THE NEWS: Curtis Granderson will be out until May after breaking his forearm on Sunday.
WHAT IT MEANS: The already thin Yankees just got even thinner to start the season. Due to injury or failure to re-sign players, the Yankees will arguably be worse on Opening Day at all three outfield positions, catcher, third base and maybe shortstop. They already needed to replace more than 100 home runs from the 2012 mashers. Now they lost Granderson, who hit 43 homers in 2012.
THE REPLACEMENTS: Brett Gardner is now cemented as the Opening Day center fielder. Ichiro Suzuki will start in right and will likely play more against lefties than maybe Joe Girardi would have intended.
Zoilo Almonte, who had a big day Saturday, will have a chance, I suppose, but he is not considered a big-time prospect and has never played above Double-A. Melky Mesa has been in the majors before, but no one in the Yankees organization really included him in the conversation to beat out Diaz or Rivera, despite the fact he is a right-handed hitter.
Two other guys to consider are Cuban right-handed hitters Adonis Garcia and Ronnier Mustelier. They both can hit a little.
HOW ABOUT THE BIG-TIME PROSPECTS? Too soon for any of these guys. Tyler Austin and Mason Williams aren't considered players who will make it to the majors in 2013. Slade Heathcott is intriguing. A scout said he was the best player in the Arizona Fall League. The Oklahoman grew up idolizing Mickey Mantle and he is reforming a checkered past. Still, if he does streak to the majors this season, it is doubtful it would be to begin the year.
TRADES? I've heard you on Twitter, Yankees fans. Giancarlo Stanton? Sounds nice. Miami isn't trading him to the Yankees, just to help out. Sorry. Even if he were available, everyone would be after him and there is no proof the Yankees would have the goods to get him. Others have mentioned Alfonso Soriano. That seems like a more realistic option, but that is total speculation.
NUNEEE? How about putting Eduardo Nuñez in the outfield? Brian Cashman has already eliminated this idea.
Nunez is slated to caddy for Derek Jeter at short.
ISSUE MANAGEMENT: The Yankees were going to use the spring to evaluate if Gardner should be in center and Granderson in left. They knew that made them better defensively, but wanted to see how Granderson reacted to left and if they thought it would impact his bat during the regular season. Now they will have to hold off on those thoughts and make that decision when Granderson returns in May.
Granderson is a free agent after this season, so this does not help his cause. One possibility that could be a positive for the Yankees: If Granderson is held back this year, he might want to come back on a one-year deal to re-establish his market. That is a long way off, so it is a wait-and-see proposition.
QUESTION: WHOM DO YOU WANT TO REPLACE GRANDERSON WITH?