Trading Jackson for Granderson was the right move
Instead of being content with their newly acquired center fielder Curtis Granderson, many are disappointed that the Yankees did not keep the team’s homegrown product Austin Jackson, who, at 22, was widely regarded as the team’s second best prospect. However, in the aftermath of the trade — which has yet to finalized, I might add — ESPN’s Keith Law offered a sobering analysis of A-Jax’s abilities, which could potentially soften the blow for those disappointed by the deal.
Jackson is a good-but-not-great athlete. He’s an above-average runner, but not a burner; he’s wiry, but the power that has been projected has yet to materialize. His game played up in the low minors because he controlled the strike zone well for a young, inexperienced hitter. His plate discipline has gotten worse as he’s risen the ladder, and he may need a few years in the majors before he’ll post acceptable OBPs. But he can handle center field defensively and should produce enough at the plate to be an asset even in 2010, during which he’d earn the minimum salary.
Herein lies the reason why the Yankees dealt their prized prospect—while Jackson has never been viewed as an elite talent — Dave Cameron agrees — he’s not very good at even one particular thing. As Law notes, though he is an “above-average” baserunner, Jackson doesn’t have the speed of a Jacoby Ellsbury (Jackson stole 43 bases over the past two seasons and was caught 10 times). He has innate power, yet he only hit 4 home runs in Scranton and has but 13 over the past two seasons. He doesn’t really walk much — 7.4 BB% in 2009 — however, he tends to strike out a lot — 24.4 K% in 2009 — which does not seem like a successful formula in the near future. Basically, he’s not a sure thing and never was, though in a barren Yankee farm system (in terms of position players), A-Jax was king (or queen, I should say). If his power materializes, then he could be a very good player.
Until that day, though, trading Jackson for his own ceiling in Curtis Granderson isn’t a bad move (not at all). The Yankees, with an aging core, made a short-term, long-term move (Granderson is under team control through his prime) that will ultimately better the team’s repeat chances in 2010.
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