Showing posts with label Nick Swisher. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nick Swisher. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Nick Swisher released by Braves

Nick Swisher
The Atlanta Braves released veteran outfielder and first baseman Nick Swisher on Monday.

The 35-year-old former White Sox knucklehead hit just .195 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 46 games for Atlanta last season. Here's the funniest line from the AP story:

"There was no room for [Swisher] on the roster after the Braves signed Kelly Johnson, Jeff Francoeur, Gordon Beckham and Emilio Bonifacio to contend for spots on the bench."

Yes, it's true, Swisher's career has bottomed out to the point that Beckham and Bonifacio are considered better uses for roster spots on a rebuilding Atlanta team than he is.

Swisher is set to make $15 million this year, but the Cleveland Indians are paying most of that bill after trading Swisher and outfielder Michael Bourn to the Braves last season in exchange for third baseman Chris Johnson. Any team can now sign Swisher for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum.

I was horrified this morning to see the Sox listed as one of six possible landing spots for Swisher, according to an article on Other teams listed are the Los Angeles Angels, Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres, Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland.

Swisher has hit just .224/.315/.373 in the three years since he signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the Indians. He has stunk for a long time. He's coming off surgeries on both his knees. He's 35 years old. I'd say he's done.

I hope the Sox stay far, far away from this guy. When Swisher was with the Sox in 2008, his nickname was "Dirty 30," as he wore uniform No. 30. I called him "Dirty .230" because that's about all he could hit.

At this point, a .230 average from Swisher would qualify as wishful thinking for any team that signs him.

Friday, May 22, 2015

John Danks vs. AL Central: AL Central wins

Whatever good vibes the White Sox generated with their six-game winning streak are gone now, after the team dropped three consecutive games to the last-place Cleveland Indians at U.S. Cellular Field this week.

The latest loss came Thursday night, a 5-2 Cleveland victory that wasn't as close as the final score indicated. The game started at 7:10 p.m. It was basically over by 7:30. Sox starter John Danks gave up four runs in the first inning, including home runs to Nick Swisher and Mike Aviles, and the Indians tacked on another run in the second to seize an early 5-0 edge.

The score remained the same until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth, when Sox catcher Tyler Flowers hit the traditional, ceremonial meaningless home run to make the score look better in the paper.

The larger trend I took away from this game, though, is that Danks really struggles against AL Central division opponents. The teams than know him best tend to get to him early and often. I checked the numbers, and for the most part, they confirmed my suspicions. Danks is just plain lousy against three of the four teams he pitches against most regularly:

Danks vs. Indians: 5-13, 5.29 ERA
Danks vs. Twins: 7-14, 5.67 ERA
Danks vs. Tigers: 6-10, 5.11 ERA
Danks vs. Royals: 8-1, 2.73 ERA
Danks vs. AL Central: 26-38, 4.83 ERA

The Royals have to be wondering what they are doing wrong. For the Indians, Tigers and Twins, it's a fight at the bat rack when they see Danks is pitching. Those hitters probably can't wait to get to home plate.

Take out the stats against Kansas City, and Danks is 18-37 with a 5.38 ERA against Cleveland, Detroit and Minnesota.

If you're wondering why the Sox can't seem to beat divisional foes these past few years, Danks is among the culprits.

The Sox (18-20) welcome divisional rival Minnesota to the U.S. Cellular Field for a three-game set this weekend. Fortunately, Danks is not slated to pitch in the series. Here are the weekend matchups:

Friday: Jeff Samardzija (3-2, 4.58 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (3-4, 4.76 ERA)
Saturday: Chris Sale (3-1, 4.36 ERA) vs. Trevor May (2-3, 5.15 ERA)
Sunday: Jose Quintana (2-4, 4.13 ERA) vs. Kyle Gibson (3-3, 2.98 ERA)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Adam Eaton looks like a solution to two long-standing White Sox problems

The White Sox have sputtered as a team over the past six weeks, but center fielder Adam Eaton has continued to establish himself as a major league player.

Judging by the attendance figures and a relative lack of media coverage, few in Chicago have noticed that Eaton has been one of the best players in the American League since the All-Star break.

In Tuesday's 7-5 Sox win in Kansas City, Eaton went 4 for 5 with a double, a triple, two runs scored and a brilliant diving catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. The performance raised Eaton's season batting average to .303.

But, the thing that stands out most about Eaton is his improvement throughout the year. His first-half numbers weren't bad by any means, but he's taken it to a new level since mid-July. Check out these splits:

First half: .270/.340/.372
Second half: .365/.418/.462

His season splits now stand at .303/.367/.403. This is arguably the best performance we've seen from a Sox leadoff hitter in the past 10 years, and it's definitely the best production the Sox have gotten from a leadoff hitter since Scott Podsednik surprised everyone with a resurgent year in 2009.

If you look at the past decade, you'll see the Sox have had their problems in center field.

Here's the revolving door the organization has had at that position since Aaron Rowand was traded for Jim Thome after the 2005 season:

White Sox center fielders:

2005: Rowand
2006: Brian Anderson, Rob Mackowiak
2007: Darin Erstad, Jerry Owens
2008: Nick Swisher, Anderson, Ken Griffey Jr.
2009: Dewayne Wise, Anderson, Alex Rios
2010: Rios
2011: Rios
2012: Alejandro De Aza
2013: De Aza
2014: Eaton

That's 11 players in 10 years. Swisher and Rios were corner outfielders who were asked to play out of position. Erstad and Griffey Jr. were declining players at the end of their careers. De Aza and Mackowiak couldn't handle the position defensively, and were put in center field for the purpose of getting another left-handed bat in the lineup. Anderson, Owens and Wise stunk and didn't belong out there for any reason.

Eaton is none of those negative things. He has proven he can play the position, and he's proving he can hit major league pitching. Sox GM Rick Hahn can rest easier now knowing he has a 25-year-old player who looks like a long-term solution in center field.

If you look at Sox leadoff hitters from the past 10 years, you'll see that Eaton compares favorably:

2005: Podsednik .290/.351/.349
2006: Podsednik .261/.330/.353
2007: Owens .267/.324/.312
2008: Orlando Cabrera .281/.334/.371
2009: Podsednik .304/.353/.412
2010: Juan Pierre .275/.341/.316
2011: Pierre .279/.329/.327
2012: De Aza .281/.349/.410
2013: De Aza .264/.323/.405
2014: Eaton .303/.367/.403

Eaton's .303 average is second only to Podsednik in 2009. His .367 on-base percentage is easily the best in this group. The .403 slugging percentage ranks fourth on the list, and it's a heckuva lot better than anything the Sox ever got out of punch-and-judy Pierre.

Obviously, the free-agent acquisition of Jose Abreu last offseason was a game-changer for the Sox organization. They now have that middle-of-the-order presence to build a lineup around. But almost as importantly, they solved two major holes -- center field and leadoff hitter -- with the acquisition of one player.

Eaton has established himself as a big part of the White Sox core moving forward.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nick Swisher fails Indians in the clutch

I'll admit it: I can't stand Nick Swisher, and I was cheering against the Cleveland Indians in Wednesday night's American League Wild Card game for just that reason.

Swisher is one of my all-time least favorite White Sox players. He was only on the South Side for a year (2008), and that was one year too many in my book. He batted .219 and got benched in favor of Dewayne Wise late in the season.

The national media likes to portray Swisher as "always laughing, always smiling" and "great in the clubhouse." Maybe he is, and I don't pretend to know what goes on in any major league clubhouse. What I do know about Swisher is he is overmatched against upper-echelon pitching. His weaknesses always come to the forefront in the playoffs. In 47 career postseason games, he is hitting .165 (26 for 158) with 48 strikeouts.

Swisher cemented his reputation with another lousy playoff showing Wednesday night as the Tampa Bay Rays advanced to the ALDS with a 4-0 win over the Indians. Swisher went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and looked pathetic during a critical at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Indians were trailing 3-0 at the time and had two men on with two men out. Tampa Bay summoned reliever Joel Peralta from the bullpen to replace eventual winning pitcher Alex Cobb. Peralta easily struck Swisher out on three pitches, and Cleveland's best and final chance to get back in the game went by the boards.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Indians had a golden opportunity -- runners on first and third with nobody out. They failed to score after Michael Bourn struck out, Swisher grounded out weakly to first and Jason Kipnis grounded right back to Cobb for the final out.

All told, Bourn, Swisher and Kipnis went 0 for 12 with 12 baserunners stranded. That's not what you want from your 1-2-3 in the lineup. For Swisher, failures in the playoffs have become all too common. He just can't do anything against quality pitchers from quality teams. I have to say I don't feel the least bit sorry for him.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Do you suppose the Cubs wish they still had Chris Archer? Or Josh Donaldson?

As a matter of philsophy, I usually agree with the idea of trading prospects for proven veterans. After all, you generally know what you're going to get from a veteran player, and as a percentage, the overwhelming majority of prospects are busts.

If you take a look at what the White Sox have done over the last 10 or 15 years, most of former GM Ken Williams' trades have involved dealing future prospects to acquire help for the here and now. When I look at all the young players Williams traded, the only one I wish the Sox still had is Gio Gonzalez.

Strangely enough, the Sox traded him twice. In 2005, they sent him and Aaron Rowand to Philadelphia for Jim Thome (good trade). They reacquired him, along with Gavin Floyd, for Freddy Garcia in 2006 (also a decent trade). Then, they sent him to Oakland in 2008 with Ryan Sweeney and Fautino De Los Santos for Nick Swisher (terrible trade).

The rest of the players Williams traded, I can't say I miss.

Here are two guys the former GM of the Cubs (Jim Hendry) traded that I'll bet the current GM (Jed Hoyer) wishes he still had: Tampa Bay pitcher Chris Archer and Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson.

Archer, a 24-year-old right-hander, is having a breakout season for the Rays. He's 8-5 with a 2.81 ERA in 17 starts. He's allowed two earned runs or less in 12 of those outings. Pretty impressive for a kid who just joined the rotation on June 1 and is pitching in the rugged AL East. 

The Cubs acquired Archer from Cleveland in the Mark DeRosa deal in 2008, but in 2011, they flipped him to Tampa Bay in an eight-player deal that brought Matt Garza to the North Side of Chicago. Over 2 1/2 seasons, Garza went 21-18 in 60 starts for the Cubs. He, of course, is no longer on the team, having been traded to the Texas Rangers earlier this summer.

Meanwhile, the Rays have a potential ace on their roster. The Cubs are still looking for that guy. Some people in Chicago seem to believe Jeff Samardzija is an ace. I disagree. A 28-year-old with a 4.13 ERA who is blowing 5-0 leads against the woeful Philadelphia Phillies is not an ace. He's a mid-rotation starter on a contender. The Cubs should consider trading him this offseason. He's not going to get any better than he is right now.

Donaldson, a 27-year-old third baseman, is a bit of a forgotten man. Most people haven't noticed his .296 average, 19 home runs and 77 RBIs this season because he plays for Oakland. Most people have probably also forgotten the Cubs selected him 48th overall in the 2007 draft.

In July of 2008, Donaldson, Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and Eric Patterson were traded to Oakland for Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. At the time, Donaldson was the least talked about player of the four the Cubs gave up. Right now, he looks like the best player in that deal. He plays third base, too, and it seems like about half the teams in baseball are looking for someone to fill that position. It took five years, but that acquisition is paying dividends for the A's, who certainly do not miss Harden or Gaudin.

With both Chicago teams out of the pennant race this year, both clubs have traded some veterans for future considerations this summer. A couple years down the line, maybe they'll strike gold in some of these deals. Only time will tell. Most of the time, the team acquiring the veteran wins the trade. But every now and then, you seen a trade like the Archer deal or the Donaldson deal where the team acquiring the prospects prevails.