As the second major trade of the offseason occurred last Thursday, I was greeted with the same confusion I was dealing with when it came to analyzing the Matt Holiday trade. The Chicago White Sox shipped mascot/outfielder/first baseman Nick Swisher and his swagger to the New York Yankees for a slightly cheaper version of Juan Uribe in Wilson Betemit and a couple of busted "prospects" in pitchers Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez.
First off, this trade greatly differs from the Holliday trade in that it's easy to see why one team made the move while it boggles the mind as to why the other team did. New York now has a first baseman for a relatively cheap price without trading away any of its three legit prospects in Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy or Joba Chamberlain.
While, from the outside looking in, Swisher's numbers look terrible, there is plenty of reason to think he'll turn around from his horrific .219 average with the White Sox in 2008. Take for instance, his power stats staying relatively the same as a reason for a comeback to the levels he was at in Oakland. His 2008 numbers compared to 2007 are 24 homers/ 69 RBIs and 22 homers/ 78 RBIs, respectively. The biggest drop off was his average and on-base percentage which declined from .262/.381 in 2007 to .219/.332 in 2008.
For Swisher's young career these numbers were career lows. To be honest, Swisher really only had about two months of good hitting in a White Sox uniform which ironically occured when he was playing first base the majority of the time. In my opinion that was the biggest problem for "Dirty-30". He never had a set position and struggled to find any continuity in what he was doing. One day he was in centerfield, the next day he was at first, the next day he was out of the lineup and so forth.
It's worth noting that Swisher also bounced all over the lineup, subbing in as the leadoff guy early in the season before slipping further and further down the chain. If the Yankees plan to use him as a super-utility player another failure of a season is in store for Swisher as one of his biggest complaints about Chicago, other than regular playing time, was the ferocity of the Chicago media. All I can say is, you ain't see nothing yet Swish.
Perhaps the change of scenary will do him well as his comedy act wore thin when he stopped hitting and the White Sox were in the heat of a pennant race in 2008. But the fact of the matter is that White Sox GM Ken Williams has to be banking on Swisher continuing to regress to his career averages of .244/.354. If that's the case, despite the relative cheapness of Swisher's contract, he could be cutting his losses earlier than most thought was neccessary.
The other reasoning for the trade is that there wasn't a position for him on the team. Really there never was either, but Chicago was desperate to make a move for a "center fielder" despite the fact that Swisher didn't have the range or the arm strength to cover U.S. Cellular Field. After losing out on free agents like Torii Hunter and Kosuke Fukudome, Williams was desperate to make a move and that's why he's likely to be tagged with a loss on this trade because of what he originally gave up to Oakland for Swisher's services. Pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Fautino De Los Santos along with outfielder Ryan Sweeney were among the best trade chips Williams had at the time.
Now, he's essentially cashing those chips in for two pitchers that at a best case scenario, could be cast in the fifth-starter/long reliever role. That's a big loss in my mind but maybe Williams has something bigger in mind. We'll never know, he's vurrrrry mysterious.
Photo Credit: SF Chronicle
- Thursday, November 20, 2008
- Posted by M.J. Hartwig at 1:22 PM