Entering spring training, Joe Girardi wasn’t sure who would be playing left field on Opening Day. Unfortunately for the Yankees’ skipper, he now knows whom it won’t be. In the first inning of the first home Spring Training game of the 2013 season, Curtis Granderson suffered a broken left forearm that will likely cause the outfielder to miss the next 10 weeks.
The silver lining to Granderson’s injury is the timing. Because it took place early in the spring, the lefty slugger should be back in action by May. However, while that minimizes the blow, it doesn’t completely mitigate the loss. After all, thanks to the team’s cost cutting initiative, over 100 home runs had already been pared from the team’s roster. Now, with Granderson gone for approximately one-quarter of the season, that deficit just got bigger.
Losing Granderson isn’t a death blow, but it is a depth blow. Although the Yankees have a cadre of potential fourth outfielder types, including veterans Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera as well as rookies like Melky Mesa, none of those players is a viable replacement for Granderson. Will the Yankees make a trade to supply this deficiency? If not, the team will enter the season with someone playing left field, but they won’t actually have a left fielder.
So, whom can the Yankees acquire to help stem the tide? Usual suspects like Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells can probably be had in a salary dump, but the cost probably isn’t worth the potential benefit. Although other candidates, like the Mariners’ Casper Wells, could emerge as teams start to finalize their rosters, the reality is the time to build depth was in the offseason. That doesn’t mean Brian Cashman shouldn’t scour the waiver wire or continue to make phone calls, but unless a long-term solution presents itself, it’s no use throwing good money after bad players. If the Yankees are going to replace Granderson’s production, it will probably have to come from within, particularly from established stars like Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Kevin Youkilis.
If Granderson makes it back on schedule, the Yankees can definitely survive the loss. However, this year’s team doesn’t have much of a margin for error. And, with Granderson’s loss, that margin just got thinner. By no means is the season lost, but it’s equally naïve to dismiss the significance of the blow.