3 Oct 2013
So based on two games, the Yankees looked like dunces letting Russell Martin go, but geniuses for letting Swisher leave?
The Martin critique is fair in some respects, but not because of what he did in the wild card game. It’s fair because Chris Stewart is not a starting catcher. Now, you could argue that if Cervelli had stayed healthy, the Martin move would not have been a mistake and that’s fine. But, we can’t turn Cervelli into a superstar based on 61 plate appearances. What the Yankees could have done is sign someone like A.J. Pierzynski after they lost Martin. They didn’t and it turned the Martin loss into a huge mistake.
Swisher had a rough night and a rough 2013, so letting him go looks like a great move, until you consider his replacement. If Swisher is in the Bronx, we never see Vernon Wells. Wells was terrible, his batting line of .233/.282/.349 was bad enough, but the defensive metrics showed that he wasn’t very good in the outfield either. Sum it all up and WAR says Wells COST the Yankees 0.8 of a win. Swisher gave Cleveland 2.4 wins, so you have a swing of 3.2 wins.
Now, the problem with both of these comparisons is that they just look at this year. Martin and Swisher would have been better than their replacements this year, but not enough that the Yankees would have made the playoffs. Furthermore, they are both signed for next year (and two more years after that for Swisher). If the Yankees do a halfway decent job of roster construction in 2014, they will cover for Martin and Swisher.