I LIKE It!

You may call me crazy, but I really like the deal the Yankees just made.

If you haven’t heard: Nick Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira to the Yankees for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez.

You may think Swisher was bad last year, and that opinion would likely be based on his .219 batting average.  Long time readers and friends know by now that I despise batting average as a valuable metric of a player’s ability or contribution, and this is one really good example.

Some actually important numbers from Swisher from last season: led the majors, by a lot, with 4.51 pitches per plate appearance (wow!); 8th in the league in walks, with 82; line drive rate of 20.9%, which was the best of his career, but a .251 BABIP (batting average on balls put in play) was a career low, suggesting that his .219 batting average may have been the product of some plain ol’ bad luck.  (Some more on BABIP, here and here).  He’s relatively affordable at $5.3 million in 2009, $6.75 million in 2010 and $9 million in 2011, with an option in 2012 for $10.25 million with a $1 million buyout.

Also, they didn’t really give away much to get him.  Marquez was once highly touted, but hasn’t progressed.  Betemit didn’t really become what the Yankees hoped.  Nunez was just acquired at the trading deadline for Alberto Gonzalez.  Big whoop.

The best part is, aside from him being only 28 and a switch hitter, is that Swisher can legitimately play first base or the corner outfield spots, giving the Yankees some much needed (something I’ve been screaming about for years) roster flexibility.  This doesn’t even preclude them getting Teixeira, because Swisher can go play RF if they sign the free agent 1B.

Wow, a young, switch hitting, decent fielding, high OBP-ing, first baseman/outfielder with some power?  How can you NOT like this move?

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5 responses to “I LIKE It!

  1. I think if you are a yankees fan you have to like this move for all the reasons you stated.

    As a division rival fan, I’m happy if it means that the yankees are less likely to go after abrey or texeira. Because I’m hoping nick swisher is another morgan ensberg.

    Here’s why:

    History has generally proven that Kenny williams is no idiot. Either he saw something in swisher he didn’t like or saw something in vazquez that he did. And I wonder whether this:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/scomp.cgi?I=swishni01:Nick+Swisher&st=career&age=-28

    …means anything.

    This is the performance of players that are baseball reference’s “most comparable” to nick swisher after the age of 28. Not pretty.

  2. C – Posada
    1B – Swisher
    2B – Cano
    SS – Jeter
    3B – Arod
    LF – Damon/Matsui
    CF – Gardner/Cabrera
    RF – Nady
    DH – Matsui/Damon

    I listened to the first few minutes of the Cashman conference call about the trade before I got bored and had to do work. If its true that the Yankees will a) have some sort of budget; b) concentrate mainly on the team’s pitching needs; c) use Swisher as a 1B-man; and d) therefore not go after abreu, giambi, or another 10 mln plus type bat, then that would be a very good thing for yankee haters. No potent bat save for A-Rod and a bunch of guys that have seen better days (read: everyone but Cano).

    Of course, a rotation of:

    Wang
    CC
    Pettite/Burnett/Lowe
    Joba
    Hughes

    Is a different matter altogether.

  3. Great trade. They gave up basically nothing for a solid player who, as you noted, probably had a down year. If this means they don’t bring back Abreu, all the better, since he is clearly in decline and one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball. The offense still needs and upgrade, but the Yankees have done a good job improving the defense with this deal, so we can hope that compensates for the mediocre offense.

  4. Recall Swisher was a serious character in MoneyBall for precisely the reasons you mention.

  5. Keith Law on Nick Swisher:

    “Swisher is coming off of 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. Mike Lowell had a year like that (without the apathy) before coming to the Red Sox and rebounded completely; Andruw Jones had a year like that (with the apathy and some extra pounds) and slid further into the abyss. 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.”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/print?id=3701258&type=blogEntry

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