22 Feb 2013
Local columnists aside, I can’t think anyone who has paid attention to the Yankees over the past few years is surprised at the news that the Yankees are moving Brett Gardner to center and Curtis Granderson to left. Granderson hasn’t looked great in the field the past few years and fielding stats back that impression up. His range factor was 10th in the AL. His UZR was an abysmal -17.8. Compare that to Brett Gardner who had amazing back-to-back UZR’s above 20 in 2010 and 2011 and had the second-highest range factor in the AL in 2011. (He only played 85 innings in the field in 2012, so I ignored those numbers.) Gardner is clearly the better fielder and moving him to center makes baseball sense.
But it also makes business sense. Granderson will be a free agent next season and there is a big price difference between a 40-home run centerfielder and a 40-home run leftfielder. By putting Granderson in left, the Yankees reduce his potential price tag, which might just allow them to keep him after 2013. (We can debate whether or not they will want to later.)
So, the Yankees improve their team and they improve their business potential, that’s a win-win in my book. Of course Granderson is the loser in all of this. By doing this the Yankees put a dent in his price tag and they force him to learn the toughest outfield position in Yankee Stadium. Granderson is not the type to complain, but I can’t imagine he is happy about any of this.