Mystery day Friday

MYSTERIES OF ARIZONA
Riddle me this, Batman: when is it a bad thing when a prospect has a great Arizona Fall League season, batting .397/.472/.731? Answer: when the prospect isn’t a prospect.

Colin Curtis, 25 in February, was the Yankees’ fourth-round selection in the 2006 draft, one of those so-called “polished college hitters” that don’t have much projection but should at least be able to give you a little something in the way of the league averages. Instead, he’s been a complete disaster since rookie ball, hitting an aggregate .264/.334/.375 in 431 games. This year he pancaked at Scranton, hitting .235/.302/.347. He was a bit better at Trenton, hitting .268/.343/.385, but that’s still not anything to get excited about.

Now Curtis had a great small-sample session in a league which bans gravity at exactly the same moment that the Yankees have to figure out which players to protect from the Rule 5 draft. The Yankees can gamble that Curtis’s last 20 games outweigh the 400 that came before, protect him, and lose someone who has a chance to actually do something, or they can let him dangle and see if anyone else is fooled by his little hot streak.

Curtis had a great AFL, and his five home runs in 78 at-bats is impressive, but if this truly marks a career change, then Curtis has had an awakening equivalent to the Blue Fairy coming down and zapping Pinocchio to life. These numbers are unrealistic for any player this side of Babe Ruth, and in this case it’s a sure thing that something that seems too good to be true is too good to be true.

It should be noted that most Rule 5 picks come to naught. Every once in awhile a George Bell will wash up on the beach, but these are few and far between, and getting them to a place where they can contribute involves much in the way of pain and suffering–Bell hit .233/.256/.350 in 60 games the year the Blue Jays took him away from the Phillies. This season the Rangers ended up with a solid reliever in Darren O’Day, who the Mets had Rule 5′d from the Angels (and then gave up on far too quickly). Mostly, though, it doesn’t pay to get too exercised about the players lost this way, so if the Yankees lose someone interesting after protecting Curtis, you can spin up your Doris Day records–Que Sera, Sera (or Sly Stone, preferably). Still, there’s always that chance that someone useful will slip out because the organization bet the wrong horse, perhaps a horse on a desert-fueled hot streak.

swisher_250_112009.jpgMYSTERIES OF SWISHER
Bob Nightengale has mooted it about (h/t to the swell guys at the LoHud blog that the Yankees have “ever so quietly” told other clubs that Nick Swisher is available in trade. Interesting bit of information, but another shoe has to drop there. If this is correct, then the whole Yankees outfield is down to Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner and Austin Jackson. Johnny Damon is a free agent, Hideki Matsui likewise, if you want to consider him a potential outfielder (the Yankees don’t), and even Freddy flippin’ Guzman is no longer under club control.

Swisher has many faults, and an upgrade would be welcome, but for all his negatives, players who have the potential to hit 30 home runs with 100 walks aren’t easily found. That guy isn’t on the free agent market, unless the Yankees are going to ante up for Jason Bay, who is older, more expensive, not a good defender, and was not 10 percent better than Swisher this year. Sure, you have the added benefit of taking him away from the Red Sox, but Swisher is due only $6.75 million in 2010 and with two outfield spots open, the Yankees could use both. Adding one while subtracting the other puts you right back where you started, if not a little worse off.

If they Yankees are not planning on buying Bay, then I’m mystified as to where dealing away Swisher might lead. There would have to be a truly Olympian trade in the works, where the Yankees suddenly were in possession of Justin Upton, Ryan Braun, or Clark Kent, but those things are about as likely as your winning the lottery and getting a date with Megan Fox on the same day.

One player that I keep thinking of as a solid DH replacement for Matsui, one who could help stem the loss of an OBP-oriented player like Swisher, would be old pal Nick Johnson. Johnson is like a paper-mâché version of Matsui in terms of his durability and defensive utility (he has none and none respectively), and a three-legged moose might beat him in a race around the bases, but perhaps a year of sitting on the bench and doing nothing but hit might be survivable for him.

This year Johnson showed that even though he missed a good chunk of the last couple of years, he could still hit .295 with 100 walks. He’d likely also be less expensive than some of the bigger names out there and is only a Type B free agent, meaning that the Marlins would not get to poach the Yankees’ first-round pick. I’m not campaigning for Johnson the way I did for Mark Teixeira a year ago–he’s just one of many possible solutions this time around in a free agent market that lacks the slam-dunk candidates of last winter.

28 Comments

I wouldn’t mind seeing Nick on the Yanks. I watched him (when he played) here in DC, and he is still a very good hitter: selective, contact making, good bat control. And, BTW, he can play a little 1st base (certainly above Giambi level).

I don’t know how long you and Nick Swisher have been boning Steve but you need to get off of this guy’s jock already. He hits well (OBP and all) against bad pitching but cannot hit a good to great pitcher at all. he is a fine outfielder for a low-mid rung team but on the Yankees he becomes worthless in a playoff game against elite pitching. I’ll gladly keep the fool but he is not an everyday player and certainly not someone who you need to act all ridiculously critical of the Yankees if we trade him. REALLY STEVE, IS TRADING NICK SWISHER SUCH A BIG DEAL TO THE YANKEES. Having even Melky or Gardner play in lieu of Swisher would barely be felt by a lineup featuring Rodriguez, Jeter, Tex, Matsui (who will likely return) and Posada and Cano. Swisher WAS NOT THAT IMPORTANT to the Yankees but he was very important to you and your late night dates in Manhattan. Get off the guy’s jock already. STOP WRITING ABOUT HIM. THIS IS TOO OBVIOUS.

“Having even Melky or Gardner play in lieu of Swisher would barely be felt by a lineup featuring Rodriguez, Jeter, Tex, Matsui (who will likely return) and Posada and Cano.”

This is the typical “the Yankees can afford to carry a weak bat.” Guess what? ’08 Yankees couldn’t handle Jose Molina in lieu of Posada and missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. And Matsui is NOT coming back.

With regard to the previous comment:

I have never understood why some people think that you can give away outs. Nothing is static in life. There is no guarantee that Jeter, A-Rod, and/or Posada will be healthy and effective in their mid to late 30s. Matsui and Damon may not even be on the team. So somehow, they can lose those two and Swisher and compensate for the loss without adding bats? That’s ridiculous.
I enjoy reading this blog, but the comments are usually awful.

I see so Swisher will make up for that. As far as Posada being the reason we didn’t make the playoffs in 2008 with 89 wins, do you guys realize what our pitching staff was that year??? We didnt have Wang… so our pitching staff was who in 2008?? We didnt score as many runs as usual that year had more to do with overrated guys like Giambi and Cabrera. What oh what will we ever do when Posada is gone in a couple years? I guess we should just give up.

Wow, ricodorean69, could you be any less mature? “How long have you been boning?” Do you expect anyone to take you seriously after execrable commentary like this?

No, Swisher is not a superstar level player, but he has considerable pop and comes relatively cheap (points which were outlined above but which you conveniently ignored, choosing instead to post puerile trash). Do you think his 29 home runs were meaningless or that Melky or Gardner would be able to replace them?

Think before posting, please.

All that said, I don’t think Swisher will be traded unless something amazing is offered in return. Just because the Yankees say he’s available doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

What exactly is “amazing” for Swisher? What exactly do you consider amazing? Give me an example of “amazing” please.You sound like the same fools who were sooo upset when we traded Roberto Kelly back in the early 90s. Paul O’Neill certainly hadn’t been “amazing” to that point. I don’t consider Swisher amazing enough of a player to merit receiving amazing in return. Please give me your example.

I think the bottom line here is that Swisher is a useful player and an asset in the clubhouse. He is not a core player and would be dealt if it upgraded the team. If Cashman is shopping him, I have to believe that he has bigger plans and is not just unloading him. (Although Steve may need a hug if it does happen).

First off, the NY Post has reported that the Yankees deny they are shopping Swisher.

Second, 5.4m (this year) is a bargain for an .869 OPS. Obviously, there are holes in Swisher’s game, but that’s why he comes at a bargain and usually hits in the lower part of the order, most often 6th and 8th.

Third, consider what Swisher did in April (with A-Rod out and Teixeira not hitting). He hit .312/.430/.714 that month. Then he had a terrible May but posted a more than decent .258/.373/.501 from June to September. Not too shabby for the 6th or 8th hole.

Fourth, I never said anything about Swisher about being amazing or needing to be amazing to get something amazing in return. All I meant to suggest was that the Yankees wouldn’t trade Swisher for nothing. They’d obviously want a player of equal or greater value. Something akin to the Swisher for Betemit trade.

I’ll never understand the weird attraction to this player apparently comparable to Wilson Betemit.

Swisher > Betemit. Duh.

But apparently comparable..

Betemit sucks and Swisher is average. The fact that he hit 28-30 home runs does not phase me one bit. Steve Balboni used to hit a lot of home runs also but he was also a waste of breath. I would rather have a contact hitter over him any day manning RF. I don’t care how much he huffs and puffs and is all rowdy and “fun” in the clubhouse. Let him be a bench player as he should be.

Congratulations ricodorean69, it’s official. You leave the dumbest comments on this site. Considering that you’re in competition with hateslibs, this is quite an accomplishment.
You actually think that Nick Swisher and Steve Balboni are comparable players? Steve Balboni of the .293 career On-Base Percentage? A man who struck out 3 times as often as he walked? Who averaged 46 walks a year (Swisher averages 93)? Balboni was a first baseman with a .743 OPS. Unacceptable. Though you would probably be OK with that, since you want the Yankees to have a contact hitter playing right field. I hear Miguel Cairo is available.
Swisher’s not an All-Star player, but he is very valuable. The fact that you can’t see this is a testament to your own ignorance, nothing more.

Bobby Bonilla
Josh Hamilton
Jeff Nelson
Scott Podsednik
Johan Santana
Joakim Soria
Derrick Turnbow
Dan Uggla
Shane Victorino (twice)
Miguel Batista

On one more note. Yankees have shot down these rumors. So don’t get all worked up. Swish isn’t going anywhere.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/rumors/post/Yankees-claim-to-not-be-dealing-Nick-Swisher?urn=mlb,203895

***Please do your research!!

On a side note, which player would you rather have. SLG% is equal but Player A has a .330 batting average and a .360 OBP and player B has a .260 batting average and a .380 OBP.

Probably the higher OBP.

yhankees, what’s that list about?

I love OBP as much as the next guy BUT it is important to know how the high OBP was developed. If a sizeable amount of the OBP was due to walks, then that isn’t quite the same as the high OBP being more due to getting actual hits. Remember, two guys reaching first base can help the team in much different ways. Lets say, Player A gets a hit with a man on first. That guy can advance to third possibly. An error can happen and the player on the base can advance further because of that. Making contact is critical ESPECIALLY against the elite pitching of the playoff pitchers. Oakland never made it anywhere IN THE PLAYOFFS facing elite pitchers such as Clemens, Martinez, Pettitte, Schilling and so forth. You simply do not walk against elite pitching. You need to get on base so a high OBP helps but not if you are expecting to WALK! Ichiro in 2008 hit .310 with a .361 OBP and a .386 SLG%. The great Nick Swisher this year had a .371 OBP and a .498 slugging percentage. The OPS of Swisher’s is much higher than Ichiro’s from 2008. Swisher’s OPS is also higher than Ichiro’s of 2009 as well. Obviously, Swisher hit you 18 more home runs than Ichiro did in 2009. That is one more home run every 9 games. But Ichiro provides the consistent production that you need game to game. Higher OPS by far for Swisher, who is the better offensive force and forgetting defense, who would you rather have in RF for the Yankees. No brainer. Don’t fall in love with guys who walk alot, hit .240, and hit a home run every 9 games more than the replacement player. Remember, OBP is important but how you develop the OBP is even more important. In conclusion, Swisher blows.

Look at the OPS for Ichiro, Jeter, and Swisher. Which two of the three would you want up at the plate in a playoff game against Josh Beckett. I think its a no brainer that you would take Jeter and Ichiro but Swisher has the higher OPS. That doesn’t make sense now does it?

rico, your question was about OBP, not OPS. Both Jeter and Ichiro have higher OBPs than Swisher (both for last year and for their careers). Nice try trying to twist the argument into being about OPS (and anyway, Jeter’s career OPS is higher than Swisher’s while Ichiro’s is only a few points lower).

In conclusion, you have failed to convince that “Swisher blows.” The whole argument is moot, anyway, since the Yankees aren’t going to trade Swisher. Get over it.

All that said, I do think Swisher needs to be part of a platoon.

Here is a list of some players who were picked up in the Rule 5 draft.

Bobby Bonilla
Josh Hamilton
Jeff Nelson
Scott Podsednik
Johan Santana
Joakim Soria
Derrick Turnbow
Dan Uggla
Shane Victorino (twice)
Miguel Batista

“If a sizeable amount of the OBP was due to walks, then that isn’t quite the same as the high OBP being more due to getting actual hits.” – Ricodorean69

Couldnt disagree more WALKS are just as good as hits. Sorry nice try. A walk is the same as a single.

” A walk is just as good as a hit”???

How is a walk as good as a hit when you have a man on second?

How is a walk as good as a hit when you have a man on third?

A walk isn’t even as good as a hit when you have a man on first base because of the possibility of advancing to third on the single.

With a walk, nothing happens other than you go to first. With a single, runs can score from third, from second and even from first if an error also happens. Errors rarely rarely ever happen on a walk.

How is a walk as good as a hit if the runners don’t score on a walk unless the bases are loaded.

And as I said before, great pitchers do not walk people very easily. So the shortcomings of someone with a low batting average shows even more in the playoffs.

A walk is not as good as a hit. Think for a second before you follow the conventional wisdom.

ricodorean69, who believes right field should be manned by Matty Alou, arguing against the conventional wisdom… that’s some kind of wonderful.

” A walk is just as good as a hit”???

How is a walk as good as a hit when you have a man on second?

How is a walk as good as a hit when you have a man on third?

A walk isn’t even as good as a hit when you have a man on first base because of the possibility of advancing to third on the single.

With a walk, nothing happens other than you go to first. With a single, runs can score from third, from second and even from first if an error also happens. Errors rarely rarely ever happen on a walk.

How is a walk as good as a hit if the runners don’t score on a walk unless the bases are loaded.

And as I said before, great pitchers do not walk people very easily. So the shortcomings of someone with a low batting average shows even more in the playoffs.

A walk is not as good as a hit. Think for a second before you follow the conventional wisdom.

“With a walk, nothing happens other than you go to first.”
~Ricodorean69

With a basehit with no runners on “all you do” is go to 1st. I guess a singles hitter is worthless in your book. A walk is just as good as a hit, all that matter is that your standing on 1st. Good pitchers do issue the free pass. Pettitte and Burnett walked a total 27 batter in the postseason and those are very good pitchers. I understand that the runners cant score from 3rd or advanced to third when a walk is issued. Whats good about a walk also is you see more pitches, which then gets the pitch count up, which gets you to the bullpen. I do respect your opinion. I guess we will have to agree to disagree.

I will concede that a walk is not exactly as good as a hit. You’re not going to to score a runner from second with a walk, that is true. A hit is better. But walks are still an awesome thing, and Swisher draws almost 100 a year. When you walk you avoid making an out, and that IS the point of offense. Making outs was something Steve Balboni (to use a prior boneheaded example) excelled at. Swisher makes far fewer outs than a player like Balboni ever did. Is Nick Swisher as good as Ichiro? No. Ichiro is going to the Hall of Fame, Swisher never will. Swisher is still a talented player with great value. I don’t know why this is so incomprehensible to some of you. Not being as good as Ichiro doesn’t mean “not good at all.”
This would be like comparing Andy Pettitte to Steve Carlton. Pettitte’s not as good as Carlton, never was. But still a very valuable pitcher in his own right. Can we agree on this, at least?

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