New York Yankees: Nick Swisher

Tex's slam helps power Yanks past Tribe

June, 3, 2013
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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.

Fans salute Swish in Bronx return

June, 3, 2013
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Time appears to have healed all wounds between ex-Yankee Nick Swisher and the Bleacher Creatures.

After trotting out to his position for the bottom half of the first inning of Monday’s game, the Creatures chanted “Swisher! Swisher!” and the Indians first baseman acknowledged them with his signature salute.

Swisher was unsure how he’d be received by the crowd before the game, but was adamant about “living in the now, bro.”

Swisher passes on question about past

June, 3, 2013
6/03/13
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Ex-New York Yankee Nick Swisher wasn’t happy about being asked about the tumultuous end to his four-year career in pinstripes.

“Live in the now, bro ... you’re just trying to stir it up again,” said Swisher, who will play his first game in the Bronx Monday night since signing a four-year, $56 million free-agent contract with the Cleveland Indians in the offseason.

“It was something that happened so long ago. I thought we kind of handled that and kind of squashed that.”

Swisher hit just .167 during the 2012 playoffs and became angered at Yankees fans for verbally attacking him at the Stadium and on Twitter.

“That’s the last thing that I ever thought would be in this ballpark, that people would get on you that bad,” Swisher said at the time. “Especially your home, where your heart is, where you’ve been battling and grinding all year long. It’s just frustrating, man. You never want to be in that spot. It’s not like you’re trying to go out there and do bad on purpose. It’s just tough, man.

[+] EnlargeNick Swisher
Jason Miller/Getty ImagesNick Swisher is batting .264 with seven homers and 20 RBIs in his first season with the Indians.
“It hurts. Sometimes I’m a sensitive guy and some of the things people say, they get under your skin a little bit. I’ve been lucky to be here for the past four years, bro.”

But when asked before Monday's game about what he thought it would be like out there wearing the opposing team’s jersey, Swisher said, “I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be awesome. This is one of the greatest places I got the opportunity to play and I know Bald Vinny and them ‘[Bleacher] Creatures’ are gonna be out there tonight and I’m looking forward to seeing all of them.”

Asked about what type of reception he thought he’d receive, Swisher said, “I know my time here was absolutely amazing, and I hope it was for them as well.”

The luxury-tax conscious Yankees decided to move on and Swisher landed in Cleveland, where he’s compiled an .829 on-base plus slugging percentage along with seven home runs and 20 RBIs. By comparison, New York’s regular right fielder, Ichiro Suzuki, has a .639 OPS.

Still, Swisher had nothing but good things to say about his time with the Yankees.

“Just in general [it was great] being part of the tradition,” Swisher said. “Obviously winning the World Series in 2009 was pretty cool, but I just think the mystique of being a Yankee and everything was just so great and something I was so proud to be a part of.”

Swisher, now more than just a complementary piece, is hoping to have the same type of success he enjoyed with the Yankees in Cleveland.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my career,” Swisher said. “I’ve been able to be in the postseason a good amount, but to be able to take a team like this there would be the greatest thing on the planet. Cleveland has been waiting a long time for a winner, and we’re going to do our best to get us there.”

Swisher’s mind certainly wasn’t on last offseason, when he was forced to leave a team he loved playing for. The Yankees made a qualifying offer, but the 32-year-old rejected it.

“I still have great relationships with everybody over there. I knew very early in the offseason that coming back here was not gonna be an option for me, and also I had to do my best to [move] on,” he said. “Obviously making that [move] was a little harder than most things I’ve done in my life, but that’s kind of part of the game, this is a business.”

Swisher was acquired by the Yankees after he hit just .219 with the Chicago White Sox in 2008.

“I couldn’t thank my boy Brian Cashman any more,” he said. “He helped me a lot, man, especially after that 2008 season, that was such bad year, and for him to have that much faith in me to come over, obviously every time I took the field I wanted to do my best.”

Asked what the Yankees miss most about not having Swisher, manager Joe Girardi said, “He’s a high-energy guy, [a] switch-hitter that was really productive. As I talked about, we sometimes run about five or six lefty [hitters] in a row, and he was very good at splitting that up, and you could hit him anywhere, really. From second to seventh in your lineup, he gave you a lot of flexibility.”
The reception for Nick Swisher will be interesting Monday night in the Bronx.

The backstory is well-developed. Swisher spent four years with the Yankees, becoming popular with the fans because he presented himself as enthusiastic about being a Yankee. He was a bit goofy, but the fans seemed to love him.

He was a pretty good regular-season player and a terrible postseason performer. Last October, he complained about the fans expressing their disappointment in his and the Yankees' performance. Seemingly overnight, everything changed between him and the fans. He was booed and apparently deeply disliked.

“That’s the last thing that I ever thought would be in this ballpark, that people would get on you that bad,” Swisher said. “Especially your home, where your heart is, where you’ve been battling and grinding all year long. It’s just frustrating, man. You never want to be in that spot. It’s not like you’re trying to go out there and do bad on purpose. It’s just tough, man.

“It hurts. Sometimes I’m a sensitive guy and some of the things people say, they get under your skin a little bit. I’ve been lucky to be here for the past four years, bro.”


Swisher became so unpopular that when we did a poll in this blog in December, nearly 80 percent of the more than 7,000 voters thought the Yankees would be better off with Ichiro Suzuki over Swisher in right.

Now, Swisher returns Monday. He is having his typical regular season with an OPS in the mid-.800s, which is more than 200 points better than Ichiro.

So will you honor Swisher for the good he did, or will you remind him of how much you disliked how he played and what he said in the postseason?

UP NOW: Ian O'Connor on Brian Cashman's thoughts on Joe Girardi. My story about the weird weather night and the lasting image of Brett Gardner, Austin Romine, Mark Teixeira and first-base coach Mick Kelleher jumping after the loudest thunder you will ever hear. Kieran Darcy goes deeper into the Yanks' offensive woes.

ON DECK: Andy Pettitte (4-3, 3.83) returns to the mound for the first time since mid-May, when he went on the DL with a strained trapezius. He will face Justin Masterson (8-3, 3.07).

With Pettitte coming back, the Yankees will have to decide if David Adams, Lyle Overbay, Brennan Boesch or a pitcher is removed from the roster. They also might have to make a decision on Chris Stewart if he is not cleared after experiencing dehydration. Bobby Wilson likely would be called up, but he is not on the 40-man roster.

There also will be a news conference announcing the Big Ten will be part of the Pinstripe Bowl. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner will be there.

Wallace Matthews and Mike Mazzeo will have you covered.

IN THE HOLE: David Phelps (3-3, 4.65) vs. Scott Kazmir (3-2, 5.13) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, CC Sabathia (5-4, 3.71) vs. Corey Kluber (3-3, 4.36). Wednesday is a day game.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Will you cheer or boo Swisher?
From this time last year, there was little to no doubt that Nick Swisher was a goner. People close to Swisher knew he would not return to the Yankees. Swisher, for his part, would never admit it -- at least, not to me.

Perhaps he held out hope that he could finally have a great October and change the Yankees' thoughts in how he fit -- or didn't fit, really -- into the $189M mandate.

Swisher
AP Photo/Tony DejakIt seems that Nick Swisher's upbeat persona also made the trip to Ohio.
His fall in the eyes of the fans was a little more surprising, even with his playoff failures. He did have a ring and the fans seemed to love his act, which made him one of the most popular Yankee, non-Legends Division.

In the playoffs, though, the perception of his enthusiasm, his, "I'm another Bleacher Creature" went up in smoke. He actually became hated when he said he prefered a hug instead of boos.

“It hurts," Swisher said during the ALCS. "Sometimes I’m a sensitive guy and some of the things people say, they get under your skin a little bit.”

So did his experience change Swisher? It doesn't sound like it, judging by how he spoke about the Indians' home opener vs. the Yankees today.

"Oh, man, that's going to be the jam," Swisher said on Sunday, according to MLB.com. "How much fun is that going to be? I mean, Opening Day sold out in six minutes? I think it's great, man. This city is so excited for us this year. There's a buzz in the 216 [Cleveland area code], man, and we're super excited to get back there."

QUESTION: When Swisher returns to the Bronx, will you cheer him or boo him?

Reaction: Santa, can I have an outfielder?

December, 23, 2012
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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 ESPN.com'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.

Who will be the catcher?

November, 30, 2012
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In our Derek Eater reaction story, there is plenty of news about how Yankees GM Brian Cashman says his next step is to find an outfielder to replace Nick Swisher. As for catcher, Cashman says he will look internally first, pointing to Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart, Eli Whiteside and Austin Romine as possibilities.

I believe they still might add a cheap veteran to that mix, so that rules out A.J. Pierzynski or Mike Napoli.

So here is the question: Who do you think will be the Yankees' catcher next year?

How will you remember Swish?

November, 9, 2012
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Nick Swisher is not officially out the door yet, but he took another step closer to leaving. The expectation was that this would be Swisher's final season as a Yankee -- and that was before another awful postseason, which included his complaints about the fans.

SportsNation

If Nick Swisher signs elsewhere, how will you best remember him as a Yankee?

  •  
    57%
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    43%

Discuss (Total votes: 9,076)

Still, Swisher was a very productive regular season outfielder. He provided the Yankees power and patience, which is what they ideally like. Was he great? No. But when you look around the majors, he was pretty good.

The amazing end to his journey with the Yankees from fan favorite to nearly despised, had me thinking, how will the fans remember Swisher's four years?

It will be hard to forget, that's for sure. He was never as loved -- or as hated, for that matter -- in the clubhouse as some liked to believe. He was accepted as a productive and enthusiastic presence in a mostly corporate locker room. Outside, it seemed to me, the fans adored Swisher's act.

So going on the informed assumption that this is it for Swisher, how will you receive him when he returns in another uniform?

What led to Yanks' early trip home?

October, 18, 2012
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AP Photo/Paul SancyaAlex Rodriguez and his teammates will have an eventful offseason.
There will be much scrutiny of the most famous franchise in sports, whose season ended in ignominious fashion with elimination in the ALCS by the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.

The Yankees never led in the series, only the second time in their history they’ve been beaten in that fashion (the other was in the 1963 World Series) and had some of their weaknesses exposed in October.

An ugly ending
The Yankees were swept in a postseason series for the first time since the 1980 ALCS (against the Kansas City Royals), and swept in a best-of-seven for the first time since the 1976 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.


The Yankees had played 36 straight postseason series without being swept. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that is the longest such streak in major-league history.

The Yankees' .188 batting average in the 2012 postseason is the lowest in postseason history by any team that played at least seven games.

They scored just 22 runs in nine games, for an average of 2.4 runs per game. That's the fourth-fewest runs per game in a single postseason by any team that played at least seven games.

How ugly was the final game?

The 8-1 loss matched the team’s worst in any postseason elimination game. They lost 9-2 to the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1981 World Series and they lost 10-3 to the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.

How did this happen?
The Yankees' offense disappeared in the postseason. The combination of Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, and Robinson Cano went a combined 14-for-125 with one home run.

Rodriguez was 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts and was 0-for-18 against right-handed pitching this postseason. He missed on 20 of the 44 swings he took against righties.

Cano endured a 29 at-bat hitless drought, the worst in major-league history for a player in postseason play.

The Baltimore Orioles and Tigers threw nearly two-thirds of their pitches to him on the outer-third of the strike zone, or off the outside corner. Of the 37 outs Cano made this postseason, 29 were on pitches to that area.

Granderson was hitless in 11 at-bats in the LCS, the third-worst 0-for by a Yankees player in a postseason series (surpassed by Mark Teixeira’s 0-for-14 in the 2010 ALCS and Joe Gordon’s 0-for-12 in the 1952 World Series). Opponents finished Granderson with offspeed stuff. He made 19 of his 27 outs this postseason on curves, sliders, and changeups.

Swisher was 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position, with the hit coming with the Yankees down by six runs and the four outs coming when the score of games was within two runs.

Swisher is 2-for-36 in his postseason career with runners in scoring position. His .056 batting average in those situations is the worst all time.

The Yankees scored in just three of 39 innings (7.7 percent) in the ALCS. According to Elias, that is the lowest percentage of innings with a run scored in a single postseason series since the 1966 Dodgers scored in 2 of 36 innings in their loss to the Orioles.

What’s next?
The historical precedent for the Yankees being swept in a postseason series is that they come back strong the next year.

In 1922, they were swept by the New York Giants (though one game ended tied) and bounced back by winning the World Series the next year.

In 1963, they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but returned to the World Series in 1964, only to lose in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 1976, they got swept by the Reds, but with the help of free-agent signee Reggie Jackson (who hit three home runs 35 years ago Thursday) beat the Dodgers in each of the next two World Series.

In 1980, they were swept in the LCS by the Kansas City Royals. They went a step further the next season, but blew a 2-0 lead and lost to the Dodgers in the World Series.

Offseason priorities
Look for the Yankees to make an attempt to get younger. The average age of the Yankees roster was 32 years old, oldest in the majors.

The Yankees will also face a decision on what to do about Rodriguez, whose OPS has declined in each of the past five seasons.

Rodriguez ranks 35th in position player Wins Above Replacement since the start of the 2009 season.

6-pack: Rain, Swish, Jones, Hal, Hiroki, CC

October, 2, 2012
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 •  It is raining here, but the plan is to try to get this one in. David Phelps will be able to throw 75-to-95 pitches. The Yankees would surely be happy with five strong innings, and then they can go to their bullpen.

 •  Joe Girardi put Nick Swisher in the two-hole against Jon Lester. Swisher is a .318 hitter with two homers and 8 RBIs in 44 at-bats against Lester. Meanwhile, Ichiro Suzuki is not too shabby either, hitting .294 in 34 at-bats with two homers and three RBIs.

 •  Girardi is starting Eduardo Nunez over Andruw Jones even though he doesn't have a backup infielder with Nunez as the DH. (You can write your own Nunez-defense jokes in the comments). Anyway, Jones can't hit and Nunez can so he could be your postseason DH against lefties, too.

 •  Girardi said he did not talk with Hal Steinbrenner about Hal's saying his job is safe. Girardi says he got to the Stadium early, which was good because he knows Hal likes to work out early. They talked. Girardi said they speak every couple of weeks.

 •  Girardi thinks the No. 1 seed is important. However, if the Yankees clinch the AL East, he may not pitch Hiroki Kuroda on Wednesday. Home-field advantage would still be on the line, but Girardi might save Kuroda so he could start a possible Game 2 of the ALDS. Girardi said he hasn't decided. I would guess Ivan Nova would get the start, but Girardi didn't say.

 •  Girardi has no second thoughts about having CC Sabathia throw eight innings. He said, "You have to manage for today." He said the most important thing is winning division and avoiding a one-game wild-card playoff.

Swisher a late scratch

September, 15, 2012
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Nick Swisher was scratched from the Yankees' lineup after batting practice and was replaced by Eric Chavez for today's game against the Rays.

Chavez will play first base and bat sixth in the order. No explanation has been given for the substitution.

W2W4: Yankees vs. David Price

September, 14, 2012
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David Price has specific means of attacking the Yankees' best lefties.
David Price has pitched 105 1/3 innings against the Yankees in his career. They'll see him for the 17th time in the last four seasons on Friday, matching the most they've seen any pitcher in that span (James Shields will one-up him with his 18th appearance on Saturday).

They've seen the good Price, the bad Price, and everything in between.

With that in mind, what can some of the Yankees hitters expect when they face Price tonight?

Let's take a look.

Derek Jeter
14-for-48, 2 HR vs Price

Jeter has reached six times in 13 plate appearances against Price this season, with three hits and three walks.

The primary approach for Price has been to come down and/or in. Thirty-four of his 60 pitches to Jeter in 2012 have been on the inner-third of the plate. And 33 have been over the lower-third of the plate or below the knees.

Price has been able to get Jeter out six times with inside pitches, but when he has tried to get Jeter with something away it hasn't worked. All three hits are on outer-half pitches.

Robinson Cano
11-for-44, 1 HR, 44 AB vs Price

Price has a predictable pitch pattern to Cano. Nearly 85 percent of his pitches to Cano over the last four seasons have been fastballs.

This season, it has been all about keeping the fastball down in the zone. Of his 31 fastballs to Cano, he has thrown 22 in the lower half of the strike zone or below. When he gets it knee-high, he gets outs (he has gotten Cano out five times with a fastball to the lower-third of the zone this season).

Cano's approach has been to attack, especially the fastball on the inner-third of the plate.

Price has thrown 14 pitches to Cano over the inner-third or closer to him this season. Cano has taken 12 swings, missed none, and netted three hits and three outs.

Curtis Granderson
8-for-43, 3 HR, 17 K vs Price

Price has done a fantastic job at keeping his pitches against Granderson right on the edges of the plate.

He has thrown 82 percent of his pitches to the inner-third or outer-third of the plate (or just off the plate) against Granderson over the last four seasons.

The same holds true for working up and down the strike zone. Price typically throws 35 percent of his pitches to the middle-third of the zone, height-wise.

Against Granderson this season, that rate is 23 percent (14 out of 61 pitches).

Price's pattern has been to work Granderson inside early (within the first two pitches), then try to get Granderson to chase something knee-high or below late in the count.

His finish pitch with two strikes could be on the inside or outside corner. Of his 23 to Granderson this season, only one has had a middle-third location, width-wise.

Nick Swisher
.375 BA, HR, 9 BB, 32 AB vs Price

Swisher had been a riddle for Price the past couple of seasons, reaching base 17 times in 29 plate appearances, but the results have been better in 2012, with Swisher reaching four out of 12 times.

That may have something to do with Price's choice of pitches. He has mixed in more sliders and changeups to Swisher, throwing his fastball a little less often (from 61 percent in 2009 to 2011 to 54 percent now). Swisher had reached 15 times and made just eight outs when a matchup with Price ended with a fastball.

First Pitch: Grandy or Swishalicious?

September, 10, 2012
9/10/12
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Curtis Granderson has gotten going, finally, so is Nick Swisher next?

Granderson's one-homer, five-RBI game Sunday came in the midst of Swisher's 0-for-28 slide.

The question that arises for the Yankees going forward is: Whom do they want to invest in?

Granderson has become an all-or-nothing guy, even if that wasn't the case on Sunday. Swisher, despite the face he's done nothing for a week, has more of an all-around game.

So the question of the day -- and one I repeatedly get on Twitter -- is, who would you rather have long-term, Granderson or Swisher?

Swisher is a free agent after this season, and he has talked like a guy who thinks he is a goner. He wants to stay, but knows the Yankees' goal is to get the payroll under $189 million by 2014. The feeling has been that Granderson is more likely to get a long-term contract. However, maybe the Yankees will wait and see until after next season, when Granderson is eligible for free agency? They don't have that luxury with Swisher -- decision time is coming quickly.

If Swisher is going to make it hard for the Yankees to let him leave, he needs to step up here in September and October.

ON DECK: The Yankees are off on Monday. The pitching matchups in Boston are scheduled to be: Hiroki Kuroda (13-10, 3.14) vs. Jon Lester (9-11, 4.99) on Tuesday; David Phelps (3-4, 3.55) vs. Aaron Cook (3-9, 5.17) on Wednesday; Phil Hughes (14-12, 4.13) vs. Felix Doubront (10-8, 5.21) on Thursday. Girardi could insert Ivan Nova for Phelps on Wednesday. It seems obvious Nova is going to replace either Phelps or Freddy Garcia in the rotation.

IN THE HOLE: Wallace Matthews and I will have the information on how Mark Teixeira and Andy Pettitte did with their doctor appointments, so check back early and often. Thanks for reading.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Granderson or Swisher? Who do you want long-term?

The Series in Yankeemetrics (August 13-16)

August, 17, 2012
8/17/12
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AP Photo/Seth WenigNick Swisher and Mark Teixeira celebrate during the Yankees' win on Tuesday.
Stat Of Series
Nick Swisher’s grand slam Monday was his 200th career home run, giving the Yankees seven players with at least 200 career homers. The only other team in major-league history to have seven players with at least 200 career homers was the 2008 Yankees.

No Relief Against Texas
All good winning streaks must come to an end, right? Prior to Thursday's loss, the Yankees had won eight straight home games against Texas, tied for their longest home winning streak against the franchise.

The bullpen imploded, allowing a season-high six runs and nine hits. It was the first time the Yankees' relievers combined to allow that many hits and runs against the Rangers since 2002.

And it is just the fourth time they have done that at home versus Texas (1983 and twice in 1998).

Steady Freddy Ropes Rangers
Freddy Garcia continued his solid pitching since returning to the rotation with a win on Wednesday. Garcia threw a season-high 32 splitters, netting him seven outs and no baserunners allowed with the pitch.

Garcia improved to 4-0 with a 1.91 ERA in six starts against the Rangers since the start of 2006. During that span, only Zack Greinke has a better ERA against the Rangers (1.26) than Garcia (minimum five starts).

This was the third straight game the Yankees held the Rangers under three runs, the first time they have done that in the same series versus the Rangers since 1985.

Kuroda Is Our Hiro
On Tuesday, Hiroki Kuroda pitched the best game of the season by a Yankee, with a two-hit shutout against the Rangers. It was the first shutout allowing two hits or fewer by a Yankee since Chien-Ming Wang in 2006 against the Rays, and the first against the Rangers since Ron Guidry in 1977.

Kuroda also became the first Yankees right-hander to throw a two-hit shutout against the Rangers at Yankee Stadium.

Seventeen of the 22 balls in play (77 percent) were grounders, Kuroda’s highest rate over the last four seasons. His 17 groundball outs are also his most during that span.

Kuroda’s fastball averaged a season-high 93.2 MPH and he recorded a season-best 14 outs on his heater, with one hit allowed.

Swisher Slams Texas
Swisher hit his sixth career grand slam, and second this season, in the Yankees' series-opening win. He joins Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson with at least two slams this season.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the second time in franchise history the Yankees have had three different players with multiple grand slams in one season. In 2010, Alex Rodriguez, Cano and Jorge Posada all did it.

Derek Lowe pitched four scoreless innings in relief in his first appearance in pinstripes to earn the save. Elias also tells us that Lowe is the first Yankee to record a save of at least four innings in his debut with the team.

My blogging colleague Mark Simon chimes in with this great fact: Lowe is the first pitcher to pitch for the Yankees after defeating them in a postseason series-clincher at Yankee Stadium (he won Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS).

Ridiculous Yankeemetric Of Series
On Wednesday, Eric Chavez joined Craig Nettles (1979) and Alex Rodriguez (2009) as the only Yankees third basemen to go 3-for-3 or better against the Rangers since they moved to Texas in 1972.

W2W4: Red Sox at Yankees (Aug. 17)

August, 17, 2012
8/17/12
11:00
AM ET


We thought we’d try something different for this installment of What2Watch4: Rather than look at the key notes for each of the starting pitchers, we’re going to focus on four of the hitters, two from each team, and look at their strengths and weaknesses heading into this series.

How do you get Derek Jeter out?
Jeter enters tonight’s game with a 12-game hit streak and has been one of the league’s top hitters this month with a .373 batting average.

Jeter has been even better in August against lefties, with 10 hits in 23 at-bats (.435). If the southpaw Franklin Morales wants to get Jeter out tonight, he should to try to come inside against The Captain.

Of the 13 outs Jeter has made against lefties in August, 10 have come on pitches located on the inner half of the plate or further inside, and all 10 of those have been ground-ball outs.

-- Katie Sharp

How do you get Nick Swisher out?
Swisher has had success against Red Sox southpaws the last two seasons, as noted in the chart on the right.

He’s particularly hurt them when they’ve tried to come inside against him, netting six hits in nine at-bats that ended with a pitch over the inner-half of the plate width-wise, almost never chasing those thrown out of the strike zone.

The best success that lefties have had against Swisher is when they keep the ball down.

Since the start of the All-Star break, Swisher has seen 76 pitches that were in the lower-third of the strike zone or lower height-wise and does not have a hit.

-- Mark Simon

How do you get Adrian Gonzalez out?
Gonzalez has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball since the All-Star break, batting an AL-best .378. He’s hit well both against lefties (.333) and righties (.403), and appears to have few holes in his swing right now.

Phil Hughes could try to bury a pitch low and out of the strike zone, where Gonzalez is just 4-for-25 (.160) since the break. But if he misses his location, watch out. Gonzalez is hitting .576 and slugging .909 on pitches at the knees in the strike zone.

Hughes’ best bet might be to go with his signature high fastball. Gonzalez is hitting .214 on fastballs thrown in the upper third of the zone or higher in the second half of the season. However, a mistake could be costly. Two of the three hits Gonzalez has on those pitches have been home runs.

-- Katie Sharp

How the do you get Pedro Ciriaco out?
Take a look at the heat map on the right. It may be the strangest one we’ve come across all season.


It’s not a misprint: Ciriaco can hit almost everything, except for the pitch thrown over the middle of the plate.

That heat map shows how he’s fared against both righties and lefties. The one for only righties has one other weak spot, middle-in.

But Yankees pitchers should be forewarned. The 18 outs in the 1-for-11 and 2-for-10 areas are not the result of swings-and-misses. Ciriaco can put the ball in play.

The hits just haven’t fallen for him yet.

The optimum strategy at this point seems to be to pitch him down and away, though it’s a high-risk, high-reward scenario.

Ciriaco has had seven at-bats end with a pitch thrown lower-third, outer-third (or further away) and netted five hits. But he also misses on those swings 50 percent of the time.

-- Mark Simon

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.271 16 70 71
OTHER LEADERS
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146