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Posts Tagged ‘Dave Dombrowski’

I was going to write about the sudden spate of injuries that hit the Yankees this past week. But I figured enough has been written and said regarding Andy Pettitte‘s groin, Alex Rodriguez‘s calf, Nick Swisher‘s forearm, Alfredo Aceves‘ back and Lance Berkman‘s ankle that you probably know more about their injury status than I do. Besides, after a post about Javier Vazquez‘ dead arm, I’ve had my fill of negativity. ESPN loves to talk about how the Red Sox have overcome their injuries to remain in the hunt, but they generally neglect that some pretty important players in the “Evil Empire” have dealt with – and are still dealing with – some significant injuries. So, if Boston is playing with such extreme grit and fortitude, than the Yankees must
be doing something even better – after all, the Beaneaters are still 5 ½ games back. So I decided to write about one of those things. (Ok, enough of the digression – but it gave me a chance to get a dig in on the Red Sox, and I can’t pass those up!)

One of those good things for the Yankees lately is the play of Curtis Granderson. Traded to the Yankees for Austin Jackson and Phil Coke during last offseason, Granderson has been largely a disappointment this year. Many fans (me included) have wondered what happened to the guy who hit 30 home runs last year; who blended speed and power into an all-star caliber player. Just 5 short weeks ago I wondered aloud if just maybe, Dave Dombrowski had snookered Brian Cashman. Even Joe Girardi had seemed to lose faith in his stating center fielder – after acquiring Austin Kearns in a deadline deal, the skipper looked to be employing a platoon between Granderson and Kearns.

But something magical happened between then and now. I’m not sure what it was, but the Yankees should patent it and sell it to every player in a season long slump. Most folks point to Kevin Long instilling a new swing and enhanced plate discipline during a 3 game respite on the last road trip. I’m not quite sure that’s all there is to Granderson’s revival. After all, you have to presume Long was working with Granderson over the previous 100 odd games, so I suspect there was a riot act read to him either before or during that hiatus. Whatever the case, Granderson has emerged from that brief interlude with a revamped approach – he’s quieter at the plate now, holding his hands closer to his body and slightly lower, and his crouch isn’t as exaggerated as before. Don’t listen to all of those folks saying Long adjusted Granderson’s swing – the one thing anyone who’s played the game knows, is a player’s swing is as natural as breathing. Even if you need to make changes, it’s not something that can be done in a few days. But the approach can. In Granderson’s case, those adjustments have made a world of difference. His bat was always quick; he just found himself swinging at air too often because his approach at the plate inhibited his view of the ball. It caused his head to bob; his hands had to drop and come in to get into hitting position. As a result, pitchers knew they could bust him inside, leaving Curtis vulnerable to off-speed pitches away.

Although hardly a sample size to get excited about, the results from a few tweaks in Granderson’s in Granderson’s hitting style have been eye-popping:

Date

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

BAbip

k%

Before 8/12

0.239

0.306

0.415

0.722

0.317

22.0%

Since 8/12

0.364

0.440

0.727

1.167

0.421

12.0%

The last two columns are the ones that may indicate this isn’t a temporary change in Granderson’s fortunes. Granderson is swinging and missing less often (though still more than I’d like for a speed guy) and when he hits the ball, he is scorching it more often. I doubt he can maintain that average on balls in play for an extended period (or the OPS – both are in Barry Bonds territory), but if he can hold that metric at a .350 or so clip and keep the strikeouts down it translates to a .308 batting average and .414 on base average for the rest of the season, very respectable numbers that the Yankee will gladly take from their 7 hole hitter.

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