2009: Shortly after the 2008 World Series had ended, the Yankees got right down to business in improving their lineup (and outfield). They sent Utility man Wilson Betemit along with two minor-league pitchers to the Chicago White Sox for OF/1B Nick Swisher and a minor-leaguer. Seeming to be forgotten for the remainder of the offseason beneath the news of the three major signings, Swisher turned out to be a fan favorite (with the signature Swish-hawk and right field salute) and a powerhouse at the bottom of the lineup.
Needing a replacement in right field for Bobby Abreu, the Yanks took their chances on Swisher. The fans, however, were afraid of what he would bring after posting a .219 average and just 69 RBI in 2008 for the White Sox (at U.S. Cellular, which I would say is a hitters park). Swish came out roaring, hitting .312 in April, with 7 HR and 19 RBI (all leading the team). Let’s also not forget his 1 inning of work off the mound as he allowed only one hit and struck out Gabe Kaplar of the Tampa Bay Rays on April 13. He cooled off quite a bit in May, posting a mere .150 average with 3 HR and 10 RBI. Swisher kept the jets off for the proceeding two months, hitting just .253 in June and .247 in July, with a combined 7 HR and 25 RBI. He would turn them back on after the All-Star break to hit .277 in August with 5 HR and 16 RBI and .261 in September with 7 HR and 12 RBI. Swish would bat with great struggle in the postseason, hitting a very poor .128 (6-47) with just 1 home run and 2 runs batted in. Despite this, the Yankees (obviously) went on to win their 27th World Championship.
- 2009 Regular Season Totals: 84 Runs 124 Hits .249 AVG 29 HR 82 RBI .371 OBP .498 SLG (career high)
2010: With the additions of Curtis Granderson and Randy Winn to the Yankee outfield, they bring new opportunities for the use of Nick Swisher. If Swisher really slumps (as he did in May-July of 2009), Randy Winn could start to share time in right field. Including Brett Gardner, we could very well see a rotation between he, Swisher and Winn. Swisher also has experience at first base (with Oakland and Chicago) and saw 20 games at first last season with New York. He could be an option when Mark Teixeira needs rest (Lord knows Nick Johnson would break if we tried him there [knock on wood]).
Look for Swisher to bat towards the bottom of the lineup this season, even if an injury does occur to a player at the top of the lineup, where last season we would see Swisher move into the 2nd spot in the order when Johnny Damon was hurt. This season, Granderson brings that role to the lineup, where he would move from the 5th or 6th spot into that 1st or 2nd spot in the lineup due to injury. He could do very well at the bottom, full time, with the power he brings. I think Swisher really likes playing in the Bronx, and hopefully he can keep driving the ball from the left side out to his faithful fans in right field, and maybe even work on his game from the right side of the plate (and hopefully come up with a new gesture to the fans, [sorry Nick, the salute got a little old after a while]).
2010 Regular Season Prediction: 89 Runs 135 Hits .256 AVG 31 HR 89 RBI .381 OBP .511 SLG; 1 IP 2 Hits 1 K 0 BB 0.00 ERA