I've been holding on to this piece for the last couple of days because of all the attention the Halladay trade and Lackey signing were (rightly) receiving.
His thoughts on Curtis Granderson after the jump:
I (along with plenty of other Tigers fans) thought Curtis Granderson was a core part of the Tigers' roster, but evidently, the team felt differently. Here in Detroit, we're still trying to work out exactly why the Tigers considered Granderson expendable. One guess is that they didn't see him improving the flaws in his game.
As you've already written, the big problem with Granderson is his hitting against left-handed pitching. His .484 OPS this year was just awful, and it affected Granderson's reliability in the lineup late in the season. Against lefty starters, he was either moved down in the order or benched, which is not what you want from one of the key players in your lineup.
Granderson got knocked for his defense late in the season, But as perplexing as that was, he's still an excellent defensive centerfielder. Sometimes, his preference for playing shallow hurts him, and he lets a few balls go over his head. But he seems to get good jumps, with an ability to make the spectacular play. His throwing arm isn't the best, but it's not terrible, either. And Granderson makes up for that with good positioning and decision-making.
The biggest change in Granderson's game last year was the emphasis on power over hitting to the gaps and using his speed. It's just a theory, but I think Jim Leyland messed with his head early in the season by moving him down in the lineup to drive in more runs. That got Granderson away from hitting doubles and triples, and I think it lingered when he was put back in the leadoff spot.
Presumably, the Yankees won't need Granderson to be a RBI man, since they already have that covered. Without that burden, he may get back to what made him successful in previous seasons.
Being 'the man' on a team can effect a players approach to the game in subtle and obvious ways. Hopefully Ian is right, and Granderson rediscovers the magic now that he's not the heart of the lineup (Arod), the focus every story, or even the biggest philanthropist on the team (Jeter).
Many thanks to Ian for taking the time to put this together.