Left field closing arguments: Xavier Nady

Marlins firmly asked to spend more on players
Appreciating a core of peak-age players

Every time I think we’ve concluded this series, a rumor pops up and I think to add another player to the list. Yesterday, Joel Sherman said that the “player that most enticed the Yankees is Xavier Nady.” So, in what is hopefully the last post of this series, we’ll discuss Nady’s case.

It feels like we hardly got to know Xavier Nady. Acquired at the 2008 trade deadline with Damaso Marte, Nady made just 276 plate appearances during his tenure. An April elbow injury cut short his 2009 campaign right after it began, leaving many questions unanswered. Could he repeat his breakout 2008, or was it a fluke? Even without a breakout, could he hold the starting right field job with Nick Swisher right behind him?

Nady’s elbow injury, which resulted in his second Tommy John surgery, changed the outlook of his first crack at free agency. Even with a year that mirrored his 2007, a team with corner outfield needs, like the Braves and Giants, would probably have shown interest in him. The injury, however, has given teams pause. It shouldn’t take Nady the full 12 to 18 months of recovery — he doesn’t throw at max effort for 100 pitches at a clip, so he should recover quicker than a pitcher. Still, considering the low success rate of second time Tommy John victims (among them is Dave Eiland), it’s understandable why a market for Nady has yet to develop.

Offensively, Nady showed improvement in most aspects of his game from 2006 through 2008. His power jumped in 2007, as he went from a .178 and .173 mark in 2005 and 06 to .197 in 07. He sustained that in 2008, posting a career high .205 ISO. His batting average increased in 2008 as well, going from around .280 in 2006 and 2007 to .305 in 2008. This coincides with a rise in BABIP, .337 in 2008, up from .323 in 07 and .311 in 06. Nady did hit fewer fly balls and more line drives in 2008, which helps explain the spike.

Earlier in his career a platoon player, Nady showed improvement against righties from 2006 through 2008. His batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage each rose every year, most notably from 2007 to 08. Whether he could repeat that in 2009 was another question left unanswered due to injury. As I noted in this post, Nady was hitting .335/.368/.538 against righties in 2008 at the time of the trade. He ended up with a .317/.357/.529 line against righties. But while he didn’t sustain his first half marks against righties, his numbers against lefties also declined. So maybe he has turned a corner against right-handed pitching. But, because the most marked improvement came in one season, we can’t really say one way the other.

While Nady’s time in New York doesn’t look great on paper, he did continue to hit while the Yankees were still in the race. In August, while the team still had a fighting chance, Nady hit .308/.351/.523 in 114 plate appearances. The moo wore off in September, however, as he hit .223/.270/.379 in 111 plate appearances. So it’s not like he came to New York and fell off a cliff. That’s a good sign, I think…

On the down side, Nady’s ability to avoid making outs rests largely on his batting average. His 6.6 walk percentage in 2008 was a career high, though not by a lot. For comparison, Melky Cabrera walked in 6.5 percent of his plate appearances in his horrible 2008, and 8.1 percent in 2009. Thankfully for Nady, he’s shown himself to be a .280 to .300 hitter over the last four years he played, so that does help his case. But if he sees a decline in that batting average, he’ll be far less valuable to the team.

Defensively, he has shown himself as a below average player. Throughout his career he has almost exclusively been worth negative runs in terms of UZR. That did change in 2008, as he posted a 4.6 UZR/150 in left field and a 3.7 mark in right. He was, however, negative at both positions in 2006 and 2007 (though he didn’t play left in 2006). This suggests that Nady is a below average outfielder. It would have been nice to get a better read on him in 2009.

Yesterday afternoon, ESPN’s Keith Law commented on Nady, saying that he and Reed Johnson “represent marginal improvements ha may not justify the cost.” This, I think, holds true if Nady regresses to his 2007 form. His power is nice, but unless he keeps his walk rate at around 6.5 to 7 percent and sustains his .280 to .300 batting average, he doesn’t represent a significant upgrade over Brett Gardner. If, however, Nady comes back and plays to his final 2008 numbers, then he might be an improvement. Is that upside worth gambling the remaining budget?

In the skills post from last night, Gardner profiled as a three-skill player: speed, discipline, and defense. Nady possesses two: contact and power. Four current Yankee starters possess both of those skills. Other than Gardner, only Curtis Granderson has speed. So, unless Nady’s demands come down — perhaps to a million with incentives — the Yankees are probably better off saving that cash for a possible addition down the road. That is, of course, if they truly plan to stay within their current budget all season. If that’s just the Opening Day budget and the team is willing to spend more mid-season, well, then all bets are off.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Marlins firmly asked to spend more on players
Appreciating a core of peak-age players
  • Bo

    We’ll see how long this “remaining budget” thing lasts when gardner is hitting 220 in June.

    Let the guy do the job he should be doing. 4th OF. Hes perfect for it. his bat wont get exposed. His speed and def are at a premium.

    • Rose

      While I believe Gardner being exposed is inevitable, nobody knows that for sure. And if we to succeed AT ALL…I would assume his best chances would be being surrounded by the smorgasbord of all-stars on the Yankees.

    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      So after his first 96 MLB plate appearances, Gardner was hitting .165/.234/.212. Since then, over 121 games and 329 PAs, Gardner has hit .283/.351/.393. Justify your belief then that he’ll be hitting .220 in June.

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        After his 5 hit game in Citi-Field, for the rest of the year (including the playoffs), his triple slash was .211/.252/.266 in 115 PAs.
        I’m not expecting the guy to be Johnny Damon with the bat, but I am hoping that he will become more than a de facto Designated Fielder who can steal bases.

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WppcSY4SsSk barry

          That’s 115 inconsistent plate appearances. Gardner has shown both in the minor and major leagues that he is a better batter with consistent playing time. How can you call 115 PAs a sufficient sample size to exposure especially when there was an injury during that time period and he wasn’t consistently starting during those PAs. Just seems to me that you’re drawing a lot of conclusions with a magic crayon.

          • andrew

            Yea, 115 PAs where major league pitchers didn’t have a scouting report on him yet. So Gardner improves/gets more comfortable, and then the pitchers figure out how to pitch to him, and we’re back where we started.

            • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WppcSY4SsSk barry

              OH yea where are you drawing this conclusion from. I guess that’s why every hitter get’s adjusted to until the point that he can’t hit a lick at the major league level, it has nothing to do with the hitter’s skills either. Sorry, my bad, I guess I should of assumed that the books written on Brett and he’s never going to be an effective major league hitter because of 115 PA where his triple slash line was well below average, even though he had an equal amount of very impressive PAs. You’re right, my bad, ass.

        • Ed

          A lot of that was bench time though. Everyone is worse with sporadic playing time.

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            Yes, everyone is worse with sporadic playing time, except the players who aren’t.

            • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WppcSY4SsSk barry

              Oh I forgot because we can all assume if Alex Rodriguez had inconsistent plate appearances he would still produce at an A+ level.

    • A.D.

      As it was discussed yesterday come mid season if LF is a black hole, then:

      1. the 2M can now buy a 4M dollar a year player

      2. the payroll limitations to start a season may be different than those to start

      Additionally if something similar to a Nady or Reed Johnson is just going to be available mid-season, then the Yanks might as well wait.

      • Steve H

        All of that. And if Gritner is hitting .220 in June, this will still be a great team. He’s the #9 hitter of an otherwise great offensive team, that also has great pitching. They will win games with Gardner underperforming with the bat, and if it gets too bad, they can easily replace him.

      • Grndslam

        Why dont the Yankees look to pick up a guy like frak Catalattno??You can get him cheap and he’s a local guy!! Hello!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada
    • Steve H


    • jsbrendog

      so then what youre saying is we should sign fernando tatis?

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada


    • Grndslam

      Why don’t the Yankees sign a guy like
      Frank Catalanatto?? You can get him cheap and he’s a NY’er!!

  • Rose

    Nady is a nice gamble…but I don’t think the risk is worth the reward on this one. He may have been reaching his prime years…but he’s coming off of a SECOND TJ surgery…and I can’t think of too many successful position players who have done that…

    I wouldn’t think Reed Johnson would be $2M, would he be? In this market?? Same with Nady…

    And if so…how much would Tatis cost? If you can get any of these guys for Hinske money…I say take a gamble…but for double Hinske-money? Save it and throw Gardner out there and perhaps use it mid-season if Gardner takes a dive

    • A.D.

      I agree with fearing the risk of Nady’s arm. You already have two players with upside in Gardner and Hoffmann, that have posted strong numbers in the upper minors. The insurance you want is a guy who’s likely to stay healthy and has a history of solid ML production, Nady meets the latter, but his health is an obvious concern to a lock to play the outfield.

      That said, if he can demonstrate he can throw, gotta figure it’s unlikely he blows out his arm back to back seasons.

      Side note, Chris Capuano is trying to come back and pitch after a second TJ, so maybe that provides some hope.

      • Rose

        Side note, Chris Capuano is trying to come back and pitch after a second TJ, so maybe that provides some hope.

        Chris is from the town next to mine, he’s a little older but went to the rival High School with a bunch of my friends. My friends have gotten free tickets to go out and see him but I haven’t been as fortunate yet. I also didn’t know him as well as they did. Great guy though from what I hear.

      • J.D.

        With Gardner in LF, possibly Center, and Granderson in either LF or Center, that will leave open RF. Why not make Nady an offer and use him as a utility player along w/ Swisher. Nady can play any OF position, and he was a SS in high school and a 3B in college. He’s played 1st in the minor leagues as well as w/ the Padres. I say rotate Nady, Swisher, Granderson, and Gardner in the outfield positions, while giving your 1st baseman a breather w/ Nady and Swisher as needed. Nady balances the OF w/ power and RBI’s.

  • http://josephdelgrippo.wordpress.com/ Joseph DelGrippo

    That picture of Nady with this piece reveals the worst back leg hitting mechanics I have ever seen.

    Keep Gardner in LF. When given the opportunity at every level of play, Gardner struggles early then improves his second season at the same level.

    Young players who have been good at AAA need to develop in the majors in order to get better. Playing the 4th OF or back in AAA is not going to get them better agaisnt ML competition.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      Is this something you’ve noticed elsewhere, or are you basing your “back leg hitting mechanics” statement based on one picture?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      He looks like he’s about to snap his fibula in half, Jermaine Dye style (minus the foul ball).

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Classic Joseph.

  • Steve B.

    If these are “closing” arguments, then why do we continue to talk about it ???….close it already !!!

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      (unwraps burrito, wipes down microwave)

      • radnom

        Who the hell wipes down a microwave every time they use it?
        Try cooking those burritos at a lower power setting, bro.

        • Steve H

          Or invest in saran wrap.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Try cooking those burritos at a lower power setting, bro.


    • http://www.secondavenuesagas.com Benjamin Kabak

      Are you being dense or a joker? It’s a closing argument for each individual player rumored to be on the Yanks’ radar. It’s not one closing argument for everyone.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WppcSY4SsSk barry

        haha werd

  • radnom

    The idea isn’t that Nady and Reed Johnson are such great improvements over Garder that we need to jump to go get them, the idea is that the more shit you throw at the wall the more likely is that something will stick (its worked pretty well for them in the bullpen). If we are talking 1-2 mil then it is worth it to take a shot at one of these guys.

    A couple questions about Nady I don’t know the answer to.

    1. I’ve heard the low chance of recovery from a second TJ surgery mentioned a lot….does this percentage include just position players or everyone (mostly pitchers)? I would be interested to know the chance of recovery if you remove pitchers from that equation.

    2. Does the injury that required TJ affect him at the plate or just throwing the ball? For example – would it have been possible for the Yankees to DH him if he didn’t get the surgery last season? Would he have hit at 100%? 50%? Less?

    • radnom

      *checks back in*

      Apparently no one knows the answers to these questions?

  • scoopemup

    Maybe Derek should take some fly balls in LF this ST.Just saying…

    • A.D.

      Right because we have that SS ready to replace him

      • Steve H

        Jeter to LF, A-Rod to SS, Tex to 3B, Nady to 1B where he doesn’t have to throw much. Problem solved…….

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

          Posada to DH, Hughes to the rotation, Javy Vazquez to catcher.

          • Andy in Sunny Daytona

            Screw that. Jetes to LF and Nady to SS. That will toughen his arm up.

            BTW, Christian Garcia says Nady has a “glass arm”. That’s saying something.

            • Steve H

              Christian Garcia should take steroids to get healthy, then he’ll be able to hit 500 HR’s.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

                False. Steroids don’t increase your strength.

                Mark McGwire

                • Thomas

                  I actually have a friend who was trying to convince of the same argument as McGwire for the past three years. He always said “I don’t believe steroids will make you hit the ball farther, it will just allow you keep your strength longer.”

                  After hearing McGwire’s comments, I still think he is a fool.

                • Andy in Sunny Daytona

                  I want to see a Mark McGwire/Jose Canseco celebrity MMA fight. Please Mo-Jesus-Melvin, make this happen.

                • A.D.

                  Well your friends argument is poor. If anything it gives you the extra muscle, but not the hand eye coordination to actually hit the ball

                • Thomas

                  I agree my friends argument is ridiculous.

                  Also, certain steroids and HGH do improve eyesight meaning they can help a player’s pitch recognition and help determine when and at what zone a player should swing in.

                • A.D.

                  Yes, especially the products from Balco was suppose to, but I’m saying that’s the “better” argument if one was trying to dismiss steroids.

    • Rose

      Derek at SS/Gardner in LF >>>>>>>> Derek in LF/Pena at SS

      • A.D.

        Plus Pena can play the OF, if you want his bat in the line-up over Griter, you can just play him in LF.

  • LarryM, FL.

    The Yankees are set in every position except for left field as been indicated day in and day out. The alternatives to Gardner and Hoffmann platoon are minimal at best signings. If the Yankees do not want to extend the budget to acquire a proven left fielder than the answer is presently on their roster. Gardner and Hoffmann have not had much big league playing experience to be seen as a negative. If given the opportunity to play on consistent basis on a platoon in LF and filling in as a 4th OF to rest Swisher and Granderson, these two could excell at the plate.

    You don’t make it to the active 25 man rosters in big leagues unless you can play but unfortuantely for Hoffmann he ran into Joe Torre who dislikes any player without a resume of veteran play. Gardner won the CF job and did not keep it last year. He’s no power hitter neither was Roy White who patrolled left field for champion Yankee teams. Give Gardner a full year and Hoffmann the same as a 4th OF. We maybe pleasantly surprised. Sign Hairston as the veteran backup for OF and 3rd base with Pena the SS/2B backup. We’ll be fine, IMHO.

    • jsbrendog

      i personally am hoping hoffmann turns into a great player. that would just further cement cashman as teh mang

    • JMK aka The Overshare’s Garden Apartment Complex

      You don’t make it to the active 25 man rosters in big leagues unless you can play

      Cody Ransom says “hi.”

      • pete

        ya but he can jump really high. totally different. different era, too. no way to compare the two.

    • Don W

      Nothing in Hoffman’s minor league record implies that he’s a major league hitter. His MLE’s grade out lower than Gardner’s. Despite being a year older.

  • Rose

    Hinske signs for $1M with the Braves. Ryan Church signs for $1.5M with the Pirates.

    They’re both healthy and productive…albeit, Church a little more than Hinske…but that being said…Nady is a question mark and shouldn’t receive significantly more than these guys. Church anyway. And Reed Johnson, most certainly shouldn’t.

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  • jsbrendog

    so so 4 guy bench right? and hoffman gets one. and cervelli the other. sign tatis and hairston for 1 mill each because both of them can play of and infield and thats your bench.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      Works for me.

      • jsbrendog

        its funny, i was against tatis and thought he sucked until i, you know, looked at his numbers and educated myself. he is a quality platoon player who seemingly, from stats that arent the best gauge but whatevs (ie fielding % and what BR has,) hits well and can play basically everywhere at least serviceably. combining him and hairston for that 2 mill not only makes the teams depth that much better but it allows pena to get a full season in aaa and for him and russo to duke it out for injury replacement/known quantity as backup player for 2011 AND maybe get more reps in the OF so he can become like a hairston

        • Rose

          Would you be opposed to Thames?

          • A.D.

            I would be Thames can’t play multiple positions, and a .303 career OBP…YIKES.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

            Thames, wRC+, ’07/’08/’09:
            96, 106, 100

            Tatis, wRC+, ’07/’08/’09:
            DNP, 131, 108

            I wouldn’t be opposed to Thames, per se, but Tatis is a much better option, IMO. Better bat, plays better defense (and more positions).

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

              For reference:

              Nady, wRC+, ‘07/’08/’09:
              111, 131, 96

              Reed Johnson, wRC+, ‘07/’08/’09:
              69, 103, 95

          • jsbrendog

            thames doesn’t have the flexibility. the reason i want tatis and hairston s because they can both play everywhere and are good enough to play for a week or two while someone is on the dl. thames is a rf/lf/1b only guy no?

            thames 09 ops+ : 99
            tatis 09 ops+ : 105
            hairston, jr: 86

            tatis played 1b, 3b, ss, 2b, lf, rf in 09 (granted 2b, rf, ss were only like 2 games each, he can do it in an emergency)

            and hairston, while not being great with the bat, is a perfect backup backup to tatis

            • Bill

              I really like the idea of Tatis or Hairston. Our bench is awful right now. I mean we basically have Hoffmann, Cervelli, and Pena. Pena can’t hit (I’d be surprised if he sustains his ML numbers from last year). Cervelli is a backup catcher, nothing more. Hoffmann is a rule 5 pick and a big question mark.

              One injury and one of these guys is in the 8th or 9th spot with Gardner. Then when Posada or one of the other regulars needs a day off we have a pretty weak 7-9.

              Sign Tatis and he can be a serviceable #8 hitter while someone is out injured. And if Gardner is terrible put him in LF.

              Reed Johnson might be ok, but he is terrible against righties and can’t play the INF like Tatis and Hairston can.

              • Bill

                Although at this point I’m inclined to wait out Damon who is a clear upgrade to Gardner in the OF. Tatis and Hairston though are among my top options though if Damon goes elsewhere.

    • Rose


  • http://Youcan'tincreaseyourrange TLVP

    In July it’s highly likely we’ll be very well placed for a playoff spot regardless of how our no 9 hitter is doing.

    If we are at danger of missing the playoffs in 2010 its not because of Garnder hitting 9th but because of injuries to key players (A-Rod, Teix, Jeter, Posada, CC). If that is the case the $2m budget might very well be inflated to get us back in the race.

    • LarryM, FL.

      AS TLVP indicates, the only reasons this team can be derailed toward the playoffs are injuries and decrease in playing ability due to age of key players.

      Cashman has done a fine job apparently listening to baseball people and seeing for himself team needs. This game is changing as far as the compensation for players hanging on. Damon must be kicking himself to have refused the Yankee offer of 2 @14 mil. he’ll be lucky to see the upper 5 range.

      • radnom

        Damon must be kicking himself to have refused the Yankee offer of 2 @14

        At this point in the offseason, its crazy to think that the offer was ever that high.

  • Peter Rabbit

    on the health issue, Not sure how someone can sit here and be all up in arms about nady’s injury but LOVE Reed Johnson even though he has chronic back problems and lower body issues.

    i know 2nd tommy john is a bitch. but he’s not a pitcher. and its not like he had elbow surgery and 3 weeks later his elbow blew out again…i mean he played for 6 years. and as an OF, AT WORST all he really has to do is hit the cut off man. and he posted a ok UZR in 2008 in LF for the yanks. and on the other side, we have seen Albert Pujols play for years with a bad elbow. So we know it can be done in the batters box.

  • http://oldranger7.blogspot.com Ken A.K.A. Old Ranger

    2009 Brett…
    .270 BA/.345 OBP/.379 Slg/.724 OPS, end of year stats.
    First 77 games…282/.352/.404/.747, then hurt his hand.
    After injury (which he came back to soon from) he was lost at the plate.
    He has shown the proclivity to improve and I think he can hold down the CF/LF job very well, giving us another weapon, other then just HRs.
    With the team as it is now, we can (as stated above) have a solid OF that provents runs.

  • Rich Allen

    Here’s a much better idea!!! Let Gardner/Hoffman platoon in LF (they both play above average Defense), because you have plenty of offense 1-8, then use that money to sign Ben Sheets! Bring him in as a 5th starter, and then you are at least even in SP vs. RedSux, if not ahead of them, AND you then move BOTH Joba and Phil to the bullpen for this year!!! Your bullpen would be lights out!!!



    DAMN, I hope Cash is reading this!!!

  • vinnie

    why would you want sheets thats so stupid. We have 7 starting pitchers now. the 4 plus joba hughes and mitre. count gaudin if you want. Sheets would just be a stupid signing. If he was healthy and looked like he did in 08 he would have been signed already. same with bedard.

    My opinion on what we should do is wait it out. wait another few weeks see if a bargain pops up. worst comes to worst sign jerry jr he can play the corners and 3rd for arod. 8th inning your winning 4 2 you would like to take swisher out for a defensive replacement.

    there was an article awhile ago. if granderson was out lf and gardner was our cf everything would sound OK. but since its reversed speed coming from left and power coming from center it is looked as a flawed lineup. we have power coming from every position we can sacrifice one for speed. Its fun to see someone young and fast earn a spot.

  • pete luciano

    Gardner as a starter is absurd. Sign Damon, he’s cheap enough now and we’ve embarassed Boras plenty. I like all the talk about Gardners numbers, get real, if he plays everyday he gets more and more exposed. He’s a bench player, Damon isn’t. Don’t forget how valuable a 2 hitter Damon was. Good power, can pull the ball, hits leftys, can still run, and is a rare proven clutch player in big situations and in the playoffs. He was a better hitter in the playoffs than Teixeira, Swisher, Cano, and Melky, and he’ll probably be better than Johnson or Granderson. Stop the absurity with the budget, we’re the Yankees.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WppcSY4SsSk barry

      The Great Pete Luciano, King of Morons, has spoken.

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  • YankeeBaseball

    Sign Damon for 7mil one year with a team option for a second yr w/ 1mil buyout. Also sign Tatis as a super utility guy.


    Pena or Hoffman


  • Chairman

    What we don’t need is two no-hit utility players like Hairston and Gardner. We have three very capable rookies who can do the same job and hit major league pitching. Each time one of them came to the plate, they proved to be a holes in our lineups and sure outs. Andy Petit is a better hitter than them. Both belong in the minors. Their occasional contributions are not worth the absurity of carrying them on the roster. Pena is twice the player of either of them, and Tatis has a career 266 batting average and should be signed. Bottom line; Sign Damon and be done!!!

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