So what do the Yankees do now? It’s a question their fans had to figure might be asked in May or June if the struggles they fear really came to fruition. No one figured it would come after one at-bat on Feb. 24.
But with Curtis Granderson felled by a fractured forearm last Sunday against the Blue Jays, the Yankees have to figure out how to deal with another huge blow to their offense — and a chance to improve their defense.
Granderson is out for 10 weeks, which likely takes him into the middle of May. Gone temporarily are his 43 home runs and gone likely for good this year is the Yankees’ plan to get Granderson out of center field and put Brett Gardner there, with Granderson going to left.
Now the chance to get that arrangement crisp during the spring is gone. And there’s no way for the Yankees to do that in the midst of a real schedule. Granderson is almost certain to simply return to center field when he comes back.
The Yankees, remember, are going to be much more of a pitching and defense team but that was predicated on the speedy Gardner covering ground in center. The playoffs prove you can’t sit and wait for the three-run homer. Remember how pathetic they looked last October in Detroit?
Think of everything gone just since the end of the ALCS at Comerica Park: Nick Swisher, postseason hero Raul Ibanez, Russell Martin, Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones.
There won’t be any Alex Rodriguez until at least July and maybe longer. Who knows how good Derek Jeter will be whenever his season starts. And now Granderson is down.
“There’s a lot of talent in that room,” manager Joe Girardi insisted to Yankee beat writers last week in Tampa. “People thought we were vulnerable last year, and we found a way to win 95 games. If other clubs want to think we’re vulnerable, that’s OK. But I love the character in that room.”
Maybe he does. But aren’t you waiting for some free-agent signing? Johnny Damon publicly told GM Brian Cashman to call him last week (Cashman wasn’t interested). Matt Diaz or Juan Rivera are likely replacements in left field and a bound-for-Scranton guy like Melky Mesa or Ronnier Mustelier might also get a chance to get the Yanks through the early season.
By 2014, of course, it’s under $189 million or bust for this club’s payroll. It was going to be a whole new Yankee world anyway. But Granderson was one of the key pieces and now he’s gone. These aren’t the Bronx Bombers we’ve come to know since 1995.
I think Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is simply delusional. He had multiple meetings with Florida reporters last week, his first public comments since the incredible breakup of the team during the winter after the disappointing opening season of Marlins Park.
No matter what Loria said, the team made big-ticket purchases to help push the new ballpark and then dumped the money after one year. It’s just plain dishonest. Loria argues the team needed a philosophy change. Check out these quotes:
1. “We didn’t break up the 1927 Yankees. We broke up a losing ball club that was going nowhere for two straight years. I’m about winning. I like to win. I love winning. I love Miami. I love this ballclub and I love what we’ve done now. Little painful for a lot of people. But no pain no gain.”
2. “Frankly we stunk. It was a disaster. I talked to our guys and these were the suggestions I got. We got to start again. Want to give me the hits? Give me the hits. The buck stops here.”
3. “It’s not a fire sale. You can call it a fire sale. It’s called hit the restart button. Because it didn’t damn work. I understand the feeling. I have no interest in endless losing.”
Good luck getting slugger Giancarlo Stanton to sign a longterm deal. Good luck getting fans to come back to watch a 100-loss team. The Marlins are absolutely the most bizarrely run franchise in the sport.
Bisons tix on sale
As a kickoff to the first year of affiliation with the Blue Jays, the Bisons will hold a special online presale of individual game tickets at Bisons.com starting Wednesday at 9 a.m and stretching through Friday at 9 p.m. There will be no service fees for tickets purchased through the presale.
Individual tickets offically go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. online and at Coca-Cola Field. Prices range from $7-$13 based on seating location and day of the week but fans save $1 on those prices when purchased in advance of gameday.
Tickets can also be purchased Saturday in person at the team’s annual open house, which runs from noon-3 p.m. and includes ballpark tours, kids games, raffles and a free hot dog and Coca-Cola product for all fans.
The most popular games on the home calendar remain staples like Opening Day (April 4 against Rochester), Star Wars Night (June 22 against Durham), Independence Eve with the BPO (July 3 against Rochester) and Fan Appreciation Night (Aug. 29 against Rochester).
As part of the Blue Jays affiliation, the Bisons’ spring training is now based in Dunedin, Fla., north of Tampa. A 16-game exhibition schedule opens March 12 in nearby Clearwater against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
The Herd will play six games against the IronPigs (three in Clearwater), five against the newly-named Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (two at the Yankees’ complex in Tampa) and five against the Indianapolis Indians. Three of those will be at Pirate City in Bradenton, Buffalo’s spring home from 1988-1994.
Buffalo-area roadtrippers who regularly head to Progressive Field will love this: The Indians announced a bunch of reductions in concession prices for all games on Thursday, topped by a 33 percent drop in hot dog prices to $3 and a 24 percent drop in the price of a 12-ounce beer, to $4. The Indians have also announced 15 Dollar Dog Nights for $1 hot dogs, compared to nine they had last year.
In addition, nachos, pretzels, popcorn, pizza and bratwursts will see a drop in prices of up to 25 percent, and soda refills will be only $2.
There should be more folks in the stands to enjoy the eats too as the Terry Francona effect is taking hold at the box office. The Tribe’s April 8 home opener against the Yankees sold out in six minutes when tickets went on sale Monday and single-game sales in total were up 40 percent from last year and double their 2011 levels during the first day of sale.
Around & About
• Things are crowded on the Blue Jays’ pitching staff and it still appears like veteran J.A. Happ, who threw the pitch that injured Granderson, will start the season in the Bisons’ rotation. Same for former Pirates No. 1 pick Brad Lincoln.
• The Red Sox are acknowledging a 10 percent drop in season ticket sales at Fenway Park in the wake of their disastrous, 69-win 2012 season. The team expects its MLB-record streak of 793 straight sellouts will end, perhaps as soon as the second home game of the season April 10 against Baltimore.
• Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus sat out Thursday’s game against the Indians in Surprise, Ariz., because of a sore upper bicep muscle in his left arm. The cause? Post-tattoo pain. Seriously.
Andrus tweeted a picture of an elaborate new tattoo featuring a detailed likeness of his late father that he had done early last week. Apparently, the arm was still sore from the work and he couldn’t play.
• The World Baseball Classic? I don’t care. Am I supposed to care? If you do, the United States opens pool play Friday night in Phoenix against Mexico But again: Why should I care? I don’t. Not one iota. Sorry, Mr. Selig.