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Offseason decisions coming back to haunt Yanks as deadline looms

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Well, it’s finally here. It’s July 31st, otherwise known as the non-waiver trading deadline, and in a matter of hours the Yankees will have either added another bat, or decided  to ride out the remainder of the season with the guys they have.

Coming off a stinging loss by way of a walk-off single by Dodgers’ second baseman Mark Ellis, the team now stands at 55-51. Slowly sinking closer to the mediocre .500 mark, the Yanks have now fully embodied the club we all expected them to be when the season opened – a power-less, atrocious offense coupled with good, but not great pitching.

Sitting 8.5 games out of first place in the A.L. East and somehow just 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race, the Yanks are by no means “done”. Brian Cashman Ownership brought back Alfonso Soriano, Jeter has returned, and Curtis Granderson is finishing up his rehab assignment, so the lineup will certainly be given a boost by having those guys back.

Meanwhile on the pitching front, (aside from CC and when Hughes starts at the Stadium) things have been improving. Pettitte is finding his groove again, Nova is pitching even better than in his breakout 2011 season, and Kuroda continues to be a dark horse in the A.L. Cy Young race. The bullpen continues to impress with the likes of Shawn Kelley, Boone Logan, D-Rob, and of course Mo, so there is nothing to really be concerned about there.

This is stating the obvious, but for the first time in years, the lineup is the overwhelming achilles heel to this season. Even with Sabathia’s treacherous season and Hughes’ long-ball woes, this current pitching staff coupled with any Yankees lineup from the past decade would easily win 90+ games.

But that’s the thing – this isn’t any Yankees lineup from the past decade. It’s 2013’s.

There’s no Sheffield, no Bernie, no Giambi, no Abreu, no Matsui, no Posada, no Swisher, no Teixeira, no A-Rod…must I keep going? Even with Sori, Jeet, and Grandy, they would need a Giancarlo Stanton-caliber bat added to the mix to really make them a threatening team. With the way Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Boston are all playing, even if there are signs of improvement from the players currently on the roster, I can’t imagine it being enough in the end.

As mentioned, the Yankees are either going to make a move, or they won’t. Stanton is not on the block, nor does the team have the caliber of prospects needed to make a deal even if he was. The best hitter that could be on the move is Hunter Pence, followed by Michael Young, Nate Schierholtz, and [depending on Schierholtz] David DeJesus. Pence is adamant about staying with San Francisco, Young prefers Boston than the Bronx, and the Yankees have too many outfielders to realistically take on a Schierholtz or DeJesus.

Like I said, even if any of those guys were to be fitted for pinstripes in the next few hours, it wouldn’t make much of a difference when comparing this “Bombers” lineup to that of the Orioles, Red Sox, or even the Rays. Power is not the tell-all, be-all factor of a team, but all three clubs have, and can out-slug the Yanks, even in their own bandbox known as the new Yankee Stadium.

It would be great to see the team rally around Mariano Rivera’s final season and go out and make a valiant playoff push, but I just don’t see it happening. At it’s worse the pitching has been steadily above-average, but at it’s best the lineup is nothing close to deserving of a spot in October.

Maybe I’m being harsh, and perhaps this club as constructed could have been better in another season with less competition. But the fact remains that the Yankees picked the worst year possible to let so many core guys (Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, and Raul Ibanez) leave via free agency, and just hope that the oldest team in baseball would have one last magical run in them.

Clearly they don’t, and no matter what happens by 4 o’clock PM today, the Yanks should begin making plans to go golfing come this fall. It’s unfortunate, but we can’t act like we didn’t see this coming.

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Swisher Missed Badly

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What kind of player do the Yankees need the most right now? A switch hitting, patient and versatile outfielder who can backup first base would be a really good answer to that question. Didn’t the Yankees used to have somebody like that for the last four seasons?

It was quite fitting that as Nick Swisher returned to the Bronx last night for the first as a Cleveland Indian the Yankees were experimenting with Lyle Overbay in right field.  Swisher signed a four-year contract worth $56 million with Cleveland this past winter, and he was one of the first casualties of the Yankees $189 million budget plan. The Yankees valued saving money over production in not bringing back Swisher and have paid for that decision in a big way this season.

The Yankees move to put Overbay in right field last night was a desperate attempt to get an average bat in the lineup. While Overbay performed as well as the Yankees could have hoped for with Mark Teixeira on the DL, he is not exactly lighting the world on fire this season with a slash line of .249/.294/.459/.752.

A lot of that has to do with his performance against lefties, but still Overbay is not the kind of bat the Yankees would have to go to this kind of lengths to get into the lineup in recent years. However, with the loss of Swisher, Ichiro Suzuki looking finished, and Vernon Wells regressing, it is hard to blame the Yankees for giving it a shot. Of course, if Swisher were still around it would not be an issue.

If the Yankees had adequately replaced Swisher his loss might not have been felt as hard as it has been this season. Giving a two-year contract to Suzuki was a disaster and it was mostly likely done for marketing reasons, as upper management thought Suzuki had a shot to get to 3,000 hits in a Yankees uniform. They willing took a lesser player in right field because of monetary reasons and are paying for it, which is something that would have been hard to imagine a few years ago with the Yankees. The same can be said for catcher as well, as Russell Martin is enjoying a very nice season in Pittsburgh.

Swisher was a model of consistency for the Yankees in his four years in the Bronx. He had an OPS+ ranging from 120 to 129 in all four years and wouldn’t you know he is at 127 this year, which would rank second on the Yankees this season. Before Mark Teixeira returned last week the Yankees had not had an at-bat by a switch hitter all season. They often have had to run a bunch of lefties stacked in the lineup on most nights because they have  had no righties to balance their lineup out. Also, even with Teixeira and Youkilis back, their lineup only runs about six deep with black holes in right field, shortstop and catcher. The Yankees have always been known for having a balanced and circular lineup, which certainly has not been the case this season, and a lot of that is because of Swisher’s absence.

Swisher is a great example of fans not being able to appreciate a player until he is gone. The same way fans used to complain about how the Yankees scored runs, even though they had one of the best offenses in MLB. Obviously, Swisher’s postseason struggles were well documented, but how much will that matter if the Yankees do not even make it there this season? He loved being a Yankee and had a very positive influence on the clubhouse, which was evident in the joy he showed in his return last night.

“It’s super exciting to be back here a couple of days,” Swisher told Howie Kussoy of the New York Post. “Just that atmosphere, that was a great thing to be a part of. Just being part of the whole tradition, obviously winning the World Series in ’09 was pretty cool. I think the mystique of being a Yankee was so great and something I was so proud to be a part of.”

The Yankees only rank 11th in the AL in runs, 10th in OPS, 11th in wOBA, and 13th in wRC+ as a team. Obviously, a lot of that has to do with injuries, but also willing playing lesser players for financial reasons at catcher and right field is a huge reason as well. Yankees right fielders this year have a -.5 WAR, .116 ISO, .262 wOBA and 70 wRC+, which is simply pathetic. As, the Yankees try to experiment a career first baseman in right field they can look across the field the next two nights and wonder what if.

Spring Training Notes 2/15/13: Youkilis, Chamberlain, Pineda

When your a famous ball player (or a famous anything) one of the main rules of stardom is not to search yourself on the internet to prevent what people are saying about you. It could be spiteful, it could be hurtful, it could be someone taking something you said completely out of context and publishing it as if you’re a bad person. Option number three happened to Kevin Youkilis, the brand new Yankees third baseman. Youkilis yesterday made a comment about how he will always be a “Red Sock.” The next thing he knew, he was being written about in every gigantic publication from the New York Daily News to ESPN. After reading the ESPN article last night, Youkilis cleared the air for reporters as he discussed what he actually meant by his comment.

“The whole thing for me, I look at it, when I was saying it, it was more like a baseball card.” Youkilis said. “When you look at it, there’s going to be nine seasons or whatever (with the Red Sox) and that’s why I said it. But in context of what I said, if you read it as ‘I’m always a Red Sock,’ it looks bad. But it’s not that way. I’m a Yankee today, and I’m excited. I’m proud to be a Yankee, and I’m proud for Opening Day and playing against the team that I spent all those seasons with. Trust me, if you know my personality and know who I am, it doesn’t matter what team’s along the way. I want to beat everyone. I want to beat the Red Sox because I want to start out with a win at Yankee Stadium.”

Not only did Kevin Youkilis address the media about his comments but he also made nice with Joba Chamberlain, and it looks like the two became buddies. Their first conversation of the spring? They talked about mustaches. Chamberlain is growing out a mustache and wants Youkilis to do the same. Today the two new teammates gave each other a handshake.

“Tomorrow we’ll hug.” Youkilis said.

Michael Pineda had a side session earlier this morning and threw 25 pitches (all of them fastballs). He said he felt good and he’s still on track to return in June.

– Do you guys remember this pitcher named Cesar Cabral, who was a Rule 5 draft pick, slated to take a bullpen spot last season, only to hurt his elbow forcing the spot to go to Clay Rapada instead? Well he threw a 25 fastball side as well, and could be scheduled to return in May.

– The Yankees writers have all been following the Washington Nationals camp, waiting to see how Rafael Soriano is doing adjusting to his new team. The problem is…he never showed up to camp, prompting another edition of “Where In The World Is Rafael Soriano.” The answer? The Dominican Republic having a visa issue. Nationals say that he should be in camp over the weekend, which would give everyone a chance to continue to keep an eye on him.

– And some somber news for another former Yankee. Cleveland Indians first baseman Nick Swisher left the teams workouts to attend his mothers funeral in Ohio. Condolences go out to Nick Swisher and his family.

– And finally, do you plan on watching a Spring Training game this season but don’t know what channel its on? Yesterday, I made the 2013 Spring Training schedule for the Yankees, including the channels for which game will be broadcast. If you have (or are planning to get) MLB.TV 2013, then you’re in luck since you’ll get to see most of the games this Spring. Here’s the complete list of games, times and channels.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Mr. Soriano goes to Washington; 4 Yankees file for arbitration

– Well, it took from October to January but Rafael Soriano finally has a new home and that is with the Washington Nationals. He signed a two year, $28 Million with an option for a third year. Soriano’s contract makes him the highest paid reliever in baseball but second all time to New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. When Soriano didn’t take the option that the Yankees were offering him, it had fans wondering if he would ever find a job. Well, it took him a while since teams don’t really want to give up a draft pick just to sign a player.

The Yankees now have three draft picks in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft. They are #27 (which was their original draft pick), #31 (since Nick Swisher signed with the Cleveland Indians) and #32 (since Soriano signed with the Nationals). But if you’re sad that you won’t see Soriano as much and you’re a Yankee fan–don’t be. The Yankees and Nationals meet up on March 29, 2012 for an exhibition game. Although it’s the end of the ‘untuck’ era, I’m sure someone on the Yankees can one-up that this season.

– In our second major story of the day, four Yankees have decided to file for arbitration after not being able to agree on a contract offer. Those four Yankees are Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, David Robertson and Boone Logan. Now, the four players still have time to work this out, but the issue at hand could be that they all feel they are worth what they want. I’ve seen what Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain are reportedly asking for and they should go to an arbitration hearing. They aren’t worth what they’re asking for, especially Hughes. Give Robertson and Logan what they want since they were more dominant but there has been some cries from Yankees fans that maybe it’s time for Boone Logan to go since he only has one year remaining.

Honestly guys, why couldn’t you have made it as easy as Brett Gardner did. The guy took what the Yankees gave him, no questions asked. Then again, he was injured for most of the year. It would be exciting to see how all of this plays out in the end.

In Other News:

– Before signing with the Yankees, Kevin Youkilis spoke to Johnny Damon about the transition from Boston to New York. Luckily for Youkilis, Damon gave the transition two thumbs up. Also dealing with Youkilis, he began working with Kevin Long to prepare for the upcoming season. Sounds like a good idea if you want to get off on the right foot with the Yankees organization.

 

Yankees Offseason Notes: Yankees claim Russ Canzler off waivers, DFA Chris Dickerson

The New York Yankees have a new player on their team, although it’s not the way that everyone prefers. Instead of signing a free agent, the Yankees claimed Russ Canzler off waivers from the Cleveland Indians. He’s speculated to compete for the 4th OF spot with Matt Diaz. In the minors Canzler hit .289/.365/.508 with about 1,000 AB in the International league.

To make room for Canzler on the 40-man roster, the Yankees have designated OF Chris Dickerson for assignment. Honestly Yankees, everyone’s getting tired of the ‘Lets DFA Chris Dickerson‘ game. He’s a great RF and for a moment, I considered him a great bench/Swisher replacement–before you DFA’d him…today.

In Other News:

– There has been no date set for Alex Rodriguez‘s surgery. No one is sure if it’s a set-back but it could be a problem if Rodriguez’s return is postponed by a week or two. Brian Cashman already believes that the 2013 Yankees aren’t going to hit as many HR’s as the 2012 Yankees since the departure of Nick Swisher and Russell Martin along with the injury to A-Rod. Well, maybe if you went to the Winter Meetings and got some big pieces like you were supposed to, then hitting HR’s wouldn’t be a problem.

A Week In Review: Swisher, Ibanez, Diaz, Jones

Good evening everyone. Since I was on vacation for the past week, instead of doing an offseason note article, this article is the week in review. In other words, it’s all the stuff I didn’t report that happened during the week that I am reporting now. Let’s get to it.

Nick Swisher becomes a Cleveland Indian

Yep, Nick Swisher traded in his pinstripes in New York for a cream colored uniform in Cleveland, Ohio. According to MLB Network, Swisher signed a 4 year, $56 Million deal to play RF for the Cleveland Indians next season. We all knew it was coming since the Yankees weren’t going to re-sign him and the Indians front office showed their interest by having breakfast and lunch meetings with him. Looks like all those meetings paid off, because while they have a right fielder–we have Ichiro.

Raul Ibanez going to Seattle

Raul Ibanez who was our hero in the postseason has decided to also trade in his pinstripes…this time to head to Seattle where he played earlier in his career. According to Bleacher Report, the Yankees reportedly never made an offer to Ibanez which probably added into his decision to take a contract with the Seattle Mariners. Looks like the Yankees are going to have to look for a new DH…along with a catcher…and maybe a new bench…oh boy.

Yankees sign Matt Diaz to minor league deal

The Yankees made a deal the day after Christmas with Matt Diaz, whose season was cut short in 2012 due to a thumb injury. Diaz signed a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. If he makes the team, he’ll get a guarenteed $1.2 Million deal. Yankees mainly signed him because he can do something that the Yankees struggle with–hitting against left handed pitchers.

Former Yankee Andruw Jones arrested

Congratulations to Andruw Jones. He’s joined the exclusive “Former/Current Yankees Players to get arrested” club. All jokes aside, Jones was arrested yesterday morning (on Christmas) after an altercation with his wife. We all know Jones decided to join a Japanese team for the 2013 season–an indication that he knows that it’s going downhill from here career wise. No word if the arrest effects his current contract.

Winter Meetings Day 2: Would you trade Curtis Granderson?

Earlier today, the Yankees made clear that Brian Cashman would become open to a trade for Curtis Granderson. Curtis Granderson has an interesting case. He’s a free agent next season, he strikes out about 200+ times a year and he’s not the best defensive CF in the whole entire world. But what makes Granderson so special, so unique that it would become hard to part with him? It’s simple, the man has hit 40 HR’s and has driven in 100+ RBI’s since the Kevin Long tutorial. Now, we all know the Yankees list has gotten longer and longer, but the fact of the matter is, trading Curtis Granderson wouldn’t be the way to get the players we need. I made a poll on Twitter today asking fans if they would be interested in trading Granderson and why. Here were some of the responses I received:

As you can see, the favorite answer is no. Although it would make sense to trade Granderson since he is a free agent next season, like @venomous1913 said, 40 HR’s and 100 RBI players don’t grow on trees. If the Yankees were to trade Granderson, it would have to be for the right price.

In Other News

– If Alex Rodriguez were to sit out for the 2013 season, the Yankees would get insurance on the contract–but it would count against their luxury tax in 2014.

– The Yankees made no deals but they did talk a lot: They spoke with Kevin Youkillis, asked about Marco Scutaro and of Jeff Keppinger.

– The Yankees have to look for a catcher, right fielder, DH and a third baseman. The Yankees are adding assistant hitting coach to the list to work alongside Kevin Long. Is this a panic move I sense?

– If you’re interested, the Red Sox signed Shane Victorino to a 3 year deal meaning that Nick Swisher is no longer considered for the Red Sox RF role. A source close to Swisher did say that if the Yankees or the Angels/Dodgers didn’t want him he would love to go to the San Francisco Giants.

*I had so many responses for my Curtis Granderson twitter poll that I couldn’t use all the answers but thank you everyone for sending in your input. I appreciate your enthusiasm and your answers.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Yankees close in re-signing Andy Pettitte

Looks like the Yankees are beginning to get the ball rolling in this offseason game, and this time Andy Pettitte has control. According to Buster Olney, Andy Pettitte had decided to pitch for the Yankees in the 2013 season. According to Joel Sherman, the contract is rumored to be between $10-$11 Million for one year. Pettitte had confirmed when the season ended that he was going to take about a month before he decided what he planned on doing and that it would happen definitely after Thanksgiving. Pettitte started working out a couple of days after Thanksgiving, leading the Yankees fanbase to believe that Pettitte wanted to return.

In Other News:

Mariano Rivera revealed that he also wanted to pitch in 2013, but the Yankees haven’t officially signed him as of yet. The deal should happen sometime this week before Winter Meetings next week.

– Despite rumors last night, the Yankees have not re-signed Ichiro Suzuki to a contract. As a matter of fact, the Yankees and Ichiro haven’t even come close to an agreement! If the Yankees end up signing Ichiro then that will close the chapter on the Nick Swisher saga.

Russell Martin is reportedly looking for a 4 year deal for $9-$10 Million PER year. I seriously doubt that the Yankees will succumb to Martin’s demands. Then again, is it Martin that wants the contract or his agent?

Morning Bits: Hunter, Rivera, Kuroda

Good morning everyone and a Happy Sunday to you all. Let’s get on with the Morning Bits, shall we?

– With Nick Swisher not likely to return, the most sought out right fielder on the free agent market is Torii Hunter. He had an OPS of .817 last season, he’s a good defender and he’s 37. What’s bad about it? He’s 37 and might want two years.

– While filming a commercial the other day, Mariano Rivera threw 25 tosses off a mound. He said he “felt great.” It was the first time he threw off a mound since tearing his ACL in May.

– If Hiroki Kuroda signs with another team, it could be tough for the Yankees this offseason.

It’s Official: Soriano, Swisher & Kuroda decline qualifying offers

Hiroki Kuroda, Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano have all declined their qualifying offer thus making them free agents. Should any of the three sign elsewhere, the Yankees will get draft picks in the 2013 MLB Draft. All nine players that were offered the deals declined but only 8 of them are free agents. David Ortiz signed a two year deal with the Red Sox last week. The following players also hit the free agent market: Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, B.J Upton, Kyle Lohse and Adam LaRoche.

Josh Hamilton might be too expensive for the Yankees (although he has power and the short porch in Yankee Stadium favors him) and he also has a history with problems off the field while Michael Bourn is equivalent to Yankees OF Brett Gardner although Gardner is injury prone, BUT Gardner is more affordable than Bourn. The Yankees have decisions to make this winter. Maybe B.J Upton? Kyle Lohse? Adam LaRoche?

Yankees expect Kuroda to decline qualifying offer

Yankees expect Kuroda to decline qualifying offer

By Delia E.

A week after giving Hiroki Kuroda a 1 year, $13.3 Million qualifying offer, Brian Cashman and the Yankees expect that Kuroda will decline the offer. Although nothing is official yet, Cashman did speak with Kuroda’s agent unofficially. The other two players that were offered a contract (Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano) will decline. Soriano is most likely gone from the team since the Yankees refuse to spend $26 Million on the closer role that will now become Mariano Rivera’s in the 2013 season.

Rafael Soriano & Nick Swisher will decline qualifying offers

The New York Yankees announced that relief pitcher Rafael Soriano and Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher are planning on declining their qualifying offers. Swisher (who had another atrocious postseason) and Soriano (who has hinted that he wanted a multi-year deal as a closer) will now hit the free agent market after tomorrow. Hiroki Kuroda has yet to decide whether he will accept or decline the offer.

Swisher is the target of 5 teams but only two are none: the Texas Rangers and the Seattle Mariners.

Other notes:

Andruw Jones has expressed interest in playing again next season. I’m 99.9% sure that it won’t  be with the Yankees.

– Brian Cashman had a small victory today. In Day 2 of the GM meetings in California, he did not have to mention Alex Rodriguez getting traded–at all. Now, let’s see about tomorrow?

Nothing is guaranteed, but Swisher’s a given

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.

What do the Yankees qualifying offers mean?

Last night was technically the beginning of the Yankees offseason after they made qualifying contracts to three players: Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda and Rafael Soriano. Some fans were wondering, why didn’t they offer Ichiro Suzuki or Russell Martin a qualifying offer? What is  a qualifying offer? What would mean if either three of them didn’t re-sign with the Yankees?

What is a Qualifying Offer?

A new procedure that was in place for the 2012 offseason. A Qualifying offer is a team offering their free agent a contract of 1 year and $13.3 Million. The player on the team has seven days to either accept or decline the offer. If the player accepts the offer then they would be on the team for the 2013 season. If the player declines the offer, they could still re-sign with the team but they would be placed in the free agent market where the other 29 teams can have a chance to offer them a contract. If the player signs elsewhere than with his original team, the original team would be rewarded a first round draft pick.

Why didn’t Ichiro or Russell Martin get an offer?

Ichiro Suzuki and Russell Martin are both terrific players–but both of them didn’t get a qualifying offer for different reasons. Ichiro hasn’t been on the team for the entire 2012 season, meaning he’s not eligible to receive an offer. Russell Martin is a good player, but the Yankees don’t deem him worthy enough of 1 year and $13,3 Million.

Does that mean the Yankees don’t want Martin?

No. All the qualifying offer is saying is Martin shouldn’t get $13.3 Million. The Yankees still want Martin, but they probably would offer him less than what the qualifying offer is.

What are the chances Swisher and Soriano accept the offer?

The chances that both Swisher and Soriano accept the offer is–zero. Both players are looking for multi-year deals and one year on the Yankees won’t cut it. The Yankees could possibly negotiate a contract with Swisher and Soriano, but chances are they both will head onto different teams, rewarding the Yankees two first round draft picks.

Yankees Offseason Notes: Yankees make qualifying offers, Yankees keep Cabral

Good evening Yankees fans. Today is one of those days where we ask ourselves–”Is it February yet?” Anyway, onto tonight’s notes that circle around Yankees baseball!

– The Yankees announced today that they have made qualifying offers to Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda and Rafael Soriano. The bigger question here is–why didn’t the Yankees make an offer to Ichiro Suzuki or Russell Martin? Do they plan on letting them go? We’ll find out more as the “Off-Season Saga” continues. (BTW, the Yankees would get a draft compensation pick if either of the three sign elsewhere).

– Speaking of Russell Martin, the Yankees did not make him a qualifying offer. Martin can still sign with the Yankees but they won’t get compensation for him if he goes to another team.

– The Yankees also announced that they plan on keeping Rule 5 pitcher Cesar Cabral for the offseason. They want him to come back to Spring Training and compete for the job in the bullpen. Last season, Clay Rapada beat out Cabral for the job (mostly because Cabral fractured the tip of his elbow) but this season Cabral would have to make the team or he gets sent back. A loophole however is if Cabral makes the team, he doesn’t have to spend the whole year on the team. He can be optioned to the minor leagues at any point during the season.

– And finally, Michael Pineda–might miss the entire 2013 season. There’s no information as of yet but tune into MLB Tonight on MLBNetwork to find out why. (And for those who hate the Red Sox, David Ortiz might be out the entire season as well). MLB Tonight airs at 6pm. Check your cable provider for which channel.

Grading 2012 And Looking Ahead – CF/RF

The 2012 outfield for the Yankees had somewhat of a different look when Brett Gardner went down with an elbow injury and Ichiro Suzuki came along to fill in for the last 2 months. However, the two (somewhat) constants in the outfield were Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher. With free agency coming up, the Yankees have some decisions to make and frankly, the Yankees could have a completely different outfield (aside from Brett Gardner) in 2013.

Center Field – Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson reminds everyone of Detroit Tiger’s Austin Jackson, at least in the speed and strikeout department. Granderson’s power numbers were good: 43 HR’s, 106 RBI’s, the home runs being a career high. However, the disappointing part was the strikeouts and the average. Curtis Granderson struck out 195 times in the regular season and ended the year with a .232 average, his worst since his rookie year in Detroit (.240). Granderson’s postseason was so horrific that fans could actually predict what he was going to do–strike out. He had a .158 AVG against Baltimore in the ALDS and a .000 AVG against the Tigers in the ALCS. How many strikeouts did Granderson have? Sixteen strikeouts in 30 at-bats. That’s counting both series. If it weren’t for Alex Rodriguez and his ridiculous contract, then Granderson would have been hearing a lot of boos from the crowd.

Regular Season Grade: C+
Postseason Grade: F

2013 Outlook: Granderson has an option for 2013, which the Yankees are almost certain to pick up, but 2013 could be Granderson’s last year in Yankee pinstripes. It wouldn’t be all bad. The Yankees have Brett Gardner who can be the CF should the Yankees pick up Granderson’s option and then trade him. The 43 HR’s are nice…but with Granderson’s average and strikeouts, it makes Granderson look like the all or nothing guy.

Right Field -Nick Swisher

Nick Swisher had a good regular year for the Yankees that it almost looked like the Yankees were sure to offer him a contract. I mean, why wouldn’t they? Swisher had a .272 AVG, 24 HR’s, 93 RBI’s, and he walked 77 times in the season. Unfortunately, Nick Swisher forgot that he is supposed to keep hitting in October–and he’s been forgetting that every year he’s been in the playoffs. Against the Orioles, Swisher had a .111 average and against the Tigers, he hit .250. The .250 average looks decent, right? He had three hits in 12 at-bats, and he was five for 30 in the whole postseason. Swisher has a good personality and he lightens up the clubhouse, but the Yankees are not paying him money just so he can smile. He is supposed to have a good bat all year, not become a postseason zombie like his fellow zombies Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson.

Regular Season Grade: B
Postseason Grade: F

2013 Outlook: Nick Swisher will not be a Yankee next year. I can bet on that. Swisher has had too many flubs in the postseason for the Yankees to give him another chance. It is one thing to get into the postseason. It is another thing to go ice cold once you are in. The Yankees could re-sign Ichiro to take Swisher’s spot in right field but when you think about it, at 39 years old is Ichiro really the better choice? The Yankees would have to offer Swisher $13.3 Million when free agency season comes around (which is sometime next week or so) but if he wants Jayson Werth money–he’s going to have to go somewhere else.

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