Results tagged ‘ Nick Swisher ’

Time to trade Matsui?

matsui_250_030409.jpgBy Glenn Giangrande
Let me start by saying Hideki Matsui has been the consummate professional in pinstripes and I believe he has given the Yankees everything he possibly could during his tenure, which goes far beyond what he’s done solely on the ball field.
 
Now that I’ve said that, I’m saying it’s time to cut the cord with him.
 
Matsui appears to be a major albatross on this roster. It is pretty well known that he will be little more than a DH this season given his knee problems and he’ll turn 35 in June. I’m not going to say his power is officially in decline just yet because he turned in a very solid .285-25-103-100 season the last time he was healthy in ’07, but at his age and with his health problems, Godzilla might be at the tipping point.
 
My main concerns actually have more to do with players around Matsui than Matsui himself. Jorge Posada has already had one setback this spring in his return from shoulder surgery, and given his age\health issue, he will probably need more than a few at-bats as the DH to keep him fresh for his time behind the plate. Johnny Damon will need the occasional day off from left field as well. Joe Girardi is said to be a huge fan of Nick Swisher, so if he happens to lose the right field battle with Xavier Nady, he and his positive clubhouse presence can slot right into the DH position. It just seems like a number of players offer more to the Yankees than Matsui does right now.
 
Baseball is a business though, and maybe the Yankees think that dealing Matsui would hurt their brand in Japan. I say their flag has already been planted firmly enough there. They’d probably have to eat a fair amount of his remaining $13 million salary, maybe half of it. At this time though, dealing Matsui might be addition by subtraction when talking solely about roster makeup, and isn’t that what matters when a World Championship is the main goal? 

Yanks schlep to Fort Myers

kennedy_250_022707.jpgBy Jon Lane
The Yankees left at 8 this morning for the 2 1/2-hour trek to Fort Myers for a game against the Minnesota Twins. Ian Kennedy starts for New York against Scott Baker.

The lineup:
Brett Gardner CF
Cody Ransom 2B
Nick Swisher 1B
Jorge Posada DH
Xavier Nady RF
Melky Cabrera LF
Angel Berroa SS
Justin Leone 3B
Francisco Cervelli C

Note that Nady, Swisher, Cabrera and Gardner all made the trip. Each are competing for playing time in the outfield, while Swisher starts at first base to get some at-bats. Normally, veterans like Posada don’t make these types of trips, but 1) yesterday was his first game action since last July 19 and 2) teams are required to send at least one of their big names on the road.

The Cabrera-Gardner competition will get press throughout the spring, but Nady-Swisher is an intriguing storyline. Speculation over whether either will be traded has died down for the moment. The hope here is that both remain on the roster. Both offer depth, and Swisher’s personality has been refreshing and contagious to a group that needs positive vibes given the A-Rod melodrama and the annual World Series or bust expectations.

You can track today’s game here. I’ll be listening to the Twins’ radio feed and will check in with updates from time to time.

1:24 p.m.: Already 2-0 Yankees and kick-started by Brett Gardner, who led off with a single, stole second and scored on Cody Ransom’s single (Ransom came home with the second run on a throwing error). It’s only Game 3, but you think Gardner is hungry to prove a point?

Ian Kennedy then retires the Twins in order.

1:32 p.m. Justin Leone’s one-out homer puts the Yankees ahead 3-0. It would have been four if not for Angel Berroa’s failed attempt to turn a leadoff single into a double.

1:35 p.m. Gardner, your 2009 Opening Day center fielder, is 2-for-2 with a single and a double.

2:01 p.m. The Yankees have eight hits in 2 1/2 innings, but left the bases loaded without scoring a run. Sound familiar?

Cabrera popped up with runners on second and third and one out. Remember that he’s out of options, so if Gardner wins the CF competition, the Yankees will either have to find a place for Cabrera or risk losing him should he not clear waivers.

2:04 p.m. Kennedy’s line: 2 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts. He left a runner stranded at third to end the second.

2:17 p.m. Gardner drew a one-out walk, the third time he’s reached base. Minutes later he swiped second base. The Twins announcers said he has a little element of Lenny Dykstra, as in when he plays, you notice him.

2:23 p.m. Swisher flies out to end the threat. Still 3-0, Yankees

2:48 p.m. Cabrera grounded out to end the top of the fifth. He’s 0-for-3. Jorge Posada left the game after going 2-for-3. He is 4-for-5 in two games. 3-1, Yankees.

3:02 p.m. Austin Jackson pinch-hit for Gardner, who is batting .429 (3-for-7) with a homer and two stolen bases in three spring games.

3:20 p.m. Competition report: Cabrera finished hitless in three at-bats and is 0-for-5 in two games. Swisher went 2-for-3 and Nady 1-for-3.

4:17 p.m. Yankees lose 5-4 to fall to 2-1 on the Grapefruit Season. The Twins snuffed a late rally in the ninth.

Figuring out the outfield puzzle

melky_375_021809.jpgBy Jon Lane
Barring a trade, or the Yankees plucking a stop-gap veteran off the scrap heap, Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera will be the team’s starting center fielder.

Many people wanted to pull the plug on Cabrera; he was almost shipped
to Milwaukee for Mike Cameron. Why give up so soon? He’s only 24 and
had one bad season, which made nearly everyone forget his 16 assists
and 73 RBIs the year before, as well as those sparkling catches in
center that had fans enamored with him. Cabrera’s biggest issue is
maturity, so you hope his demotion to Triple-A last August humbled him.

From the looks of his Dominican League numbers (.312-1-12 in 24 games
for Aguilas Cibaenas) the prognosis is encouraging. Also helping
Cabrera’s cause is him pulling out of the World Baseball Classic. It’s
admirable Cabrera wanted to represent his native Dominican Republic,
but he has too much to prove to the Yankees – and to himself.

There is a lot to like about Gardner’s game. He’s a demon on the bases and goes all-out in every area. He just has to hit; a .228 batting average in 42 games isn’t what the Yankees are accustomed to in center field.

Why trade either Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher? Either (likely Nady) will start in right field. Both offer depth and in Swisher’s case, flexibility. Bear in mind that Hideki Matsui will not see any action in the outfield all spring. He’s coming off knee surgery, so he’ll be a DH for the foreseeable future.

I’m expecting a bounce-back season for Swisher (.219-24-69 in ’08), a genial person who needed a fresh start after his fallout with Ozzie Guillen in Chicago. He’s only 28 and two seasons removed from slugging 35 home runs with 95 RBIs.

A friend of mine had this idea the other day: The Yankees sign free agent Garret Anderson. In theory it’s great. At age 36, Anderson batted .293 with 15 home runs and 84 RBIs, second on the club to Vladimir Guerrero’s 91. When the Angels decided to decline picking up their option on Anderson’s contract, Anderson left Southern California as the franchise’ leader in games played, at-bats, hits, total bases, singles, doubles, grand slams, extra-base hits, career RBI, single-game RBI, and consecutive games (12) with an RBI.

In practice it’s unlikely, though you never know. Anderson would have made $14 million in 2009 and the Yankees do not want to add more to their bloated payroll. Nady or Swisher would have to be dealt and Anderson would have to play every day. He turns 37 in June, so how productive would he truly be?

One person who will not be roaming the outfield for the Yankees: Bernie Williams. The fan favorite was with the team in Tampa today, but he’s not on the roster. He’s working out in preparation for Team Puerto Rico in the WBC.