In the days immediately following the Yankees’ elimination, when the anger and demand for answers was high, I finally conceded that Nick Swisher’s time with the Yankees needed to end. His goofy, smart Alec attitude had run its course here in New York, as for the fourth straight year he was an automatic out in the postseason.
It was just unacceptable, and I thought that all good things had to end at some point. Since Swish is an impending free agent, it would be easy to just let him walk and go help out another team in the regular season and then choke for them in the playoffs. The Yanks would re-up with Ichiro and all will be well, heck maybe even better in Yankeeland.
Of course weeks later I’m now in the more mellow, accepting stage of the end of the Yankees season. I’ve accepted that they just weren’t good enough this year. I’ve accepted that the blame does not fall on any one player. And I’ve accepted that sometimes I think too much with my heart rather than with my brain.
This is something I hope all Yankee fans have been able to do. Because hopefully, it’ll make them realize, like I have, that Nick Swisher is essential to the 2013 Yankees.
You heard me.
Look, I’ve always been a Nick Swisher fan. But as I mentioned, come playoff time, no one is off limits to trash, even if it’s one of my favorite Yankees.
Yes, Swisher had another horrid playoff performance, but that was simply a nine-game stretch.
Now, if you don’t hit in October, you don’t fit the bill on the Yankees, I get that. But with that thinking in mind, that means the Yanks should also get rid of Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, and hey he went 0 for 8, Brett Gardner as well.
Without those players, you don’t get to the postseason. The Yankees are an 80 win team at best without those hitters. Would you rather miss the playoffs without those players, or have them carry you to the postseason to only have them hit a rough patch in October, against solid pitching? Most people don’t think of it that way.
The fact is Nick Swisher is an outstanding hitter in the regular season. It’s debatable he’s the best hitting right fielder in the game from April to September. Each year with the Yankees, he’s hit at least .260, at least 20 home runs, and at least 80 RBI, this year knocking in 92 in fact.
Yes, he has his hot and [very, very] cold streaks, but whenever he was out of the lineup, it always seemed like the Yankees were missing something. He’s so versatile as a hitter. He can hit near the top, in the middle, and in fact in 2009 he hit eighth a large number of times. Name another hitter on the Yankees who could hit anywhere in the lineup and still produce the same.
Some people do want Swisher back but say it’s impossible for the Yankees to do so, given his contract demands to go along with the Yankees suddenly tight budget. I argue that Swisher isn’t going to get the money his agent wants for him. Do you really expect a team to shell out $100 million to a 32 year old outfielder not named Josh Hamilton? Not me. And after witnessing how much Swisher loved playing in New York the past four years, it would be hard to convince me he won’t give the Yankees a bit of a hometown discount.
I personally see him getting a deal similar to the one Johnny Damon received [from the Yankees] in 2006 – four years, $50 million. While that’s still maybe a bit too much for the Yankees to handle, if they are smart and deal Curtis Granderson’s contact, (as well as letting most of their other impending free agents walk) they’d certainly have room.
Another argument is that he’s too old to be counted on to produce as much as he has, as well as hold down right field for the next couple of years. A good point, but Swisher has been one of the most consistent hitters in baseball over the past four years, and Yankee Stadium’s right field has been manned by the likes of Bobby Abreu, Paul O’Neill, and Gary Sheffield before. So I’m sure defense shouldn’t be that much of an issue. Also consider the fact that Swisher each season has trimmed body fat and added muscle, and has become a much better overall athlete.
The main question I have in defense of Swisher returning, is who plays right field next year if he leaves? Sure, the Yankees may simply not want him back, but then who will replace him?
As I write, I noticed a report that maybe Curtis Granderson will move to left field and Brett Gardner will move to center. That’s all good, but then who plays right? The Yankees by letting Swisher walk would create a big problem for themselves, with not many good players available to fill Swish’s spot in the field and in the lineup.
Some say sign Torii Hunter or Cody Ross, and others say trade for Andre Ethier or Josh Willingham. All three are solid outfielders, but are they New York outfielders? Swisher has proven he can play for the Yankees and most importantly play well. The potential replacements listed are of similar age to Swisher, and have never played on a big stage before, considering they all played for non-contenders in 2012 and have little (memorable) experience in the playoffs. Ross had one big postseason for San Francisco in 2010. Any guarantee he replicates that in pinstripes next year? No.
In replacing Swisher, Yankee fans are looking for someone who can come up big in October, something Nick has of course failed to do. But you can never sign or refuse to sign a player based on what he may do in the postseason. The playoffs are an entirely different animal, and nothing is guaranteed. Look at the World Series MVPs of the past six years – Mike Lowell, Cole Hamels, Hideki Matsui, Edgar Renteria, David Freese , Pablo Sandoval. I could go on even longer. Out of that group, were there any big-name free agent signings? Not that I can see. I see a group of gritty players, young and old, either coming out of the farm system or being traded for.
The fact is , you can’t run a player out of town because of the postseason. Nick Swisher is one of the best hitters on the Yankees during the regular season, and letting him go would be an idiotic move that I think they’d regret for years. Similar to the likes of trading Bobby Murcer, letting Reggie Jackson walk, and allowing Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte to go win a pennant for the Astros.
The Yankees have made many mistakes in the past fifty years, and this is one they can avoid by simply extending Nick Swisher a clearly deserved new contract. They already probably need a new bench, a catcher, and a closer. Why add ‘right fielder’ to that list when you can retain one of the best the Yankees have had in a long time? It just flat out makes no sense.
I hope for Swisher’s sake, he sticks it to the Yankees by being a thorn in their side whenever he plays them. If I go to a game next year and Swisher returns by hitting a home run, you bet I’ll be standing and cheering.