Lost amid the excitement of the YES Network’s pregame coverage of Game 6 of the ALCS was a segment looking into the offensive struggles of a Yankee who was a major contributor during the regular season but whose bat had gone cold in the playoffs. That Yankee: Nick Swisher. I know what you’re thinking. I thought it too — Nick Swisher?!
I’ve taken the liberty of pasting below the entire everyday Yankees lineup, along with their regular season slash stats and postseason slash stats. I’ve also put the list in order of the player the Yankees most needed to contribute this postseason through to the player that could die and the team would pretty much be fine (sorry Melky, nothing personal):
The logic behind this order is that A-Rod and Tex are the best all-around hitters on the team. If those two get hot at the same time the Yankees are unbeatable, all other things being equal. The table setters come next because if they’re hot the Yankees get more production from the big bats. After that things are a bit fungible, except for the last two positions, which firmly belong to Swisher and Melky. That’s not only my opinion. It’s also Joe Girardi’s. This is where he bats those two in the lineup.
With the logic of this order behind us, a few things immediately stand out. First, I owe Melky an apology, may he live a long, healthy life. Second, A-Rod: Holy crap! Third, Nick Swisher is, hands down, performing the worst of any offensive Yankee so far in the postseason. Fourth, at least three Yankees whose offensive contributions have been consistently more important than Swisher’s are also performing badly. Teixeira heads that list.
It’s unfortunate that the Yankees have to continue to roll out a player performing as badly through two postseason series as Swisher, but if the media is going to turn a critical eye to any of the Bronx Bombers, it would have to be Tex. Thankfully his bat has had some life in it the past couple of games — quite a bit, actually — but that only means he was producing as badly as Swisher through the first seven games of the playoffs, and Tex is much more critical to the team’s success. He is also the third-highest paid player in the sport, and potentially the face of the Yankees’ future. This is just the beginning for him.
If there was ever any logic behind vilifying A-Rod in postseasons past (there wasn’t), then this year those who feel compelled to crown “True Yankees” should be turning their scrutiny toward the expensive Teixeira, right? Right?
Wrong. Choosing to attack Nick Swisher and suggest that Girardi was only keeping him in the lineup because he had even less faith in Jerry Hairston (I’m talking to you, Michael Kay) only serves, at best, to waste airtime and at worst to potentially undermine the confidence of two Yankees before the biggest game of the season thus far. Given that no one other than a Yankees player or owner has more to gain from the Yankees continued success than the YES booth makes it crazy that they’d dedicate ti
me to this. That the piece picked the wrong target only adds insult to injury.
It makes no sense to attack Nick Swisher. All he did was give the Yankees 29 homers and a high OBP for less than $6 million. It would make even less sense to focus the piece on Teixeira, its rightful target, because he was also the AL leader in HRs and RBI and a Gold Glove candidate at 1B.
The Yankees can’t simultaneously be a $200 million juggernaut with overpriced All-Stars at every position as well as the sole responsibility of a single underperforming player when the postseason comes around. YES, the Daily News, the Post and the rest of them shouldn’t waste ink or airtime in a successful postseason picking apart any single player, especially not when so many players are performing below expectations. If they insist on destroying one of their own, the least they can do is pick the right guy.