- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
7. The Brewers have a narrow focus, on Randy Wolf, writes Tom Haudricourt.
9. Kouzmanoff is one of the names being talked about by the Padres, Bill Center writes.
16. The Rays continue to look for upgrades, writes Marc Topkin.
20. Oakland could be a landing spot for Hideki Matsui, writes John Shea.
24. The Dodgers are still short on starting pitching, writes Dylan Hernandez.
26. The Orioles like their range of options at third base, writes Jeff Zrebiec.
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.
On Max Scherzer: Last year, Scherzer was one of just nine NL pitchers to throw 100-plus innings and strike out a batter per inning. These pitchers had the best K/9 ratio:
Rich Harden -- 10.91
Tim Lincecum -- 10.42
Yovani Gallardo -- 9.89
Javier Vazquez -- 9.77
Jonathan Sanchez -- 9.75
Clayton Kershaw -- 9.74
Ricky Nolasco -- 9.49
Jorge De La Rosa -- 9.39
Max Scherzer -- 9.19
The issue for Scherzer is holding form. Last year, he had a 3.61 ERA in April through July, but saw that balloon to 5.00 from August through September.
On Edwin Jackson: Jackson was 7-4 with a 2.52 ERA in the first half of 2009, earning his first trip to the All-Star Game. But after that, things got ugly. Jackson's ERA went up each month of the season:
Mar/Apr -- 2.25
May -- 2.34
June -- 2.91
July -- 3.16
August -- 4.45
Sept/Oct -- 6.14
On Curtis Granderson: Perhaps hitting out of place, Granderson was among the worst leadoff hitters in 2009 in terms of OBP (Upton was benched late in the season):
B.J. Upton -- .316
Curtis Granderson -- .319
Ian Kinsler -- .320
However, Granderson will really like the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. He was among the players who hit the most homers to RF last year:
Prince Fielder -- 31
Chase Utley -- 28
Mark Teixeira -- 28
Carlos Pena -- 27
Hideki Matsui -- 26
Curtis Granderson -- 25
And Granderson may not be able to hit lefties, but he's shown a lot of power versus righties. He was among the players with the most HRs versus right-handed pitching in the AL last year:
Kendry Morales -- 30
Mark Teixeira -- 30
Curtis Granderson -- 28
Adam Lind -- 28
But back to that average versus lefties. These were the worst in baseball last year against left-handed pitching (min. 100 at-bats):
Randy Winn -- .158
Curtis Granderson -- .183
Chris Davis -- .189
B.J. Upton -- .190
Andre Ethier -- .194
Of course, Granderson joined a select group of players with 30-plus HRs and 20-plus steals in 2009. That group included Mark Reynolds (44/24), Jayson Werth (36/20), Nelson Cruz (33/20), Troy Tulowitzki (32/20), Ryan Braun (32/20), Chase Utley (31/23) and Ian Kinsler (31/31). Granderson had 30 HRs and 20 stolen bases.
He also could bounce back from career lows in batting average (.249), OBP (.327) and triples (8).
On Randy Wolf: Wolf is mulling a three-year offer from the Brewers. They could use the help. The Brewers had an MLB-worst ERA in 2009 from the starting pitchers. Their starters racked up a 5.37 ERA, tied with the Orioles, and barely outdistancing the Indians (5.30).
Wolf, oddly, is 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in his four starts at Miller Park since 2007, and is among the leaders of worst ERA at the park among those with at least five starts.
Jorge De La Rosa -- 7.94
Barry Zito -- 7.88
Zach Duke -- 7.38
Wandy Rodriguez -- 7.28
Tom Gorzelanny -- 7.11
Kyle Lohse -- 7.07
Tim Redding -- 6.10
Randy Wolf -- 5.95
• Tom Kelly appears destined for the Hall of Fame eventually, writes Charley Walters.
• The Cubs are considering investing in a Florida spring training site, writes Ameet Sachdev.
• The trivia answer: Mickey Mantle (1959) and Bobby Bonds (1975) are the other two Yankees outfielders with a 30 HR/20 SB season.