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Rogers: What about Vazquez, Swisher?

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Mario Scalise

The Tribune's Phil Rogers is wondering why Kenny Williams hasn't received heat for the trades of Nick Swisher and Javier Vazquez, who are each having good seasons for the Yankees and Braves, respectively. It's simple: because there's nothing to give him heat for.
If Williams were playing fantasy baseball against 29 other GM's, there'd be call for criticism. Swisher put together several good statistical seasons before 2008, and being that he's 28, it'd be foolish to be surprised at him doing it post 2009. Same goes for Vazquez, who racks up innings and strikeouts year in and out. But as nice as the box score might look at the end of the day with these guys, nothing can substitute what you see on the field.
 
Swisher was bought high and sold low, which falls on Williams, but the potential reward in hanging onto Swisher wasn't enough to make you ignore the problems that come with him:
 
  1. He isn't very good. Ignore the numbers and his ability to play a few positions, and what you have is a player that likes to swing for the fences and look for walks. The result is a lot of ugly swings at bad pitches and a lot of looks at good ones. He seemed to make up his mind prior to an at bat what he wanted to do. If he wanted to hit one out, he'd swing at anything he saw. If he wanted to walk, which became far too common when the pressure was on and the game was on the line, he'd keep the bat on his shoulder for three straight. At the end of the day, you have a guy who is only as good as the opposing pitcher is bad.
  2. He's a good act, which in this case, isn't a good thing. It's easy to be a happy-go-lucky-awesome-teammate-fan-friendly-guy when you're playing every day, but lose your job for good reason while your team is in the playoff race and you're true colors will show. After being justly benched with the Sox fighting for the AL Central, Swisher sulked.

Williams and Co. probably didn't care much for point number one (and I have a feeling a few readers won't agree with it), so number two was the key. Williams didn't care much for Swisher's attitude, realized he made a mistake, and cut his losses. Sure if he was set on trading Swisher he could have waited another year, allowing Swisher to go back to his career norms, but why wait?

With the emergance of Carlos Quentin, need for a legit leadoff hitter, and continued production from Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and Jim Thome, there was no guarantee how much playing time Swisher would have been given. And if his struggles on the south side continued, he would have found himself back on the bench, his trade value even lower, dragging the team down even further.

As for Vazquez... if there was an instance where fans dictated a GM's decision, trading Vazquez may have been it. Vazquez eats innings and is among league-leaders in strikeouts, which is nice, but his inability to finish off games and step up when needed frustrated a fan base that expected more from a pitcher making $11.5 million.

The longer he was with the Sox, the louder and more frequent the boos were. Mentally, Vazquez was simply never tough enough to handle Chicago (or New York), which makes his 2009 numbers moot, because it doesn't transfer. Just because he's producing in the NL and on the Braves doesn't mean he would have done the same here.

Same goes for Swisher, because this isn't fantasy baseball. To each player is their own fit. For Swisher, Vazquez and the White Sox, it goes beyond numbers. 

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1 Comment

webegeek said:

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What is Phil Rogers on these days? Now he is suggesting the Sox are interested in Zambrano and might be willing to deal Peavy to the Cubs for Carlos? I want a script for whatever Rogers is taking.

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