Saturday, August 11, 2012

Do The Yankees Already Have Their Nick Swisher Replacement?

I was reading through the chat transcript at River Avenue Blues yesterday and came across this question...

"You can barely write, and you want me to believe you read that much?"
"Lets say Swisher signs a 4 year 37 mil deal with the Phillies, wouldnt a 1 year deal with Ichiro for $9 million be worth it as a replacement?"
Mike Axisa responded that $9 million for Ichiro is about 9 times his actual worth. Fangraphs has Suzuki's dollar value so far this season at $7.5 million, so Mike was exaggerating a bit, but his point is still clear... Ichiro is not worth $9 million.

From the beginning of last season through last night the most popular Japanese baseball player of all time has a triple-slash of .267/.300/.346. The league batting average this season is .249, so Ichiro is above average there. But the league average OBP is .313 and the league average SLG is .402, and both numbers are above what Ichiro's done the past 1+ seasons. So Suzuki is basically a replacement level player, which is probably being a bit generous.

"Oh! And now you're 'generous'? *cough* Bullshit *cough*"

According to CBSSports.com, the average salary in MLB this season is $3.44 million. Even if I were again generous, and accounted for the fact the Yankees tend to overpay for players (they make more money off of a player than the average team, so I'm not saying Brian Cashman spends money irresponsibly or... look, that's another discussion for another day), let's say Ichiro is worth $3.5 million to the Yankees next season. That $9 million looks like a pretty bad deal. On that note, it's hard to take Fangraph's Dollar values that seriously. *shrugs*

I can imagine some people are saying, "even if we pay Ichiro $5 million, it's still much cheaper than Swisher will be, not to mention Swisher will require a multi-year deal". That would also allow the team to re-assess their outfield prospects, and possibly promote one of them into RF the following season, which will help them get to a payroll of $189 million in 2014. Well, that's true, but two problems...

1. If you look at the top 25 prospects in the system, only one outfielder... Zoilo Almonte... may be MLB-ready by 2014. Zoilo is hitting .272/.317/.482, with 17 HR and 14 SB, at AA Trenton this season. That OBP needs to come up, and could make him really dangerous on the basepaths. But Almonte's Fielding Percentage in RF this season (where he plays the vast majority of the time) is only .954, which is 33 points lower than the MLB league average in RF of .987. Zoilo's career average Fielding Percentage in RF is .972, which is still below average. So work needs to be done there too.

"So much for that 'generous' thing."

2. What will we get out of Brett Gardner when he returns to action next season? Brett had a handful of set-backs with his elbow before he basically called it a season. Oh, and I don't count possibly coming back to be a pinch-runner a true "return". Yankee fans have to face facts... Brett may not come back the same player, and the Yankees could be looking to find a replacement for him by 2014. That replacement could very well be Zoilo Almonte. Like I said, Almonte probably won't be as good defensively, but he could be that pest on the basepaths that Gardner has been for the Bombers the past few years.

So if #2 plays out, that means there's still a hole in the outfield. And that's without looking at the statistics.

"Umm, you can't just ignore stats."

Between 2009 and 2011, Nick Swisher has averaged 27 HR, 85 RBI, and an OBP of .368. In Ichiro's 6 previous seasons he's only hit double-digit home runs once, and that was 11 back in 2009. He's only hit double-digit homers two other times in his career, and that was 15 back in 2005 and 13 in 2003. Ichiro has never had more than 69 RBI in his career, and that was back in his "rookie" season of 2001. And the days in which Ichiro gets on base nearly 37% of the time are behind him. So Ichiro is clearly not even an "okay" replacement for Nick Swisher's production.

Mason Williams, the Yankees #1 prospect, who is also an outfielder, will probably not be ready for MLB action until 2015 (he's currently in A+ ball). And that season marks the first time Brett Gardner will be a free agent. So the timing could work out perfectly for Mason to step into LF or CF for Brett Gardner, to go along with Curtis Granderson (I'm for extending him) and either Nick Swisher or a good Nick Swisher replacement. Of couse, if Zoilo Almonte is a legit MLB player at that point, the Yankees could have a log-jam in the outfield. But seeing as how two of them will be under team control, I think that's a pretty good problem to have.

Oh, and to wrap-up, that "Nick Swisher replacement" is not Ichiro Suzuki.

But he is awfully cute in a Yankee uniform.

4 comments:

  1. Melky Mesa and Chris Dickerson are way more MLB ready in my opinion then Zoilo Almonte.

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    1. I also mentioned being in the top 25 Yankee prospects, which I took from RAB (probably should have mentioned that, but it didn't seem that important, nor did I allude to any particular list).

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    2. Melky Mesa should be listed ahead of Almonte, imo, on any and all prospects list. Mesa just isnt because he is still considered raw.. even in AAA... if that is possible.

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  2. You need power in your outfield, especially in the corner spots, and Ichiro and Gardner are not going to cut it out there. You can have one but not both.

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