New York Yankees: Nick Swisher

Tex's slam helps power Yanks past Tribe

June, 3, 2013

Mark Teixeira pumped his fist as he rounded first base.

Nothing like a delivering a big hit when your team is struggling after missing the first two months of the season.

Teixeira, playing in just his fourth game of the year, drilled a third-inning grand slam that just got over the short porch in right field, and the Yankees went on to beat the Cleveland Indians 7-4 on Monday night at the Stadium.

“We needed this win,” said Teixeira, who connected for his first home run since Oct. 1. “We’ve had a rough enough streak the last week and a half, two weeks, as it is. So we needed this one tonight, and that grand slam was good for me and good for the team.”

It was Teixeira’s eighth career grand slam and the first by a Yankee this season. The Bombers had lost seven of their last eight games coming in.

Teixeira jumped all over a 2-2 pitch from Justin Masterson with one out in the third to stake the Yankees to a 4-1 lead.

“I think for our team and what he went through this year, the [wrist] injury he had was probably a little bit scary, and to be out there playing after having to sit down for two months, you could tell how excited he is,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It was probably a really long two months for him watching us play and it’s great to have him back.”

Teixeira hopes the long ball can serve as a springboard moving forward.

[+] EnlargeTeixeira
Jason Szenes/Getty Images Mark Teixeira gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead in the third with his eighth career grand slam.
“You want to have positive outcomes early on. I know it’s going to take me a few weeks to get back into the rhythm of playing everyday and seeing big-league pitching every day,” Teixeira said. “But like I said, this is a good first step.”

As for how his wrist feels?

“So far, so good,” Teixeira said.

Other notes from Monday:

Andy Pettitte, pitching for the first time since being activated from the 15-day disabled list, couldn’t hold a 4-1 lead and will have to wait for victory No. 250.

The veteran left-hander gave up four runs on seven hits in 4⅔ innings, but picked up a no-decision. He surrendered three of those runs in the fifth inning when he ran out of gas.

“I felt good,” said Pettitte, who had been out with a shoulder injury. “Personally for me, not happy with the final results but definitely fired up that the club was able to get a win.”

Lyle Overbay's first-career major league start in the outfield went just fine. Thrust into action in right due to injuries, he handled the only fly ball he saw in the fifth inning.

“I survived,” Overbay said.

Girardi said he would not hesitate to use Overbay out there again.

Overbay was hoping he’d get his first chance to make a play much sooner.

“I wanted to get it over with,” he said.

It was the first time Overbay had played any other position than first base in his career (1,198 starts).

Travis Hafner, who turned 36 Monday, hit his first homer since May 20 in the seventh inning and snapped a 1-for-22 skid.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Hafner is the fourth Yankee to homer on his birthday at age 36-plus since 1920; Lou Piniella (1980), Rick Cerone (1990) and Tim Raines (1996) are the others.

• The Yankees’ bullpen delivered 4⅓ scoreless innings in relief of Pettitte. Mariano Rivera allowed the only hit but converted his 20th save in 21 opportunities.

Nick Swisher went 0-for-4 in his return to the Bronx.

Ben Francisco was released prior to the game. ... Girardi said both Chris Stewart (dehydration) and Kevin Youkilis (day off) are healthy. ... Girardi inserted Jayson Nix at third in the ninth for defensive purposes.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 11, Indians 6

April, 8, 2013

CLEVELAND -- Crisis? What crisis?

What it means: That the New York Yankees, who were a disaster on Saturday, are officially a hot club on Monday, riding a two-game winning streak after an 11-6 win that spoiled the Cleveland Indians' home opener and wiping the smile off Nick Swisher's face, for one day at least.

Welcome back, Robby: Robinson Cano finally began his regular season, belting solo homers in the fifth and sixth innings. Cano also had a double, a walk and scored four runs, and raised his average to .231. If the Yankees hope to do anything this season, this better be only the beginning for Cano.

Pronks Cheer: Travis Hafner was cheered upon his return to Cleveland, where he played 10 seasons, but the cheers turned to jeers when Pronk drove one over the center-field fence with two men on, giving the Yankees a 3-0 first-inning lead. It was his 100th career home run at Progressive Field -- but first as a member of the visiting team.

Hafner made more frenemies in the third when he lined a single to center field with Cano (leadoff double) aboard to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Hafner now leads the team with six RBIs.

Wild Men: Both Hiroki Kuroda and Ubaldo Jimenez struggled through control problems in the first inning. Each walked two batters, each allowed three first-inning runs, and the two needed a combined 61 pitches to get out of the inning. Manager Joe Girardi had Shawn Kelley warming up in the first inning, but incredibly, Kuroda recovered from that first inning and worked into the sixth without allowing another run.

Swish-Direction: Great play by Swisher in the first inning in which he hesitated in the baseline just long enough to confuse Lyle Overbay and Cano, causing Michael Brantley's bouncer to skip past them for a single that scored Asdrubal Cabrera from second and allowed Swisher to go all the way to third in the Indians' three-run first.

In a Stew: Chris Stewart manufactured the Yankees' fifth run nearly single-handedly, singling with two out in the fourth and stealing second -- the Indians were so surprised, catcher Carlos Santana didn't even bother to throw -- and scoring on Brett Gardner's looper to short center.

Off the rails: The game spun out of control in the seventh inning when the Yankees added three more runs to go up 11-3, with the help of a walk, a throwing error, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly.

Kelley Green: Kelley had a horrendous eighth inning, allowing a double, triple, two-run homer and two wild pitches to give the Indians three runs.

JoBBa: Working with a five-run lead, Joba Chamberlain walked two batters and had to face Mark Reynolds with two out in the ninth, causing Girardi to make a visit to the mound and closer Mariano Rivera to get up in the bullpen. Joba wound up striking out Reynolds to end the game after a crisp 3 hours, 50 minutes.

What's coming: A story on Cano's resurgence, a blog on Hafner's happy homecoming, as well as assorted blogs out of the postgame clubhouse.

First Pitch: Salute to Swisher

April, 8, 2013
CLEVELAND -- For four years, the Yankees got this kind of annual production out of their right fielder -- a .268 batting average, a .367 OBP, 26 home runs and 87 RBIs.

Then Nick Swisher became a free agent and the Yankees let him walk.

Six games into their first Swish-less season since 2008, this is what the Yankees have gotten out of their right fielders: a .143 batting average, a .195 OBP, no home runs and one RBI.

[+] EnlargeNick Swisher
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsNick Swisher
Yes, it is ridiculously early in the season to be looking at the stats, but the reality is neither Ichiro Suzuki nor Brennan Boesch, nor the two of them combined, are likely to come close to putting up the kind of numbers Swisher put up for the Yankees between 2009 and 2012.

The decision to let Swisher walk was purely a financial one -- they never even considered trying to match the four-year, $56 million deal, plus a $14 million option year, Swisher got from the Cleveland Indians.

And in all honesty, Swisher's repeated inability to play well in the postseason was a serious hindrance to his continuing to play for the Yankees at any price.

But when the Yankees arrive at Progressive Field on Monday for four games against the Indians and see Swisher, it will be hard to resist wondering how the Yankees hope to replace Swisher's production with the collection of outfielders they are carrying now.

Of all the players the Yankees lost to free agency this year -- Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez and Swisher -- it seems pretty obvious that the loss of Swish, during the regular season at least, will be the hardest to overcome.

Even if you cringed every time a ball was hit toward him, or grew tired of his overly ebullient personality, you never grew tired of watching his patient, selective and usually productive at-bats.

I can tell you right now, Swisher will be delighted to see all of his old teammates, and he will be extremely entertaining in his pregame meeting with the Yankees beat writers who he always got along so well with. I can even approximate pretty closely the exact words he will say.

But none of that is important. What is important is whether the Yankees, so depleted at so many positions, can win consistently without a right fielder who, from April 1 to Sept. 30 anyway, could be counted on to give them .269-26-87.

QUESTION: Do you think the Yankees made a mistake letting Swisher go? And if so, who on the current roster can take up the slack?

UP NOW: My column on how CC Sabathia, the Yankees' ace, outpitched Justin Verlander, the Tigers' ace, and pulled the Yankees out of the abyss they were about to tumble into. Also, postgame notes, including one on the newly clean-shaven member of the bullpen.

ON DECK: The Yankees are the guests of honor at their third home opener of the season, playing the bad guys at the Indians' 4:05 p.m. opener. Hiroki Kuroda, whose first start of the season was cut short when a line drive clipped his middle finger in the second inning of Game 2 against the Red Sox, gives it another shot against RHP Ubaldo Jimenez.

The clubhouse opens at 12:30 p.m. and I'll be there, with the lineups shortly after opening, followed by pregame notes about an hour before first pitch. So check in throughout the afternoon and as always, thanks for reading.

Reaction: Santa, can I have an outfielder?

December, 23, 2012

What happened: Nick Swisher, as expected, is now officially an ex-Yankee, having reportedly agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal -- you read that right -- with the Cleveland Indians. So is Raul Ibanez, who signed up for his third go-round with the Seattle Mariners.

What it means: Other than fewer quasi-military salutes -- didn't anyone ever tell Swisher a soldier salutes with the right hand? -- to the Bleacher Creatures, not a whole heck of a lot. Swisher was not in the team's plans, and if the Yankees had re-signed Ibanez, which they didn't seem all that eager to do, he was penciled in as a left-handed DH.

[+] EnlargeNick Swisher and Raul Ibanez
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesLosing Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez wasn't unexpected. You know what was? Being left with three southpaw outfielders and no depth.
Still, the Yankees lose 24 home runs and a lot of patient (read: l-o-o-o-n-g) at-bats from Swisher last year, as well as the only player to provide them with any offensive highlights in the 2012 postseason in Ibanez.

Fixing a hole: Even though neither Swisher nor Ibanez was intended to see any time in the Yankees' outfield in 2013, the fact remains that right now, it looks like Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki are going to have to play all 162 games. To make things worse, one of them is 39 years old and all of them are left-handed hitters. So the Yankees need an outfielder, and fast.

What are the options?: Well, they still retain Chris Dickerson, who is no more than a backup, and their decision to shed Justin Maxwell last April doesn't look too good right now. There are still a bunch of free-agent oufielders on the shelf, but considering the Yankees' (non-) spending habits this holiday season, I wouldn't expect any shiny new toy under Brian Cashman's tree come Christmas morning.

Just for argument's sake: According to's Free Agent Tracker, here are the outfielders who are still available for purchase: Bobby Abreu, Jeff Baker, Michael Bourn, Endy Chavez, Mark De Rosa, Matt Diaz, Scott Hairston, Bill Hall, Austin Kearns, Xavier Nady, Scott Podsednik and Grady Sizemore.

Who won't be coming: Abreu (been there, done that), Bourn (too expensive and too left-handed), Hall or Kearns (see Abreu). Sizemore's injury history makes him unlikely, too.

Who they would like: Hairston, but the word is he would prefer to return to the Mets, where he will play every day.

Who would you like? I know, I know, Giancarlo Stanton. Maybe the Easter Bunny will bring him. In the meantime, there are two more shopping days 'til Christmas and the Yankees' wish list is getting shorter and shorter. Help them, and me, out in the comments section below. And happy holidays to all.

Matchup: Ichiro vs. Swisher

December, 19, 2012
To me, this is not much of a choice. Ichiro Suzuki may have the better resume, the future Hall of Fame credentials, but Nick Swisher is clearly the superior player right now. That is why Swisher will make much more money than Ichiro when Swisher finally signs.


Who would you rather have as your starting right fielder?


Discuss (Total votes: 7,047)

However, a surprising number of people (more than one) have tweeted at me that they'd rather have Ichiro for '13 instead of Swisher. Be careful what you (s)wish for.

For all of Swisher's shenanigans, his silly playoff complaints and his lack of October hits, he was a pretty good Yankee. Swisher's OPS was .822 or higher in each of his four years. His on-base was never lower than .359 and as high as .374. That is some nice production that leads to regular season wins.

Ichiro's OPS has been under .700 the past two years (.645 and .696). He is a singles hitter and barely walks. His on-base percentage the past two seasons has been .310 and .307. He is a better defender than Swisher.

Ichiro was great at the end of last season and some say he was primed to play meaningful games. Maybe there is a carryover effect.

His preparation -- stretching from dusk to dawn -- is filled with dedication. How he goes about his work is unique. But at 39, outfielders generally don't get better.

QUESTION: Who would you rather have in right? Swisher or Ichiro?

Swisher to Cleveland?

December, 17, 2012
According to a variety of reports, Nick Swisher is headed to Cleveland for a dinner with Indians team president Mark Shapiro, which could be a precursor to a deal.

As you know, the Yankees have had no interest in Swisher. They will receive a sandwich pick in the first round when Swisher signs with a new team.

A couple of other items on this Monday afternoon:

• The Yankees still feel confident they can retain Raul Ibañez, but there is no deal yet. They are still finishing language on Ichiro Suzuki's contract.

• There was a report out of Boston that the Yankees might go after Michael Bourn if his price drops. Unless there is a trade, I don't see the Yankees adding another speedy outfieler, especially an expensive one. Anyway, a person with knowledge said they aren't in on Bourn. Same goes for Rafael Soriano, who turned down his option, which would have kept him a Yankee.

QUESTION: Would you want to see Swisher go to Cleveland?

Cash's offseason focus concerns offense

December, 2, 2012
STAMFORD, CONN. -- After solidifying his pitching for next season, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman will start addressing the main culprit behind the team's early exit in the playoffs: the bats.

"Our pitching is pretty lined up," Cashman said after rappelling down a building dressed as an elf in Stamford, Conn. on Sunday. "I'm going to go from offense to defense now."

As baseball's winter meetings begin Monday in Nashville, Cashman heads in knowing that he has to make some additions to the Yankees lineup. He's lost starting catcher Russell Martin to the Pirates and outfielder Nick Swisher is a free agent and it seems highly unlikely that he is going to return. Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is also a free agent, although he's expressed an interest in returning.

"Obviously our offense has taken a hit," Cashman said.

While it seemed at one point that Suzuki's return was imminent, things have changed recently as the Yankees have focused on their pitching. Suzuki's agent, Tony Attanasio, has said the veteran has started talking with other teams. Suzuki thrived with the Yankees after being acquired in the summer, and seemingly would be a logical fit to return as a right fielder if the sides can work out a deal.

"That's market place," Cashman said of Suzuki's talks with other teams. "He's in the market place and is going to have action on himself. That's part of the gig."

While the winter meetings can spark trades and signings, Cashman acknowledged that the Yankees are usually not active at the meetings. He said the Yankees will try, but he doesn't want to get into a mentality where he has to do something as he believes that leads to mistakes.

Instead, Cashman said the Yankees have been active talking to players who have been non-tendered. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Yankees are the mix for outfielder Nate Schierholtz, but the general manager didn't comment if he's had talks with him.

"I wouldn't say who I've talked to but there's some non-tenders I've definitely reached out to and expressed an interesting in talking further with," Cashman said.

As Cashman goes to work on his offense, he's satisfied with his pitching staff. He's re-signed Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda and Mariano Rivera recently and feels good about his bullpen. Cashman is pleased to have Rivera back for another year to anchor the ninth inning.

"Getting Mo back is obviously an important key," Cashman said. "He's had an amazing career and he's never had failure and I'm hopeful and I'm expecting that not to be the case either. He's going to be healthy by the time the bell rings and we look forward to him closing again."

As Cashman works on improving his team, his shortstop, Derek Jeter, has been in the headlines for photos seemingly showing him putting on some pounds as he rehabs his broken ankle. Cashman said Jeter hasn't reached out to him since, but the GM was able to laugh about it.

"It was very creative," Cashman said. "It was funny."

Cash's moment of clarity ...

November, 8, 2012
... will come while he is in an airplane somewhere between Indian Wells, Ca., and New York City as he travels home from the GM meetings Friday afternoon.

By 5 p.m. on Friday, the three pending free agents to whom the Yankees have made qualifying offers -- Rafael Soriano, Nick Swisher and Hiroki Kuroda -- must inform the team whether they will accept a one-year deal at $13.3 million or enter the marketplace.

And once those decisions are in, GM Brian Cashman can get on with his life of deciding how to repopulate the Yankees roster for 2013.

"It’s helpful information, there’s no doubt about it," he said. "We’ll learn a lot after tomorrow."

[+] EnlargeBrian Cashman
William Perlman/US PresswireBrian Cashman will have a clearer picture of the Yankees' offseason outlook on Friday.
Specifically, he will know if he is shopping for a new set-up man/closer, a new right fielder and a new starting pitcher. The likely answers, in order, are definitely, definitely and (surprisingly) quite possibly.

There's little doubt that both Soriano and Swisher will decline the offer. And judging by the talk going around the GM meetings -- that several teams are interested in offering two-year deals to the 37-year-old pitcher -- Kuroda, too, may turn down what would amount to a $3 million raise over his 2012 salary.

Cashman said he did not know which of the three would or would not accept the offers. "I haven’t asked," he said. "I’ve got no idea on what that side of the fence does. It’s all new. We’d be very happy (for them to accept), let’s put it that way. It will certainly dictate and affect how we move forward one way or the other."

Scott Boras, Soriano's agent, sidestepped a direct question about whether his client would accept the Yankees' qualifying offer but his answer said it all: "Most qualifying offers are really for players of the highest value. When teams make them, they’re acknowledging the value and other teams know that, as well. I don’t anticipate many players accepting single-year contracts that are in that arena."

So that's that.

Cashman did not rule out the possibility of the Yankees carrying both Soriano and Mariano Rivera, both at closer-level salaries, for 2013. "It's happened before," he said, referring to the original deal that he was so vocally and publicly against when Soriano joined the team in 2011.

But he also refused to commit saying he needing to replace Soriano, even as a set-up man, in his bullpen.

"I do like what we have," hed said. "I think Joba (Chamberlain) is going to be really good for us. I think David Robertson, obviously, we already know how good he is, but I think Boone Logan has been very underrated. I think Clay Rapada was a huge addition for us. And I think David Aardsma, a former closer with Seattle, will serve us well. So do we have to replace Soriano? Hard to say. Let’s first find out if he’s not even with us, I guess."

That moment of clarity will come at 5 p.m. tomorrow, while Cashman heads home to plan his next move.

Yankees free agents, club options

October, 18, 2012
Here are the Yankee players who will either be free agents, or have club options on their serivices for next year:


Nick Swisher
Russell Martin
Hiroki Kuroda
Andy Pettitte
Mariano Rivera
Ichiro Suzuki
Raul Ibanez
Derek Lowe
Eric Chavez
Andruw Jones
Freddy Garcia


Robinson Cano ($14 million or $2 million buyout)
Curtis Granderson ($13 million, $2 million buyout)


Rafael Soriano (owed $14 million for 2013, or can take $1.5 million buyout and become a free agent).

How many of these guys would you bring back?

Inside Girardi's Game 3 decisions

October, 15, 2012
Joe Girardi has some interesting decisions to make regarding his lineup for Tuesday night when his team faces Justin Verlander.

Let's take a stat-based look at five of them. What would you do in these cases? Share your thoughts in the comments sectrion.

Decision No. 1: Alex Rodriguez or Eric Chavez at 3B?
Would Joe Girardi bench Rodriguez in order to load up the lineup with lefties against Verlander?

Two reasons why A-Rod probably gets the nod:

1. He had good swings in his last two at-bats. Inside Edge, which tracks “hard-hit balls” credited Rodriguez with two hard-hit balls in Game 2, the first game in which he had two hard-hit balls since September 22 against the Athletics.

2. Though Chavez has an edge in terms of history against Justin Verlander (he’s 9-for-25 compared to A-Rod’s 8-for-30), Rodriguez has good recent history against the Tigers ace. He’s 4-for-6 with two home runs against Verlander this season.

Decision No. 2: Eric Chavez or Raul Ibanez at DH?
You would think it wouldn’t even be a consideration as to whether Raul Ibanez was in the Yankees lineup or not. But let’s compare his history against Verlander to Chavez’s.

Ibanez vs Verlander: 3-for-29, five strikeouts, one extra-base hit; hitless in last 18 at-bats vs Verlander His .103 batting average against Verlander is his worst against any pitcher (minimum 20 AB)

Chavez vs Verlander: 9-for-25, five strikeouts, three extra-base hits; 6-for-10 vs Verlander this season

Decision No. 3: Jayson Nix or Eduardo Nunez at SS?
Nix would seem to be the likely choice, but two things to keep in mind with picking him.

1. He’s 1-for-18 against right-handed pitching since September 5.
2. He’s 1-for-11 with five strikeouts against Justin Verlander.

Nunez is 1-for-3 career against Verlander with a double.

Decision No. 4: Granderson/Swisher or Gardner?
Curtis Granderson is 3-for-26 with 14 strikeouts this postseason and 0-for-7 with five strikeouts in this series against the Tigers. He’s 4-for-20 with eight strikeouts against Verlander, 2-for-10 with five strikeouts this season.

Swisher is 4-for-26 with eight strikeouts in this postseason, though he’s 2-for-8 in this series. He’s 11-for-61 (.180) with 23 strikeouts (and three homers) vs Verlander, but 3-for-9 with two doubles against him this season.

Gardner has totaled three at-bats since April 18 with one hit. But he’s 5-for-11 in his career against Verlander.

Decision No. 5: Where to hit Teixeira and Cano?
Mark Teixeira has hit well this postseason- a .320 batting average with seven walks in 25 at-bats, though with no home runs. His history against Verlander may be a concern. He’s 3-for-35 career against Verlander, including 0-for-his-last 15. His .086 batting average versus Verlander is his worst against any pitcher (minimum 20 at-bats)

Cano enters this game hitless in his last 26 at-bats, a record hitless streak for a single postseason. He’s 7-for-38 (.184) career against Verlander with no home runs, which includes 0-for-7 in previous postseason appearances.

The 38 at-bats are his third-most without a homer against a pitcher (he has none in 57 at-bats vs Jon Lester, 54 at-bats vs John Lackey).

But he’s 3-for-10 with a triple against Verlander this season. Inside Edge has credited him with six "hard-hit balls" of the nine he's hit against Verlander this season.

Start ‘em or bench ‘em?

October, 14, 2012
Alex Rodriguez Al Bello/Getty ImagesAlex Rodriguez isn't the only Yankee struggling this postseason.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi did the unthinkable recently, pinch-hitting for Alex Rodriguez twice, then benching him for pivotal Game 5 of the ALDS.

But A-Rod, who had another horrific performance in his team’s 6-4, 12-inning loss to the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the ALCS, isn’t the only Yankee who deserves to sit right now.

He’s just one of many.

Let’s take a look at some of the team’s worst postseason performers. Then it’s up to you to play manager and determine whether you’d start ‘em or bench ‘em in Game 2.

1. Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod’s making $30 million this season. He’s owed $114 million over the next five years. Right now, he can’t buy a clutch hit. Rodriguez, who was dropped down to sixth in the order, went 0-for-3, left six runners on base and was booed mercilessly by the crowd before being pinch-hit for a third time in the eighth. He’s hitting .105 in the postseason (2-for-19).

In his place: Start Eric Chavez

2. Nick Swisher: Swisher, a free agent to be, reportedly wants “Jayson Werth money” this offseason -- or somewhere in the neighborhood of seven years, $126 million. Good luck with that. He’s currently in a 1-for-16 slide (3-for-23, .130 overall). Consistently bad in October.

In his place: Start Raul Ibanez

3. Robinson Cano: We know. We know. Cano isn’t going to be benched. Still, for someone who is considered one of the best hitters in baseball, the All-Star second baseman could do a lot better than a .071 batting average (2-for-28 including 0 for his last 22). Two extra-base hits just aren’t going to cut it.

In his place: ... Can you actually consider demoting him in the lineup?

4. Curtis Granderson: Yes, his solo homer in Game 5 was huge. But what else has he done? Well, he’s struck out -- a lot (11 times in 23 postseason at-bats, 3-for-23, .130 overall).

In his place: Start Ibanez in left and move Ichiro to center

Stat of the night: Rodriguez, Swisher ($10.25 million), Cano ($14 million) and Granderson ($10 million) are a combined 10-for-93 in the postseason (.108). Together, their salaries total $64.25 million.
Maybe CC Sabathia (.238 career with three homers and 14 RBIs in 105 at-bats) should get a DH day.

A-Rod's back, Swisher 7th, Grandy 8th

October, 13, 2012
Alex Rodriguez is back, batting sixth and playing third tonight. Here is the rest of your Yankees' ALCS Game 1 lineup:

Derek Jeter, SS
Ichiro Suzuki, LF
Robinson Cano, 2B
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Raul Ibañez, DH
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Nick Swisher, RF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Russell Martin, C

Andy Pettitte, P

First pitch: Swisher's postseason struggles

October, 10, 2012
Nick SwisherDebby Wong/US PresswireNick Swisher hasn't had much to celebrate in the postseason.

Coming into this postseason, Nick Swisher's numbers weren't pretty. After Monday night, those numbers look even worse.

With runners on second and third and two out in the seventh in Game 2, and the Yanks down 3-2, Swisher flew out to left.

The out left Swisher with just one hit in his past 33 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

A single would have given the Yanks a lead, but the flyout -- an all-too-regular postseason occurrence for the Yankee outfielder -- ended a pivotal Yankee threat in the loss.

Swisher has been strong in the regular season, averaging 26 homers and 87 RBIs while batting .268 over four seasons in pinstripes.

But the switch hitter has been a postseason bust in New York.

Entering the 2012 playoffs, Swisher was batting .160 with four homers and five RBIs in 28 games in the postseason.

Before Game 1, he told's Andrew Marchand that he "might pull out an A-Rod this postseason, you never know."

He was referring to A-Rod's remarkable 2009 postseason. And in Game 1, Swisher got off to a good start, going 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored.

But Game 2 was a different story. Swisher went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, failing to get a hit in two at-bats with runners in scoring position.

Of course, we could be watching Swisher's final at-bats as a Yankee. He is a free-agent after the season and indications from both sides are that Swisher may not be wearing pinstripes next year.

Question: If Swisher continues to struggle, do you want the Yankees to let him walk?

UP NOW: News story on Joe Girardi leaving his options open on moving Alex Rodriguez down in the Yankees' lineup. We also have notes on the blog on the Yankees' travel issues, Hiroki Kuroda's Game 3 start and Girardi talking about the Yanks' missed opportunities. Anrew Marchand has a column on the O's being in the Yankees' heads and Wallace Matthews says it's too late to move Rodriguez in the lineup.

ON DECK: Kuroda (16-11, 3.32 ERA) will face off against Miguel Gonzalez (9-4, 3.25 ERA) on Wednesday night with the series tied at 1-1.

Swisher: I might pull an A-Rod this October

October, 6, 2012
Nick Swisher hears the critics. In 100 postseason at-bats with the Yankees, he is batting .160. In those 28 games, he has just four homers and five RBIs.

In his four regular seasons as a Yankee, Swisher batted .268 and averaged 26 homers and 87 RBIs. So the postseason Swisher has been a very different player than the regular-season Swisher.

[+] EnlargeNick Swisher
William Perlman/US PresswireNick Swisher celebrating after the Yankees clinched the AL East title on Wednesday.
"It is one of those things that a lot of people give me a lot of flak over," Swisher said.

The disparity is downright A-Rodian -- which, unsolicited, had Swisher thinking about doing something as big and as memorable as Alex Rodriguez's October during the Yankees' last championship run, in 2009.

"I might pull out an A-Rod this postseason, you never know," Swisher told earlier this week.

These playoff at-bats could very well be Swisher's last as a Yankee. There are indications from both sides that Swisher will not be wearing pinstripes next season.

With free agency looming shortly after his 32nd birthday, Swisher is staring at what's likely his final opportunity at a big score. He loves the Yankees, and GM Brian Cashman loves Swisher. But Hal Steinbrenner's goal to cut payroll by 10 percent to get under $189 million by 2014 might prevent the excitable right fielder from staying in "the BX," as Swisher calls the Bronx.

Swisher is not the player that Rodriguez or Barry Bonds were when they went through their postseason struggles. Those two had been described as chokers, ignoring Reggie Jackson's theory of talent rising if given enough opportunities.

So what has been the problem for Swisher? Is his outgoing, "Hey everybody, this is Swish" act not suited for the playoffs, or is he just a guy with a small sample size?

"I'm such a hyper guy," Swisher said. "I get so emotional. I want to win so bad and I care a lot. I just got to go out there and do what I can do, try not to get too caught up and give us that two-run lead. There might be a situation where I bunt someone over -- instead of thinking about trying to launch, think about hitting a line drive up the middle. The playoffs are a whole different game than the regular season. Everyone is a little sharper."

There were signs in September, and early this month, that this might be Swisher's October to shine. In the final 16 games of the regular season, he hit .407 with four homers and 15 RBIs. He got on base an incredible 52 percent of the time.

[+] EnlargeNick Swisher, Raul Ibanez
Noah K. Murray/THE STAR-LEDGER/US PRESSWIRESwisher always looks like he's having a good time, with teammates and with the fans.
"That month of September, I couldn't have been more proud of that," Swisher said. "It has been a playoff atmosphere ever since September 1st."

Cashman doesn't have an exact philosophy on why Swisher has struggled so much in the postseason. He sprinkles Swisher with praise. And how could he not, considering the deal for Swisher might be the best trade Cashman has ever made? Buying low after the 2008 season, Cashman only had to give up Wilson Betemit and minor leaguers Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nuñez to acquire Swisher.

Swisher was coming off a down year with the White Sox, a season in which he and manager Ozzie Guillen feuded, when he ended up hitting just .219. But the Yankees' statistical department felt that was due more to being unlucky than Swisher fading as a player.

Swisher has done everything Cashman could have hoped for -- except attain individual October success.

"I know he wants to do well for everybody," Cashman said. "Maybe that plays against him. I have heard that theory, but who is to say? You are facing some great players and at the same time, some great pitching."

Swisher is a crowd favorite. He is the player they can relate to the most, because he seems to enjoy living the dream in the "BX" as much as they would.

"He gets all of it," Cashman said. "He is there for the fans, for the customers, for the ticket holders, the cancer kids -- he is there for all of them. He is really a man of all people. Some people aren't comfortable in difficult circumstances -- (like with) people with handicaps or illnesses. That's where he is even at his best. He is a really spectacular person and a great baseball player too."

Whatever happens from here through the offseason, Swisher has made his mark in Yankees history. He has a ring, and a special place among the Bleacher Creatures.

"I believe in him," Cashman said. "I believe in a lot of our guys and I believe in Nick, too. Hopefully, we can play enough in October and he can get a lot of big, important at-bats because I believe he will succeed."

Who knows? This could be a breakout October for Swisher, just like A-Rod's three years ago.

Swish's slam lifts Bombers over Blue Jays

September, 21, 2012
It seems like Nick Swisher's always smiling. So it wasn't unusual to see him grinning after the Yankees' win over Toronto on Thursday.

But, in this instance, he had a good reason to smile.

[+] EnlargeNick Swisher
Anthony Gruppuso/US PresswireService with a smile, courtesy of Nick Swisher.
Swisher belted a towering grand slam in the Yankees' seven-run fourth, helping the Bombers mash their way to a 10-7 win on Thursday night.

It was Swisher's third grand slam this season and the seventh of his career.

"I'm just trying to catch Donnie," Swisher joked in reference to former Yankee great Don Mattingly, who hit six grand slams in one season.

Swisher remarkably has had four hits with the bases loaded this year -- and three of them have ended up over the fence.

"Yankee Stadium here in right field, it definitely helps out a little bit," he said.

This is the third season in which at least one Yankee has hit three grand slams. Alex Rodriguez did it in 2010 and Robinson Cano hit three in 2011.

Overall, the Yanks have hit 10 grand slams on the season, tying their franchise record for the fourth time. Their 30 slams over the past three seasons are more than double the total of any other team.

Said Swisher: "It's been a while since we put up some crooked numbers in an inning. It felt good."

BUMP IN THE ROAD FOR HUGHES: Phil Hughes came into Thursday night's start on a roll of sorts. He had allowed two earned runs or less in five of his last six outings and was coming off a shutout win in Boston.

But he struggled against Toronto.

Probably the best thing you could say about Hughes' night was that he got good run support.

"He was OK," Joe Girardi said. "He didn't really have great command tonight, but he had a lot of zip on his ball."

Huhges got into trouble in the second, forcing in a run on a bases on balls. He also got touched up for a two-run homer by Moises Sierra in the fifth.

"It was a struggle for sure; to not go deep in the game was definitely tough," said Hughes, who added that his fastball was 'all over the place.'

On the bright side, Hughes (16-12, 4.05 ERA) fanned nine Jays hitters in five innings -- including four in the fourth inning. Hughes is just the second Yankee in franchise history to do so. He's also thrown 180 innings on the season, a career high.

BIG FOURTH: The Yankees' seven-run fourth matched their season-high for runs scored in an inning. They did so on three walks, three hits and an error, sending 10 men to the plate. ... Derek Jeter (2-for-4) extended his hitting streak to 14 games. He's hitting .397 (25-for-63) over the streak. He also knocked in two runs on Thursday and has 11 RBI in his last 11 games. ... With Rafael Soriano unavailable after saving both wins of the double-header on Wednesday, Girardi called on David Robertson, who struck out all three hitters he faced in the ninth to earn his second save.



Jacoby Ellsbury
.271 16 70 71
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146