The Yankees have been down this road before, and they survived. There’s a good chance they’ll safely navigate the course once again.
Curtis Granderson suffered a broken knuckle when he was hit in the hand with a pitch on Friday, and according to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, the outfielder will miss a minimum of four weeks. Granderson’s DL stint will be his second of the season, as he also spent time on the shelf after breaking his forearm in spring training, and it will once again test the Yankees’ ability to battle through and overcome what can only be described as a string of bad breaks. (No pun intended.)
The Yankees aren’t the big losers in this situation, though. Sure, they’ll miss Granderson, who — with 84 home runs over the last two seasons — remains one of the biggest power threats in baseball, but the injury is, by no means, crippling. Vernon Wells played well in Granderson’s absence, and Mark Teixeira’s return, which could come as early as next week, should help the Bronx Bombers in the power department. The big loser instead is Granderson, whose stock continues to drop.
Labeling Granderson the biggest loser in this situation is easy. No player goes out there looking to get hurt, and anyone who has ever felt any pain will tell you that getting hurt stinks. Granderson’s injury is especially crushing to him, though, because of what lies ahead.
Granderson is slated to become a free agent after this season, and every game missed is a missed chance to pad the upcoming paycheck. The veteran’s track record speaks for itself, but injuries are always a concern, and they’re even more concerning when it comes to investing in a player like Granderson.
Granderson, who has been the victim of bad luck in 2013, has been very durable throughout the rest of his career, and he’s a three-time All-Star. But he’ll also be 33 before next season. That doesn’t mean Granderson doesn’t have some good baseball ahead of him, but it does mean that signing Granderson to a long-term contract is no slam dunk.
We must also take into account Granderson’s career path. The power spike over the last two seasons is impressive, but he’s still a player who strikes out a lot and whose on-base ability is mediocre at best. If his power dips and he becomes less and less of a stolen-base threat, his overall value will nose-dive, and that possibility makes it difficult to justify gambling big money on the free agent.
Granderson’s value already took a bit of a hit when he shifted from center field (a position where his power was rare) to left field (a position where power is more common) — although some major league executives reportedly have downplayed just how much of stock-dropper that transition is. The current string of injuries muddies the waters even more.
Life will go on for both the Yankees and Granderson. But unpredictability, big bad Father Time and, now, another injury make life more difficult for the player than the team.
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