MLB Today: Teams Asking About Nick Swisher
The Yankees will once again count on Freddy Garcia to hold down a rotation spot in 2012.
Pitchers and catchers report in less than two months… is there a sweeter phrase in the English language? Well, we suppose “less than one month” is sweeter, but you get the idea.
Nick Swisher has struggled badly in the playoffs since arriving in New York, batting a mere .160 (16-for-100), and coming under plenty of fire as being one of the reasons the Yanks have sputtered in the postseason the past couple of years. He looked like a candidate to be bought out, but New York opted to exercise the $10.25-million option for 2012. In the regular season, Swisher continued to be among the patient hitters at the plate, averaging at least four pitches per at-bat for the eighth straight season – comprising his entire big league career to date. Several teams have been sniffing around the Yanks, asking about Swisher in trade talks, and it will be interesting to see how the team – suddenly exercising financial prudence — approaches the situation with him hitting free agency after the 2012 season.
Speaking of fiscal responsibility, the Yanks have been surprisingly quiet this offseason, especially on the pitching front where, other than re-signing CC Sabathia and Freddy Garcia, they have done nothing to improve a rotation many thought wasn’t World Series calibre.
The rotation currently consists of Sabathia, Phil Hughes (the Yanks are banking on him bouncing back after a disastrous 2011), Ivan Nova (who benefited from run support, but turned in an impressive rookie campaign nonetheless), Garcia (brought back after a surprisingly solid effort) and A.J. Burnett (who is as inconsistent as they come, and pretty much an unmovable asset because of his contract).
Yes, there are some major question marks in there, and if any of them falter or get hurt, New York will turn to its suddenly impressive cadre of in-house options in the minors, including:
- Manny Banuelos: This youngster didn’t have a phenomenal season, but it was good enough for him to reach Triple-A for the first time. Just 20 years old, this Venezuelan lefty may be overhyped as Yankee pitching prospect tend to be, but he averaged nearly a strikeout per inning at both Double-A and Triple-A. If Banuelos can rein in the walks, he has the chance to be a good one.
- Dellin Betances: A 23-year-old righty, Betances enjoyed nice results at Double-A despite some major control problems. The wildness got worse in his first taste of Triple-A and was downright ugly during his brief look in the bigs. I love his strikeout potential, but the walks are going to be his undoing.
- Hector Noesi: A 24-year-old righty from the Dominican, Noesi looked good at Triple-A (although he needs to reduce the amount of baserunners he allowed) and held his own in his time with the Yanks, spent mostly in relief. He’s normally a tremendous control pitcher, but you wouldn’t know it last season. Once Noesi adjusts to the higher levels, he could have more potential than anyone on this list, although his upside probably isn’t as high as the two ahead of him.
- David Phelps: The Yanks’ 14th rounder from 2008 is now 25 and he dealt with some injury issues in 2011, however he improved his hit rates slightly while upping his strikeout rate at Triple-A. Phelps has fine control, although it wasn’t as sharp this year.
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