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Tag: Nick Swisher
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Battles: Right Field

Xavier Nady Nick Swisher
Age (DOB) 30 (11/14/78) 28 (11/25/80)
Height – Wt 6’2″ – 215 6’0″ – 215
Bat/Throw R/R S/L
ML career (PA) .280/.335/.458 (2,434) .244/.354/.451 (2,512)
mL career (PA) .298/.362/.526 (1,591) .261/.379/.476 (1,392)

Unlike the center-field battle in which the prize is a full-time starting job with the loser likely to be banished to Triple-A, the far end of the bench, or perhaps even another organization, the battle between Swisher and Nady is simply over who will have the upper hand in right field. Regardless of the outcome this spring, both are likely to make more than 400 plate appearances this year.

That said, Nady, who was acquired at the trading deadline last year and finished the season as the Yankees’ left fielder, entered camp as Bobby Abreu’s successor in right field. It will be up to Nick Swisher, acquired in a November trade with the White Sox, to prove to Joe Girardi and his staff that he is the superior option for right field, which, truth be told, he is.


Yankee Panky: CC, LeBron, and a Hot Stove that’s pre-heated

Separating truth from rumor during the baseball season is difficult enough, but during the hot stove season, it’s easy to get burned if you don’t view everything you read with a skeptical eye. We know the deal: the rumor-mongering is intended to sell papers, conjure arguments on talk radio, and stir conversation and commentary on blogs like this to keep baseball relevant in a town where both NFL teams are in first place and the Knicks look like an actual professional basketball team for the first time in six years.

Speaking of rumors, we knew the Yankees, with their financial clout and now $32 million to work with (I like Cliff Corcoran’s conservative accounting), would be big players in this winter’s free agent market. The past 30 hours or so have seen one constant in the CC Sabathia Sweepstakes: the Yankees are the highest — and only — bidder to date.

Not long after our Diane Firstman gave the skinny on the landscape’s analysis of the record offer made to the 6-foot-7, 290-pound southpaw, which included a quote from a Yankees official who welcomed the Mets’ inclusion in the mix, Newsday’s David Lennon reported that the Mets put the XX on CC. Joel Sherman wasn’t as definitive in this blog post, but he did not discount the Mets as a player, if for no other reason than to jack up the price for the Yankees.

What no one needs to see as it relates to CC Sabathia are stories like this. LeBron James is a Yankee fan. He’s friends with Sabathia, who until mid-summer spent his entire career in Cleveland. But do we, and should we, care what James has to say on this issue? In James’ defense, I believe this is more of an indictment of the Cleveland reporter who felt compelled to ask the question more than it is on James, who could face a similar free-agent dilemma next summer. James could opt out of the remaining two years of his contract in July and go to the highest bidder, which according to the aforementioned report, is expected to be either the Knicks or the New Jersey Nets. But if you’re the Cleveland scribe, why create a mess now? Haven’t those fans suffered for long enough? As a former reporter, I’m embarrassed. Maybe I’d have used that question as an icebreaker for an off-the-record situation, but that’s it. No way do you go to press with that.


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.


Yanks Get Swisher for Marquez

The Yankees just picked up OF/1B Nick Swisher from the White Sox for triple-A starter Jeff Marquez (and possibly others, though it seems Marquez is the main piece). Both players had bad years this year. The big question is whether or not this will impact the Yankees pursuit of Mark Teixeira, or if Swisher is more of a Shelley Duncan/Wilson Betemit replacement. Discuss. I’ll be back later to break this one down.

Update: The full deal is Swisher and Double-A righty reliever Kanekoa Texeira for Marquez, Wilson Betemit, and Double-A righty reliever Jhonny Nuñez, the last of whom was the player received for Alberto Gonzalez at the trading deadline.

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