Dec 8, 2009
The Granderson Trade
What does Nolan Ryan have to do with this? Well, bear with me for a minute. It's a little bit of a stretch. Picture Nolan Ryan in 1971, a 24 year old pitcher with serious heat and (to understate things a little) a bit of a wild side (WHIP was 1.59 and BB/9 was 6.9). He was traded to the Angels for the form of a 29 year old veteran player, Jim Fregosi, who played up the middle of the diamond and just experienced a down year by his standards, to enhance productivity in the lineup and in the field (to replace Bob Aspromonte at 3B and spell Bud Harrelson at SS).
Doesn't this bear a little similarity to the main players of the deal from today? The Yankees received Curtis Granderson, a 29 year old veteran coming off a down year, to replace an apparent weakness in the lineup (Melky Cabrera/Brett Gardner in CF). The main haul for the Tigers was a 24 year old pitcher (Max Scherzer) with serious heat and upside with an ungainly WHIP (1.34 won't cut it for an ace). Daniel Schlereth also has untapped ability and has flamethrowing ability (13 K/9 split between AA and AAA in 2009).
The circumstances, of course, are different. This was a 3 team trade that happened compared to the 2 team trade all those years ago, but the principals are similar.
The Yankees can afford it, but Granderson is lacking one skill, and that is hitting LHP, so the Yankees traded for a virtual platoon player. It is conceivable that Granderson never matches his 2007/2008 peak. Of course, he could get a new-found appreciation for the short right field fence of the new Yankee stadium, a la Johnny Damon, and become a force in the 6th spot in the order. Fregosi never was the same player after his down year in 1971 except for a couple anomalous seasons.
This is also isn't to say that Scherzer or Schlereth can approach Ryan or even Justin Verlander in career accomplishments. Pitchers are notoriously fickle in their development. But isn't it interesting to at least speculate how history can repeat and the possibilities that exist with every trade?
(Sorry Diamondback fans, I see a pretty across the board downgrade from your team's end of the deal)