Originally posted on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 12/23/12
There are plenty of reasons to be bearish on the Nick Swisher signing that locks him in for at least four years and $56 million, and I think some of the unbridled enthusiasm 1 out there might need a wee-bit of tempering before we get too far ahead of ourselves. For one, he could get hurt.  Just because he has a track record of impeccable health—Swisher has played at least 148 games in every season since 2006—doesn’t mean that he’s immune to broken bones or pulled muscles or damaged knees.  Perhaps he’s just been lucky.  Perhaps he’s due. There’s also the inherent performance decline associated with players in their middle 30s, especially corner guys whose primary skills comprise power and patience.  In other words, guys like Swisher do not tend to age gracefully, and we could end up with a $14 million per year part-time player in 2016 ala Travis Hafner. Speaking of Pronk, there’s the precedent of history to consider: the last time the Indians signed a player to a four year fifty-some-odd-million-dollar deal, they ended up with the broken down remnants of Travis Hafner and absolutely no payroll or roster flexibility to show for it.  That move paralyzed the organization for half a decade, and we’re just now out from underneath the crushing weight of it.  At the very least, you’d like to think that…well….there’s an old saying in Tennessee…. It’s also worth noting that, because of how terrible the team was last year, the simple addition of the three or four wins that Swisher may be worth won’t represent a jump to playoff contention or even a .500 record for that matter.  I understand Keith Law’s suggestion that even if the value of the contract makes sense in a vacuum, Cleveland seems an odd team since the marginal value of the wins that Swisher will add isn’t nearly as high as it might be for a team who finished 2012 closer to contention.  In other words, you might break the bank to go from 86 wins to 90.  But it’s hardly worth it to go from 94 losses to 90.  2 Finally, there’s the simple fact that ALL free agency deals come with extremely limited upside.  The very most we can hope from this deal (and all such deals) is that the player is worth the money he’ll be paid.  There is basically a zero percent chance that Swisher provides significantly more value than what the team is paying for.  If, for instance, free agent wins are going for about $5 million per win on the market, Swisher would basically have to be a carbon copy of himself for the next four years to “earn” the deal.  It’s very possible that he won’t be that player though, and almost all of that possibility consists of underperforming the deal rather than overperforming it.  Best case scenario: the team gets its money’s worth.  Which I would translate as “limited upside”. So yeah, like I say, there are plenty of reasons to look at this deal and poke holes in the logic that led to its consummation. But as I’ve been mulling it over in my head I keep coming back to the same answer: this was a good baseball move, a good business move, and one the front office really needed to make.  I’m onboard, despite all the risk associated with the deal. First, let’s just acknowledge the glaring need we had and how perfectly Nick Swisher appears to address it.  After trading Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds, the Indians had Drew Stubbs for center, Michael Brantley in left, and….Thomas Neal in right?  Ezequiel Carrera?  I don’t even know who.  Anyway, Swisher will fit there just fine.  He plays a slightly above-average right field, gets on base and hits for power.  In fact, he bears some similarities to Choo—slightly lower OBP ability but a bit more power.  In many ways, he perfectly fills the Korean-sized void left behind in right field. So that’s good.  If we lost three wins by losing Choo, we added them back with Swisher, and then hopefully added a couple more with Stubbs and Bauer.  We’re net positive here, and that’s not even including the bullpen arms we added or swapping out Casey Kotchman for Mark Reynolds. Furthermore, while I’m not a big fan of making roster moves for PR’s sake, it’s hard to deny that this team has a PR problem right now, and that this signing might send a small message that the front office and ownership are working to solve that problem. 3 Nonetheless, I still think we need to think more about Keith Law’s point regarding the Indians’ position within the division and their place on the win curve.  After all, the Indians don’t need a couple more wins to get to the playoffs; they need a couple dozen more wins.  So it does seem a little silly for them to make such a huge splash on the free agent market for what might amount to going from fourth place in the division to third.  I’m sympathetic to this argument and it’s the one that gave me the biggest pause when considering the deal. But I guess I just don’t buy that the Indians were as bad as they played last year.  Make no mistake: they played atrocious, unwatchable, disgraceful baseball in 2012—the sort I’d be hesitant to unleash upon my worst enemies.  We’ve been down this road before, so I’ll be brief: The team’s opening day starter had an ERA of 4.93. That was the second best ERA among starters, who combined for a team ERA of 5.25 and a record of 48-76. Only five position players were worth at least one win above replacement-level.  That means the equivalent of eight full-time players managed to play at or below the level of your everyday Columbus Clipper. The team’s W-L record was actually better than simple runs scored and allowed would have suggested.  They ended the season as a 68-94 team, but their run-differential suggested a 64-98 team. So yeah. They were bad.  But I just don’t believe they’ll be that bad again.  I don’t think that Jason Kipnis is really .257/.335/.379 hitter.  I don’t believe that Carlos Santana will continue to hit .278 on balls in play.  I think that Lonnie Chisenhall will be better than Jack Hannahan.  I think that Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez literally CANNOT pitch worse than they did last year.  I believe that Carlos Carrasco might add significant value to the rotation, to say nothing of Trevor Bauer.  I think that what happened in left field last year will not be allowed to be repeated.  I think the team is still going to add another mid-rotation starter like Chris Capuano or Shaun Marcum, who’ll make them better still. In other words, I think I have enough reasons to throw out last year’s results as an ugly, forgettable outlier.  Some people may call this an optimist’s rationalization, and maybe it is.  But if you believe that the 2013 version of these guys will largely resemble the 2012 version, then you were really advocating for a full-rebuild—a tear down rather than free agency additions.  And to be honest, I wasn’t hearing a whole lot of that talk out there this off-season. So it seems that the Swisher signing is risky in a few different ways.  There’s the obvious risk associated with injury and decline—the risk that Swisher will simply not be worth the money the team has agreed to pay him over the next four years. But to me, the bigger risk here has nothing to do with Nick Swisher.  It’s a risk that the rest of the team will be good enough to make his contributions matter.  It’s a risk that Jason Kipnis is the real deal and that Carlos Santana is more than just potential and that Ubaldo Jimenez has good days in front of him and that Lonnie Who Loved Baseball is more than just a prospect and that Trevor Bauer really just needed a change of scenery.  The front office has decided to take this risk, and so did Nick Swisher. I think it’s a good bet to make. But then again, I’m biased: I want so badly for it to pay out. ___________________________________ h/t Billy Mumfrey This is, of course, not even considering that Swisher will not be taking the spot of a replacement player; he’ll be taking over for Shin-Soo Choo, arguably the team’s most valuable player of the last five years and likely worth three or four wins himself. I still think winning solves PR problems, not more PR, but that’s just, like, my opinion man
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Reports: David Price, Red Sox agree to seven-year, $217 million contract

LSU officials’ media leaks about Les Miles blew up in their faces

Sam Bradford returns to practice, but does it matter for broken Eagles?

Cam Newton won’t be ‘lured in’ by talk of undefeated season

Report: Miami job is Mark Richt’s 'if he wants it'

WATCH: Cowboys’ security guard being investigated for choking Panthers fan


Mariners ‘trying hard’ to trade Mark Trumbo before Wednesday’s tender deadline

Bill Belichick: Patriots always looking to improve win or lose

NFL: Refs did not blow calls on Ravens' blocked FG return

Roethlisberger: I’ll play through any injury but a brain injury

LeBron James feels ‘kind of sad’ about Kobe Bryant retiring

Singer Marc Anthony creates agency, signs Aroldis Chapman

WATCH: LSU releases video to honor Leonard Fournette

Report: Jim Hackett’s tenure as Michigan’s interim AD is ending

Josh Norman pretends to be a movie character each game

Ex-Giants OL Chris Snee 'wanted to see the Jets lose all the time'

Kyle Long gives Bears tickets to trash collector who found wallet

Last of a dying breed: Kobe's retirement marks end of an era

Are the Houston Rockets looking to trade Ty Lawson?

Anonymous agent: Lakers have 'no plan and no leadership'

LeBron on never facing Kobe in Finals: 'I didn't hold up my end'

Jerry Jones expects Tony Romo to start another five years

Devon Still announces that daughter is cancer-free

Ranking college football conference title games

Green rips ‘coward’ reporter for calling Warriors cocky

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

QUIZ: Name every NCAA football national champion since 1950

Browns lose to Ravens as only the Browns know how

NCAA figures out how to invite 5-7 teams to bowls

Ranking top Heisman Trophy candidates

Have the New Orleans Saints given up?

This weekend in NFL stupid, ft. Rex Ryan

Missouri won’t accept a bowl bid at 5-7

Durant blasts media on behalf of Kobe

Josh McCown laments how he got job back from Manziel

Paul George: Kobe Bryant was my Michael Jordan

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker