By Sweeny Murti
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Losing Curtis Granderson for ten weeks to a broken forearm hurts. I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t.
But does it really warrant a panic move?
The first five weeks of Granderson’s rehab will take place before Opening Day, which means you could roughly expect him back in the first or second week of May. Do the Yankees really need to go out and get another All-Star just to keep them from drowning in the first month of the season?
Even Joe Girardi called it a “short-term fix” less than an hour after learning the news.
If this injury happened in late July, it might force the Yankees to make a Bobby Abreu-type trade like in 2006. At that time of year it made sense. Right now, making a trade for anyone other than a low-cost replacement makes little sense. And low-cost replacements are already here.
Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera are both fighting for jobs as non-roster invitees. As I contemplated the potential Opening Day 25-man roster last week, I didn’t think there was room for both players since they are both right-handed hitting corner outfielders. The injury to Granderson should open up a spot for both Diaz and Rivera now, and with Brett Gardner in center and Ichiro Suzuki in right, they should be more than capable of holding down left field.
There are others who will see some time and get some ink at various times this spring. We’ve already sung the praises of Zoilo Almonte, who on Saturday against the Braves hit a 2-run homer and threw out a runner going first to third. He could sneak into the discussion with more performances like that. On Sunday, after we learned of Granderson’s fracture, Girardi mentioned names like Melky Mesa, Adonis Garcia, Ronnier Mustelier and Thomas Neal. While all of them will get significant playing time during exhibition games, I would be surprised to see any one of them on the Opening Day roster.
The best young outfielders in camp are probably too young to make this team. Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin, and Ramon Flores have a combined 12 at-bats above A-ball. And this group does not include Mason Williams, who probably would be in camp if not for a shoulder injury that cut short his season last year.
Heathcott could be the best of the bunch. I’ve run into several people already who feel that Heathcott (after putting his own shoulder injury and personal issues behind) should be ranked ahead of Williams as the top Yankees prospect. The Nationals asked for Heathcott in talks for Michael Morse last month, but were quickly turned away. If the Yankees weren’t willing to give him up then, it is inconceivable to think they would do so now.
What the Yankees need more than a trade right now is for their own to step up. Some of the burden falls on Derek Jeter and his return from the broken ankle, but I believe the greater burden falls on Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira.
Cano’s Yankees career is already moving into a new realm, one in which he needs to prove he is worthy of one of the game’s richest free agent contracts next winter. April, with Granderson and A-Rod (remember him?) on the shelf, is a good time to start proving it. And Teixeira is notorious for his slow starts. This is not the year for another one.
Curtis Granderson will be back. It is up to the rest of the Yankees to hold the ship together until his bat returns to the lineup.
There will be about 130 games left when he returns. The Yankees’ season is not over. So don’t expect a panic move.
Follow Sweeny Murti on Twitter @YankeesWFAN.
Are you with Sweeny, or do you think the Yankees need to make a move? Be heard in the comments…