Swisher Missed Badly

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What kind of player do the Yankees need the most right now? A switch hitting, patient and versatile outfielder who can backup first base would be a really good answer to that question. Didn’t the Yankees used to have somebody like that for the last four seasons?

It was quite fitting that as Nick Swisher returned to the Bronx last night for the first as a Cleveland Indian the Yankees were experimenting with Lyle Overbay in right field.  Swisher signed a four-year contract worth $56 million with Cleveland this past winter, and he was one of the first casualties of the Yankees $189 million budget plan. The Yankees valued saving money over production in not bringing back Swisher and have paid for that decision in a big way this season.

The Yankees move to put Overbay in right field last night was a desperate attempt to get an average bat in the lineup. While Overbay performed as well as the Yankees could have hoped for with Mark Teixeira on the DL, he is not exactly lighting the world on fire this season with a slash line of .249/.294/.459/.752.

A lot of that has to do with his performance against lefties, but still Overbay is not the kind of bat the Yankees would have to go to this kind of lengths to get into the lineup in recent years. However, with the loss of Swisher, Ichiro Suzuki looking finished, and Vernon Wells regressing, it is hard to blame the Yankees for giving it a shot. Of course, if Swisher were still around it would not be an issue.

If the Yankees had adequately replaced Swisher his loss might not have been felt as hard as it has been this season. Giving a two-year contract to Suzuki was a disaster and it was mostly likely done for marketing reasons, as upper management thought Suzuki had a shot to get to 3,000 hits in a Yankees uniform. They willing took a lesser player in right field because of monetary reasons and are paying for it, which is something that would have been hard to imagine a few years ago with the Yankees. The same can be said for catcher as well, as Russell Martin is enjoying a very nice season in Pittsburgh.

Swisher was a model of consistency for the Yankees in his four years in the Bronx. He had an OPS+ ranging from 120 to 129 in all four years and wouldn’t you know he is at 127 this year, which would rank second on the Yankees this season. Before Mark Teixeira returned last week the Yankees had not had an at-bat by a switch hitter all season. They often have had to run a bunch of lefties stacked in the lineup on most nights because they have  had no righties to balance their lineup out. Also, even with Teixeira and Youkilis back, their lineup only runs about six deep with black holes in right field, shortstop and catcher. The Yankees have always been known for having a balanced and circular lineup, which certainly has not been the case this season, and a lot of that is because of Swisher’s absence.

Swisher is a great example of fans not being able to appreciate a player until he is gone. The same way fans used to complain about how the Yankees scored runs, even though they had one of the best offenses in MLB. Obviously, Swisher’s postseason struggles were well documented, but how much will that matter if the Yankees do not even make it there this season? He loved being a Yankee and had a very positive influence on the clubhouse, which was evident in the joy he showed in his return last night.

“It’s super exciting to be back here a couple of days,” Swisher told Howie Kussoy of the New York Post. “Just that atmosphere, that was a great thing to be a part of. Just being part of the whole tradition, obviously winning the World Series in ’09 was pretty cool. I think the mystique of being a Yankee was so great and something I was so proud to be a part of.”

The Yankees only rank 11th in the AL in runs, 10th in OPS, 11th in wOBA, and 13th in wRC+ as a team. Obviously, a lot of that has to do with injuries, but also willing playing lesser players for financial reasons at catcher and right field is a huge reason as well. Yankees right fielders this year have a -.5 WAR, .116 ISO, .262 wOBA and 70 wRC+, which is simply pathetic. As, the Yankees try to experiment a career first baseman in right field they can look across the field the next two nights and wonder what if.

About Matthew B

I am a student at William Paterson University and studying to become a sportswriter. I have a huge passion for the Yankees and love sharing my opinions on them. I can analyze every aspect of the Yankees very well. I am very active on Twitter so feel free to contact me there Twitter: @RAYROBERT9

Posted on June 4, 2013, in Player Analysis and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. Never liked him and never will. If Granderson was healthy all year I don’t think they outfield woes would be like they are now.

  2. Yankees have done some dumb things this year, by not signing players that could have filled the gaps, but letting Swisher go was the dumbest thing the Yankees did this year, switch hitting almost the same from either side, the up beat attitude, the epitome of a team player, Martin not so much, he could have been replaced. The knocks on Granderson are not called for, everyone that hits a lot of home runs, strikes out a lot, and his arm and legs are way above most CF’s, and everyone on yanks. They had 50+ games to bring up the young guys and the one they did Adams is going to be sent down, you need some new minds in the office. I’m 63 and bleed pinstrips, but I’m so sick of trades that didn’t happen because we don’t want to trade our minor league away, you don’t have a minor league, we’ve been waiting how many years for a minor leaguer to make it, Since Jeter, trade them we would have had Lee 4 years ago and maybe more championships if you would have given them Adams, you got a wining team in the past because we traded them away, well Stanton, Fowler, Gonzales,etc. , just do it.

    • Tony. I have been away for a bit. Thanks for joining in the covos. Where ya from? Love your passion for the team.

    • Hi Tony. Yanks could definitely use Swisher right now but I think they made the right move letting him go. I wouldn’t want to commit to him for 5 years. The mistake they made was in replacing him. A 2 year contract for Ichiro was not wise. I thought they should have traded for a young OF but they didn’t really have what it took to get Upton. Tori Hunter and Melky Cabrera have their faults but would have been better for 2 years over Ichiro for 2.

      Cashman’s best move ever was acquiring Swisher for next to nothing. He ended up with a good hitting RF in his prime for reasonable cost. This winter, he used the same principles to identify Nate Schierholtz as a similar buy-low talent. But he went to the Cubs for more of a guaranteed role and it’s been a great move for Jed Hoyer so far. Schierholtz is hitting .287/.316/.527/.843 with 7 HRs.

      As for young players….I think Adams is going to be a keeper. I don’t know if he’ll be an All-Star but I think he can be a starting 2B or 3B in the Majors. I think its very important that they acquire a big hitter either an OF, C, SS or 3B between now and the beginning of 2014. It doesn’t look like anyone from the Farm will be an impact player in 2014. I think Corban Joseph could hit well but he’s a butcher at 3B. One guy who could contribute is Zoilo Almonte. I like his game, he’s a smooth type of athlete like Carlos beltran or Cano who looks like he’s not trying hard. But he’s a switch-hitter with big left-handed power which is a great combo for RF at Yankee Stadium. His biggest knock was his strikezone judgement and pitch selection which led to too many Ks and low Walks. Well this year he’s improved on that immensley. In his first yr in AAA he’s more than doubled his Walk rate from 5.6% last yr to 11.8% and has also slashed his K% to a respectable 16.8%. He still struggles hitting RH as most young switch-hitters do because they don’t see a lot of LHP but he’s crushing RHP as usal with a .889 OPS and overall he’s hitting .282/.366/.432/.798 with 6 HRs. How about platooning him with one of the strong RH OFs in Mustelier or Thomas Neal…..I guarantee you’ll get beteer production than Ichiro has supplied the first third of the season.

  3. Cashman made one of his best moves with Swisher, he was a first round draft pick who was floundering with the Sox. Cashman picked him up cheap and Swichalicous produced well for his length of his contract. Cashman only had 3 moves this year,get rid of Swisher, Martin, and Soriano. The numerous injuries make it impossible to evaluate this team at it’s present state. After this year Grandy, Hughes, and possibly Joba will be the next to go. Right now the relief pitching has been lights out with the starters only needing to go 6, with Kelly, Joba, Logan, Robby and Mo. The hitters seem to be hitting better with runners in scoring position, while the runs scored is way down.

  4. Nick Swisher was a help when it came to playing in the regular season but when we reached the postseason, his bat suddenly went cold. Yankees want to win it all and we couldn’t do that with Swisher constantly having poor postseason numbers.

    • They did that in 2009 so that’s not true. Have to get to the playoffs before you can think about winning it all. You can’t predict who is going to be good in the playoffs in a small sample size. Ichiro was good in the playoffs last year how is that working out?

      • Matt, I agree the playoffs are random- outlier, unpredictable. There are no garantees with players, Upton, Martinez, Uggla, Davis, Moustakas, Hamilton, Cespedes, Reddick, and Middlebrooks all have bad WARs and hitting near the Mendoza line. Baseball is a humbling game. How about the Braves leading the league with 2 hitters hitting below the Mendoza line.

      • I agree it’s hard to judge a guy by small samples in the playoffs but I think Swisher’s struggles in October went beyond small sample size variance. He clearly had problems in those situations which may have gone to his head. He started seeing a sports physcologist in 2011 after another bad post-season and he lost his cool and ridiculed the fans for getting on him in the Detroit series last yr. He also seemed to become a worse defender in the Playoffs which further leads me to believe he just tensed up or put too much pressure on himself.

        • fishjam, many Yankee players in the past have played poorly in the playoffs, Swisher’s failures were magnified because the Yanks lost those playoff games. If a player hits poorly and the team wins it is overlooked. Look at Upton and Uggla this year, they are hitting below the Mendoza line, but the Braves are winning so it is tolerated.

          • Doug – Yes, losing does magnify a player’s struggles but win or lose, when you fail to hit or field in the playoffs for 4 consecutive yrs people will notice. Money plays a HUGE role in putting up with struggling players. If a young player is hitting poorly through June he gets sent to the minors but Upton just signed a $75 Million contract and Uggla is making $39 Million thru 2015. Even still, Atlanta was about to send BJ to the minors but he’s had a few good games in June which may save him.

  5. Another Tex message, 7 RBI in 2 games, now maybe fans will get off his back for a week anyway.

  6. I stand by letting swisher was a dumb move, Not signing at least Hunter was a bad move. and the Yankees trying to get below 185 is such a bunch of bull s_ _ _, they make more money than how many teams put together, and how much money have they lost this year so far because they didn’t put a winning it all team out there? Hal and Hank don’t know about the passion there father had for this team, if there not going all out like he would, penny wise and pound foolish.

    • Tony, paying Wells and Ichiro 27 million dollars over this season and next season still makes me nauseous every time I think about it. I’m not interested in anyone’s rationalizations of Ichiro’s market appeal or this INSANE notion that the insurance money paid on Teixeira makes Wells free. That would only be true if Tex’s insurance money came with the specific clause that it had to be spent on Wells. It could have been spent on anyone or saved for a trade later this season.
      Swisher is making 56 million over four years. He’s making 28 million total in 2013-2014. Basically for one million more dollars the Yankees could have had Swisher in 2013-2014 instead of those two washed up and FINISHED outfielders named Vernon and Ichiro.
      Swisher could have been traded after 2014 with some money eaten but it wouldn’t have been a disaster deal.
      Can you imagine how shot Ichiro and Wells will be NEXT year?!!!! Close your eyes and picture Wells and Ichiro in September of 2014 at the plate. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! If that doesn’t make you want to throw up you have a stronger constitution than I do.

  7. Yes but Swisher wouldn’t have signed for one year for the Yankees. and I doubt the Yankees would want him for four years. I wouldn’t. Would you?

  8. I’ve said from day one that we’d regret letting Swisher go and until I came here, I thought it was an unpopular opinion. When you have a guy that does nothing but produce, is a class act on and off the field, and is a bona fide threat from either side of the plate… you lose when he leaves. Whether it be from a production standpoint or leadership standpoint. The Yankees must stop putting a band-aid on a slit throat when it comes to filling key positions on the team. It’s only working right now because God obviously has a sense of humor (and he’s a Yankee fan)… because any other team would be in the basement standing-wise with the DL situation we’ve had this year.

    I waited 2 months to tell my lady that Swish wasn’t resigning and had gone to Cleveland and she was crushed. She’s only a baseball fan because of me and Swish was her favorite Yankee… of all the great players, he was her guy That says a lot about a player when he can attracted even the non-die-hard fans. It shows at games too. Swish was always one of the very few Yankees to come over to the wall and interact with the fans during warm-ups. We went to Cleveland to see them play last summer and he owned the right field stands throughout the entire game. Cano is my favorite player but he acts like he’s the only person in the park when the fans are screaming for him. There are plenty of others that do it too. Then you look at guys like David Ortiz who live for the fans… even at Yankee stadium!

    Sometimes, it’s not always what you do with the bat. Swisher gave the Yankees a personality that will be hard to replace… outside of his switch hitting and forcing teams to plan for his dangerous bat. It was a horrible move all around and eventually, we will regret it even more than we are now.

    • DL. Welcome. I see you finally got a comment to post. Sorry you had trouble. Welcome. Love your passion.

      Would you have been ok signing Swish to a contract for 4 years?

      • Thanks, glad to be here… I would have been fine with it considering what he brings to the table. We had him for 4 years I believe and we knew exactly what we’d get for the next 4 years. Instead, he’s in Cleveland teaching those young players (the ones that we never bring up) how to love and respect the game while having fun playing it. Francona has a gem over there and at $56m/4 at 32 years old, we should have given him that money and kept him. I don’t mean to sound like Swish’s personal cheerleader, but, when you watch guys play and you see the passion they have and how effortlessly the game comes to some of them, you can’t help but scratch your head at some of the decisions the brass have made. Pennies make dollars and the small things that Swish brought to the Yankees is what really made him valuable.

    • DJ – You know something, you just made a great point…..he was insanely popular. I had no problem letting Swisher walk because I didn’t want to sign him into his mid-30s for 4-5 years while the yanks were on a tight $189m budget. I think the yanks could have replaced his production by signing a good vet like Tori Hunter for half the years and money or (preferably) signing/trading for a young player entering his prime. Cashman was wise to go for Nate Schierholz but couldn’t close the deal and then whiffed big time by giving 39-yr old noodle bat Ichiro a 2-yr deal. It seems part of the reason for signing Ichiro was for his popularity with Asian fans/advertisers and his possible run for 3,000 hits.

      BUT, as DJ said, Swisher was a HUGE draw. That fact is often forgotten and overlooked but the fans love that dude. Sure they booed him in the playoffs but when you go to a Yankee game and sit anywhere on the RF side, the fans go f@#ing crazy for Swish. On a team that had Jeter, ARod, Mo, Cano, CC, Pettitte, etc, it was Swisher who used to energize the fans more than anyone. Yankees attendance is down AGAIN this year and it didn’t help by letting Swish walk. So if the reason for signing Ichiro was to attract fans, Swisher would have been a more productive (albeit more expensive) way to do it.

      Swish was a good hitter, below average OF and a fan favorite. His biggest pros were his consistency and switch-hitting ability with little platoon split. He’s basically a .260 hitter, .350-.360 OBP guy who is good for 20-25 HRs. Good numbers indeed but replaceable numbers if they made the right moves. Hopefully, Cash and Oppenheimer will get a stud tonight for the draft pick they received for letting Swish walk.

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