One of the most common Spring Training cliches is “[insert player here] worked all hard all summer and is in the best shape of his life,” but how often is it true? Not often. Well, Nick Swisher reportedly lost sixteen pounds this offseason, ironically by incorporated chocolate milk into his post-workout regiment. Based on the photo in the linked article, it looks to be legit (here’s last year’s slightly thicker version of Swish). Reliever Brian Bruney also reportedly shed sixteen pounds off his frame this winter, which supposedly puts him under 220 lbs for the first time since high school. There’s no picture to verify Bruney’s new physique, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt after all the weight he lost last offseason. I’m sure Joe Girardi will be pleased.
In his latest Rumblings & Grumblings column, ESPN.com scribe Jayson Stark takes a look at the state of the free agent market. With just a week left until Spring Training, some big names — Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, Juan Cruz — remained unsigned, and the excuse that any or all of these players hurt team chemistry doesn’t really fly.
But that’s not important right now. In the column, Stark gives us a tidbit about Nick Swisher and the Braves. It’s the rumor that just won’t die. He writes:
In the meantime, the Braves seem to have emerged as the club most interested in Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher. But there are indications the teams got hung up when the Braves asked the Yankees to eat some of the $22.05 million Swisher has coming over the next three years — and got turned down flat.
When push comes to shove, I’m going to bet on “no deal” here. The Yanks have no incentive to trade Swisher — or Xavier Nady, for that matter — for anything less than what they want. Doing so would in fact weaken the team’s bench. If the Braves won’t give up the prospects or money for him, the Yanks may very well be better of for it.
About an hour after I asked which teams can afford to sign a free agent, Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated provided his own take on the situation. Except his is a bit more inclusive. The only team which shows up on my list but not his is the White Sox, though I think he underestimates Ken Williams’s penchant for sneaking in a deal. All told, he thinks half the teams in baseball can afford another “big deal or two”: Dodgers, Giants, Mets, Brewers, Braves, A’s, Cubs, Red Sox, Angels, Nationals, Orioles, Yankees, Twins, Rangers, Mariners.
I guess “big deal” is a relative term. I’m still skeptical that the Mariners, Rangers, Twins, or Orioles will add more than $5 million in 2009 payroll. The Nats might be willing to add more, but will it really help them compete in the stacked NL East? Still, I think most of these teams are out on the guys we ran down in today’s RAB Radio Show.
A couple of other Yankee-related notes from Heyman:
- The definitive word on Pettitte: “But where else is he going to go?” I still think a deal gets done as February approaches. It makes sense for both parties.
- “Hal Steinbrenner is thought to be against signing [Manny] Ramirez.” That was pretty much a given.
- “The Yankees are said to be getting more interest in Nick Swisher than Xavier Nady.” I can understand why, in terms of Swisher being locked up for the next three years. Then again, it’s not like he’s played since last season. Perhaps part of the reason is teams think they can get Swisher on the cheap. No, I’m sure Cashman wouldn’t trade him for Aaron Heilman.
- Heyman says that Bobby Abreu’s defense isn’t as bad as we might think. “Abreu, in fact, is fifth in assists among right fielders over the last three years and third in fielding percentage.” I imagine him saying this with a completely straight face, as if any of us believes that fielding percentage — for an outfielder, no less — counts for a damn thing. Almost all advanced defensive metrics out there have Abreu at the bottom of the league.
Over at MLBTR, Alex Walsh has a Reds-related Bobby Abreu update. He writes:
The Reds won’t sign a veteran outfielder to a multi-year contract. If the Reds do sign such an outfielder, like Bobby Abreu, the deal will be for one-year. With the economy the way it is, such a deal may become increasingly more favorable to a player like Abreu.
So let met toss out some idle thought. What if Bobby Abreu ends up settling for a one-year deal? Should the Yankees get involved?
There’s no doubt that Bobby Abreu is still a very good hitter, if a terrible fielder, but I’d believe, without analyzing the situation, that one year of Abreu would be better than one year of Nady or Swisher. if the Yanks sign Abreu to a one-year deal, they could easily move Nady while maintaining Swisher, who is under contract for a few more years.
Of course, there are some limitations here. With Swisher and Nady, the Yanks have the luxury of seeing what they have. They can go with one and trade the other. It gives them roster flexibility. As soon as they commit to Abreu, he would be the starting right fielder and whichever of Nady or Swisher remains with the Yanks would be either be relegated to the bench or left field with Damon in center. The outfield defense would suffer, but the bench could be stronger.
In the end, it’s just a though. Feel free to debate this or anything else tonight in your open thread. Just play nice.
We’ll start off with the good news. A report earlier this week indicated that the Yankees offered Nick Swisher for Mike Cameron. Thankfully, Buster Olney has stepped in and debunked this already specious rumor. On his blog today, he note:
Heard this in regards to rumors of a Mike Cameron-Nick Swisher swap: The Yankees have not had any trade talks with the Brewers since the winter meetings, and they are not considering a Cameron-Swisher trade.
So sanity is restored. It’s not like many of us took this seriously, anyway. Why would the Yankees offer Swisher, who is young, for Cameron, who is not? The only advantage Cam holds is the ability to play a pretty center field. He did have his best UZR since 2003 in 2008, but even so Swish’s youth, and the fact that he’s under contract next year, make him the more favorable player. Plus, I suspect if the Yankees made this offer, the Brewers would have had the paperwork done already.
We do have some fresh rumors regarding Swish and Xavier Nady. Via MLB Trade Rumors we get word from both Ken Rosenthal and Jerry Crasnick that the Yanks and Braves have discussed the corner outfielders. Rosenthal even went so far to say that the two teams have spoken about trade possibilities.
The team’s next step will be to add a bat, and the club has spoken with the Yankees about their available hitters, Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher, sources said.
By no means does this indicate the Yankees will actually pursue a trade. Like any good GM, Cashman is listening to what’s out there. If he finds something that improves the team this year and in the future, he’ll consider it. If the best that’s out there is something like Swish for Cameron, I suspect he’ll head into Spring Training with a bit of a surplus. As we’ve noted multiple times, depth becomes even more valuable in the spring, when teams get a better look at their teams (and see their players befall injuries).
Newsday beat writer Kat O’Brien is headed out on vacation, getting in some R&R before the start of Spring Training. The crew at Newsday invited us to take over her blog for the next two weeks, and we’re honored to do so again. Today I took at how Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady matchup, concluding that if the Yanks do decide to deal one of their extra outfielders, Nady should be one packing his bags. Check it out.
Add the Jim Bowden to the list of GMs calling Brian Cashman. According to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, the Yankees and Nationals are “currently in trade discussions” involving Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher. It’s unclear what the Nationals would offer the Yankees, and I still don’t think the Yanks should be in such a hurry to trade either of these two players. However, this is one rumor that might carry some weight. The Nationals need some pop, and the Yanks could be trying to clear payroll for one final pitching signing of the Hot Stove League. (Hat tip to MLBTR.)