Last Saturday, I posted a Keep Em’ or Dump Em’ article where you voted who you wanted to keep or who you wanted to dump. The results…weren’t very surprising. Let’s break down who you’d strongly keep and who you’d strongly throw away.
David Robertson (96.83%): David Robertson wasn’t as good as he was in 2011, but he was still very effective in 2012. Let the good pitching keep on going, D-Rob.
CC Sabathia (95.59%): CC Sabathia coming back in 2013? No brainer. He’s the ace. The workhorse. He’s CC. Enough said.
Derek Jeter (95.33%): It’s not a surprise that fans would want to keep Derek Jeter after a great 2012 season but after his ankle injury where he had surgery, going into the future you wonder if Jeter can continue to play SS or if he might have to go to the DH Spot.
Hiroki Kuroda (94.12%): For his first year in the American League East, Kuroda did a good job. If Ichiro re-signs with the Yankees, Kuroda would have to be a no-brainer to follow.
Brett Gardner (93.55%): So Brett Gardner proved that you don’t have to play in order to be extremely valuable to the Yankees. After seeing Cirque Du Left Field in 2012, Yankees fans can’t wait to get their speedy outfielder back into playing shape and defending LF like we know he can.
David Phelps (91.18%): In his first rookie year with the Yankees, Phelps was back and forth from the bullpen to the starting rotation. For a first year–he did good. Would be great to see him get a shot in the rotation in 2013.
Andy Pettitte (91.04%): Andy sure was dandy in 2012, so there’s no question why he’s on the Keep Em’ list. I’d bring back Andy too. Who cares if Andy’s 40 years old? He still pitches like he’s 25!
Boone Logan (90.63%): Boone Logan being in the category where players were to be strongly kept surprised me just a tad bit. But hey. Boone Logan was good in 2012. Can he do it all over again in 2013?
Ichiro Suzuki (90%): Ichiro was a mid season trade for the Yankees. A mid season trade that made Brian Cashman look like a pure genius after a plethora of failure trades (hint, hint: Javier Vasquez, Curtis Granderson, A.J Burnett). Ichiro might come back to the Yankees next season–if you guys were the GM and not Cashman. Honestly, I’d like Ichiro back to. No doubt about it.
Eduardo Nunez (89.93%): Eduardo Nunez is (almost) the perfect back up shortstop. He can run and he can hit. Why he’s not perfect? He can’t field. Hopefully Winter Ball will help him in 2013.
Freddy Garcia (95.59%): Look at the number of people that don’t want Freddy Garcia. I can’t explain that any further.
Andruw Jones (91.94%): After the terrible 2012 season he had, I can see why Yankees fans wouldn’t want him back in 2013. He says he wants to keep playing. Unfortunately, it’s not with this team.
Nick Swisher (85%): Nick Swisher had a good 2012 regular season but consistent playoff failures according to Yankees fans could be what ultimately sends Nick Swisher and his smiling face–out the door.
Derek Lowe (80%): Derek Lowe could be a great starting pitcher (or bullpen) pitcher for any team–but according to fans, it won’t be with the Yankees.
Alex Rodriguez (70%): Let’s admit it. A-Rod’s contract could possibly be the worst contract in baseball history. He’s deteriorating…and the Yankees still have to give him $110 Million dollars in the next 5 years. Does any team want A-Rod? Going once? Going twice?
* Not all players from the poll are listed. Just the ones that fans strongly wanted to keep and wanted to get rid of.
It had been a long, trying season for the Yankees where so much has happened. Yankees have lost Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, at a point lost Brett Gardner, David Robertson, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, suffered through hitting slumps by Russell Martin, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson and a surprisingly good regular season by Nick Swisher. But the Yankees didn’t realize that the season doesn’t end after 162 games and fell flat against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS and will now spend their offseason trying to piece it all together. The Yankees have to make decisions before the 2013 offseason, but if you were the GM of the Yankees who would you keep and who would you dump? Infield
The Yankees are ¼ of the way to another World Series Championship. After winning the AL East and outlasting the Orioles, the Yankees will have to take the hot hitting they have had at the end of the year and transfer it to the ALDS and for the rest of the play-offs should they advance. Here are some key tips that the Yankees might want to do in order to go all the way in the play-offs.
Pitch Effectively: The Yankees are going to start with CC Sabathia for the first game and with Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and (possibly) Phil Hughes taking a turn on the mound, the Yankees need to make sure that they pitch effectively and try to limit runs as much as they can. If they can do that then it could give the Yankees a chance to score some runs and win some games.
Hit with RISP: Speaking of scoring runs, the Yankees need to hit with runners in scoring position. That has been their Achilles heel throughout the regular season. The Yankees have gotten a bit better with RISP coming down the stretch when it came to clinching the AL East. Let’s see if that transfers into the play-offs.
Play ABC Baseball: I know this is not the Yankees style but this is one of the few effective ways to score runs without trying to swing for the fences. The Yankees have players with some serious speed now that Brett Gardner is healthy; Ichiro Suzuki is playing the outfield and Eduardo Nunez is available off the bench. With guys like that able to steal bases, it allows the Yankees to get base hits and score them. Remember, homers hurt but speed kills.
A-Rod, Teixeira, Swisher—Wake up: The Yankees need Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher to wake up from their postseason funks and hit the baseball with authority if they want to make it far. Swisher seemed to have been hitting towards the end of the season but Mark Teixeira since coming back from hurting his calf looks lost at the plate and A-Rod has looked lost at the plate all year. A-Rod and Teixeira are pretty lucky they can’t be traded—Swisher not so much so this would be a great time for Swisher to start hitting.
Robinson Cano, Don’t Ya Know: Robinson Cano has been hitting out of this world for the past week and Yankees fans are only hoping that Cano is able to transfer his hitting skills from the end of the season to the postseason. Cano has looked red hot and he could be the person that carries this team all the way to the World Series—kind of like A-Rod did in 2009.
Are there any other keys to the play-offs that you think the Yankees should follow for a successful postseason? Place your thoughts in the comments below.
Right around the corner is the most exciting time of the year for any team—the postseason. While there are teams that have clinched their spot in the postseason, there are teams like the Yankees that are so close to clinching that they could taste it. However, they still have to battle to stay in 1st place in the American League East. While it is almost certain that the Yankees will be in another postseason, the Yankees have other things on their minds as in after they clinch a spot. What will they be doing? They will be preparing their 2012 ALDS roster (if they are in first place by the end of the season). After observing the Yankees for a while, I decided to compile a list of who would make the 25-man roster for the ALDS series against what looks to be the Detroit Tigers. (Statistics are as of the morning of September 28, 2012).
Derek Jeter (2012 Season: .318 AVG, 15 HR, 57 RBI): Of course, you cannot be in the postseason without the Captain Derek Jeter. Jeter has had a phenomenal year and will end the year with an average over .300. The last time Jeter finished with an average over .300 was in 2009. How did that end out for the Yankees? Jeter had silenced the critics and had done his thing, but can he continue into the postseason and lead the Yankees to another championship?
Robinson Cano (2012 Season: .300 AVG, 30 HR, 82 RBI): Robinson Cano is one of the best second baseman in the game and he knows how to hit. While Cano has been up and down this year, he has been consistent defensively and can help Yankees pitching by preserving runs and getting double plays with a flick of a wrist. He makes that pivot to first base better than any second baseman than I have seen. Cano was one of the very few Yankees who had a hot bat during last year’s ALDS (along with Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner respectively), so it would be nice to see Cano get on a tear.
Mark Teixeira (2012 Season: .255 AVG, 23 HR, 81 RBI): Comparing Teixeira’s numbers from 2011 and from this year, this year has not been Teixeira’s best. But can you blame the guy? He has been sidelined with a Grade 1 strained calf. While he will make the roster for the play-offs, I doubt he will be 100 percent healthy. Teixeira also is one of the few culprits that seem to mysteriously lose his hitting talents in the play-offs. He needs to have a hot and consistent bat in the play-offs or else it could be an early exit for the Yankees—again.
Alex Rodriguez (2012 Season: .276 AVG, 18 HR, 56 RBI): Now, if the stats were for another player say maybe Eduardo Nunez, Chris Dickerson or Brett Gardner that would be a hell of a year. Unfortunately, it is for the guy that the Yankees gave a lucrative contract that last for another 5 years and did not hit the way that the Yankees were expecting. A-Rod is going to make the roster…but all season he has looked terribly lost at the plate. He is also another culprit that has not hit in the postseason in recent years (no, I am not counting 2009). A-Rod needs to get his act together and very quickly or else…you know. A first round exit for the Yankees.
Russell Martin (2012 Season: .209 AVG, 19 HR, 49 RBI): So this hasn’t been Russell Martin’s best year offensively (the 19 HR’s make the .209 AVG look less hideous) but the reason he makes the postseason roster is because of his defense. He also has been heating up at the plate as of late which means he could be on a tear any day now. He also was the only one that did not look lost during the ugly 6-0 loss to the Blue Jays on Thursday night, cranking 2 hits off Morrow. Martin could add to the offense, which could be something that the Yankees need.
Gardner. Granderson. Swisher. How often have you heard those names said together? Too long, is my guess.
Those three guys have been the starting outfielders for New York since the beginning of the 2010 season. Nick Swisher in fact has been saluting bleacher creatures on a daily basis since the 2009 campaign.
All of them have done more than the Yankees could have ever asked when they first arrived in the Bronx. Gardner has become one of the top defensive players in the game, as well as a lightning rod on the bases. Curtis Granderson, as predicted found his power stroke in Yankee Stadium and has now put up back-to-back 40 home run seasons. And Nick Swisher continues to prove he was worth way more than Wilson Betemit – the player the Yankees had to give up to get him. He’s now put up four consecutive 20+ home run, 80+ RBI seasons, recording his 90th RBI today in Minnesota, the first time he’s done that since 2006.
Clearly, this Yankees outfield is one many teams would only dream of having. But to me, this should be the final year those three man the outfield together. Here’s why:
Granderson = Dunn – Maybe Chicago should ask for me to apologize for that Wilson Betemit joke. This season, Curtis Granderson has truly evolved into a strikeout or home run hitter, a la Mark Reynolds or Adam Dunn. He gets his share of doubles, but more often than not he’s heading back to the dugout, bat in hand and shaking his head. 40 home runs are nice, but not as nice as a high batting-average or on-base percentage, something Grandy has never really accomplished in his career, besides batting .302 for Detroit in 2007. Also, his defense is some of the worst among center-fielders, as he constantly is letting balls sail over his head or fall in front of him. As you know I’m no saber-metrics bust, but whatever stat there is for runs allowed, he was high up there in 2011 and once again is in 2012. The Yankees should look to trade Curtis for pitching, be it a #2 starter or a number of solid pitching prospects. Many teams will overlook the many flaws of Granderson to bring in a 40 homer hitting center-fielder. Because the saying does hold true – chicks still dig the long ball.
Melk, anyone? – Call me crazy, but I think the Yankees should strongly look into bringing back the original Melk man, Melky Cabrera. No doubt he has become one of the more idiotic players in recent memory, as he was suspended for 50 games for testosterone and tried to cover it up in the days prior to his suspension. But using PEDs or not, a return to New York could work wonders for him and the Yankees. Certainly, he must have learned his lesson, and if not he’ll be disciplined and put in his place by the Bombers. There’s no fooling around if you’re a Yankee, and a reunion with close friend Robbie Cano could inspire him to do his best and play hard, without cheating. Moving Gardner to center and Melky to left would greatly improve the defense and allow both of those guys to finally play in harmony on baseball’s biggest stage.
Stick it to the Red Sox – If that Melky Cabrera return frightens you too much, how about signing a guy like Cody Ross? That’s what I mean by sticking it to the Red Sox. Have the Yankees bring this guy in (they’re already reportedly very interested) and make him your starting left fielder. This year, in the AL East mind you, so no “can he produce in the division” talk, he’s hit .270 with 21 home runs and 77 RBIs. He also can play right field and a little bit of center, so he’s also a very flexible option in the outfielder. Most importantly to me, this guy has played in the postseason for the Giants, and came up big as the World Series MVP. Whether that’ll transition to New York is a question, but to me he’d be a solid option as the new left fielder as well, all considering Gardy moves back to center.
Swish needs to stay – As mentioned above, Nick Swisher has been arguably the most consistent outfielder in baseball the past four years. The energetic, always positive Swish has been a fan favorite and a very productive hitter, whether near the top or bottom of the Yankees’ lineup. He seems to just complete it- without him, there’s a hole in the order. The Yankees seem to have their sights on moving on from Swisher this offseason, and going younger or bringing in a cheaper option to fill his void. Which could happen and work, but to me, Swisher is essential to the Yankees’ chances next season. He’s still in his prime and simply is a Yankee if I’ve ever seen one. As long as he stays healthy, he should be a lock again for 20 home runs, 80 RBIs, and being a leader in the Yankees clubhouse for 2013. A three-year deal may be what Cashman will need to give him, but it’ll all be worth it if Swish just continues to do what he’s done for the Yanks since 2009.
So that’s my opinion. A Yankees outfield of Ross/Melky in left, Gardner in center, and Swisher in right is young enough and fresh enough to lead to even more production in 2013. Granted, Grandy probably won’t go anywhere and Melky may not be back in pinstripes, but Ross is a very likely option, and keeping Swisher should become a no-brainier for Cashman following this year. No matter what happens, one thing’s for certain – the Yankees outfield will still be one of the best in baseball in 2013.
What do you think the Yankees should do with their outfield? Should it change, or stay the same? Sound off in the comments below…
When Brian Cashman was assembling the 2012 Yankees in the offseason, Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez were two of the last pieces to be added. Their roles were to essentially serve as a DH platoon with occasional starts in the OF. However, when Brett Gardner was injured in early April, they both became the recipients of added playing time. At first it seemed like Gardner’s injury was fairly minor so it was thought that Jones/Ibanez could fill-in for the short-term. Gardner had 2 set-backs in his recovery but wasn’t deemed to be essentially done for the season until mid-July so the Yanks stayed with Ibanez as his primary replacement until Cashman added Ichiro. But Ichiro’s arrival also coincided with an injury to Nick Swisher and subsequent injuries to ARod, Granderson & Teixeira. So playing time for the 2 veterans just kept popping up.
Ibanez and Jones did a yeoman’s job for much of the first half. Ibanez cracked a Grand Slam on Opening Day and continued his hot hitting thru April and May with a .268/.318/.543/.861 line, 9 HRs and 28 RBI in the first 2 months. Jones was also doing a solid job filling in for most of the year and his season was highlighted by his huge 4 HR outburst in a 3-game series at Fenway in early July. When that series ended Jones’ season numbers stood at an impressive .244/.326/.535/.862 with 11 HRs in 144 PAs. So, while neither of them supplied great average, they drew some walks, supplied a ton of power and held their own in the OF defensively. Both players are to be commended for their early season contributions and their ability to handle expanded roles. I admit I was not on board with the Ibanez signing as I thought the team needed a better bat. But Ibanez surprised me with his strong start and despite his defensive shortcomings, he always tries hard and hustles on the field.
However, both players have fallen off a cliff in recent months. Since June 1st, Ibanez has hit .191/.278/.330/.608 with just 6 HRs in 234 PAs. That’s more than half a season of games with an OPS barely over .600. Terrible numbers for a DH/LF who’s only asset is his bat. Lately, he has been even worse with just 4 hits in his last 55 ABs (.071 BA & .330 OPS). He is clearly not the same player he was the first couple of months. The popular theory is that he is worn out from playing the OF so much. That may be true but he has always been a streaky hitter and his overall season numbers are nearly identical to what he put up last year in Philly. Last yr he hit .245/.289/.419/.707 and this year he’s at .222/.294/.415/.708.
Jones’ decline has been even more pronounced. It seems like he sold his soul to the devil to get that huge series in Boston because since then he’s hit .137/.250/.225/.475 with just 2 HRs in 120 PAs. He’s misplayed fly balls in the OF and has had awful at bats.
Due to injuries and Girardi’s dual-love of veterans and platoon splits, both have still been trotted out there to get regular playing time. Yesterday, however, Joe finally left Jones on the bench vs a LHP and it payed off big as Ichiro won them the game. Did Joe play Ichiro because he had a .360 career BA vs Romero and Jones had a career .154 BA against him? Or has Joe finally realized that Jones & Ibanez are shot and he needs to go in another direction? Unfortunately, I think it was more a case of the former but with Ichiro’s success maybe he’ll make it a permanent change.
With players coming back from injury, Girardi finally has other options. Eduardo Nunez is clearly a better option right now than Ibanez/Jones and should be a factor the rest of the season including the playoffs. Against a LHP, Nunez & Jeter MUST continue to split SS & DH. There is NO excuse to play Jones over Nunez right now. If you figure McGehee at 1B until Tex returns, it leaves you the choice of Ichiro, Jones or Steve Pearce in LF. The Yankees have not used Pearce in the OF although he played 20 games there with Baltimore this year and 3 with Houston. Pearce isn’t really hitting anyway so I think the clear choice is to go with Ichiro over Jones. He’s swinging a hot bat over the last month at .351/.365/.468/.833 with 2 HRs and 7 SBs in 99 PAs. He brings speed and defense to the table every day in addition to a hot bat. He & Nunez need to play over Jones the rest of the way.
The Ibanez situation is a bit more cut and dry. When Tex comes back, it becomes academic with Chavez and ARod sharing 3B & DH vs RHP and Swisher and Ichiro as the Corner Outfielders. It basically comes down to Chavez vs Ibanez and that’s a no-brainer. Chavez has hit .296/.353/.522/.876 with 13 HRs vs RHP in 249 PAs. But until Tex returns or IF Tex returns, there’s no clear alternative to Ibanez. Swish will play 1B so there is need for another corner OF. The alternative is to go with Chris Dickerson. Dickerson started the first 3 games after his September call-up and went 2 for 7 with a HR. Since then he’s been only a defensive replacement with 2 scattered PAs – a Walk & a SO. The only other possibility is rookie Melky Mesa or to go with McGehee or Pearce at 1B and Swish in the OF. For now, I’d give the playing time to Dickerson. He plays a great OF, has a little speed and has hitting ability. He had a great year in AAA with a .316/.417/.515/.932 line with 7 HRs and 17 SBs in 321 PAs. Give Dickerson the chance.
What do you all think? Should the Yanks be giving time to Nunez, Dickerson & Ichiro the rest of the way or keep trotting out Ibanez & Jones despite their pathetic recent numbers? The Yanks swept a DH yesterday without hitting a HR thanks to good fundamental baseball, productive outs, some key hits and stealing some bases. Nunez, Dickerson & Ichiro can definitely help in those categories. The upside with Jones/Ibanez is the potential to hit a HR which have been few and far between lately. So which way do you go for the last 2 weeks of the season and into the Playoffs?
Looking ahead is not a bad thing. The Yankees looked ahead when it came to releasing the 2013 schedule, so why not look ahead to see who could be on the field when you go to a game in 2013. Here is how I picture the Yankees having their alignment of players in 2013.
Let us start in the outfield, shall we? In left field, we have none other than the Yankees speedster Brett Gardner (2012: .321 AVG, 0 HR, 3 RBI). Now keep in mind that Gardner has only played in nine games and was shut down for the duration of the season due to elbow surgery. Gardner is a catalyst for the Yankees and plays the game Joe Girardi hates to play–small ball. He gets on base, he steals, he bunts and he is one of the best defensive players in baseball. Gardner is arbitration eligible so do not expect there to be much of a fight since Gardner has not played most of the year.
In center field, we have another speedster but he is known for his power bat, Curtis Granderson (2012: .233 AVG, 37 HR, 89 RBI). 2013 is Granderson’s free agent year and after the Kevin Long tutorial in 2010; Granderson has become a home run hitter. Now, Granderson does not hit for singles or doubles (note the .233 average) but he is a power bat, which is something the Yankees could use in the heart of the lineup. What happens after 2013, we do not know but—at least the Yanks could see Granderson’s bat in the lineup in 2013.
In right field, you may be a bit surprised by my choice but I believe Nick Swisher (2012: .258 AVG, 20 HR, 78 RBI) will be in Yankees pinstripes in 2013. Now, why do I think Swisher will be a Yankee? Because along with Swisher’s good bat in the lineup, he has a charming and bubbly personality that would be sorely missed if he ever left the team. The Yankees were a serious bunch before Swisher came along and now the team seems livelier. Swisher has left an imprint on the team—but if Swisher signs with the Yanks, he cannot expect a $100 Million contract. We are still recovering from 3 of those.
In the infield, we have of course the third baseman Alex Rodriguez (2012: .276 AVG, 17 HR, 50 RBI). A-Rod this season is not A-Rod but he has come back a hot hitter since getting off the DL. In addition, A-Rod is stuck with the Yankees until his contract expires in 2018 (Yikes).
At shortstop, we have the Captain Derek Jeter (2012: .323 AVG, 15 HR, 53 RBI) who becomes a free agent in 2014. There is not much to explain about Jeter except for the fact he is having his best year average wise since 2009.
At second base, there is the young Robinson Cano (2012: .299 AVG, 30 HR, 77 RBI) who is by far the Yankees best player. He plays second base so smoothly and has a great pop to his bat. For a person who does not think he has home run power—he is mistaken. He is a home run hitter. That is all.
Finally, to round out the infield, we have Mark Teixeira (2012: .255 AVG, 23 HR, 81 RBI). Teixeira is stuck with us until 2017 and even if the Yankees wanted to trade Teixeira (they do not), they cannot because of Teixeira’s no trade clause. We might as well make the best of it so Tex…we are going to need lots of game winning and World Series winning HR’s until then.
* An A-blog for A-Rod looks at the return of A-Rod.
* Bleeding Yankee Blue says don’t panic yet.
* Bronx Baseball Daily looks into how bad Derek Lowe is.
* Pinstripe Alley has an article about Swisher being ready for the playoffs.
* The Captain’s Blog asks the question of to bunt or not to bunt.
* The Yankee Analysts are taking a closer look at Kuroda.
* An A-blog for A-Rod asks if Cashman fired up Jeter in 2010.
* Bleeding Yankee Blue thinks Cervelli will bring some much needed energy to this team.
* It’s about the Money Stupid wonders if the Yankees could ever become the Red Sox.
* Pinstripe Alley looks into the Mark Montgomery option.
* River Ave Blues writes how Jeter & Swisher have been carrying the Yankees offensively.
* The Captain’s Blog has a good article on how the Yankee dwindling lead could make history.
* The Yankee Analysts looks into one reason why the offense has declined since 2009.
* Yanks Go Yard has a good piece on Eric Chavez.
As Nick Swisher continues to swing a hot bat in the second half of the season, it’s become a growing premonition with Yankees fans that the team brings him back and lets Curtis Granderson walk following next season. I’ve certainly been on board with that move, as to me Swisher is a much more dangerous and complete hitter than Granderson, not to mention Swish has put up consistent and terrific numbers for a Yankees right fielder. As many have said, the lineup feels incomplete without him, and I definitely will be watching the hot stove carefully to see if Swisher can remain in pinstripes.
But after what I heard this morning – that Swisher is seeking a Jayson Werth-like contract (seven years, $126 million) – it’s almost made me turn my position completely.
Of course, this is not the first outrageous claim by an impeding free agent, and it’s likely that Swisher will take a considerably less amount of money, wherever he ends up signing. But his price will be fairly steep, (likely in the 15 million dollar per year range)and I’m not quite sure – as great a player as he’s been in New York – if he’s actually worth it.
Let me re-phrase that – he IS worth it. But is re-signing him worth the production we’ll see out of a mid to late 30’s Nick Swisher? I don’t think so. Also, the Yankees have a ton of young outfield talent that may be ready for the Bigs as early as next season. But with Swisher’s contract, you can’t have a guy making big bucks sitting on the bench of platooning in a couple years – he has to still be starting.
Another thing worth considering is what about Robinson Cano? He is going to demand a huge contract come 2013, likely in the 200 million dollar range. (I know, there’s been a lot of talk about range, but who knows what could happen in the next year or so) It’s worth saving shelling out cash to a player [in Swisher] nearly past his prime, in order to keep a player still in the first stages of his.
The Yankees have been talking a lot about getting down to an $189 million payroll, and resigning Cano, Granderson, and maybe Swisher is going to make it very difficult to stay on that route. Perhaps Swish gives the Yankees a hometown discount, and stays in New York only another year or two for a price reasonable for a 32-year old right fielder. But much as I’d love to see Swisher stay in pinstripes, his demands may be too much for the newly conservative New York Yankees.
The Yankees had yet another solid week going 4-3. They played very well against the two time defending AL champion Texas Rangers by winning the first three games of the series before dropping the 4th one. The Yankees followed that up by splitting the first two games with Boston. The Yankees managed to do this with a short handed lineup missing Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira at times during the week. The Week 17 Yankees Player of the Week Nominations are David Phelps, Nick Swisher, Hiroki Kuroda, and Derek Jeter.
The Case For Phelps: Phelps did a very admirable job of filling in for CC Sabathia for this week. Against two very tough lineups and on a pitch count both starts Phelps flourished. Phleps pitched beautifully yesterday despite picking up the loss. He pitched 6.2 innings, allowed 3 runs on 7 hits and sturck out 7. Two of the three runs were on a well placed pitched pitch on the outside corner to Adrian Gonzalez. Phelps beat Texas by pitching 5 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, and striking out 3.
The Case For Swisher: Swisher probably had the best week at the plate that anyone on the Yankees have had this season. Swisher hit .414 on the week, with 4 HR’s and 12 RBI. Swisher started it off on Monday with a grand slam against Ryan Dempster to give the Yankees a lead that they would never relinquish. The next day, Swisher hit a 2 run home run against Alexi Ogando in the 7th inning to give break the 0-0 score. Then on Friday Swisher hit a home run from each side of the plate vs. Boston.
The Case for Kuroda: I was in attendance on Tuesday in the Bronx when Kuroda pitched the best game any Yankee has this season. Kuroda took a no-hitter into the 7th before Elvis Andrus broke it up with an infield single. He ended up pitching a complete game shutout and allowed only two hits. Kuroda only allowed 4 balls out of the infield and just one runner past 1st base. He did all this against what is perhaps the bets hitting team in baseball.
The Case for Jeter: Jeter continued his fantastic season by hitting .357, with 2 HR’s and 5 RBI on the week. Jeter’s two home runs this week gave him double digits for the season and he had three multi hit games on the week.
You have a hitter doing as well as he possibly could against a pitcher doing the best he possibly could. I will have to give it to Swisher because he was a huge part in three of the four wins this week. All 4 candidates are strong this week so vote in the poll and discuss in the comments.
If you would have asked this question last year you would have looked silly, but now you can have a serious debate on whether it would be a better value to sign Nick Swisher long term than Curtis Granderson. Obviously, there are still a lot of factors that are unknown at this point that will weigh into the decision, but this was a debate that nobody saw coming. It has long been assumed that for the Yankees to get to the $189 million plateau in 2014 that they would have to part ways with Swisher in order to sign Robinson Cano and Granderson. However, with the season Granderson is having Swisher might actually be the better value on the free agent market this year than Granderson will be in the winter of 2013.
How well Granderson and Swisher perform between now and the time their contracts are up is still a big factor in how much they will be worth. This season’s postseason will be big for Swisher because if he flops again it will be even more unlikely the Yankees would not bring him back. But let’s say he has a successful postseason and for the Yankees to bring him back it would cost them $12 million over the next four seasons. The Yankees would be better off to sign him at that price than Granderson at closer to $20 million per season, which he may cost if he hits close to 40 HR’s three years in a row at a premium position.
Swisher’s .811 OPS has now surpassed Granderson’s .807 mark for this season. Swisher is also batting almost 30 points higher than Granderson, and only has two less RBI in 74 less plate appearances than Granderson. Granderson has hit just .202, with 7 HR’s, 20 RBI and a .677 OPS since the All-Star break. Whether it is just a prolonged slump and he will snap out of it is unknown, but it has been a pretty big sample size. It is well known that Granderson has swung and missed at a lot of pitches, but he has also fouled off a bunch of hittable pitches. On the other hand, Swisher has gotten hot and it looks like he will put up another year of hitting around .260, with 25 HR’s, and 85 RBI. He has been incredibly consistent over his four years with the Yankees and if he can finally perform in the postseason he can make a convincing case to stay. The Yankees are only 7-7 this year when Swisher has not been in the lineup. Maybe that is just a coincidence, but the lineup seems a lot shorter without him in it. He also provides great lineup versatility for Joe Girardi as he can hit at the top of the lineup or towards the bottom. I also get the sense that his presence around the clubhouse is a big positive for the team as well.
An ideal scenario for the Yankees outfield would be for the Yankees to trade for Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton, trade Granderson to get some of the prospects back, and sign Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Bourn to replace Granderson. That would be a pretty cost efficient outfield, but it would be hard to put together. Maybe they can work out a three team trade like the Yankees did to acquire Granderson to begin with. If the Yankees don’t re sign Swisher I still think Bourn could be a nice option and they can move Granderson to right field. Bourn would be a good leadoff hitter for the Yankees and they can really add a lot of speed to the lineup with him. Bourn has stolen at least 50 bases over the last three seasons and also his OPS+ is only four points lower than Granderson’s this season. Bourn’s problem is he strikes out a lot, as he has 115 strikeouts this season and 140 last season. However, despite those strikeouts he has still managed to hit .291 this season and .303 last season, which cancels out a lot of the strikeouts. It is also worrisome to give a speed guy a big contract when he is going to be 30 years old next year. However, he doesn’t seem to be slowing down, and they won’t be giving him a Carl Crawford esque deal. If they could keep his deal to a four year deal they should be fine. Another great scenario is to trade for Upton, trade Granderson and re-sign Swisher. The Yankees could then move Upton to left, put Brett Gardner in center field and still have Swisher in right field.
This is something to keep your eye on for the rest of the season. If Swisher can continue his hot hitting into the postseason and Granderson continues to struggle the Yankees may have a different outfield in the future than anybody might have figured. They will have some very interesting decisions regarding their future outfield.