Coming fresh off their 27th World Series championship the New York Yankees weren't content to just try and ride the same team into the 2010 season. I applaud the front office for realizing the need to address glaring weaknesses. In this game, it's necessary to stay hungry and adapt constantly.
The team needed to get younger and more athletic, especially on defense, so goodbye Johnny Damon (FA) and Hideki Matsui (LAA). Those two were very valuable assets over the past few seasons and it was sad to see them go. I'm glad they were both able to win a championship while wearing the pinstripes because if they didn't do it last year they would probably be gone anyway. I'm particularly happy for Matsui finally winning it all in America and taking down the World Series MVP, it must've been very fulfilling. Melky Cabrera (ATL), Chien-Ming Wang (FA), Phil Coke (DET) and promising prospect Austin Jackson (DET) were also sent packing.
Over the next couple of days I'm going to be taking a close look at the replacements. The select few who were brought in to bring a 28th World Championship to the Bronx. It's only appropriate to start with the most polished prize.
Curtis Granderson - 28 years old and entering his fifth full season in the league. Made the All-Star team last year for the first time in his career. Very athletic and plays outstanding defense, will most likely enter the season as the starter in center field. His range and defensive metrics are well above average - he has ranked among the top three center fielders in the AL over the past three seasons. The defensive upgrade will be tremendous, it can't be understated. He has great speed (57 career triples) and is a smart baserunner (67 stolen bases in 84 career attempts). He does have a few holes in his swing, he has trouble with the breaking ball, strikes out a lot and struggles against lefties (.210 career, he'll probably end up sitting against some lefties), but he knows how to take a walk (70+ BB each of the past two seasons) and he has been an extra base hit machine since he came into the league. As a lefty in Yankee Stadium he shouldn't have any trouble matching the 30 homers he hit last year. He doesn't have to hit for average to succeed in this lineup, just ask Nick Swisher. He's also a great character guy, very well spoken, a hard worker and has a firm grasp of the history of the game and what it means to be a Yankee. He's locked up over the next three years - he'll earn $5.5 million in 2010, $8.25 million in 2011 and $10 million in 2012, the Yankees then hold a $13 million option for 2013 with a $2 million buyout. He's a perfect fit. I'm really looking forward to seeing him patrol the outfield. Plus, he has a blog!