb 24, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    Dickerson is a AAAA player..strikes out too much. Good athlete but not a major leaguer. Bleach is an idea but he could be the tigers version of Dickerson. It’s only 6 weeks of the regular season. Juan Rivera or Matt Diaz would be fine out there in left field.

    • cackalackyank - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:48 PM

      OK if it really is only six weeks for Granderson with this injury at this reporting. However, I think this really shows the weakness of the NYY “fourth outfielder” options at the opening of Spring Training. I for one am hoping that this “lights a fire” to get them to look a little harder at some of the other options that might be around. Admittedly, Yankee fans are pretty spoiled particularly in regards to the extra outfielders that have been around in the past 15 years. Remember that for his last season Bernie Williams was the “fourth” outfielder until both Sheffield and Matsui got hurt.

  5. barrywhererufrom - Feb 24, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Boesch aka Bleach according to my spell check

    • polonelmeagrejr - Feb 25, 2013 at 6:42 AM

      That;s how players get nicknames. Maybe alll his teamates will start referrring to him as “Bleach” – incidentallly, the name of a Nirvana Record.

      • mazblast - Feb 25, 2013 at 10:20 AM

        I thought the name of that and every other Nirvana record was “Bleccccchhhhhh”.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 25, 2013 at 10:27 AM

        Word, mazblast. Foo Fighters is a MUCH better band.

  6. yankeepunk3000 - Feb 24, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    is it by chance the a blue jay pitcher takes out our top HR guy for a month or so? Or is it part of the PLAN to take out the Yankees from first!!!???? They didn’t just do it with talent they’re doing it with WAR!!!! TO WAAAARRRR TO WAAARRR…I might be over exaggerating, but hell… no baseball for 5 months makes me go all kinds of crazy.

    • proudlycanadian - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:26 PM

      It was a fluke. Lawrie was hit first by a Yankee pitcher with bad control, but was not injured. Happ is trying to make the team, and even in an exhibition game, I doubt that he intended to load the bases by hitting Granderson.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:53 PM

        Bah! It was a socialist Canadian plot to take down the most shining example of American capitalism in baseball!!!!

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 24, 2013 at 9:13 PM

        Socialist? Our Prime Minister is a Conservative! Your President is a tad to the left of center.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 24, 2013 at 9:19 PM

        Oh, please, our president plays left like Jeter.

      • proudlycanadian - Feb 25, 2013 at 7:05 AM

        It looks as if Lawrie was actually hit by a Yankee pitcher after Granderson was hit. If the Yankees want to play this game, Cano is now the only healthy Yankee worth hitting.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 25, 2013 at 7:29 AM

        Careful there, PC. One does not want to provoke the Sith.

    • cackalackyank - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:50 PM

      its ok…they have meds for this now…I hope

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Feb 25, 2013 at 1:36 AM

      No kidding. My first thought, jokingly, was that the Jays are REALLY going after the AL East this year. Stocking up on talent isn’t enough. They’re going right after their competition. Pedroia better wear some body armour when he faces them.

  7. Kevin S. - Feb 24, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    Cashman has already ruled Nunez out for the left field spot. As far as Soriano goes, I’d want to see what prospect Chicago would want for him if they’re eating most of the money. Worst case scenario, if the Yanks only owe $5 million of Soriano’s salary in 2014, they should be able to at least give him away.

    • cackalackyank - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      Real problem, as you have mentioned, is that the best the Yankees have to offer will not be ready for the bigs until late 14, more likely 2015. So if the Cubs want players for this year or next year they would be likely to ask for two or more lower rated prospects.

      • Kevin S. - Feb 24, 2013 at 9:04 PM

        Yeah, I don’t know what Theo wants. Does he want a lottery ticket? Might have a couple of those in the lower minors. Take a crack at Betances figuring things out? Go right ahead. Maybe one of those fifth-starter types the Yanks have hanging out in SWB that would play up in AAAA like Adam Warren? Obviously Austin/Williams/Sanchez/Heathcott are off the table, but I’d be willing to talk about the rest down there.

      • 18thstreet - Feb 25, 2013 at 9:24 AM

        I would guess the Cubs would take a chance on low minors prospects. Soriano is pretty much useless to the Cubs right now. He’s still a good player, but the Cubs are — at best — a couple years away from the playoffs. Why would they want to spend any money at all on a someone who doesn’t help them in 2015?

  8. jessethegreat - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    His strike-outs are better than Hits into double plays! Grandy is obviously not the best player in the game as he does have flaws…. But he’s not as near the bottom of the league as some make him out to be.

    Bottom line: this Yankees team is better with him in the lineup than without him.

    • cackalackyank - Feb 24, 2013 at 9:00 PM

      Unquestionably they are better with than without him…the degree to which this becomes true is magnified by the quality, or rather lack of quality, of the in house replacements. Not the greatness of Granderson. I would place him in the top half of regular AL out fielders, but not the top ten.

  9. historiophiliac - Feb 24, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    Pleeeeeaaaaaasse, take Boesch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pretty please w/ sugar on top, and caramel icing, cake, vanilla, strawberries and an ice centaur.

    • paperlions - Feb 24, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      The physical appearance of the please makes no difference.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 24, 2013 at 9:23 PM

        Boooooo!!!! Aren’t you in timeout yet?

  10. shwoogy1 - Feb 24, 2013 at 10:54 PM

    Soriano is going no where, unfortunately.

  11. rgledz - Feb 25, 2013 at 12:44 AM

    Wow, nice work Hardball talk guys…..6 hours since the last post. It’s not like spring training just started or anything…….right??

  12. xjokerz - Feb 25, 2013 at 3:19 AM

    Boesch has alot of right field power … Would fit good at Yankee park

    • historiophiliac - Feb 25, 2013 at 7:51 AM

      Yes! They should take him. Hell, I’d be willing to throw Don Kelly in too. He’s got experience in the bigs.

  13. joewilliesshnoz - Feb 25, 2013 at 5:18 AM

    Looks like they’ll be calling their AAA team, the Pgh. Pirates, for either Tabata or Presley.

    • mazblast - Feb 25, 2013 at 10:18 AM

      Yeah, the Yankees certainly fleeced the Pirates when they paid Pittsburgh to take A.J. Burnett last year.

  14. jfk69 - Feb 25, 2013 at 5:59 AM

    The old way would have had George making a bone head deal before the X Rays were dry. Remember his three headed first base move, Then could not figure a way to get Ortiz..lol
    Me/Cashman
    I am doing nothing and will listen to all callers while watching my players in spring training fight for a job. Then I ‘ll will have 4 or 5 weeks to see who has won the backup spot. If some other team is desperate enough and the deal is good . Then I WILL ACT.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 25, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      Then could not figure a way to get Ortiz..lol

      Are you talking about David Ortiz? When was he available to get? After he was released by Minnesota in ’02 and had put up a .266/.348/.461 (108OPS) line with 58 TOTAL HRs? yeah, the Yanks definitely should have gone after that.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Who are the favorites for Rookie of the Year?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. J. Soler (3276)
  2. R. Castillo (2778)
  3. Y. Molina (2597)
  4. A. Rizzo (2456)
  5. A. Dunn (2427)
  1. M. Cabrera (2388)
  2. B. Posey (2280)
  3. J. Ellsbury (2199)
  4. D. Pedroia (2116)
  5. M. Wacha (2034)