The Best Laid Plans

As the blackout last week rolled on, the conversations between my father and me inevitably rolled to baseball. One thing he kept bringing up was how this upcoming Hot Stove season would be the most challenging for Yankee GM Brian Cashman. While I think there may have been more pressure to reload after missing the playoffs in 2008, I’m more or less in league with my dad on this one. With the 2014 budget in mind, it’s hard to know just exactly what the Yankees will do this winter. We know they won’t get younger for the sake of getting younger, and that’s something I agree with. In that vein, though, the Yankees are set up to get young for 2014/2015 with the chance for some actual impact players like Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, and Mason Williams. But with regards to the Yankees’ actual plan, I’m not ready to say I know what their exact strategy will be.… Click here to read the rest

Fair value for Nick Swisher

What ever happens, Nick is going to make a lot of money next year.

Ask anyone who the best Yankee is and the answer will always be the same: Robinson Cano. Ask anyone who the second best Yankee is, however, and things get murkier. Some will say Derek Jeter. Others will say CC Sabathia. Few would say Nick Swisher, few except Fangraphs, that is. Your number two Yankee in terms of fWAR is none other than Nick Swisher.

Swisher wasn’t just the second best Yankee in terms of wins either. He was also number two on the team in wOBA (.363) and wRC+ (128). Throw in the fact that he also rates as a plus defender (he may look ugly doing it, but Swisher is better with the leather than folks realize) and Swisher is a solid, all around commodity.

The assumption among the fans this season has always been that Nick will leave the team as a free agent.… Click here to read the rest

Replacing The Underrated Nick Swisher

Nick Swisher‘s future in pinstripes looks like it has come to a bitter end. Bitter, not because his play was underwhelming, but because consecutive postseason slumps caught up to him at the worst possible time. This offseason will be Swisher’s first time entering free agency, and entering his next season at 32 years old, it’ll likely be his last opportunity to earn a big contract.

Although I can’t speak for the right fielder, he showed a lot of enthusiasm in his four years with the Yankees, and there seemed to be a genuine connection with the fans, the city, and his teammates. A solid postseason may have influenced the front office or ownership to splurge on a new long term contract for him, however the last few weeks decidedly ended most of these hopes.

His awful postseason slump created a hurricane of boo’s from his once beloved Yankee Stadium fans, and as awful of a reaction it was, Swisher’s response did not help the situation.… Click here to read the rest

Nick Swisher’s Hitting Mechanics

After a prolonged September slump, Nick Swisher is one of the hottest hitters on the team. From August 27th to September 16th, the right fielder hit just .127/.244/.211. After a scheduled day off and a rain suspended game, Swisher has since picked things up with a .385/.484/.731 tripleslash. He’s got 4 homeruns over his last 6 games, and he’s driving runners in. Ichiro Suzuki‘s hot streak has helped this team get runners on base, but Swisher’s homeruns have become even more important .

The bat has come alive at the right time, which leaves me wondering whether it’s just luck or a change in his approach at the plate. Seeing the ball better is probably what he’d tell you, but why are all 4 recent homeruns hit from the left side? Looking back to his more recent slumps from August and September, it would appear that there are some differences in his leg kick.

It’s referred to as a hitter’s stride, and largely acts as both the timing mechanism and a source of power.… Click here to read the rest

Trying to come to terms

The next line is going to be hard for me to read later and it’s something I wish I didn’t have to write, but here goes: Nick Swisher is most likely not going to be back with the Yankees in 2013. Writing that sucked. I’ve been a Nick Swisher fan (almost to a fault) since the day he arrived in the Bronx, and he’s served the team well. Not including last night’s game, Swisher has hit .267/.365/.485/.850, good enough for a 123 OPS+ and a .367 wOBA and a 125 wRC+. He’s been worth 8.7 bWAR and 13.6 fWAR. His run with the Yankees has been nothing short of successful, but with the $189M budget looming, it’s unlikely that Swisher is back. And he seems to know it:

“I’ve been thinking a lot,” Swisher said. “That word ‘regret’ kind of pops into my head. That’s the last thing that I want to have, regardless of whatever my situation is next year.

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If Tex has to hit the DL…

Good morning, everyone. Nothing like some good old Panic Button hitting to wake you up, huh? Anyway, Mark Teixeira left last night’s game with an apparent wrist injury, but thankfully, the x-rays were negative. Still, it makes sense to plan for the worst (even if our plans won’t necessarily be implemented) so let’s talk about what happens if Tex has to hit the DL with a wrist injury.

The first thing that ran through my head seems a bit unconventional, but I think it’s worth a shot. If Tex has to miss time, why not call up one of the outfielders at AAA? The Yankees could purchase the contract of either Chris Dickerson or Kosuke Fukudome and slot one of them into the outfield. This could help the team in a few ways. First, it gives them another left-handed bat, which obviously helps since most pitchers are right handed. Both Dickerson–.341 wOBA/104 wRC+/11.2 BB%–and Fukudome–.341/105/14.2–have shown the ability to handle righty pitching at the major league level.… Click here to read the rest

Can the Yankees afford to keep Nick Swisher?

With Nick Swisher‘s contract expiring at the end of the 2012 season and no obvious internal replacement, the Yankees will have a tough decision to make this offseason about whether to retain the services of their 31 year-old right fielder.  On the surface, retaining Swisher seems like an easy call.  He has been durable, playing 150 games/season over the last 3 years.  He has been productive, putting up wRC+’s in the 120-130 range throughout his Yankee career, and averaging 27 home runs/season.  He is a fan favorite and a good clubhouse presence, and at 31 should still be productive over the length of a 4-5 year contract.  He has not performed up to his standards so far in 2012, though he got off to a similarly slow start last season and turned things around.

Of course, there are several factors that might prevent the Yankees from bringing Swisher back.  The first is the possible $189 million payroll limit for 2014.  … Click here to read the rest

Hoping for a Swisher spark from a small sample

Late last month, I took a look at the slow start Nick Swisher was off to. He had seemingly reverted to an approach he used in 2010, but the results were obviously no where near the same as they were in 2010. However, after the disaster that was May for Nick–.242 wOBA, 42 wRC+–June has seen Swisher looking a bit more like himself.

In the small sample that has been Swisher’s June, ten games and 32 plate appearances, we’ve seen a mostly normal Nick. His walk rate has been a more Swisher-like 15.8% after a disastrous 4.3 mark in May and his Iso has climbed from .115 in May to .188 so far in June. Those are the things we’ve always expected and seen from Swisher: lots of walks and a lot of power. Last year, Swisher started slowly and heated up in May before cruising the rest of the way. This year, he was scorching in April and cooled considerably in May.… Click here to read the rest

2012 looking like 2010 for Swisher, excepting the results

In 2010, Nick Swisher came into the year with a narrative in tow. After struggling in the 2009 playoffs, where he hit just .128/.255/.234/.489 with one home run, Swisher decided a new approach was needed. He started swinging at more pitches and going more for contact. Sure enough, the plan worked. He posted a career best batting average of .288 and still managed to have a solid Iso of .223. The overall product, a .377 wOBA, was not much different than the product in 2009 was (.375 wOBA) when Swisher did his usual thing at the plate (low average, high power, lots of walks). 2010 did feature, though, a single digits walk rate and a higher-than-normal O-Swing% for Swisher, proof that he did change his approach a bit. The change in approach led to a high BABIP of .335, just the second time (2007, .301) that Swisher had been above a .300 BABIP. In terms of peripherals, 2012 is looking a like 2010 for Nick, though the results haven’t come yet.… Click here to read the rest