"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Nothing But Net?

“Swisher is a rare point of agreement between Paul’s computer and the interal compass of an old baseball guy. He has the raw athletic ability the scouts adore; but he also has the stats Billy [Beane] and Paul [DePodesta] have decided matter more than anything: he’s proven he can hit, and hit with power; he drew more than his share of walks. . . .

“Swisher is noticeable, isn’t he?” says Billy, hoping to hear more about what Swisher looks like. How Swisher really is.

“Oh, he’s noticeable,” says an old scout. “From the moment he gets off the bus he doesn’t shut up.”

–from Moneyball by Michael Lewis

Nick Swisher was the first player taken in the Oakland A’s 2002 “Moneyball” draft and the 16th overall, a pick the A’s received as compensation when the Red Sox signed Johnny Damon. With the 17th pick, the Phillies drafted a left-handed high school pitcher named Cole Hamels. The son of major leaguer Steve Swisher and a product of Ohio State University, Swisher needed just two and a half seasons to work his way up the A’s ladder and in 2005 he was their starting right fielder at age 24. Swisher spent the next two seasons splitting time between first base and all three outfield positions. By his 27th birthday, a little less than a year ago, he was had established himself as the best hitter in the A’s weak offense with a career .251/.361/.464 line, a tick below his .261/.379/.476 career line in the minors.

The A’s had signed Swisher to a five-year deal the previous May, buying out his arbitration years for what amounted to $24.55 million over four years with a $10.25 million option for 2012, but on January third of this year, the rebuilding A’s traded Swisher and his new contract to the White Sox for outfielder Ryan Sweeney and a pair of pitching prospects.

Swisher began the 2008 season as the White Sox’s center fielder, almost by default. After a quick start, his average and power numbers began to plummet, soon followed by his signature on-base percentage. Swisher hit rock bottom at the end of May, then recovered with a strong June (.315/.402/.630), but hit the skids again in July only to see his playing time diminish after the trading-deadline arrival of center fielder Ken Griffey Jr. With the White Sox in a pennant race, Swisher made just six starts over the season’s final two weeks and appeared only as a defensive replacement at first base in Chicago’s one-game playoff against the Twins. He started just once in the Chisox’s four-game ALDS loss to the Rays, going 1 for 3 with a pair of walks in their Game 2 loss and popped out in a Game 4 pinch-hitting appearance.

All together, Swisher hit just .219/.332/.410 while splitting his season between center and first base, with some additional work in the outfield corners. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, Swisher suffered through:

. . . a horrific year, looking slow and even apathetic, almost as if his patience at the plate was the result of indifference rather than a desire to work the count. He can still run into a ball if a pitcher makes a mistake, but his bat was slow and he would foul off average fastballs and miss plus heat entirely.

Our YES pal, Steven Goldman sees Swisher’s down year differently:

If you look inside Swisher’s stats, you will see that his line-drive rates were actually up from 2006 and 2007, but his batting average on balls in play dropped by 52 points from 2007 to 2008. In other words, he was still hitting balls hard, but they were caught at an abnormally high rate. We call this bad luck, maybe very bad luck. If he doesn’t overreact by tying his swing into a pretzel, he’s an extremely good candidate to rebound.

Steve also points to Swisher’s bizzare home-road split, which saw him hit a typical .247/.361/.517 at U.S. Cellular, but a miserable .189/.301/.294 on the road, this a year after hitting .270/.376/.474 in his road grays for the A’s, as another likely indication of a fluky season.

The Yankees certainly hope Goldman, not Law, has the right take on Nick the Swish, because he’s their problem now. The Yankees acquired Swisher and the $21.05 million over three years remaining on his contract from the White Sox yesterday along with minor league closer Kanekoa Texeira for infielder Wilson Betemit, Triple-A starter Jeff Marquez, and Double-A reliever Jhonny Nuñez.

If Swisher does indeed rebound from his lost season, the Yankees will have acquired a very handy player. Soon to be 28, Swisher is a switch hitter with more power from the left side, but superior contact and on-base skills from the right side. He’s also a very versatile defender, capable of good-to-excellent work at first base or the outfield corners, who can play center in a pinch (though he really oughtn’t). Best of all, the Yankees gave up little of significance to get Swisher, a fact they likely owe to the White Sox’s disappointment in his 2008 performance and resultant desire to unload his contract.

Once a shortstop prospect with the Braves, Wilson Betemit is now an offense-first utility infielder who hit .253/.285/.425 as a Yankee. Though ostensibly a switch-hitter, Betemit has hit just .232/.276/.360 from the right side in his major league career. He’s also a poor defender and is entering his second year of arbitration at age 27. A good indication of his remaining value is the fact that the Yankees seemed likely to favor minor league veteran Cody Ransom as their primary utility man even before this trade went down.

Jeff Marquez is a right-handed sinkerballing starter whose stock dropped precipitously upon his debut in Triple-A last year. The Yankees first supplemental-round pick in 2004, Marquez was taken right after Phil Hughes and was expected to follow Hughes into the major league rotation, but he’s been undone by nose-diving strikeout rates, and a decline in his groundball rate. He was awful in his first two months at Triple-A this year, and once he started to right his ship in June, he suffered a strained lat that robbed him of July. He pitched well after being activated in August, but found himself stuck back at Double-A, a victim of the organizational pitching crunch that has rendered him expendable chafe. Marquez is just 24, so he still has some time to get back on track, but he’s beginning to look more like a future middle-reliever than a major league starter.

Finally, Jhonny Nuñez was the righty reliever acquired from the Nationals for utility infielder Alberto Gonzalez at this year’s trading deadline. A lanky Dominican who will turn 23 at the end of the month, Nuñez could prove to be the best player the Yankees gave up in this deal as he struck out 116 men in 108 1/3 innings across three teams and two levels in 2008. Newly converted from starting, he posted a 1.65 ERA while striking out 34 in 27 1/3 Double-A innings this year and could move quickly into the White Sox’s pen if he’s able to keep his walks under control (as it were).

Compensating for the negligible loss of Nuñez, the Yankees got an even better righty reliever in return from the White Sox in Hawaiian Kanekoa Texeira. A slim sidearmer with a put-away slider, Texeira (who, despite his strengths is more than just an “i” short of being the player the Yankees most need right now) was a late-round draft pick out of Saddleback College in 2006. He dominated the Appalachian Rookie League that summer, acquitted himself well as the Sox’s Sally League closer in 2007, and graduated from closing in the Carolina League this summer to turn in 15 strong outings for Double-A Birmingham. Like Nuñez, Texeira strikes out more than a man an inning, but with fewer walks, virtually no homers (three in 144 1/3 professional innings), low hit rates, and experience closing ballgames. Texeira might feel like a throw-in right now, but he could start the season at Triple-A (if there’s room) and could make his way onto the major league roster by the end of the season. However, if he doesn’t come that quickly, he won’t require a spot on the 40-man roster this eason, whereas Marquez was already taking one up, and Nuñez would have required one lest he be left available in next month’s Rule 5 draft. Thus the Yankees have effectively opened up two roster spots in with this swap.

On a pure accounting level, this trade is an easy win for the Yankees, but the true impact remains to be seen. Right now, Brian Cashman is propping Swisher up as the Yankees’ starting first baseman in 2009. That’s a sign of trouble. Swisher is a 30-VORP player at his absolute best and is coming off a poor season in which he was just 4.2 runs above replacement. Jason Giambi gave the Yankees 32.5 VORP at first base last year. Swisher makes the Yankees younger and improves their defense almost by default, but if he’s charged with replacing Giambi, he won’t make them better.

Next to his solid on-base ability, Swisher’s defensive versatility is his greatest asset. Indeed, he would be most useful as a roving outfielder able to play right field against righties–thereby platooning with Xavier Nady, who has little hope of replacing Bobby Abreu’s 36.1 VORP in right field by himself–and left field against lefties, giving Johnny Damon and DH Hideki Matsui some much needed days off. Perhaps better still, Swisher’s presence should allow the Yankees to pull off a subsequent deal that would rid them of the rapidly aging and increasingly immobile DH Matsui, the currently overvalued Nady (trading high just as they bought low on Swisher), or even Damon, who is the most valuable of those three incumbents, but seems capable of a Bernie Williams-type collapse at any time.

None of that, however, includes a solution to the Yankees gaping hole at first base, which is custom-made for the real Teixeira. That’s a topic for another post, but to my mind, failing to sign Teixeira would be a Beltran-level blunder, a crippling blow to the Yankees’ team-building that it would take them years to overcome, just as they are still struggling to solve their hole in center field. If the acquisition of Swisher turns the Yankees’ attention away from Teixeira, the trade will be a disaster, no matter how advantageous it might appear on paper.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Hot Stove

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1 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 14, 2008 1:57 am

I hear the "Beltran Blunder" line alot, but I'm still not all that convinced he would have made a huge difference in any of the four years.

2 mehmattski   ~  Nov 14, 2008 8:14 am

Yeah, Beltran's 120 RC in 2008 wouldn't have been much of an improvement over Melky's 36 RC.... I think the Yankees would have appreciated those extra six wins.

As I said last night, if we're assuming the Yankees are not done, this is a great trade. With Tex, the Yankees have Matsui/Damon/Nady/Swisher for OF/DH, which is great depth. Without Tex, the Yankees have another 800 run offense-- above average, but not playoff-worthy.

3 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 14, 2008 8:55 am

Beltran doesn't pitch and one year doesn't make up for that albatross of a contract. Maybe they make the 2005 ALCS with him, instead of Bubba, in CF. Maybe they make the post-season this year. But hard to see how, with their pitching, how they end any of those years, or the ones in between, with a win.

I think folks, including the post, are missing that Cashman's playing game theory and setting himself up nicely to do so. Boras is the biggest obstacle this off-season and Cashman has been through that game enough to know that if the Yanks are players in need, the process will stretch on and on to their detriment. This smells just like Bubba in CF before Damon signed.

With Swisher, they can sit back and watch the markets develop for Tex AND Manny (the only two upgrade bats available) while deciding whether they want to participate. That's a big difference from having to participate. And given Cash's reluctance to commit long-term dollars, it easy to see his choices.

Now Boras has much less leverage. Of course the Yanks still need more offense, but if the price is too high on Tex, they can switch to Manny. If the price is too high there, they shift to Abreu or someone else. Swisher gives them many more options for very little cost.

Honestly, I can see them making a more serious run at Manny now. They could save ~100 million over Tex and without being locked up for 6 or 7 years in 1B (where they're going to need room). They bring in Manny for three years at 75 million and with Swisher, 1B is still semi-open if Miranda proves competent or Posada can't throw. Less money, more flexibility (game-to-game and year-to-year). Let's not forget either that trading one of Matsui or Damon is still a possibility.

This is a solid trade. Yes, they need more offense still. But now it doesn't have to be Tex. Win, win.

4 RIYank   ~  Nov 14, 2008 9:07 am

I mainly agree with mehmattski, but another possibility is that the Swisher/Giambi exchange frees money for pitching. The team could score what they scored last year, or even a few runs less, and still improve a great deal by moving from a league-average rotation to a league-best rotation.

5 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 14, 2008 9:52 am

Your excerpt from Law makes it seem like he thinks it's a bad deal, but his conclusion is very positive for the Yankees:

"It's a gamble for the Yankees, but with the upside that they get an average to above-average bat at first base or in left field if it works out, and the cost in players and money (Swisher is owed $26 million through 2011) is not that great to them."

Also, I think using VORP to compare Swisher to Giambi and even Abreu is very misleading because it does not factor in defense. Giambi and Abreu are awful defenders and Swisher would be a significant upgrade over both with glove. What's more, Swisher is entering his prime, while Abreu and Giambi are in decline, even in spite of their solid campaigns with the bat.

This deal is a slam dunk. Swisher is a very good fall back in case Tex re-ups in Anaheim, but because of his flexibility, does not preclude the Yankees from continuing their pursuit. What’s more, it now pretty much precludes the Yankees from re-upping with Giambi or Abreu, which would likely be much more expensive, especially the latter.

I also take issue with the notion that not signing Teixeira would be a disaster, and especially don't think the failure to sign Beltran crippled the Yankees (they did win two divisions and a wild card since that decision). It seems to me as if the Yankees playoff failures since 2003 have everything to do with not having enough starting pitching, and not much to do with having a poor defensive CF'er.

6 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 14, 2008 10:08 am

Yes, the overall problem with the Yanks has been lack of starting pitching, but that was a known, given thing - remember, they willingly signed Pavano and Jaret Wright, and traded for creaky old Randy Johnson, because they were desperate for pitching after '04. Given that the pitching they got wasn't that great, and (at the time) they had no arms on the farm to help, the best way to go forward would have been to put together a run-scoring juggernaut. Not signing Beltran = no juggernaut, until they lucked into one in 2007.

As a wise man once said, its not pitching, its run prevention, which includes pitching and defense. Beltran is one of the best CF gloves in the game. Think he might have helped out just a bit vis a vis Bernie and Damon and Bubba for some of the flyball pitchers they had on staff on that time? Not to mention pushing Matsui's awful glove out of LF in favor of Damon's much better glove? I'm speculating now, but if Matsui wasn't in the field as much, perhaps his knees wouldn't have become the mess they are.

In any case, I'm with Cliff. Not signing Tex will be a horrific mistake. I fail to see why everyone is crying for pitching. Haven't we all seen what happens when you rely on the free agent market to build a pitching staff? The only impact free agent is CC. The only guy with a durable track record is Derek Lowe, and the Yanks could get (to me) the same kind of production by just bringing Pettitte back. (And given that Lowe relies on his defense, and how bad the Yanks' defense is, I'm not sure Lowe is a good idea.)

The Yanks have pitching on the way. What they don't have is hitting. That's what they should be looking to buy.

7 mehmattski   ~  Nov 14, 2008 10:11 am

[5] While the playoff failures may have been due to pitching, the problem this most recent year was hitting, and the 150 runs that failed to come from having the same lineup two years in a row. It was the offense that kept the 2008 Yankees out of the playoffs. I guess it depends on what a fan's expectations are, whether he would prefer missing the playoffs altogether rather than make the playoffs and not win the World Series.

The Yankees' two moves thus far (re-signing Marte and trading for Swisher) haven't really dented the payroll deficit. I really don't think that signing Sabathia AND Teixeira is out of the question. But Brian Cashman has bought himself a bargaining chip-- the price for Tex will not be as high.

8 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 14, 2008 10:16 am

The other problem with buying lots of pitching on the market is that Lowe and CC and Burnett and Sheets are all Type A free agents, and all will cost draft picks. The hitting side of the system still needs more top-shelf talent. How will they get it if they give up so many picks by signing 3 of those 4 guys (as Jayson Stark has said they will do)? Again, haven't we already seen what happens when the farm system is neglected?

If that means the Yanks don't compete in 2009, and struggle through another year or two relying on the kid pitchers, so be it. That strategy ended up working out pretty well for Minnesota and Oakland (among others).

9 tommyl   ~  Nov 14, 2008 10:32 am

Well, I agree with Cliff here. The Yankees pitching last year wasn't actually all that bad (see Cliff's post mortem). Its likely to improve this year since Wang will be healthy and Joba will be a starter the whole year. They need to sign another pitcher or so, but its not quite as desperate as some people are portraying it. Missing out on Tex, is a big, big mistake if they do it. He's young, he can hit really well and he's one of the best fielding first basemen around. Signing injury prone pitchers to a long term contract is a bad idea. Signing 28 year old, nearly superstar hitters is a different beast entirely. The closest thing the Yankees have in the pipeline is Jesus Montero, and he's still technically a catcher, and a few years away.

Many on here have said they need to upgrade their offense but it doesn't have to be with Tex ([3] for example). What else would you suggest? There's not a whole lot else available at positions the Yankees have openings. You don't want to swing a trade for a long term CF, because AJax could be ready by mid-year. 3B/SS/2B/C and the OF corners are pretty much taken up. So that leaves 1B and BUC.

As a technical aside, how do we link to numbered comments on the new blog? It used to be [#], but does that work on here?

10 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 14, 2008 10:43 am

tommyl, nope, its html tags here. If you right click on the red date and time of the comment you want to link to, that will give you the url; add that to the tags, and you're set.

FWIW, Keith Law ranks Tex as the #1 free agent on the market.

11 tommyl   ~  Nov 14, 2008 10:44 am

Um, how do I add that to the tags?

12 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 14, 2008 10:51 am

@6 and 9

I don't see how failing to sign 1B for 6 or 8 years will be a "horrific" or "big, big" mistake. They could get the same offense, if not more, from Manny and for half the commitment. But besides that point, locking in a 1B for that long seems even more foolhardy when you consider the defensive holes (Posada, Jeter, A-Rod) they would be forced to field overlapping that same time frame. Beltran was a mistake in hindsight (even as i don't think he changes their post-season fortunes). But a 1B? Jason Giambi says otherwise and especially not with the future of the current expensive roster. Sign Manny this year. Then wait to see if Holliday is worth the long-term commitment next year.

@ 7

Sure, but that big of a drop off could not be predicted. They must still score runs and I too hope they aren't done yet acquiring position players. But I'm far from convinced that Teixeira is an option at the years being thrown about.

13 tommyl   ~  Nov 14, 2008 10:52 am

12, and how many years will you have to sign Manny for? And where exactly will you play him? Because at this point I fear him at any position that isn't DH, and even then I fear he could somehow cost us runs on defense.

14 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 14, 2008 10:54 am

Besides which, what if Jesus Montero turns out to be the slugger, but not catcher, everyone expects? Then you have even more of a logjam at 1b/DH over the course of a huge Tex contract.

It's a good fit for today, but not tomorrow or next week.

15 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 14, 2008 10:59 am

@ 13

Sign him for 3 years at 75 million. Big money, sure. But pay extra for long-term flexibility. Play him in RF at home (he'll be no worse defensively than Abreu and he has the better arm) and DH him on the road. To me it's a no-brainer:

1. Shorter contract by half
2. Clear upgrade over what they had
3. Cover (on-field and off) for the overly sensitive 3B

Besides, everyone assumes that both Matsui and Damon will stay healthy. That hasn't been true for the last two years. Trade one if you can for bench depth. If not, you start Damon in CF with Gardner as a LIDR.

16 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 14, 2008 11:15 am

[6] Of course Beltran would have helped on defense, but I think you can make a strong case that the Yankees don't even make the playoffs in 2005 without RJ. What's more, the Yankees did not criple themselves after failing to get Beltran because they did win two divisions and a WC. Off the top of my head, I don't see where Beltran would have made an obvious difference in the 2005-2007 playoffs (I am not sure how you could assume he would hit when the most of the team did not).

[7] Fair enough...I agree that the Yankees do need offense, but they don't have to have Teixeira. If you want pure offense, Manny probably is the better guy to get. I like Tex and hope the Yankees do get him, but he isn't Arod or Pujols. I don't think it would be horrific if the Yankees don't get him as [6] suggests.

[8] The Yankees are not built to tread water for a couple of seasons. Before you know it, Jeter, Mo, Posada, etc. will be on the way out and Arod will finally start his long delayed decline. The Yankees have enormous resources and should be prepared to use them.

As for the draft picks, the Yankees should be receiving compensation of their own, so losing a first rounder isn't cripling. As nice as it is to build through the draft, the reality is that you have to make trades and sign free agents as well unless you want to suffer through long stretches of losing.

17 tommyl   ~  Nov 14, 2008 11:18 am

[15] I don't think Manny will sign for 75/3, he wants at least 4 years, possibly more.

18 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 14, 2008 11:43 am


Maybe. Reports are LAD offered 3/60. Blow that AAV out of the water for long-term flexibility. Give a fourth year option based on plate appearances. Would another team go 4/100? I don't think so.

Add in Sabathia at 25/year and Pettitte at 13 for 1 year and Swisher, and they still come in (25 + 25 + 13 + 5 = 68) 20 million under the 88 million they shed.

Then there's this lineup:

Damon CF
Matsui DH
Manny RF
Nady LF
Swish 1B

In bigger parks, start Gardner in CF, move Damon/Matsui to LF, Manny to DH, and Nady to RF.

19 Shaun P.   ~  Nov 14, 2008 12:00 pm


OK, put the below text in regular brackets (ie, the greater than and less than signs):

a href="link"

(where link is the comment URL)

then the text you want to be highlighted (the number of the post or whatever)

and then


again in regular brackets.

12, why do the Yanks have to sign Tex for 8 years? 6 is plenty. I've even advocated going for just 4 and blowing him away with cash ($27M/year, say). All talk of a ten-year deal aside, Boras would _LOVE_ to get Tex back on the market in 4 years, because that's how Boras gets paid (see the A-Rod and JD Drew opt-outs). And IF the Yanks end up having a lot of players for only a few spots, well, they cross that bridge when they come to it. I love Montero, but right now he's a 19 year old who hasn't played a year in a full-season league yet, much less seen advanced pitching. If they have a log-jam, they can always make trades, or do what they have to do. They somehow managed to survive with Giambi's long-term deal, and Tex is likely to have a greater value due to being younger than Giambi was when he signed, and being able to play 1B well.

william, change "Randy Johnson" to "Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon", and then you've got something. Besides, never once did I say they shouldn't have traded for Unit. All I said is they should have signed Beltran too!

You argue, oh the Yanks won the division in '05 and '06, and the Wild Card in '07, and it wasn't hitting they needed in the playoffs (not sure I buy that part either but I'll leave that aside), so not having Beltran didn't matter.

But 2005 was a fluke season; as Small and Chacon prove, they got damn lucky. Their pythag was 90-72 and I'm afraid to look up their 3rd order record at BP. Remember how much time Sheff and Matsui missed in 2006? Fortunately they were able to trade for Abreu! Imagine how much better than could have gone if Beltran was on board. Or did you forget T-ball Long that quickly?

The Yanks would have been better off in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, AND now (and for the next couple of years as well) with Beltran on board.

20 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 14, 2008 12:02 pm

Manny is a mistake.
I have watched him, and been (geographically) part of RSN for 8 years.
He does NOT have close to as good an arm as Abreu, He does not cover ground well or get a good jump. He did play a decent LF in Fenway because he played very shallow, and anything over his head was off the wall (often a one hopper off the wall). He will be a liability in RF or LF.

But that is not the issue.
Manny has proven he is a selfish scumbag.
Manny could well be a great hitter for another 4 years, if he chooses to be.
But Manny is playing for himself... for the HOF... to be on the all-time HR list.
I don't care how good he MIGHT be.... Manny should never be a Yankee.

I agree the Swisher trade was an excellent move, especially when you consider 'value for value'. What exactly did we give up? Cashman fleeced the ChiSox.

I agree with the school of thought that we need offense more then pitching. Our pitching is better then it appears. Check out our 'Fielding independent ERA'. Our defense last year killed us. Matsui, Bobby, Jeter, Giambi and a bad year for Cano. In 2009, add Posada to our list of below average fielders.

We need to STOP getting one-dimensional sluggers. On this front, Tex is very tempting. Considering baserunning and defense, ARod, Cano and JD are more 'well-rounded', but most of our other players are offense only. We must get away from his model. I don't want all glove-not hit guys, but we need more balanced players.

We should not worry about too many OFers. AJax should have one spot, but there are no quarantees. This is the last year for JD and Matsui. We need OFers. Hopefully, we can get Holliday and maybe Crawford. While neither are 'hugh sluggers', they are the type of players, along with Swisher, that we need to target.

Say NO to Manny.
Tex would be great, but is not a must have.
There is more then one way to skin a cat.
Beware of instant gratification at the cost of flexibility and our future.

21 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 14, 2008 12:12 pm

From Pete Abe:
"Just FYI: Many people are commenting or e-mailing that they believe the Yankees are still going after Mark Teixeira despite getting Swisher. Sorry to be realistic, but Yankees were never going to spend every dollar coming off the books. They’re going to invest their cash in starting pitchers. They want CC Sabathia to be one of them and there is no chance they’re adding two $100 million + deals. Some people need to adjust their expectations."

I don't know if Pete is right, but if you go by what Cashman has been saying, Pete might be correct. However, Cashman usually does not tip his hand. All this talk of blowing CC away with an offer, makes an already expensive move worse.

I mean, CC won't be bad, just maybe risky. I will be anxious to watch Cashman. I have faith in the guy. He usually surprises. It LOOKS like CC now, but maybe Cash will pull a rabbit out of his hat.

22 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 14, 2008 12:15 pm


His range factor as a Dodger was average. Baseball Prospectus gave him a 104 RATE (2 runs above average) in LA. In RF at Yankee Stadium he'd be fine. At least better than Abreu but with a better bat.

Adding Manny (over Abreu) would balance out Swish at 1B (over Giambi). For less money the offense is about the same with the potential to be much better if Cano, Jeter, and Swish bounce back to career norms and with Posada and not-Melky full-time.

Manny is exactly the contract to get for long-term flexibility. Dunn maybe too if they can get him for four years or less.

23 JL25and3   ~  Nov 14, 2008 12:16 pm

I don't think we have to worry about Montero for three years or so. Cross that bridge when it comes.

Perhaps the loss of 150 runs last year couldn't be predicted, but that's not the question; the question is how you're going to get a good chunk of them back. Personally, I think they'll have no trouble as long as Swisher reverts to his 2006-7 form, Cano hits .290+, Posada's able to catch regularly and hit roughly his career numbers, and Gardner maintains a .350 OBP.

OK, not all of those things have to happen - but at least three of them do, and not one of them is a slam-dunk.

I'd still love to see them find some way to improve in CF, but I don't think that's going to happen.

24 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 14, 2008 12:19 pm

In reference to 21, Chavez Ravine is 330' down the line and 385' to the gap.

25 OldYanksFan   ~  Nov 14, 2008 12:24 pm

SG, at RLYW, has another typically excellent post/projection on Swisher.

26 jonnystrongleg   ~  Nov 14, 2008 1:28 pm

10/10/2005 Bottom of 2nd , 2 outs, Yanks 2, Angels 1

A Kennedy Triple to CF; Molina Scores; Finley Scores

Perhaps a Gold Glove CF would have come in handy on this play?

27 Mattpat11   ~  Nov 14, 2008 2:47 pm

I'm not sure that incident even has a chance to occur without Randy Johnson.

28 jonnystrongleg   ~  Nov 14, 2008 3:21 pm

I don't think getting Beltran would have stopped them from getting Randy Johnson.

29 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Nov 14, 2008 4:21 pm

How much better would the Yankees be now had they chosen Beltran over Johnson? They'd still have Dioner Navarro, who would have been the starting catcher last year due to Posada's injury. They might still have Javy Vazquez, who didn't turn out to be the ace they'd hoped, but remains a solid mid-rotation starter. And they'd have Carlos Beltran in center, which means Melky might have been used in a more productive trade, and the money spent on Johnny Damon would have gone elsewhere. That Johnson trade was a total disaster, which only makes their failure to sign Beltran worse, as it does seem (though agree with Jonny that it shouldn't have been an either/or choice) that the Yankees chose to go with Johnson instead of Beltran.

Just brutal.

30 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 14, 2008 5:45 pm

[28] If you are assuming they'd have still had Vazquez, why not also assume they'd have traded Navarro as they tried to do countless times? There is absolutely no guarantee they would have retained Navarro as Posada's back-up. Regardless, holding onto Vazquez is pretty inconsequential as he has cemented himself as a league average starter.

The bigger point that you ignore is that RJ was instrumental in getting the Yankees the 2005 divisional title. Things like that are important to me...otherwise, you can throw away every season that doesn't end in the World series. What's more, Damon (OPS+ of 115, 97 and 118 with the Yanlees) has been very productive in 2 of the three years that the Yankees have had him at a fraction of the price of Beltran. In fact, only in 2006 was Beltran much better (OPS+ of 96, 150, 126 and 129 with the Mets).

Words like disaster and brutal are way out of line to describe the RJ trade. Regardless of how you label it, suggesting that the Yankees were crippled by it is pure folly, unless you consider cripled making the playoffs for three of the four years since the decision.

31 Bum Rush   ~  Nov 14, 2008 7:25 pm

The RJ trade was brutal but I'm not convinced doing anything different would have changed anything. Beltran doesn't pitch the last four years and Vazquez isn't a difference maker in the post-season - indeed he was just as brutal this year as in 2004.

Agreed that Damon has lived up to his contract on the offensive end, but it was a mistake to assume he could still play CF. Sure, Beltran would have been an anchor out there but again he hasn't been a difference maker for the Mutts ether.

Navarro is the one that hurts but it's hard to see Torre or Girardi playing him enough to realize his potential. Maybe 2008 would have been the year, but it took him three half-seasons to establish himself. And he's still not good enough to supplant Jorge.

All that is besides the point however - signing another 1B to a 6 or 8 year deal after the Giambi albatross would be brutal especially with many expiration dates (Jete, A-Rod, Jorge) about to be due over the same time frame.

32 williamnyy23   ~  Nov 14, 2008 7:50 pm

[30] Again, I think people are exaggerating claims. Giambi was way too productive to be considered an albatross. If Tex would produce at G's rates while remaining healthy and providing a solid glove, I would get the pen ready right now.

A brutal trade is Babe Ruth for cash; an albatross is Carl Pavano. I think we need more perspective.

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