(He wasn't a Yankee lifer, but that still doesn't look right. Courtesy of the AP)
After 4 very good years in New York, any last chance the Yankees had of freak dumb lucking their way into Nick Swisher ended yesterday when he was formally introduced as the newest member of the 2013 Cleveland Indians. Swish was the first real casualty of the 2014 payroll crunch, with it basically being understood long before last season ended that the Yankees would let him walk in free agency. They did that without making Swish a real contract offer, and find themselves with another possible platoon outfield situation now that he's gone.
I said "very good" to describe Swish's time in New York, and truthfully that's what it was. He didn't win many awards (any, really), and only achieved 1 All Star Game nod in his time in the Bronx, but Swish was constantly one of the most productive and flexible bats in the Yankee lineup and gloves in the field. He could be plugged in wherever Joe felt like he most needed him on a given day with confidence that he could get the job done. In his 4 years as a Yankee, Swish hit .268/.367/.483, good for a 124 OPS+ and a .370 wOBA, with 105 HR, 349 RBI, 331 R scored, and above-average defense in right field. And even though his postseason numbers are rough, he was a part of a World Series-winning club.
Sadly, it is that postseason failure that will be freshest in people's minds now that Swish has moved on and not the 4 straight years of 3.0+ WAR output he produced or the refreshing dose of fun and humanity he brought to the Yankee clubhouse. I've heard behind-the-scenes stories of "shut up, Swish" being a common phrase in that clubhouse, but his teammates all always seemed to like him and Swish always looked like he was having a blast out on the field. He wasn't around for very long, but that's what Swish's Yankee legacy should be- an underappreciated, productive player who loved being in New York and was fun to watch play. I haven't checked the schedule to see when Cleveland is coming to town in 2013, but Swish is more than deserving of a big standing O from the Yankee Stadium crowd before that first game.