Tigers and Yankees Becoming a Big Rivalry?
The Tigers were coming off a heartbreaking finish to the 2009 season, losing to the Twins in a one-game playoff, and the front office thought it was time to make a change. No one in the Tigers organization doubted Granderson’s talent, but the team was trying to use him as a leadoff hitter, and Curtis just wasn’t made for the first slot in the order.
The three-team trade sent Granderson to the Yankees, sent Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers, and sent Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks.
Ask me today whether I’m happy the Tigers went through with the trade, and I’d still really hesitate to put together the proper anecdote. At only 25, Austin Jackson has the potential to be the Tigers leadoff guy the next decade. He’s already proven he can consistently get on base from the top of the order, hitting over .290 in two of his first three seasons. But it’s hard to ignore the production of the Yankees Centerfielder, as Granderson has hit over 100 home runs in the past three seasons. I know that the big offseason acquisition this past year for the Tigers may not have transpired if they still had Granderson, but even imagining a 3-4-5 of Cabrera, Fielder, and Granderson is just obscene. That’s like a guaranteed 100 home runs and something like 350 RBIs right there.
Now the Tigers and Yankees will meet up in the American League playoffs for the second straight season. However, this year, the series will be a best-of-seven one. The five-game series in 2011 was as good as an opening round series can get with a final game coming down to an opportunity for A-Rod to defeat the Tigers in the ninth, but Valverde put him away and the Tigers moved on.
The Granderson/Jackson swap is one of the main elements that makes this match-up particularly interesting – the Yankees fan’s hatred for Valverde’s over-celebrating is another – but with the amount of big-name talent and two of the six highest payrolls in the Majors (Yankees being 1st and Tigers 6th), there’s really a lot to watch for in the upcoming ALCS.
I’m not about to say that this matchup will even scrape the surface of a Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, but with the Boston boys in a strange transitional period right now and the Tigers boasting three of the most feared players in all of the Majors in Cabrera, Fielder, and Verlander, this matchup could develop into one of the league’s very best in the coming seasons.