Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tigers, Yanks, Dbacks Agree to Blockbuster

As I'm sure you've heard by now, yesterday the Tigers, Yankees and Diamondbacks agreed to a 3-team trade that will almost certainly be the biggest trade of the off-season, unless the Blue Jays move Roy Halladay. I've read some of the instant reactions from some great writers, but I don't agree with the sentiment.

Most writers feel the Yankees made the best deal, the Tigers made a decent deal, and the Diamondbacks got fleeced. One thing I do agree with is that the Diamondbacks made a terrible trade, as it makes little sense to move Scherzer AND Schlereth for Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy. I think the Tigers emerged the big winner in this trade, with the Yankees unlikely to be happy with this trade in a few years.

I love Curtis Granderson for baseball. He's a stand up guy, does as much or more for his community than any player in baseball, and he comes off as someone who's smart and 'gets it' in interviews. I really like him, and his loss is a big one for the city of Detroit. However, his production over the last few years has slipped considerably. He's still a better than average center fielder, and he should produce enough to make his contract still a bargain. That said, his defense really isn't as fantastic as it once was, as he posted just a 1.6 UZR last year, after a -9.4 the year before. From 2005-2007, Granderson was a very good defensive player, and while his improvement from 2008 to 2009 is good, his defense is hardly a positive.

His ability to play center field, even just average, is big though. The Yankees did upgrade from Melky Cabrera/Brett Gardner to Granderson, so it's certainly an upgrade. However, I expect Austin Jackson to be a more productive player than Granderson in the near future, and I think he could put up similar offensive production next season that Granderson did this past season. Let me clear: I don't think Jackson is going to hit 30 home runs, or even 20 for that matter. I could see a .270/.335/.405 season next year from Jackson, which isn't much worse than Granderson's .249/.327/.453 line last year.

I do need to mention that Granderson's production next year is going to be a lot better. I don't believe he's going to suddenly revert to 2007 form, but rather playing 81 games at Yankees stadium and 162 games in that lineup are undoubtedly going to improve his numbers. However, the Tigers had to project Granderson's numbers in their lineup, and clearly they believed Jackson is a potential capable replacement. I do believe he's going to be a better player than Granderson in 2-3 years, at the most.

Swapping Edwin Jackson for Phil Coke, Daniel Schlereth and Max Scherzer is a huge get for the Tigers as well. Despite Jackson and Scherzer's misleading ERA totals, Scherzer was a more productive pitcher when healthy than Jackson last year. Of course, if Scherzer can't stay healthy then this is a poor trade for Detroit, which Arizona might be counting on.

While the immediate reaction is that Detroit got worse with this trade today, I don't agree. I expect Schlereth to be a big part of the Tigers bullpen immediately, and when paired with Ryan Perry gives the Tigers two very young, very talented relievers. Coke will be used somewhere on the staff, although it's not quite sure if that'll be as a starter or reliever.

I still think the Twins are the favorites to win the division, but this trade made Detroit better, not worse. Their immediate future looks slightly improved, while their long-term future is much brighter than it was at this time 24-hours ago.