Let us review

nady_250_012909.jpgAt the risk of boring the more advanced members of the class, I want to revisit Xavier Nady one last time before midterms. Your grade, and that of the Yankees, depends on your ability to answer several true-false, multiple choice, and fill-in-the-blank questions about Nady, so it’s imperative that we come to grips with the subject. Please open your text books/hymnals to page 355 and sing along to Buddy Holly’s classic “Maybe Nady” as we repeat together these key facts:

Nady is 30 years old and is a career .280/.335/.458 hitter. Despite his 89-game surge with the Pirates and brief hot streak with the Yankees, he is at this late stage of his career to be any better than those career rates in the future. He has never rated as a great glove. Per 162 games, he has averaged 30 doubles, one triple, 21 home runs, and 34 walks.

Last season, the average Major League right fielder hit .276/.347/.451. In 2007, the average right fielder hit .281/.351/.453. In 2006, the rates were .277/.347/.460. In the American League East, the standard is a bit higher, given that the competition lists the J.D. Drew/Rocco Baldelli combo, the Matt Joyce/Gabe Kapler combo, Alexis Rios, and Nick Markakis. Only one of the four, the Rays’ Joyce-Kapler mélange, may not exceed the averages. Should Nady play every day in right field and snap back to his 2006-2007 .334 on-base percentage, the Yankees would be operating at a significant deficit relative to the competition.

Now, Nady is not without value, because Johnny Damon is getting old and Nick Swisher has his limitations, and when most teams have to bench a starting corner outfielder due to injury or fatigue, they tend to wind up with Reggie Abercrombie out there, and the road to hell is paved with Reggie Abercrombie. The road to the postseason is paved with having a substitute like Nady. He’s not quite good enough to be a starter on a winning team, but overqualified to be a reserve. The smart teams will hold him to 300 at-bats or so and/or flip him to a team whose starter is even further below average than he is.

In short, Nady is not the kind of player a championship-caliber team plans on starting unless they have no other alternatives. The Yankees have alternatives. It could be Swish Nicker, who has comparable power to Nady and will out-walk him by 50 or 60, so his batting average need not be better than .250 to surpass X-marks-the Sub, or it could be a player we kicked around in yesterday’s installment, like Adam Dunn. They Yankees can flip Nady or not. They can pay the freight on keeping him and have themselves a very positive role player. The one thing they shouldn’t do is mistake his little contribution as something worthy of a starting role.

Review complete. Close your notebooks. You can play silent ball for the rest of the period.


I’m off to the Death Star-like YES HQ for another stay in the Dot-Com Bunker on the Hot Stove show. If you’ve got any comments, I’ll be checking the comments right up to and even during show time, so get ’em in. Any topic is fair game, including Bob Lorenz’s haircut — but only in a constructive way. Bob is the most tenderhearted regional sports network host you’ll ever come across. Those calloused NESN guys can’t touch Our Bob for generosity. It’s very difficult to see unless you have a top of the line high-def set, but on every Yankees postgame, Bob has a dish of candy out on the desk just in case any of you happen by the studio. He’s that kind of guy. See you at 6:30 p.m. EST.


  1. salcipriano@yahoo.com

    If there’s a guy to trade it’s Nady, but I don’t particularly trust Swisher either, although his upside is clearly higher. I’d take a Manny or Abreu (maybe Dunn, too) in a heart beat though over either of them. There’s been talk of trading both of them, and getting Abreu back, but Swisher’s ability to back up at first, on top of all three OF positions, makes him very valuable to me.

  2. ctoon009@aol.com

    Steve, you seem to be overly pessimistic about Nady. I agree with your assessment that Swisher is the preferred starter out of the two, by virtue of his superior patience and defense, but I think Nady is still a starting-caliber right fielder.

    I believe it is somewhat short-sighted to look at Nady’s career .280/.335/.458 line and say that because he’s now 30, he ain’t getting any better. True, Nady is at his peak, but you have to look at how he is hitting in his prime — and as a starter. Nady was only a part-time player with San Diego, and did not record over 400 AB until he was traded to the Mets before the 2006 season.

    Since recording regular playing time with the Mets and Pirates, over the last 3 years, Nady has averaged .289/.349/.481 (my rough calculations). That’s enough of an improvement over his career average to put him safely at the average or above-average right fielder. It is also closer to his breakout 2008 season, meaning that it may not have been as fluky as it appeared. I think Nady’s averages over the last 3 years is a better indicator of his potential performance in 2009.

    Should the Yankees settle for that when they have Swisher? No. But if they can only get a handsome return for Nick Swisher (and feel compelled to move one of the pair), I think the Yanks can safely expect Nady to be average to above-average in right.

  3. richinnj

    I would take Manny or Dunn over Swisher too (who wouldn’t?), but not Abreu.
    Since 2006, according to the Fan Graphs, Abreu has been worth 7.5 wins while Swisher has been worth 7.6 wins (and that’s taking into account his awful 2008 season). When you factor in that Swisher is more likely to improve and Abreu is more likely to decline as a result of their respective ages, Swisher is the better choice.

  4. dachshund4

    Nady helped fill the hole we needed last season because of the injuries. You are right is your evaluation. He is neither fast enough or posess a good enough arm to play RF as a starter. Nick has him beat there. Hitting- Similar except for Nick being a SH. Advantage Nick. Xavier does play hard and is not a quitter. He just isn’t blessed with that much talent. Frankley. I don’t see why they didn’t go after Dunn. $) HR’s is hard to turn down even with the K’s.

  5. jlevy1112@gmail.com

    I want suggest an interesting comparison to Nady. Lets look at Paul O’Neill vs. Xavier Nady. We all love Paulie and think of him as a great Yankee, but he did not have his breakout year until he was 30 when he came to the Yankees. Prior to coming to the Yankees he hit .259/.336/.431. I think we can all say that those numbers are worse than Nady’s career numbers which cover a similar span of time. Steve, with those rates I’m sure you would have written off O’Neill in the same way you are Nady, I probably would have come close to doing the same. With this comparison in mind can you honestly predict or say with certainty that Nady is not a similar player to O’Neill? It might be the case that they are two players that are consistently average in the early part of their careers and then develop late around 30 and start to produce. In 1992 O’Neill hit .246, then jumped to .311 in 1993, you could have said it was a fluke or a career year, but he went on to sustain that and hit in the .300s for 5 more years. I don’t think we shoud be so quick to dismiss a player, it could turn out Nady is exactly what we need if he continues to develop and hit in the .300s.

  6. calags98@aol.com

    Steve, we keep hearing about the Yankees putting Nady and Swisher on the Trading block but we never hear what the potential return on any of these players are. Any ideas? One trade i had in mind would be Nady to the Reds for Homer Bailey. In that senario Phil Hughes and Homer Bailey (at one point rated the top 2 pitching prospects in all of baseball) to battle in out for the 5th starter and Joba is put in his rightfull place in the bullpen. What do you think?

  7. sarab3@excite.com

    I know this will annoy the stats-grinders out there, but in the short time Nady was with the Yanks, I noticed three things from watching him — yes, actually watching him — on a consistent basis. One, he hits the ball with authority and makes good contact. Two, he’s got that blue collar work ethic and the professionalism of the 90’s Yanks like O’Neill, Tino, etc. And three, he had a real knack of getting that clutch hit when the Yanks really needed it. I know Steve — ‘clutch’ hitting is overrated and random, every run has value, bla bla bla. But even Nady’s 1-3 or 1-4 days would seem to bring the hit in a high leverage situation. These observations are backed up statistically — for example, with RISP and 2 outs, Nady hit .333 and drove in 36 runs in 72 AB. A-Rod, in comparison, in the same number of AB, hit .264 with 23 RBI. Yes, A-Rod had more walks, but walks are not nearly as valuable in that high-leverage situation as hits, as evidenced by the difference in RBI totals. Giambi? Batted .216 with 24 RBI in 74 AB. Swisher? .186 with 17 RBI in 43 AB. Yikes. Yeah, I know, small sample size. But those numbers, though not as good as 2008, remain strong for Nady over a three year average, and are better, but still not great for Swish. Now I’m not saying Nady is necessarily the better player than Swish — I’ve never seen Swish play consistently. But I do think there is a lot more than just dumb luck that goes into a player’s hitting in high leverage situations, and it is really easy to undervalue, for example, how back-breaking a 2 out hit with RISP is for the opposing pitcher. Often it knocks him out of the game. My ultimate point is that situational hitting is something you might want to consider when evaluating and comparing the value of these players.

  8. lilnyygirl

    The Reds supposedly have interest in Nady, but I wouldn’t send him over for Bailey. Bailey’s velocity has dropped considerably (used to hit mid-90s, now high 80s on his fastball). That indicates that he might have a major problem in his shoulder or something, and those are the worst injuries for a pitcher. He hasn’t adjusted pitches for the lack of velocity. Until he proves his health, I would stay away from Bailey.

  9. college7

    I’d keep Nady over any of the other guys we have right now. What has Nick Swisher proven? That he can hit homeruns and strikeout a fair amount? Nady’s stint with the Yankees proved to me that he can play for this team. There should be more concerns with Matsui than of Nady in my opinion. Matsui should be the one were actively shopping. He’s older than Nady and he hasn’t played a full season in two years. Am I missing something? You can make the argument he’s “clutch” but when? When they played the Red Sox in 04? Seems to me that NO ONE has come up big in the playoffs for quite sometime. Trade Matsui before you trade Nady or Swisher.

  10. buzah

    Nady shouldn’t start for the Yanks, but they should only trade him for something that really helps. Otherwise they should keep him as a bat against lefties. Of course, his agent Scott Boras will not like the Yanks spotting him like that during his walk year, but tough. Either trade him or, like Stephen says, limit him to 300 PA’s. Oh, and if he’s really “blue collar” let him go drive a truck.

  11. duffman7793@yahoo.com

    I say give the fricking guy a chance, you can’t just rule the guy off cause of some bad stats. You must look at the the facts:
    1: The short porch in right feild is going to allow alot points to drop in and had pretty good numbers in the late season.
    I get how you could be skepticle about his feilding and all that, but when’s the last time Dunn won a gold glove? Also Dunn would be another annoying pesence in the already “to publicised” bullpin of the yankees. I say wait and see what happens Steve. I say you give the guy fair shot at a posittion he clealy earned and deserved.

    Also this is the first time I’ve heard about your blog, yankees hotstove is my favorite show ever and your blog gets me pumped for the ’09 campain.

  12. richinnj

    Swisher’s stats are at least as similar to O’Neill’s as a Red as Nady’s (using that stats mentioned above):

    O’Neill: 259/.336/.431
    Swisher: .244 /.354 /.451
    Nady: .280 /.335 /.458

    Plus he has better plate discipline, which makes it more likely that the arc of his career may still be ascending:

    ISO D:

    O’Neill: .077
    Swisher: .110
    Nady: .055

  13. buzah

    Why would you wait and see what happens, when there is already a signicant pile of evidence that it will not be that good? Not many baseball players peak after 30, and it’s likely that Nady’s 89 game start to last year may absolutely be his peak. He doesn’t have the plate patience to help the Yankees grind, and he’s gonna use up too many outs for too little return if they give him a regular role. I’m not sure why it is, but people seem to project a lot of stuff on this guy that just isn’t there.

  14. sadaharuo

    “I know this will annoy the stats-grinders out there, but in the short time Nady was with the Yanks, I noticed three things from watching him — yes, actually watching him — on a consistent basis.”

    Way to go, friend. Way to perpetuate the stereotype that fans of sabermetrics don’t actually watch the games.

  15. mikee_69643@yahoo.com

    I believe the yankees should go out and try to trade for a centerfielder, maybe a guy like David Dejesus or Carlos Gomez.

    Gomez is a good hitter and a superb defender. Gardner can rotate with him in center field, with Gomez getting the majority of the starts.

    Gardner is a good defensive centerfielder from what I saw in his brief stint last season, but he hasn’t shown that he can hit consistently.

    If Gardner could hit over .300 throughout the course of a full season or have a decent on-base percentage, we all know he is a force to be wreckoned with on the basepads.

    The yankees can maybe put a package together for the Twins which includes Melky Cabrera and Xavier Nady for Carlos Gomez. Melky is cheap and I do not believe Nady at
    6. 5 mil is that expensive. Maybe the yankees can eat about half of Nady’s contract to make the deal more desireable. Gomez comes extremely cheap about half a mil I believe, and has tremendous upside.

    I agree with you that Nady was just an emergency fill-in last
    season and may not be able to sustain those numbers he put up last year, over a full season. Plus the fact that he is not the best defensive outfielder. Swisher should play right field.

    With that said I would not trade Nick Swisher. Between Swisher, Posada, and Texeira in the lineup, there are three potent power-hitting switch hitters, which will make it awfully tough for an opposing manager to come up with a way to pitch to these guys. The fact that swisher can switch hit, play good defense in the outfield, and backup Texeira makes him a potential upgrade over Nady.

    Im probably dreaming about this scenario, the Twins probably wouldn’t bite on the deal, it may be a downgrade for them in centerfield.

    but just an idea.

    Let me know your thoughts.

  16. dwnflfan

    Yawn, another comment like, “…not the kind of player a championship-caliber team plans on starting…”. You should take a good long look at Chad Curtis’ line for the 1998 Yankees. Or for that matter Pedro Feliz and Carlos Ruiz of the 2008 World Champion Phillies. Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo of the 2007 World Champion Red Sox. Half the lineups of the 2006 World Champion Cardinals and the 2005 White Sox. Pokey Reese and Gabe Kapler of the 2004 Red Sox.

    Are we bored yet?

    Virtually every championship team in baseball history has had someone in their starting lineup worse than Nady so I doubt very much he’ll be an anchor on the Yankee lineup.

    Oh, and don’t try to bail yourself out with your, “…unless they have no other alternatives.”. That’s the only reason ANYBODY has a starting job. If the Yankees had a Babe Ruth at every position A-Rod and Jeter would be utility infielders.

  17. college7

    Listen you stat rats… STOP looking at stats and trying to define who the player is! Give it a break already! It’s ridiculous. It makes no sense what so ever if his stats “are under par.” Steve, I know you mention stats a lot but come on.. there’s a lot more that goes into the game than statistics. If you play the sport, you know that. (It’s not pointed toward you Steve Goldman) There’s just so more to a player than “his numbers.” Like I said for the thousandth time. If we can’t get a good trade for any of the players were shopping, then don’t make the deal! It’s that simple.

  18. madyankees@yahoo.com.sg

    I just wanted to point out the Yanks have hit their FA quota of type A/B agents so the Adam Dunn idea is not gonna happen…along with the ben sheets and “why not manny too” ideas. As for the Nady Swisher debate…assuming there is still one, Nady is obviously the one to let go. One of Cashman’s weakness i feel is his inability to sell high, (think Pavano rumors). I hope he makes the right choice now.

  19. bocco50@hotmail.com

    I just read about the 3 free agent limit. However it was pointed out that since there are 63 A-B types not 62 a loophole exists. That said, I still like Abreu (who can be signed) over either Nady or Swisher. He would be the best OFer of the three. Thoughts?

  20. bigjay21

    @bocco: The problem with the Abreu/Dunn/Manny debate is the huge logjam that already exists in the OF…. Damon, Matsui, Nady, Swisher, and Cabrera/Gardner are already in our OF, with Damon, Matsui, Nady and Swisher all signed to Major League contracts (worth a combined $37.85 mil this year), and most likely one of them is going to be paid $5+ mil to ride the bench with Melky and Gardner taking CF for ~$1.5 mil….. There is just no room for Abreu, Dunn, or Manny to fit into they Yankee lineup with both Swisher and Nady on the team….. If we pretty much “sell” Nady and Swisher to another team, then we can re-invest the 11.85 mil into Abreu, but I believe that would be a mistake with his serious case of “Wall-itis”…..

  21. deepbluesea1@msn.com

    Here is a thought:

    ? Trade Hideki Matsui to the Dodgers
    ? Package Switcher, Nady and Melky to KC for DeJesus.
    ? Bring back Abreu (Better outfielder, better arm, and better bat).
    ? Let Damon play back-up role
    ? Use Posada as a DH for this year (let arm heal).
    ? Pick Valentin as a back-up catcher.

    Then call it an offseason


  22. bxbomber56@aol.com

    Please enough with all these numbers! As one of our most recent great authors said “baseball has a heartbeat…”. Let’s relax with all the moves. There is a good amount of stars in the lineup that should be counted on, by mixing in some “grinder” loose kind of guys will make it a great compliment. Nady, Swisher, Gardner just come to play everyday, keep quiet and will dive through a wall (Curtis, Brocious, Sojo ring a bell?) role guys with a purpose. I think these are the type of guys that Girardi has been looking for and didn’t have last year. Now it’s his job to use them right. Enough of the Manny/Dunn/Abreu stuff. Pitching, defense , speed, hustle. Did we forget that last year’s AL champs won with a guy named Gross in RF!

  23. sarab3@excite.com

    buzah — Wasn’t trying to say sabermetrics fans don’t watch the games. More that there can be a bit of a “believe sabermetrics over your lying eyes!” perspective among sabermetrics fans/users, and a condescension to people who, as I did, draw conclusions based on what they actually saw instead of what the stats say. A la Swisher, my concern is that he’s another guy on the team who will turn an 8-0 game into an 11-0 game with one swing, but will strike out when we’re down 2-1 with a runner on second in the eighth inning. I don’t think sabermetrics does a good enough job of placing appropriate values on these very different situations, nor does it take into account the value of a productive out over a K. Again, I don’t know that Nady is better than Swish because I just haven’t seen Swish play enough. I just know I liked what I saw from Nady and think he’s getting a bit of an undeserved bad rap based solely on his numbers.

  24. bocco50@hotmail.com

    jerseybombers, you are correct someone has to go before Yanks could consider bringing back Abreu. And sure it would be nice if his work around the wall was a little better. I don’t have the numberes, maybe Steven does, I wonder how many games on average Yankees lost because of his wall wows. I am guessing not many. Besides if Bobby stops short of the right centerfield wall, one has to ask …. “What’s the ball doing that far from home plate to begin with”:-)

  25. jlevy1112@gmail.com

    Bocco50, good point that the ball really shouldn’t be getting out to the wall. Each of the Yankees five starting pitchers get more groundball than fly balls, bad for Jeter and Cano but good for the outfielders.

    I like Abreu, but the only way I want him back is if the Yankees can move Matsui and plug Abreu into the DH role. Abreu can always fill in the OF once in a while and it wont kill you. They are both left handers with similar production, but there are a lot of questions about Matsui, two of his last three seasons have been injury plagued so it remains to be seen what his health will be in 2009.

  26. richinnj


    If you “don’t think that sabermetrics does a good enough job of placing appropriate values on these very different situations,” it’s probably because you are unfamiliar with linear weights, and the extension of them in such stats as wOBA.

    As for productive outs, consider this quote by Larry Mahnken in May of 2004:

    “Over the past two postseasons, the Yankees have had a POP [productive out percentage] of .310. From 1998-2000, when the Yankees won three consecutive championships, they had a POP of .268. ”

    Productive outs have very limited utility in winning baseball games.

  27. sarab3@excite.com

    Hey richinnj — I could be wrong (and please correct me if I am because I would love to learn about it), but I have yet to see a statistic, including wOBA, that actually assigns values to what I’d call a high leverage AB vs. a low leverage AB. It would seem impossible to do at the aggregate level because every game and at-bat would have to be parsed for its particular situation. So, in the example I gave in my previous post, wOBA along with all other measurable statistics would apply a far greater value to Swisher’s hypothetical 3 run homer in a game in which the Yanks already are leading 8-0 than to his single that drives in the tying run in a 2-1 game in the eighth inning. Is the home run better statistically? Of course it is. But does it really actually help you win a ball game? Unless you have the Mets 2007-2008 bullpen and are terrified your eight run lead won’t hold up, not nearly as much as that game-tying single. All I’m saying is that Nady struck me as a guy I’d want up in that high leverage situation, over, say, Giambi, who despite overall decent numbers for sabermetricians, rarely met a rally he didn’t want to kill last year. Look, I’m not trying to be argumentative here. Sabermetrics is a perfectly good tool in a set of tools for evaluating players. But there are still some performance gaps that statistics cannot fill, and situational hitting (again, to the best of my knowledge) is one of them.

    As for the productive out percentages of the 2003-04 Yanks postseasons v. the 1998-2000 teams, those numbers mean little in a vacuum. If the Yankees of 2003-04 hit more home runs than the 1998-2000 teams, would that mean home runs have very limited utility in winning baseball games? Probably not. Maybe there is more information in the link you meant to post but it only links back to the blog. Regardless, and again, this is as far as I know, I do not know of any statistic that assigns a higher value to productive outs over, say, strikeouts. It’s pretty hard to deny that advancing a runner, even in creating an out, is more valuable to a team than creating an out and not advancing the runner. But that value, limited as it may be, still remains unaccounted for.

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