Curtis Granderson is expected to be out of the Yankees lineup until sometime in May. One of the contenders to fill Grandy's role until his return, is Melky Mesa. Melky is not only the best candidate for that role, but, once Mr. Granderson returns, has an outside chance to get enough playing time to be fantasy-relevant in 2013.
Chances are, the Yankees, who appear to be clipping coupons, brown-bagging, and car-pooling, will not go into the market and trade for an experienced bat, but will stay in-house for a replacement. But unlike allowing Russell Martin to leave or signing Kevin "I'm already injured and it's only spring training" Youkilis, this move, or rather, non-move, may work out well for the team, and fantasy owners. Of all of the names being bandied about to get time in centerfield, Mr. Mesa is the only one currently on the depth chart in centerfield. He is third, behind Granderson, who has that injury-thing, and Brett Gardner, who is in left. Matt Diaz is on the depth chart in left, and, could conceivably play there, allowing Gardner to take the reins in center, but is just not that good. Minor leaguers, Ronnier Mustelier and Zoilo Almonte are intriguing names, and each has some value, but neither has the defensive range of Mesa, so, that just leaves Melky.
Melky is not a fantasy stud by any means. His .238 career minor league batting average has been accumulated over 2386 at-bats, so it is safe to say that it is very real. But, while his ISO is only about .161, that is still good enough to give him the possibility of double-digit home runs, and he stole 25 bases in 2012, in AA and AAA, so the possibility of a 10 HR/15 SB replacement player, is enticing. If he bats .225, consider yourself lucky, but Granderson was only going to bat about .238, anyway, so is this really that much worse? Even after Curtis returns, Mesa has the possibility of staying in the mix for at-bats. Brett Gardner is coming back from an elbow injury that kept him out virtually the entire season last year, so there are some question marks with him. Eduardo Nunez is listed on the depth chart for the outfield, but, if you have ever seen him play defense, you know that should not be taken seriously. While Mesa will not win the batting title, he does give the possibility of enough offensive production, to go with his good defense, to keep him in the lineup throughout 2013. I think 350-400 at-bats are possible, and if you are searching for production late in a deep mixed league or A.L-only draft, he could be of some help in 2013.