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New York Yankee notes: Why is Curtis Granderson a Yankee?

Try and figure this one out. The Detroit Tigers are the team that seems most likely to sign former New York Yankee outfielder Johnny Damon. To a contract, according to the rumor mill, that will pay him more than the $5.5 million Curtis Granderson will make this season in pinstripes.

What in the world were the Tigers thinking? It's a good question, and it's one Tiger fans and beat reporters are still asking. Fairly.

The question will not go away unless Granderson stumbles with the Yankees (unlikely) or Austin Jackson emerges as a legitimate, immediate replacement for him in center field (even more unlikely).

If the trade was just about money -- and certainly finances were part of it -- then fine, the Tigers were forced to play a bad hand.

The Tigers likely would pay Damon more this season than the $5.5 million that they would have paid Granderson, prompting several rival executives to speculate on a more fundamental motivation for the trade: The Tigers had soured on Granderson as a player.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said in a telephone interview Tuesday that such a conclusion is "absolutely not true," but why wouldn't it be, at least to a degree?

Several parts of Granderson's game regressed last season: His routes in center field; his ability to make contact; his performance against left-handed pitching.

All that surely was enough for Tigers officials to rationalize the deal, particularly when Granderson and pitcher Edwin Jackson were their only attractive trade chips.

Still, Granderson did not need to go...

No one argues that Granderson is a perfect player -- he struck out 141 times last season, 21 of his 30 homers were solo, his misplays in the outfield cost the Tigers in a pennant race. But really, how many perfect players are there?

For $23.75 million over the next three years, Granderson should have easily fit in Detroit, particularly when the team's payroll will become far more flexible after this season.

Whatever the Tigers were thinking, they will regret trading him.

I don't know what the Tigers were thinking, either. No way Jackson replaces Granderson's production, at least not this season. As a Yankee fan, though, all I can say to Tiger managemment is this.

Thank you very much.

  • Speaking of Granderson, New York Baseball Digest thinks he might be the most important player in the Yankee lineup this season. Why? Because when Manager Joe Girardi figures out his lineup, Granderson is likely to end up in the No. 5 hole trying to protect Alex Rodriguez
  • Hate Jonathan Papelbon of the Red Sox all you want, but give him a little credit for humbly recognizing the greatness of Mariano Rivera.

    "Mo is one of those guys who I’ve idolized in the role, and what he’s done for the role, what he’s done himself as a closer. He’s got five rings. That speaks for itself. Everybody else that’s a closer out there is pretty much chasing him. I think he’s set the tone for what it is to be a closer, and I think he’s bridged that gap, from closers 10 years ago to closers now. He’s been able to do both and to bridge that gap. It’s fun to watch him. It’s fun to see how he goes about it, and it’s fun to kind of compete with him on a level of kind of staying up with him. If you can stay on the same field with him, you’re doing something right."
  • MLB Fanhouse writes about how GM Brian Cashman did not allow sentimentality to sway his off-season decisions.
  • Girardi is ready to turn the page on 2009.

    The winter is much more enjoyable when you're a champion than when you're not," Girardi said. "As soon as [Thursday] starts, my mind-set is, 'Let's get ready for 2010.' You can't really say that we're going to show up and win the World Series because we were there in 2009. It doesn't happen that way."

    "I don't ever look at favorites or expectations of what a team is supposed to do," Girardi said. "The only thing that I think about is I want this team to be the best that they can be.

    "If it's good enough, that's great, and if it's not, then we'll have to continue to work on it. We do have a lot of experience in that room and we do have a lot of talent, but talent alone doesn't win you championships. It takes a lot more."