Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hello Goodbye

I think Nick Swisher is a DAMNED good ballplayer, 27 years old, smart, disciplined, durable, and adaptable. In the Cell he'll probably hit like a switch-hitting Jermaine Dye with a lot more walks. He can play centerfield but he's only average there -- he simply doesn't make mistakes, but he won't run down screamers in the gaps, either. He can play first base and any corner position well. Swisher is exactly the right kind of ballplayer to go get as far as I am concerned, especially if his approach rubs off on Josh Fields. I am well-aware of the Mackowiak experience, but Swisher is considerably better than Mack, about as good a CF as Darin Erstad (now) and he hits about twice as well. I like him a hell of a lot better than a middle-aged Coco Crisp, or a middle-aged Aaron Rowand, or a middle-aged Torii Hunter, at least over the next five freaking years.

What made him expensive in terms of trade value is he's cost controlled -- he's completely signed until 2012. The White Sox will owe him about $35 million over those five years, which is about half market value. This isn't a rental player, this is an investment-grade talent... or, just maybe, there's something coming here... like flipping him to Boston (DAMN he's their kind of player!) for multiple position player prospects? What if he gets flipped for Jed Lowrie and Ellsbury? The main reason I don't see this as an option is Oakland wouldn't have needed the White Sox and they'd love those guys...

On to the out-box:

Sad to say, I think Sweeney's waiver-wire bait, so I think the trade comes down to what happens to Gio Gonzalez and de los Santos. As much hope as I have (had) for Ryan Sweeney, I'm afraid he's going to bust. He didn't show significant power in Charlotte in 800+ at bats, which just doesn't bode well. If he were a second baseman, I'd be more upset. As a corner outfielder he can't play major league baseball at all.

Now, I don't like parting with Gio at all. The only two cautions I see with him are he's short for a pitcher and you can't read pitchers based on how they did in Birmingham, Alabama, because every pitcher looks good in that ballpark. The five or so inches he's missing in height show up as stress on the ulnar collateral ligament, and his 93mph is like Zumaya's 99. In wonkese, his phenotype is a cause for concern. That said, he gets people out, and he's got enough innings to assume his arm won't fall apart tomorrow.

De los Santos has faced a total of 483 hitters in professional baseball, which means he's thrown something like 1500 pitches in his career, and at 21 years of age he's just getting started. He's struck out almost 1/3 of the hitters who've faced him, which is phenomenal, but I don't personally know what kind of stuff he's got, and nobody knows if his UCL can make it to the majors. He's a wild card.

I think how you feel about this comes down to how you feel about minor league "prospects" and whether you "overvalue" pitching. If you're John Sickels or Baseball Prospectus, and you make a living telling people you can predict minor league player futures, you hate this trade. If you think pitching is more important that hitting, (a) you're wrong (grin), and (b) you'll hate this trade.

So... Swisher's probability of being a major league regular and above average player for the next 5 years is probably as close to a lock as exists in MLB. Sweeney's probability is near 0. If Gonzalez makes the jump as a frontline starter AND de los Santos makes the jump as a frontline starter or closer, this trade will look awful. If they both make it as "just" back-end starters or middle relievers, this trade will look awesome.

How's that for equivocating?

I wonder if this means a back-of-the-rotation veteran is about to get signed or acquired for Crede?

No comments: