Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Don't call it a comeback: Curtis Granderson is on the trade block and would improve the Tigers' outfield, but is he too expensive?
Oh come on, you knew this post was coming. The New York Yankees put Curtis Granderson on the trade block, hoping to shed salary -- a term that is making the late George Steinbrenner roll over in his grave as we speak -- and find some payroll flexibility in the near future.
Who is he?
While he is actually from Chicago, Tigers fans have claimed Granderson as one of their own since his breakout 2006 season helped the Tigers reach the World Series. He followed that up with a phenomenal 2007 campaign where he hit .302/.361/.552 and joined the famed 20/20/20/20 club, along with Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Grandy's numbers tailed off after that, bottoming out to a .249/.327/.453 output with the Tigers in 2009. After being traded to the Yankees, his power numbers surged; he has more home runs in three years in New York (108) than he did in about five full seasons' worth of games with the Tigers.
Why should we care?
Aside from the thought of bringing back a player that backboned the Tigers' resurgence to relevancy? Well, we'll get to that part.
Granderson's home/road splits with the Yankees aren't as extreme as many seem to think. While his average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage are all lower away from Yankee Stadium -- understandable when pop-ups frequently turn into home runs -- he still hit 47 home runs on the road in three seasons. A quick look at his ISO -- isolated power, or slugging percentage minus batting average -- shows that Granderson was swinging for the fences more often as a Yankee. Aside from his ridiculous 2007 season*, Granderson's ISO has been higher each of the past three seasons than it ever was with the Tigers.
*Legging out 38 doubles and 23 triples does wonders to your slugging percentage.
Why should we stay away?
He still can't hit lefties. Grandy put together a solid 2011 campaign, hitting .272/.347/.597 against lefties. Last season, however, he hit just .218/.304/.458 off of southpaws, though he did hit 14 home runs.
More concerning, however, is his strikeout rate. He appeared to have the swings-and-misses under control with the Tigers, decreasing from a 25.6% strikeout rate in 2006 to 17.6% in 2008. However, that figure has ballooned up to a massive 28.5% last season with the Yankees. Even in 2011, Granderson struck out 24.5% of the time. Is this a matter of him swinging for the fences, or is there something bigger happening here? We don't know, but it's definitely a cause for concern.
Will he end up in Detroit?
The rational fan in me sees that the Yankees don't have to trade Granderson this offseason and can wait to see if the right offer comes along. If he stays, Granderson will still probably approach the 40 home run, 100 RBI mark. He may move to left field with a healthy Brett Gardner taking over full-time in center. The Tigers probably don't have the right pieces to bring Granderson back to Detroit, and that contract is a little too high for the player that Granderson has become.
The irrational fan in me isn't listening one bit and wants Grandy back because it would be completely awesome. He is telling me to "stop acting like Tokarz" and thinks about the possibility of slotting Granderson into the #2 slot between Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera.
...and then the cynical fan in me says "Jim Leyland will probably have him bunt" and I get all sad.