Posts Tagged ‘Nick Swisher’

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My Favorite Players for 2010

March 10, 2010

Am I the only person who finds themselves randomly attached to players and teams that have nothing to do with your own fan base? I don’t mean rooting for guys who have moved on from your own team, like Chien-Ming Wang and Jason Giambi. Just players who seem genuinely likable for one reason or the other; they’re exciting players, they seem underrated, or they just plain seem like nice guys. Every year there’s a couple of players and teams I find it hard to root against, even if the Yankees are involved. Last year for me was the Upton brothers. This year there are a bunch more, but the three in particular that I plan on watching religiously are Brett Anderson, Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Kemp.

As you may or may not be aware of depending on your level of reading comprehension and attention to my blog, I have been spending the better part of my time in northern California. Between that and my fiance being a A’s fan the team has begun to grow on me (the same could be said for the Giants, and who could resist Tim Lincecum and his luscious hair). I watched a lot of Brett Anderson last year. I heard a lot about him in the minors, both before and after he was traded for Dan Haren from Arizona. I’m sure a lot of you know him, but you really need to watch him pitch. Just look at his stat line, it is a thing of beauty: A 4.06 ERA, a 3.69 FIP, 7.70 k/9 against 2.31 bb/9, all as a TWENTY-ONE YEAR OLD ROOKIE. Absurd. Oh yeah, and he’s a lefty. Bold Prediction: Brett Anderson will start the all star game this year.

Troy Tulowitzki is a bit more seasoned than Brett Anderson, and probably much more widely recognized. Appearing in a World Series as a rookie will do that for you. I have liked Tulo’s game since he came up, and even my A’s loving lady has had an obsession with him since his rookie year, one matched only by Tulowitzki’s own obsession with Derek Jeter (by the way, since I have mentioned her twice, her list of favorite non players would probably be topped by Tulowitzki and Nick Swisher). Jeter and Tulowitzki make for a fun comparison. Discounting Tulo’s injury plagued off-year of 2008, the two match spot on in wOBA, and the small difference in OBP is made up for by an inverse difference in slugging and speed.

Tulowitzki’s defense was vastly superior to Jeter’s early career, but Jeter’s immense improvement has closed that gap and each can now be considered a good defender.

My explanation for Matt Kemp is a lot simpler. He has a cool twitter page. He is dating Rihanna. And this picture is awesome:

I'd wear my jersey EVERYWHERE if I were in the big leagues.

For an almost creepy amount of Matt Kemp photos check this out.

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Swisher and Abreu Matched Up

October 15, 2009

(This was a discussion on Something Awful’s Sports Argument Stadium, which I decided to string out and further here)

Angels Mariners BaseballBy the end of the 2008 season it seemed like it was becoming obvious that Bobby Abreu wasn’t going to be back. He was 34 (now 35), with a walk rate that had declined each of the previous two seasons and a continuous and worsening absurd fear of the outfield wall. Offering him arbitration would have likely meant skipping the signing of one of the big three acquisitions last off-season, and would have handed Abreu a hefty salary that he probably didn’t deserve.

Now, that last statement was not meant to be a knock on Abreu. He’s been a remarkably consistent player, in spite of his gradual downgrade with age. But a minimum salary of near $13 million (arbitration would have resulted in a contract of no less than 80% of Abreu’s $16 mm salary) seemed like an obvious pass in the economic climate of last year. Being that Abreu only signed for $5 mm (with another million headed his way in bonuses) should tell you whether the Yankees made the right business move.

mulletguy_7In his place the Yankees acquired Nick Swisher (though it didn’t turn out Swisher would be the regular right field until after the signing of Mark Teixeira and the injury to Xavier Nady) for minor league pitcher Jeff Marquez, infielder Wilson Betemit, and the key pieces of the trade, magic beans and sexual favors. Those last bits I have assumed, because why else would a team dump a young outfielder/first baseman who OPS’d  .836 and .864 the two seasons prior to a BABIP ravaged 2008? A guy who also plays average or better defense at three positions, all while making a reasonable salary? All for a minor league pitcher yet to show any improvement on several mediocre minor league seasons and an infielder who can neither hit nor field.

Well as it turns out both Swisher and Abreu bounced back from (while not terrible) below standard seasons to have excellent 2009’s. The question I am pondering is whether or not the Yankees made the right decision in letting Abreu walk and replacing him with Swish.

I’ll assume Abreu would have gotten the minimum allowed salary via arbitration of $12.8 million for 2009 (while he only signed with LAA for $5 mm, if he were to remain a Yankee it would have been through arbitration). He in all likelihood would have made more than that, I can’t think of any instance where someone was awarded the bare minimum in an arbitration hearing, and Abreu didn’t exactly have a bad year. Swisher on the other hand made $5.3 mm for 2009 (and is signed for 2 more years plus an option year for a three year total of $26 mm). That’s a savings of $7.5 million, almost equal to the salary given to Andy Pettitte for this season. Also, by no means am I insinuating that the Yankees wouldn’t have been able to afford Pettitte if they kept Abreu, but even they don’t have an infinite bankroll. Someone else from the 2009 roster wouldn’t have been here (probably Burnett).

Abreu has been for the bulk of his career a vastly superior player to anything Swisher has ever been, but in 2009 they were near equals. In fact, Swisher probably has an edge due to his defensive advantages. Swisher was near neutral in the outfield with a total UZR of -1.9, while Abreu’s was a -4.6.

A quick offensive side by side:

                Swisher          Abreu

BA              .249                 .293

OBP            .371                 .390

SLG            .498                 .435

wOBA        .375                 .367

The biggest difference was that Swisher belted almost double the homers (29:15). Abreu’s on base advantage (due to his vastly higher batting average) creates a near wash of the two in terms of offensive output. All in all, you can’t go wrong with either player. But Swisher, for a savings of $7.5 mm, with a contract that runs potentially until 2012, and for a player who is not yet 29 years old (more than six years younger than Abreu) appears to be a better deal both this year and in the next several seasons.

The Yankees could be facing the same situation this off-season with Johnny Damon’s contract expiring. Hopefully the left field spot transitions as smoothly and successfully as the right field position did. There’s a host of possibilities for this but I’ll save those for an off-season article. There are more important things to look forward to this week! The whole point of this discussion, of course, is that Swisher and his counterpart are meeting in the playoffs starting Friday night. My gut/instincts/women’s intuition tell’s me Yankees in six. Hopefully Chone Figgins doesn’t make us his plaything like usual and the Yankees can take it in four.

Oh and just for fun, here is perhaps the best picture of A-Rod ever taken:

Just waiting for that roofie to kick in.

Just waiting for that roofie to kick in.

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(Insert Pun on the Name “Swisher”)

April 10, 2009

Fun stat from today:

Nick Swisher saw 29 pitches today in five at bats. He went full count three times while homering as well. That is classic Yankee baseball.

DNE is going to like this man.

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Hip to be Square: A-Rod Has Torn Hip Labrum

March 5, 2009

If anyone is questioning the groan inducing title puns, I am trying to get a job for the New York Post.

Alex Rodriguez is having a hell of a Spring. Yesterday it was noted that he had a sore hip, this morning his brother let it be known that Alex had a cyst on his hip that would require surgery, knocking him out for up to 10 weeks. Now, his agent, Scott Boras, and Brian Cashman both acknowledged that in addition to the cyst A-rod has a torn larbum in his hip. This ESPN article has been updating throughout the day, if anyone wants to follow it along.

Now, while details have been minimalized for the time being, a torn hip labrum is the same injury that Chase Utley played through last season and had operated on in November. He is set to make his Spring debut this week, and has been running already. That’s a recovery time of approximately 3 and a half months. For the time being, the cyst will be drained and the Yankees have said Alex is going to rehab in an effort to get back on the field faster, and opt for surgery later on if it is necessary.

This is probably the worst course of action for a few reasons. One, he is likely to miss several months regardless. Why jeapordize his health for the entire season to get him back sooner when he is already missing a chunk of time? Opting for immediate surgery could get him back by June fully healthy and recovered, rather than getting him back in mid-May with the risk of re-injuring or not even healing to begin with, in which case he could miss the whole year.

I’m sure the Yankees are already exploring a host of possibilities, including perhaps a trade for a third baseman. A few who are likely to be available are Adrian Beltre, Brandon Inge, and Hank Blalock. Beltre and Blalock are free agents after 2009, while Inge is signed for one more year after this. Other options could be shortstops Miguel Tejada or Bobby Crosby, both of whom could move to third and are in the last year of their contracts.

Out of all of the potential trade options, Crosby would probably make the most sense; he’s not exhorbitantly overpaid and would come for little more than taking on his contract. The best bet for the Yankees is probably to avoid any trade for the time being, unless it becomes apparent that Rodriguez is going to miss the full season. The Yankees sport depth in the other three corner positions, with Nick Swisher, Xavier Nady, Mark Teixera, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Whoever does not end up in center out of Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner are also capable corner outfielders (with the glove, certainly not with the bat).

Matsui will likely DH most of the time (if he is healthy), Damon, Cabrera, and Gardner are outfielders only (though Damon has played a bit of first for the Yankees). Teixera has played all four corners at various points in his career, including 15 less than stellar games at third in the majors and a full season of mediocre third in the minors.

The ideal solution for the Yankees has to be to let Nady and Swisher share time at third for the Spring. The Yankees have apparently been looking to move one of them, exploring trades with the Braves amongst others, but if either can play a competent third base it may be a blessing that they held onto them both. Most seem to be penciling Cody Ransom into the starting role as the main utility man and de facto starting third baseman, but looking elsewhere within the 25 man roster provides two vastly superior bats who have bodies and athleticism to handle third base.

I don’t expect to see any gold glove caliber play by either of them, but if one shows to be a fair fielder then the Yankees are much better off working from within, not giving up talent, and just hoping A-Rod can come back healthy.