How Curtis Granderson's Return Would Fix (or Impact) Yankees' Struggling Lineup

Chris Stephens@@chris_stephens6Correspondent IIJuly 15, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 24: Outfielder Curtis Granderson #14 of the New York Yankees bats against the Tampa Bay Rays May 24, 2013 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Yankees won 9 - 4. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

News hasn't been good for the New York Yankees on the injury front this year.

However, recent news from Matt Ehalt of ESPN New York reveals outfielder Curtis Granderson could return by the end of July.

"We're getting close. I started hitting in the cage recently and doing some stuff soft toss," Granderson said at his Grand Kids Foundation luncheon in Manhattan on Monday. "I have been throwing. I've been running. I've been doing all my defense. Just got to get the baseball stuff underneath me in terms of hitting, getting on the field and playing and then get back up here to York."

For the Yankees, it comes as good news as the team continues to deal with injury after injury.

Fans thought health was slowly coming back to the team with the return of Derek Jeter on Thursday. But a quad strain in his first game back put him on the shelf the rest of the first half.

According to Kieran Darcy of ESPN New York, the team could consider putting him back on the disabled list.

Regardless of what happens with Jeter, fans will no doubt be happy to get Granderson back.

But will it fix or even impact the Yankees' struggling lineup?



Divisional Standings

Entering the All-Star Break, the Yankees are 51-44 and six games back in the AL East.

And the schedule is tough out of the gate in the second half with their first 10 games against the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays.

By the time the end of the month rolls around, the Yankees could conceivably be more than 10 games back.

If that's the case, then Granderson's return won't mean much as the Yankees will be pretty much out of the playoff hunt.



If They're Still In It

If the Yankees aren't more than 10 games back by the time Granderson returns, then there's no doubt he can make a difference in the lineup.

While center fielders have done well this year for New York (.290 BA, 9 HR, 39 RBI), Granderson could also be slotted in left field, which is batting .226 with 10 home runs and 35 RBI.

His average from a year ago (.232) could be better, but the 43 home runs and 106 runs he drove in are exactly what the Yankees need.

This year, Robinson Cano is the only player hitting with consistent power and it's showing.

The Yankees need an addition of power in their lineup, something that's lost without Granderson and Mark Teixeira in the lineup.

Nobody is saying the Yankees are the division favorites with Granderson in the lineup. But you have to like their chances to compete with him back on the field.

With 29 of their final 67 games against the top three teams in the division, the Yankees need more than what they're currently working with. They went 12-16 against those three in the first half and can't afford to do the same in the second half.

If they do, they'll be watching the playoffs at home.


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