I find it hard to believe that the Yankees are seriously shopping Nick Swisher, as indicated by a published report this week. Swisher is currently the only outfielder with any kind of power on the 40-man roster—a fact that isn’t likely to change until the free agent situations of Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui (if we can even consider him an outfielder anymore) are resolved. With the Yankees showing little interest in either Jason Bay or Matt Holliday, the prospects of a Melky Cabrera-Brett Gardner-Austin Jackson outfield would do little to ease the minds of nerve-wracked Yankee fans.
It’s easy to dismiss Swisher because of his poor postseason, which resulted in his benching in Game Two of the World Series, but that would be a short-sighted approach. This is the same Swisher who hit 29 home runs during the regular season, compiled a near .500 slugging percentage, played a far better right field than predecessor Bobby Abreu, and brought some much needed life and verve to a staid and stagnant clubhouse. Furthermore, Swisher seems to be genuinely liked by his Yankee teammates, in contrast to his days in Chicago, where some of the veteran White Sox resented his non-stop talking.
Then there are the matters of Swisher’s relative youth and his contract status. About to turn 29, Swisher is one of just four Yankee regulars who are under 30 (along with Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Melky Cabrera). Sure, I wish Swisher would have hit more in the postseason, but a 15-game slump should not completely override a productive regular season. I, for one, hope Swisher returns to the Yankee stable in 2010…
A potential trade between the Yankees and Tigers, centered on Curtis Granderson, has me torn. On the one hand, I love Granderson’s combination of power and speed, along with the vast range that he carries in center field. My sources with the Oneonta Tigers also rave about him from his days there; he’s highly intelligent and brings a good attitude to the ballpark. On the other hand, Granderson is older than I initially thought, with his 29th birthday arriving before Opening Day 2010. His on-base percentage also fell off badly this year, dropping from .365 to .327. Even at his best, Granderson is not particularly well-suited for the leadoff role the Tigers have given him; he’d be an ideal No. 6 hitter for a team like the Yankees.
Then there’s the matter of what the Tigers would want in return for Granderson. As much as they want to shed his long-term salary, they’d be crazy to just give him away for a package of Shelley Duncan and Ramiro Pena. The Tigers are probably going to want at least one player (and possibly two) from a group that includes Austin “Ajax” Jackson, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, and Zach McAllister. That may be too much for the Yankees to swallow. And if the Tigers insist on Jesus Montero, that demand should be a dealbreaker from the New York standpoint…
His passing didn’t create many headlines, but it did strike a chord with this writer. Former Yankee reliever Ron Klimkowski died last Friday at the age of 65, succumbing to heart failure. Initially signed by the Red Sox’ organization, Klimkowski came to the Yankees as one of the players to be named later in the Elston Howard deal. He pitched very well as a middle reliever in 1969 and ‘70, but was then traded to the A’s as part of the deal that brought Felipe Alou to New York. Klimkowski remained in Oakland until May of 1972, when the A’s released him; the Yankees signed him later that day. The timing wasn’t particularly good for Klimkowski, who missed out on Oakland’s world championship and then suffered a knee injury, which essentially ended his career.