In his eighth game back after missing the first 38 games of the Major League Baseball season Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch and fractured his pinkie in the fifth inning of tonight’s game against the Rays. A return trip to the disabled list is all but assured for the Yankees outfielder.
At first glance it appears to be a disastrous blow to the Bombers but really it is not as pressing as many might think. Sure it is never good to lose a player with 108 home runs, 292 RBI and 47 stolen bases over the last three years but as currently constructed the Yankees have proven they can win without him, at least in the short term.
A mix of home grown talent, thrown away players, and veterans rumored to be past their prime have been playing incredible baseball leading the Yankees to first place in the American League East and the second best record in the American League – one game behind the Rangers. Brett Gardner has been roaming center field playing solid baseball with nine steals and a 1.000 fielding percentage in 46 games.
Ichiro Suzuki is having a less than stellar offensive season but is still perfectly respectable while on pace to still swipe over 20 bases at almost 40 years old. Defensively he has made only one error in 40 games this year. Vernon Wells appears to be playing with a chip on his shoulder in 2013 hitting just under .280 with 10 home runs and even four steals through 45 games. In those games, much like Brett Gardner, he also has a 1.000 fielding percentage. He is playing for one more quality contract and the Yankees are reaping the rewards.
Brennan Boesch has proved to be a serviceable outfield replacement when players need a day off or as a nice change of pace for the offense. The Detroit Tigers throwaway has only started 10 games in 2013 but there is much worse to have on your bench than this guy. Overall the Yankees outfield is a microcosm of what the Bronx Bombers have been all year – a group of veterans and youngsters that many did not believe in all gelling together and getting the job done. Players like Jayson Nix, David Adams, Lyle Overbay, and Travis Hafner have all seen quality time in the Yankees lineup in 2013.
Right now the Yankees are more than weathering the storm caused by the injuries to Granderson, Mark Texiera, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez. Think about this for a moment – the Yankees have the second best record in American League and are leading the American League East with the aforementioned players totaling eight games in 2013 (all belonging to Granderson). You could almost argue the Yankees are playing, dare I say it, small market baseball with the majority of the large contracts on the disabled list.
Overall is the Granderson injury a blow to the boys from New York? Of course it is but it is not the end of the season. In fact the Yankees should be more concerned about the return of Mark Texiera than the injury to Granderson. The “thrown together” outfield is more than holding their own.