Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Monday, December 03, 2012

Red Sox Weighing Cody Ross vs. Nick Swisher


The Red Sox are widely reported to have interest in free agent outfielders Cody Ross and Nick Swisher. To follow is an analysis of both players, based on games/dependability, offense, defense, personality/character and price.

The 31-year-old Ross, of course, played on a one-year, $3 million contract for the Sox last season. He performed quite well, posting a .267/.326/.481/.807 line, to go along with 22 homers and 81 RBI.

The 32-year-old Swisher wrapped-up a five-year contract last season, playing out a club option with the Yankees for $10.25 million. He had another terrific season, posting a .272/.364/.473/.837 line, to go along with 24 homers and 93 RBI.

Ross became an everyday player in 2006, Swisher in 2005. So we'll compare the two since the 2006 season.

Since that time, Ross has averaged 124 games per season, peaking at 153 in 2010 after 151 in 2009.

Since 2006, Swisher has averaged 151 games per season, going six straight years playing in at least 150, before dropping to 148 last season.

Advantage: Swisher.

Ross has a career line of .262/.324/.460/.783, with 122 homers, 186 doubles and 452 RBI.

Swisher has a career line of .256/.361/.467/.828, with 209 homers, 251 doubles and 672 RBI.

SPLITS

Ross, career against righties: .253/.312/.415/.727, 64 HR, 278 RBI
Ross, career against lefties: .284/.353/.575/.928, 58 HR, 174 RBI

Swisher, career against righties: .250/.342/.478/.820, 162 HR, 502 RBI
Swisher, career against lefties: .270/.402/.441/.842, 47 HR, 171 RBI

Swisher is switch-hitter.

Advantage: Swisher

Ross can play all three outfield positions and is a solid defender.

Swisher can play left and right field, but is not a great defender. He can also play first base.

Advantage: Ross in the outfield; Swisher for his infield/outfield versatility.

Both players are known as great clubhouse guys with positive, outgoing personalities. Ross endeared himself to Red Sox fans last season with his ready smile and amiable charm. Swisher is a similar sort of guy.

"I think he brought a lot to the Yankees as far as just a free spirit, a little bit of an edge," said ESPN's Tim Kurkjian of Swisher. "And I think he would be good in Boston. I think he would be good in the clubhouse. If I were the Red Sox I would look long and hard at him... I think he's very much on the radar there for the Red Sox, and I think he should be."

Advantage: even

Ross wants a three-year, $24 million deal.

Swisher is looking for a five- or six-year deal. But odds are that he’ll have to settle for four, perhaps at the same $13 million per year that Napoli just got from the Red Sox.

Advantage: Ross

The addition of Swisher would give the Red Sox even more flexibility after adding catcher-first baseman Mike Napoli. Napoli will likely play first base most of the time, but when he catches, Swisher could move to first, which is probably his best position. Swisher would presumably start in right field the rest of the time. That flexibility also works in Swisher's favor.

The Red Sox have plenty of money to play with this winter. The cost of each player is not prohibitive. If money is not a concern, then Swisher seems to be the better choice, largely because of his durability, consistency, greater offensive production, his switch-hitting ability and his capacity to play both corner outfield spots, as well as first base. If Swisher could handle playing in New York, there is little doubt that he can also handle the Boston market.

The advantage of Ross is that he will cost less and be under contract for a shorter term. He is also a better outfielder. Most importantly, perhaps, the Sox know exactly what they have and what they'll be getting with Ross because he spent last season with the team.

The case for Ross is also made stronger by the fact that signing Swisher would cost the Sox their second-round pick (around 40th - 45th) next year. Such compensation is required because Swisher rejected the Yankees one-year qualifying offer. The Red Sox top-ten, first-round pick is protected, however.

The Sox really can't go wrong here. Should they end up with either player, they will be well-served because of it.

The shame is that the Sox won't end up with both Ross and Swisher. The team has the financial capacity to sign both players to fill their corner outfield spots. Instead, they gave Jonny Gomes a two-year, $10 million deal. That seems like an inferior choice and a poor decision.

Who would you rather have — Ross or Swisher?

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