On Thursday my esteemed Mets360 colleague Charlie Hangley made a convincing case to Sandy Alderson that in trading a lefty hitting veteran outfielder it should be Jay Bruce, not Curtis Granderson, who gets moved.
It is undeniable that Curtis Granderson is a fine baseball player and an even more exemplary human being. He epitomizes what we would all like to see in an athlete. There are really too few “role models” among the top athletes in any of the major sports. Granderson certainly is one of them.
Where he has been likened to David Ross and David Ortiz I would even throw in the throwback name of Ernie Banks. Banks played the game with an infectious enthusiasm and like Granderson seemed to have a perpetual smile pinned on his face. Granderson is justifiably popular with his teammates, Mets fans, Tigers fans, and Yankee fans.
OK, so why should one consider trading this player over a player who doesn’t seem to care all that much for the city of New York and who played quite poorly for the Mets when acquired from Cincinnati on August 1st of this year?
There are several reasons.
At the top of the list is the fact Bruce is a true right fielder. Granderson has always had decent range when used as a corner outfielder but has one of the weakest arms in baseball. Other teams know this and take advantage of his arm at will. Just as base stealers steal gleefully against Noah Syndergaard so too base runners fly from first to third base on almost any single to right field. Similarly they score from second on even short singles to right.
Ideally Granderson should be the Mets’ left fielder which would hide his throwing imperfections somewhat. But we all know that the welcomed resigning of Yoenis Cespedes has placed him in left field for the next four years.
Bruce is no gazelle in the field and has somewhat less range in right than Granderson. But Bruce possesses a true right fielder’s arm. A good many of those runners who would easily go first to third on Granderson would be pulling up at second if Bruce is manning right. This leads to runs saved quite often.
Offensively it is difficult to know which of these two players would bring more to the table. The Steamer projections for the two does give an edge to Granderson based mostly on the superior on base percentage he has.
What projections like the above can not totally quantify is the chance of a player, due to injury, missing significant time on the field. And while Granderson certainly looks fit and flexible, more so than the ponderous Bruce, he is six years older than Bruce. On opening day Granderson will be a baseball grey beard of 36 years old while Bruce will be 30. That’s a significant enough difference to make one wonder who really is the more likely player to be on the field for 600 or more plate appearances.
There is also the matter of finances. Granderson will make $15 million during the 2017 season, Bruce $13 million. It is still debatable as to whether the Mets see themselves right now as a large, medium, or small market team based on payroll. My inclination is to think of them now as a middle market one and these teams factor in a few million here or there.
Lastly, and only Alderson knows this, there is the matter of which player can bring back more in trade. The rumor mill scuttlebutt is that Alderson has had more inquiries about Granderson than about Bruce. If so it is likely that Granderson can bring the team a better relief arm or prospects than can Bruce.
So while personally I would feel bad seeing the team jettison Granderson this offseason baseball-wise it might be the smarter move.