Friday, November 14, 2008

Fixin' a Hole

The Yankees took a surprising step to fortify their lineup by acquiring Nick Swisher in a five-player deal.

Choosing to address first base before concentrating on pitching when the free-agent market opens Friday, the Yankees obtained Swisher and right-hander Kaneoka Texeira for pitching prospect Jeff Marquez, infielder Wilson Betemit and minor league pitcher Jhonny Nunez.

I like it. For starters, it means that the Yankees will not be major players in the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes. Sure, sure, the article says Swisher could also play right field if the Yanks get another first-baseman. But I'd like to think the Yanks are just keeping the possibility out there to drive up the price for whoever eventually does overpay for Big Tex. (And believe me, they will overpay and for far too many years.)

Swisher is no Mattingly around the bag, but he's a major step up from Jason Giambi and will also keep Jorge Posada from having to learn his way around first. As for his bat, I think he's closer to the player he was in 2006-07 (.865 / .836 OPS) than in 2008 (.219 BA / .742 OPS). And Swisher's lefty bat should benefit from that friendly porch in right. (I've heard the new stadium will retain the same dimensions as the current.)

But the best part of the deal is that it doesn't seem like the Yanks are giving up much in return. Marquez is the prize for the White Sox, but considering that he wasn't as highly valued as either Hughes or Kennedy, who would be surprised if he didn't amount to much?

All told, it's a nice first step out of the box for the Yanks. Is it too much to ask for that they be smart and not overspend (or spend at all) for C.C. Sabathia?