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The case of Curtis Granderson

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George Ofman

I know my stuff. 36 years in broadcasting. Sox Cubs Bears Bulls Hawks. You ask, I'll answer

What price Curtis Granderson?  This is a monumental question facing Jim Hendry and the quandary he has created at Clark and Addison. One of the game's most popular and charismatic players is on the market and he happened to grow up here and attend UIC. He plays center field, he's a leadoff man with power and speed and he's the antithesis of Milton Bradley.

This is exactly what the Cubs need.

I say find a way to bring Granderson here.

So what is Hendry waiting for?

He's not.  Hendry is definitely a player in the Granderson derby. But this story isn't as simple as, here is this for that and hello Curtis.

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First and foremost, dismiss any thoughts, rumors or wishful thinking Bradley would be part of this deal. The Tigers would rather have Ford relocate to Japan before that would happen. Any trade of Bradley will be done separately unless Hendry magically pulls off another four way trade as he did in 2004 when acquiring Nomar Garciapara.

Secondly, dismiss reports the Cubs wouldn't part with one of their highly prized prospects such as Andrew Cashner or Starlin Castro. It might take more than just Granderson to get it done but It's not out of the question.  Yes, their names along with Josh Vitters, Carlos Marmol and Sean Marshall have been discussed.  But is Granderson worth a stiff price of minor and major league talent?

If you're creative, ABSOLUTELY!

Granderson's resume includes his fabulously engaging and magnetic personality. He has winner and success written all over him. His acquisition plus the subtraction of "Milton the Martyr" would more that soothe angry and disillusioned Cubs fans. And imagine the marketing possibilities? If John McDonough was still with the Cubs, Granderson would be running for mayor....and winning!

But what Granderson does on the field is more important than what he does off it.  And he has plenty of talent and fills several voids.

He's third in extra base hits among all leadoff men with at least 1,200 at bats over the past 3 seasons.  His 190 are only a few behind Brian Roberts and Jimmy Rollins.

His contract is palatable. He's owed $23.75 million the next three years plus an option in 2013 worth $13 million or a 2 million buy out.  Better yet, Granderson is owed just 5.5 mil next season which could work if Hendry has to eat much of Bradley's contract.

He's a defensive plus in center. He's not great, but more than adequate.

But he does have a downside. He's a notoriously poor hitter against lefties, a problem you must believe new hitting coach Rudy "The Guru" Jaramilo can deal with.

Right now, Granderson is Motown's number one hit.  Detroit may be "Hockey Town" but Granderson owns the city.  And that begs the question why Tigers GM and resident overspender Dave Dombrowski is shopping Grandson in the first place.

Easy.   He knows there are GMs out there like him who might over spend to get such a dynamic package in Granderson.  The Yankees are interested and among others, have Phil Hughes to offer. The Angels are in this picture because they could lose Chone Figgins. And bet your bottom dollar but not theirs, others suitors will surface.

But if you're Hendry, do you start trading highly regarded players from your farm system when after this season, you may need them?

Let's remember; Derrick Lee's contract is up after this season. Think the Cubs will shell out more than 13 mil per to keep him? Aramis Ramirez has the right to void the final two years of his deal after the season and become a free agent. This is another way of putting a gun to the Cubs head and saying, "extend me".  Ted Lilly's deal also is up and he might not pitch until May after off season shoulder surgery.

The Cubs have to consider tomorrow while their window of opportunity to win now closes fast.
But if Hendry can manage to obtain Granderson while giving up only one major prospect and some other talent, it could change the face of the Cubs for years to come, and in a good way.

How else can I say this; GO GET GRANDERSON!

 

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19 Comments

Sgt. Tibs said:

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agreed!!! I've long been a fan of Granderson and hope the Cubs can successfully reel him in. A hometown guy as well.. but if I'm not mistaken, I think I remember reading he was a Sox fan? Haha. Hope they can land him tho.

George Ofman said:

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Sox fans can become Cubs fans very quickly

millertime said:

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I agree, off the field Granderson seems much more friendly than Bradley.

Looking at their respective numbers, Granderson has a career OPS of .828, Bradley having an OPS of .821. Last season Bradley OPSed .775, while Granderson posted a .780. Basically the same amount of on-field production without adjusting for ballpark factors, position, or pitching faced. Granderson had a slightly better year, plus he plays CF, and is younger, so more valuable.

Granderson's defense is very good. Not exactly Torii Hunter good, but he's well above average. Bradley had a down year this year for defense, although throughout his career he's been pretty average. He normally doesn't cost is teams runs. I personally feel that his "throwing the ball away with only 1 out" is a little overblown. While it was a dumb, 100% avoidable mistake, it still only counts as 1 error. At most, only 1 runner scores. Plus, an out is still recorded, unlike a throwing error by Theriot, in which a run might score, runners will probably still advance, and no out is recorded.

Granderson also steals bases, for what that's worth (stealing bases adds fewer runs than most people seem to think). My point here is that stealing bases is far less important than OBP or SLG. For example, Juan Pierre was fast and steals a lot of bases, but his low OBP and SLG makes him not all that good.

So facotring in age, defense, offense, and the fact that Granderson plays CF, he is an upgrade over Bradley at this point. I won't dispute that. However, at best Granderson helps the Cubs win 3 or 4 more games. If Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano stay healthy next season, it will have a much bigger impact than trading for Granderson.

The real value of this trade seems to be that people believe that the "chemistry" issues around Bradley, and his off-field antics, cost this team more than it gets from having Bradley play. Personally, I don't find this very convincing. Players like Lee, Lilly, and Zambrano posted some of their better years, in spite of the "Bradley effect". D-Lee has even gone on record stating that his relationship with other players does not effect his performance. I also find it very hard to blame Soto's sophomore slump, Aramis's shoulder, and Soriano's knees on Bradley. A player's struggles are their own issue, they are not caused by someone else on the team. If they are, it's more a problem with them, and not the outside force.

I'm betting that Bradley has a good season next year. If he stays in Chicago, he probably won't put up worse numbers than he did this year. As it stands, the numbers he put up this year were about league average. They were also the worst numbers of his career. So if he bounces back at all, he should be an above average RF, which is what the Cubs are paying him to be.

I think if the Cubs offer a package of Bradley, Fox, and Cashner, and pick up part of the salary of Bradley + all of Granderson's, the Tigers should take that deal in a heartbeat. They'll get a solid DH in Fox, a future power relief pitcher in Cashner, and an OF in Bradley who should be able to give similar production to what they were getting from Granderson. Both teams win, in that Detroit cuts payroll while not giving up too much talent, and the Cubs get some fresh air and avoid more problems with Bradley. I believe that Bradley will be on his best behavior, and wouldn't be under as much scrutiny in the Detroit media market as he was in the Chicago media market. Both teams win.

Otherwise, any more than that package, it just isn't worth it. Granderson is not Manny Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Albert Pujols, or some other elite slugger. His love for the game won't make Theriot any better at not getting picked off base. While Granderson's intangibles are excellent (as much as you can try and quantify excellent), I believe that intagibles are vastly over-rated, and lead to bad moves. Like trading for Jason Kendall.

George Ofman said:

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Well thought out. First, the Tigers won't touch Bradley. Second, Bradley is a documented loser. Every team he plays for doesn't make it. I agree Granderson isn't the be all end all which is why you have to be creative in making a deal that allows you to keep key prospects. But he's a decided upgrade over Bradley in his best year.

millertime said:

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Mr. Ofman,

If the Tigers won't touch Bradley, then that is a problem. At that point, I don't know if the Cubs have a package that could land Granderson, since it seems like the only 3 prospects worth trading are Vitters, Castro, and Cashner. And it seems like the Cubs will have more of a future need for Vitters and Castro than they will for Granderson. Monty Hall could not make a deal creative enough to allow the Cubs to aquire Granderson without giving up their farm system and keeping key players for next season.

For your second point, I don't exactly understand how you lable Bradley a "documented loser". Most players play on teams that "never make it". If that is what it takes to be considered a "documented loser", that would include literally hundreds of players. You could argue that Aramis Ramirez has "never made it", and by your logic, is a "documented loser". A player like Jason Bay played for the Pirates. Is he a "documented loser" because of how horrible that team was? I think when determining blame for losses, a player's on-field performance should have at least some bearing. And Bradley, like it or not, has put up very good numbers everywhere he's been. While I don't think that numbers are everything, they are a very clear indication of value. Not every good number from Bradley can be taken away because "his teams never win". Texas did quite well with him. Just because he has his off-field issues does not mean that he magically makes teams he play on do worse.

As far as Granderson being an upgrade over Bradley in (I'll assume Bradley's) best year, that just isn't true. In his best year, Bradley hit .321, 22 HR, 30 2B, and 80 walks. This type of year would obviously be of more value than a typical year from Granderson, definitely not a "decided upgrade".

I will agree that Bradley is a documented "off-field" issues person. He treats reporters horribly, and has anger managerment problems. And as I've said before, I understand that not everything in baseball is as simple as "look at the numbers". But trying to use intangibles for judging value and potential to win games is very difficult to do. Whose performance specifically did Bradley hurt? Whose performance, specifically, did Granderson improve? And were these improvements related directly to Granderson, or was it some other factor? There is only anecdotal evidence at best, and the rest is pure speculation. I see little logic or reason. Certainly not enough to completely ignore a player's numbers.

At the end of the day, I just think that the numbers a player puts up are more important than his percieved "clubhouse presence". Good team chemistry comes from winning games, winning games doesn't come from Good Team Chemistry.

So my question to you is, could you give some specific examples of players on the Cubs that did worse soley because of Bradley being in the Clubhouse? Can you give me some examples of players you feel have played better because of Granderson? Keep in mind that Granderson's teams haven't won much either. They went to the World Series, and lost. Otherwise, they've choked their way out of a couple division leads the past couple seasons.

ChollyGrimm said:

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A bag of batting practice baseballs would be an upgrade over the clubhouse cancer that is Milton Bradley. It is self evident, though not necessarily measureable by sabremetrics. Debating Milton's undeniable negative effect on various clubhouses is an exercise in futility.

As far as Granderson's ability to make players around him better, I am not sure that he is that type of player. That his demeanor is far more pleasant than Bradely's certainly is not what you are questioning, is it? Really? Only Milton's mom or agent would even try to deny that.

I'll put it back on you to give documented proof that good chemistry comes from winning games, not the opposite. Just like Bradley's negative attitude cannot be statistically quantified, neither can your claim about team chemistry.

Finally, while it is true that the Tigers choked badly at the end of 2009, Granderson was not the reason for their failure. Quite the opposite is true. He was one of the few Tigers that played well during their slide.

oog of ulams said:

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If it's futile to debate it, i.e. it's a moot topic, why are people so eager and ready to automatically say outright that a) he's a big ol' cancer, and more importantly b) his being a cancer matters at all?

I can do that all day? You know who sucks? This guy. It's not worth debating, so let's just all assume what I wrote is thus infallible.

millertime said:

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Exactly. People put so much blame on Bradley that they ignore other problems. Then, the Cubs trade Bradley so that we can get a guy that will improve our "Team Chemistry". Unfortuneately, odds are this guy will be a worse hitter than Bradley. And since baseball games are still won or lost based on how well players perform, our team will be worse next year. These types of moves are why a team doesn't win a WS in 100 years.

oog of ulams said:

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Suspended!

millertime said:

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1. "A bag of batting practice baseballs would be an upgrade over the clubhouse cancer that is Milton Bradley".

Funny, but false. Bradley still did Baseball Things like hit the ball, get on base, and play defense. Maybe not at the elite level he's shone in the past, but he still did those things. He does actually have more value than a player like Sam Fuld. Baseball games are not won with good feelings, they are won with walks, hits, home runs, good pitching, whatever. Just because you don't like Bradley doesn't mean you can just write off what he adds to a baseball team.

My point about Bradley is that if he was such a "cancer" to the team, and it affected the players around him so much that the Cubs lost more games this year, then that should actually show up in the stat sheets. I assume that players would put up worse numbers than they normally do. So, taking a look at the Cubs, who is that actually had an abnormally bad season due to Bradley's actions? Soriano and Ramirez were hurt. I have no idea how their injuries were caused by Bradley. Soto had a sophomore slump, and I don't hear anyone blaming on that slump on Bradley. Several players like Zambrano, Lee, and Lilly all had better than usual seasons. So again, if it was Bradley's attitude that made this team play worse, I don't see it. The Cubs had a down season this year because of injuries, Kevin Gregg, and sophomore slumps. Not Bradley.

2. I never said that Bradley had a good attitude. I have said several times that I fully believe that Grandrson has a better attitude than Bradley. I don't know where you think I am questioning that. What I am questioning is the ability of a player's attitude or leadership or playing style that "makes teammates around them better". Baseball is a game of individual performances. This isn't football, basketball, or hockey, where your teammates directly affect you and vice versa. Bradley has no control over Derrek Lee's actions in the batter's box.

As far as documented proof that good chemistry comes from winning games, you're right, that there is no actual "Chemistry" measurement that I can take. However, I can use the power of logic and reason. If a team wins a championship, everyone is happy. It will appear that they have good chemistry because they most likely do. When a team loses, it will appear that they have poor chemistry. Probably because they lost, so there are a lot of negative feelings going around. Now, I play on a softball team, and we have great chemistry. I know all the guys, we're all friends, everyone is happy. However, we lose a lot because none of us are actually good at softball. So, we have great team chemistry, yet we don't win. To make a better connection, take the 2007 Red Sox. They have Manny on their team, have great team chemistry, and then win the World Series. Because of their great chemistry? Then in 2008, they have Manny Ramirez, have poor team chemistry, and don't make the playoffs. And suddenly, the reason they don't make the playoffs is that Manny Ramirez, the same guy that was so huge for them when they were winning the 2004 and 2007 world series, promoted Bad Chemistry in the locker room. This makes no sense. Baseball is not some Disney movie where if your team is scrappy, tries hard, and friendly, you win the game. Baseball games are decided by talent and luck, not some feel-good idea like Chemistry.

3. Your example about Granderson is perfect. Yes, I'll take your word that Granderson played well. However, I can probably find another time when the Tigers went on a losing streak and Granderson did poorly. I can find a winning streak where Granderson did poorly. I can find losing streaks where Granderson did well. At the end of the day, all you have is anecdotal evidence, and none of it means anything.

So which is more probable? That teams win games because of talent and luck, or that teams win games because of this magical force called team chemistry, which can only be measured after the fact?

Read Moneyball. It makes a lot of sense.

George Ofman said:

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When players despise a teammate, it can't help clubhouse chemistry. I agree about Granderson but his addition clearly would make the Cubs a better team, don't you think?

millertime said:

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Yes, Granderson would make the team slightly better, because he puts up about the same kind of numbers as Bradley, he plays marginally better defense than Bradley, and he can play CF.

As far as teammates despising each other, while it doesn't help team chemistry, is doesn't keep teams from winning. Tinker and Evers played for the Cubs and did not speak to each other for 33 years. They hated each other. Yet the team still had plenty of winning seasons. I feel that fans get so wrapped up in wanting this magical thing called Team Chemistry that they overvalue it and start to ignore actual on-field production.

I also think that Granderson will help team chemistry. I just don't feel like team chemistry actually contributes as much as skill, athleticism, and luck.

George Ofman said:

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Granderson is marginally better than Bradley defensively? Tinkers and Evers? Come on! Your've giving Bradley too much credit and Granderson too little.
Thanks and keep reading

George Ofman said:

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In short, does this mean you want to see Bradley back next year?
A yes or a no would suffice.

millertime said:

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Yes. I think there is no way we make a trade, with Bradley's value being so low, where the Cubs come out ahead. I don't believe in addition by subtraction.

Tom Tracy said:

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Great news about the Brickhouse statue.

See chicagobaseballmuseum.org

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