A chip-cashing trade 

December, 9, 2009

Getty ImagesGranderson is a solution for the Yanks, but there's a sense his departure was a solution for the Tigers as well.
The trade will include big names and first-round picks when it is finally completed. Curtis Granderson is an All-Star with some major numbers and a superstar presence, and Edwin Jackson was picked for the Midsummer Classic last year. Max Scherzer is regarded, generally, as one of the great young power arms in the game, and there will be back-to-back days, inevitably, when right-handed hitters will struggle to muster half-decent swings against him and Justin Verlander. Daniel Schlereth could be a closer some day. Austin Jackson comes with more than two years of advance notice, having once been part of the Johan Santana trade talks.

But some talent evaluators who chatted about the deal in the lobby in Indianapolis sensed a strong whiff of chip-cashing going on in this trade, with each side perhaps selling an asset before the flaws are further exposed.

Granderson is high character and high production in home runs and stolen bases, but there are those within the Tigers organization who came to regard him as a good player -- but not a great player -- because of repeated route mistakes on fly balls, because of his significant strikeout totals, because of his shrinking on-base percentage and because, inevitably, his vulnerability against left-handed pitching becomes an issue in the later innings. If the Yankees place him leadoff in their lineup, that means Derek Jeter will go back to the No. 2 spot, where he tended to hit into double plays in the past. If Granderson hits second, then opposing managers will constantly call on a left-hander to face him and turn No. 3 hitter Mark Teixeira into a right-handed hitter.

If the Diamondbacks viewed Max Scherzer as a can't-miss, front-line type of pitcher, there is no chance they would have traded him early in his major league service time. Rather, there is some sentiment inside (and outside) the organization that with his unusual head-snapping mechanics, Scherzer is going to be at high risk for injury, and that eventually, he would probably have to be moved to short relief.

Granderson was beloved but on the decline, writes Lynn Henning. A bloated Tigers payroll forced the Granderson trade, writes Drew Sharp. The Tigers are still looking for a closer, writes John Lowe. The prospects are not enough for the Tigers, writes Bob Wojnowski.

Clutch is the question about Curtis Granderson, writes Joel Sherman. The trade addresses four points for the Yankees, writes Ken Davidoff.

The Diamondbacks have about $6 million left to spend in this offseason, writes Nick Piecoro. Here is a look at the deal from the Diamondbacks' perspective.

Here's the thing for Arizona: It's pretty clear that the Dodgers are in lockdown mode financially, because of the impending divorce of the McCourts, and the gap between Los Angeles and the other teams in the NL West is closing. If Brandon Webb bounces back fully -- and so far, it's all systems go for the former Cy Young Award winner -- then Arizona could have a strong rotation, fronted by Dan Haren, Jackson and Webb, with Kennedy poised to be at the back end.

Elsewhere ...

Johnny Damon feels like there is still a window for him to come back, writes Tyler Kepner. Bob Klapisch wonders: Will the Red Sox throw in the towel for 2010?

Sox counter?

We have come to expect counterpunches in the Hundred Years' War between the Red Sox and Yankees, and in the aftermath of the Granderson trade, there is a natural assumption that Boston is going to throw a left hook in response, with the signing of one of the corner outfielders, perhaps Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. The Red Sox could emerge in the bidding for John Lackey, or Adrian Beltre, another position player who fits their current blueprint, because of his extraordinary defense.

But you get the sense that the Red Sox don't necessarily view any of the players on the current market as gotta-have-'em, difference-making players. Yes, they'd like Jason Bay -- but only at their price. Rival executives don't sense the Red Sox are all hyped up to get into a bidding war over Bay, or over Holliday.

The Red Sox have expressed interest in Coco Crisp, and they are forming some contingency plans in the event they don't sign either Bay or Holliday; they'll play some combination of Jeremy Hermida and a free-agent outfielder, alongside Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew. It may be that, like in 2009, they save their biggest bullets for midseason deals.

There is calm for the Red Sox, writes Michael Silverman. Boston's choice will come down to Bay or Holliday. The Red Sox don't plan to throw a lot of money at the fill-in relievers.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Heard this: The Brewers expect to get a decision today from Randy Wolf on whether he is accepting their three-year offer.

2. Heard this: The White Sox are talking with other teams about Bobby Jenks, but the expectation is that they will keep him if they can't make a trade, rather than non-tender him. "I can't see (the White Sox) getting zero value for him," said one official.

3. Heard this: Rival executives expect the Padres to get second-line prospects in return for both Kevin Correia and Kevin Kouzmanoff.

4. Heard this: As noted above, the Red Sox are among the teams that have expressed interest in Coco Crisp.

5. The Jays will get a Halladay deal done, writes Richard Griffin.

6. The Angels are open to trading Erick Aybar, writes Mike DiGiovanna, and are targeting Halladay.

7. The Brewers have a narrow focus, on Randy Wolf, writes Tom Haudricourt.

8. The Cubs have reached a tipping point on Milton Bradley, writes Paul Sullivan.

9. Kouzmanoff is one of the names being talked about by the Padres, Bill Center writes.

10. The White Sox signed Mark Teahen and moved on Coco Crisp and Hideki Matsui, writes Mark Gonzales.

11. Nolan Ryan has served up a fat pitch for Tom Hicks, writes Evan Grant. If his bid to buy the team fails, he could leave the Rangers, writes Jeff Wilson.

12. Pudge Rodriguez is the Nationals' bridge to the future for the pitching staff, writes Ben Goessling. The Nationals are now looking to add a starter.

13. The Astros' focus at the winter meetings has turned to LaTroy Hawkins, writes Jose de Jesus Ortiz.

14. The Braves intend to deal Rafael Soriano, writes David O'Brien.

15. The Marlins are still open to a long-term deal for Josh Johnson, writes Clark Spencer.

16. The Rays continue to look for upgrades, writes Marc Topkin.

17. Chone Figgins signed, officially, with the Mariners, but Seattle is keeping an open dialogue with Adrian Beltre. Beltre fits what the Mariners are trying to do more than Jason Bay, for sure.

18. Waiting for Matt Holliday could cost the Cardinals a shot at Mark DeRosa, writes Joe Strauss. The Brad Penny signing makes sense for the Cardinals, writes Bernie Miklasz.

19. Obstacles block the Royals' pursuit of Felix Pie, writes Bob Dutton. The Royals are pursuing Jason Kendall.

20. Oakland could be a landing spot for Hideki Matsui, writes John Shea.

21. The Giants don't appear to be interested in Dan Uggla, writes Andrew Baggarly.

22. The Indians' Manny Acta feels like they have a lot of pieces in place. The Indians picked Jon Nunnally for hitting coach.

23. The Mets expect pitching help to come through free agency, writes Ben Shpigel. John Lackey is on their radar, writes Adam Rubin.

24. The Dodgers are still short on starting pitching, writes Dylan Hernandez.

25. The Phillies mean business with their budget, writes Paul Hagen. No major deals are imminent, says Ruben Amaro.

26. The Orioles like their range of options at third base, writes Jeff Zrebiec.

27. The Pirates are set to sign Bobby Crosby, writes Dejan Kovacevic.

28. The Twins still haven't filled the hole at third base, writes La Velle Neal.

29. The Rockies are locked in on signing a catcher.


From Mark Simon, a Yankees/Curtis Granderson-related trivia question:

In 2009, Granderson had the only 30 HR/20 SB season in Tigers history. On the other hand, four different Yankees have done it: Alex Rodriguez (three times) and Alfonso Soriano (two times) are two of them. The other two are outfielders with famous names ... Can you name them?

The answer is at the bottom of the blog.

Digging through the numbers

Some numerical storylines from the ESPN Stats & Information department:

On the Tigers payroll: The Tigers jumped into the top 15 teams in Opening Day payroll in 2005, after spending four straight seasons ranking in the lower half in Opening Day payroll, and by 2006 they were back to being a winning team (and in the World Series). Their seasons as a bigger spender, however, have been a mixed bag -- three with a winning record, two with a losing record.