An unlikely tandem in right fieldBy
Look, guys: Mike started it. Me? I love Nick Swisher. I want him patrolling right field in Yankee Stadium next year, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the Yankees ink him to a three-year extension afterward. But no. Mike had to be all like, they should pick up his option and trade him and they should totally trade him for Shaun Marcum. Thanks, Mike. Thanks a lot. So now in the hypothetical world of RAB the Yankees are without a right fielder. Oh, and guess what? Brian Sabean just gave Carlos Beltran four years at $60 million. So where’s the hypothetical RAB right fielder now?
The Yankees do have a few guys in the system who could tag team in right field. Chris Dickerson spent plenty of time with the big league club this year, and has about a season’s worth of MLB at-bats under his belt. He has been almost perfectly league average in that span, a 103 wRC+, so he could probably hold his own in a platoon situation. Think Karim Garcia in the second half of 2003. Not an ideal solution, but you could do worse with half a platoon.
The right-handed side gets a little trickier. The Yankees clearly have little regard for Greg Golson. Unless they plan to go with Nunez as the primary backup at 2B, SS, 3B, RF, and LF — thus freeing up a few bench spots — chances are Golson, who is out of options, won’t be with the team come April. The alternative is Justin Maxwell, whom the Yankees claimed off waivers from the Nationals last spring. Like Dickerson, Maxwell has major league experience, producing a 91 wRC+ in 260 PA. He’s clearly a flawed player, but he does have some pop. Perhaps limiting his appearances to just lefties would help prod him along. He’s been quite a deal better against them in limited major league duty, and he absolutely crushed them in the minors.
Really? A Chris Dickerson/Justin Maxwell platoon in right field? As if. While they’re certainly an unlikely tandem, especially for the Yankees, they’re not the pair to whom I refer in the post title. But they are on the 40-man roster, which makes them a bit more likely than, say, two players who aren’t on the roster. Or, to be more accurate, one who is on the roster but will not be once the World Series ends, and one whom most Yankees fans would probably decry before the ink dried on his contract. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a platoon alternative to Nick Swisher:
Andruw Jones and J.D. Drew. Please, hold your rotten vegetables until the end.
Jones we all know from his time with the Yankees this season. After a slow start he really came around, punishing baseballs delivered from left hands. It’s clear that he’s no longer a full-time player, nor is he in any way an elite defender. But he can hold his own, especially in the relatively small right field of Yankee Stadium. A few people would rather see him depart, I’m sure, but given what’s on the market and what’s in the Yankees system, if they were to trade Swisher it’s hard to argue that the Yankees would be better off with anyone else, within reason, as the right-handed half of a RF platoon.
It’s Drew that will make many fans cringe. To those who have followed his career only in passing he’s an oft-injured softie who, given the opportunity, will make like Jason Giambi in the 2003 World Series. But that ignores the massive good Drew has done throughout his career. Sure, his .222/.315/.302 line from 2011 is fresh in everyone’s minds, but someone with his career resume probably has something left in the tank. He did hit .264/.370/.455 during his five years with the Red Sox, and was .275/.382/.478 against right-handed pitching. The right-field porch could help add some pop, leaving him as a decent one-year stopgap solution in a platoon role.
Convinced? Good, because I’m not, either. Yet this is an example of what the Yankees could have in right field if they opt to move Swisher. The only other alternative is to explore the trade market, but that’s never a sound primary strategy. It’s tough to determine what teams will trade a quality player at any given position, and even tougher to determine what they want in return. You can try to figure out a trade that would net the Yankees a right fielder, but may I remind you that your trade proposal sucks.
The Yankees have a fine right fielder in Nick Swisher. If you don’t believe me, check out Larry Koestler’s post on the matter. Given the alternatives in right field, the Yankees are pretty clearly best served by picking up Swisher’s option and returning him to the position he’s manned for the past three seasons. Unless, you know, you want a Jones/Drew or a Dickerson/Maxwell platoon in his stead.