Curtis Granderson is my favorite player since Alan Trammell—and there really isn’t even a close second. I’m certainly not alone. His aggressive stance, prodigious power, smooth fielding, game-changing speed, intelligence and charitable nature made him one of the most popular Tigers in recent memory. Needless to say, it was not a popular move with Tigers fans when it was announced that GM Dave Dombrowski had traded him to the Yankees as part of a three-way deal that also sent emerging pitching talent Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks this past off-season.
But the best moves are not always the most popular and, as difficult as it was to digest at first, I firmly believe the Tigers made the right one in this case. Dombrowski shrewdly moved Grandy at the absolute peak of his value after coming off his only 30-HR season of his career. Unfortunately for the Tigers, those 30 dingers came with a meager .248 batting average (including a dismal .183 against lefties) which forced manager Jim Leyland to move him out of the all-important leadoff spot. This instability in the lineup contributed the Tigers’ painful collapse and eventual loss of the division to the hated Twins (Game 163 was one of the most excruciating experiences of my life—definitively proving I have no life).
The key to Dombrowski’s plan was the acquisition of elite CF prospect Austin Jackson to replace Granderson. Not only does the 23-year-old rookie posses the defensive qualities necessary to patrol Comerica Park’s spacious outfield (some say he might be an even better athlete than Grandy), but he’s already turning heads and proving he can hit leadoff in the majors with an impressive .325 average through 20 games this year.
Losing Granderson was simply a part of a growing trend–savvy GMs’ rebuilding a franchise for the long term while maintaining a competitive roster for the short term. We will certainly miss you, Grandy, but it was for the best. Good luck to you in your new digs. Hope to see you in the playoffs.