The initial plan was twofold: the primary objective was to acquire an affordable option for first base while the secondary purpose was to provide additional outfield depth. Of course, neither part of the plan came to fruition as the Yankees subsequently signed Mark Teixeira to man first base, while former starting right fielder Xavier Nady required his second Tommy John procedure, which effectively ended his days in pinstripes. Ultimately, Swisher claimed right field all for himself and posted an excellent 2009 regular season triple slash of .249/.371/.498 (29 HR) in addition to one fantastic/hilarious/mildly pathetic inning of pitching relief. Despite the team’s overall postseason success, Swisher’s playoff numbers took a significant hit in each round of the 2009 playoffs (ALDS - .083/.083/.167; ALCS - .150/.292.150; WS - .133/.316/.400).
After working extensively with Kevin Long during the offseason, Swisher came back with a vengeance in 2010. In fact, just about every aspect of his game seemed to have improved, which resulted in a career high bWAR (4.0) and fWAR (4.1). His overall production, which was enhanced by some shameless self promotion, even earned him his first All-Star nod.
Personally, I find Nick’s age (he’ll turn 30 in 2011) and contract to be increasingly appealing given his production and projection. He earned $5.4M in 2009, $6.85M in 2010, and is slated to earn $9.1M in 2011. Meanwhile, his Fangraphs Dollar Value over the past two years has hovered above $15M. While he may never be an elite outfielder, it’s probably fair to consider him in that next “very good” tier. Unless the Yankees are absolutely blown away with an offer for Swisher, I’d say his contributions have correctly secured him a position in the outfield next season. More importantly, given the plethora of improvements Swisher exhibited this past season I think we can reasonably expect 2010 to be a barometer of what's to come in 2011.
*In regard to defense, I think it’s fair to claim that Swisher has always been serviceable. While he takes questionable routes at times, he generally catches the balls he should and makes fairly accurate, strong throws to the infield. However, in 2010, he earned a -1.4 RF UZR and a -1.8 UZR/150. Unsurprisingly, his range took a hit from the knee injury. I certainly remember a number of games where Michael Kay and Ken Singleton commented on Swisher as he labored throughout the outfield. I don’t want to spend too much time on this point, but I think there are two valid conclusions to be made. First, with any luck, Swisher’s recovering health will improve his 2011 range by default. Second, for those fans yearning for Jayson Werth -- take a moment to consider the effects of Nick’s one bum knee and know that Werth has two (not to mention a few years of additional age and a monster contract in the making).