Yankee spring training has gotten off to a rough start. By now everyone knows that Curtis Granderson will be out until early May with a fractured forearm. That’s a huge loss for the Yankees. Granderson’s 2012 may have paled in comparison to his 2011, but he’s still a critical bat in the Yankee lineup. His absence will be felt immediately.
The most glaring weakness that comes from Curtis’ injury is the loss of power. Granderson’s OBP may be inconsistent, but he’s managed 40+ homers each of the past few seasons. That’s production I’d rather have on the team than on the bench. The Yankees don’t have any substitute on a lineup that was already missing a lot of pop due to injury or players leaving.
But this also means that the Yankees are that much more dependent upon Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki to stay healthy. That’s no small order. Gardner has been injury prone his entire career. Suzuki is 39 years old. The odds that either of them goes down with an injury, leaving the Yankees with not one but two injured starters in the outfield, is not insignificant.
All of this demonstrates just how little room to maneuver the team has under the new austerity budget. As recently as 2012 the Yankees could turn to Raul Ibanez to step in for Curtis and give the team some power while playing the outfield (badly). This year there is no clear internal replacement. Instead, the Yankees will have to hope Curtis suffers no setbacks in his recovery and that Gardner and Ichiro remain healthy. It’s becoming increasingly clear that 2013 will be one of the more interesting, and potentially frustrating, Yankee seasons in recent memory.