By Sweeny Murti
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*Can Curtis Granderson repeat his 2011 power numbers? Granderson’s 41 home runs were the most by a Yankees centerfielder since Mickey Mantle.
I would be surprised if Granderson hit 40 or more home runs again, but since he has demonstrated the power is there I would be disappointed if he didn’t hit at least 30. I shared that thought with hitting coach Kevin Long and asked for his reaction:
Granderson has the potential to be a free agent after this season—the Yankees hold a team option for 2013 worth $15 million.
*While Long has been given most of the credit for turning Granderson around late in the 2010 season and launching his MVP-caliber year in 2011, Granderson said it was Yogi Berra who helped him get his first home run last spring:
Harvey Araton of the New York Times has written a wonderful new book about Yogi and his special relationship with former Yankee great Ron Guidry. Driving Mr. Yogi is due out April 3rd.
*Terry Francona, the former Red Sox manager, was at Yankee camp Wednesday preparing for his new role as a TV analyst. Now directly removed from the game’s greatest rivalry, Francona actually thinks Yankees-Red Sox would be a lot better if they played fewer times during the regular season. He shared his thoughts on that, the extra Wild Card format, and competitive balance:
Personally, my only problem with the extra wild card is that it lessens the impact of decisively beating a team over 162 games. Last year only one game separated the Wild Card winner and the next best finisher (the second Wild Card under the new format). However, from 2006-2010 the AL Wild Card winner finished anywhere from 5 to 8 games ahead of the next closest team. Despite having beaten their closest opponent by a significant margin during the full season, those teams would see their season come down to one game.
(The NL races have been much closer—four of the last five years the Wild Card winner has been only one game better than the runner-up.)
Baseball’s one-game playoffs have been intense and the drama is fun to watch. But those games have been between teams that were dead even after 162 games, not five or more games apart.
*I thought it was interesting that Francona would now have to sit through epic Yankees-Red Sox games like the rest of us, sitting down and watching them. So I asked him what he would be thinking as he sat down for his first Sunday night Yankees-Red Sox battle:
Francona has already shown an ability to be informative and opinionated on TV. It should be a nice stopping point for him until his next managing job.