First, props to Ken Davidoff for calling this one eight days ago.
Next, let us look at what the Yankees gave up here: Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez.
Basically, the Yankees didn’t give up anything that they could not afford to lose. Actually, if a UFO landed on earth today and sucked up Betemit, Marquez and Nunez with the intent to turn them into finger puppets for extra-terrestrials, it would mean nothing to the Yankees organization. In fact, it might take weeks to even notice that they were gone.
So, the Yankees are getting Nick Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira for just-about-free here. But, who are they?
Kanekoa Texeira is a 22-year old relief pitcher who has barely dented Double-A. He keeps the ball in the park; but, he walks too many for a guy coming out of the pen. He may end up being somebody, someday – however, that somebody just may be the next Ryan Kurosaki.
So, that leaves Nick Swisher. Here, my immediate thought is: O.K., so, Billy Beane and Kenny Williams are not the genius G.M.s that many claim they are…but, they didn’t exactly fall of a turnip truck yesterday either. Beane traded Swisher for Ryan Sweeney, Gio Gonzalez and Fautino de los Santos, and, now, 11 months later, Williams is trading Swisher for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez. So, what the heck is wrong with Nick Swisher?
Well, first, forget about the concept of Nick Swisher being a center-fielder. He’s about as much a center-fielder as Hideki Matsui is…which means he can play there in an emergency situation and that’s about it. At the end of the day, Swisher is a corner-outfielder who can also play first base.
And, that’s fine for the Yankees – since they don’t have a first baseman at the moment…or, at least, they didn’t before this trade. But, what about Swisher’s bat?
Via the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia, here are his career stats:
YEAR RCAA OBA SLG OPS OWP RC/G G 2004 0 .352 .417 .769 .488 5.1 20 2005 -2 .322 .446 .768 .487 4.9 131 2006 23 .372 .493 .864 .610 6.4 157 2007 25 .381 .455 .836 .631 6.2 150 2008 -11 .332 .410 .743 .434 4.5 153
Hmmm…so, will the real Nick Swisher please stand up? Is it the Nick Swisher from 2005 and 2008? Or, is it the Nick Swisher from 2006 and 2007?
Let’s look at some more Swisher stats. This time, via The Hardball Times:
Year GPA P/PA LD% BABIP GB% 2004 .272 4.2 14% .271 38% 2005 .262 4.1 19% .265 38% 2006 .293 4.1 19% .283 33% 2007 .294 4.3 18% .301 37% 2008 .242 4.5 21% .249 35%
This is interesting. Swisher, the last four seasons, has seen the same number of pitches per plate appearance and, roughly, has produced the same percentage of liners and ground-outs as well. However, the key difference in his “down” seasons (meaning 2005 and 2008) was his batting average on balls in play. This suggests that his liners and grounders didn’t find holes, during 2005 and 2008, like they did in 2006 and 2007.
So, maybe Billy Beane and Kenny Williams don’t have some skinny on Swisher? Maybe it’s just lady luck who has been jerking Nick around?
We’ll get to see, for ourselves, now, in Yankeeland, won’t we? And, considering that the Yankees gave up just about nothing in this deal, I don’t see the downside of giving Swisher a shot at being the Yankees first baseman in 2009.
The remainder of Swisher’s contract is as follows: He’s paid $5.3 million in 2009, $6.75 million in 2010 and $9 million in 2011. And, the Yankees now hold a $10.25 million option for 2012 with a $1 million buyout. Therefore, if Nick is a bust, the Yankees can cut him after this season and be on the hook for just $16.75 million. Hey, compared to what they paid to talk to Kei Igawa, that’s chump change.
In the end, while this is not a great deal – as you don’t know for sure what Swisher brings – it’s a very interesting deal…and one that could be fun to watch unfold over the 2009 season.