Examining Xavier

The last time Xavier Nady was in the limelight he was in the midst of career best season, hitting .305/.357/.510 and finishing 2008 with the New York Yankees after a mid-season trade. In July, Nady’s 2009 campaign officially ended after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow. Unfortunately for the (in two days) 31-year-old, he enters free agency coming off what amounts to a week full of regular season playing time over the last 12 months.

From 2005-7, Nady hit .274/.330/.457 in 1,338 plate appearances. In 2008, he hit .305/.357/.510 in 607 plate appearances and the Pirates sold high on him to the Yankees. Nady’s gratuitous BABIP inflation faded after the trade – err, I mean he melted under the pressure of the bright lights – and his OPS went from .919 with the Pirates to .794 with the Yanks. A napkin estimation of Nady’s 2010 wOBA probably lands you in the .330-.340 range. Or, average-to-slightly-above.

Any team interested in Nady has to consider what his arm was before the injury and what it will be like afterwards. From 2005-7 Nady posted exactly zero positive arm ratings, and in 2008 he was about a run above average. He won’t make a ton of errors but he also won’t make a ton of difficult grabs either. UZR rates him as an annually slightly below average defender even with a positive 2008 thrown into the mix. Dewan’s Plus/Minus agrees with the slightly below average description.

That makes Nady essentially an average right-handed hitting corner outfielder. Gabe Kapler is somewhat comparable and he signed a one-year, $1.05M deal with the Rays before hitting the open market. Mark Kotsay signed a similar deal but he’s a lefty. He’s not a four-win player like he was in 2008 and teams know this. Factor in the injury and it’s hard to see him making near his $6.5M salary from this season, not that Scott Boras won’t try.




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18 Responses to “Examining Xavier”

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  1. Dirty Water says:

    ‘and the Pirates sold high on him to the Yankees’

    excuse the astute observation, but doesn’t that occur quite often?

    Why, yes. Yes it does.

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    • Rich in NJ says:

      Cite other examples.

      The trade was ill-conceived, but Marte’s performance during the postseason mitigated, if not arguably reversed, my negative assessment of the trade.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        Cannot. But than again, you know why I cannot.

        The MFY don’t need to trade anything because eventually they’ll have the option of buying that player (or players) for twice what any other team is willing to. And pay they will, and have. Which, btw, does bring their barren farm into question once again. As in, if the Yanks never trade prospects, why is it that they never have any?

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      • Steve says:

        MF World Champs.

        stings, doesn’t it?

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      • Tom B says:

        why would you say the yankees have no prospects? oh, you’re just bitter.

        i’d say they have quite a few already in the mix. and another handful on the way in the next 2-3 years. how many other clubs in baseball can claim that? 2? be very afraid of this team, because soon you won’t only be crying about money.

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    • Nik says:

      Man, you’re still sore?

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    • Rob in CT says:

      1) Nick Swisher for Wilson Betemit. This is recent history.
      2) The trade was Nady + Marte for, IIRC, 4 prospects. If Tabata works out it could end up hurting. But it’s also entirely possible that the Pirates end up getting nothing much of use out of that trade. Given it was a mid-season desperation trade, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
      3) The Yankees farm system is middling. Not great, not bad. Would be better if Cole had signed. But that stuff happens sometimes.
      4) This isn’t SOSH. People are just going to laugh at your MFY stuff here.

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      • Steve says:

        I think the Pirates are happy with the trade b/c in the NL, Ross Ohlendorf can be a useful #4 starter. I don’t think he could crack the Yankee rotation, so in that respect, it’s probably a good trade for both sides. Tabata could bite them, but we have to remember there were serious off-field issues with the guy, and he may have just needed a change of scenery.

        I wouldn’t go so far to say that the Yankees don’t get past the Phillies without Marte, but he got so many big outs, that I probably wouldn’t undo the trade knowing what I know now. I understand the shortcomings of that reasoning, but he was still a significant piece of a World Series team even if the Yankees “overpaid” for a handful of (key) outs.

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  2. Kevin S. says:

    MFY? We do that here? Do we also have to type Bucky #@%&ing Dent?

    Oh yeah, and Masterson for Martinez, or the fact that Boston didn’t think JJ Hardy was worth a relief pitcher. Look, the Yanks get good players in trades without giving up much in the way of prospects, but it’s hardly a phenomenon unique to the Bronx.

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  3. Bryz says:

    “That makes Nady essentially an average right-handed hitting corner outfielder.”

    Baseball Tonight makes him seem like a god with his “The Untier!” nickname. *rolls eyes* Though I suppose he did post a positive Clutch rating in ’08 when they first started annoying me with the nickname.

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  4. Steve says:

    A question for the author (or anyone else):

    Nady’s career numbers have always been fairly averagish, mostly due to a severe platoon split. He’s a RH bat that has always hit lefties very well. Not an uncommon trait.

    However, over the last 4-5 seasons, Nady has slowly, but steadily, started to improve against RHP, the results of which were a “breakout” season in 2008.

    Now, he will never be an elite player simply b/c he doesn’t take enough walks, but I suppose my question is this:

    Is Nady’s improvement against RHP “real”? Or is it just noise from a relatively small sample? How can we tell? I’m not pretending I know the answer, I am asking if Nady’s career numbers might be selling him a little short (without factoring in the injury, of course)??

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    • Rob in CT says:

      We (the commentors at RLYW) bandied this about at the time of the trade. The upshot is that you can’t be sure, but the steady improvement against RHP was a good sign.

      Depending on how the off-season shakes out, I wouldn’t mind having him in the mix for LF if he can be had cheap, and he shows he can actually throw. I’ve heard (can’t remember where) that recovery rates from TJ #2 suck. But then that’s probably mostly pitchers. Anyway, a LFer who can’t throw (yes, yes, Damon, I know) becomes a DH, and Nady as a DH does not thrill me.

      I feel bad for the guy, but the injury might have actually helped the Yankees. Not b/c their roster was stronger without him – it wasn’t. But because it appeared that Joe Girardi actually thought he was a better player than Nick Swisher. Given the year Swish had, I’d be less worried about it now.

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      • Steve says:

        I’m hesitant to make any sort of judgment on how Girardi would have played them based on 7 games.

        He did a good job managing the 2 guys for one spot in CF.

        and it’s not like Swisher didn’t have long stretches of the season where he stunk (including all of October). Having another good player to take some ABs during that stretch might have been a good thing.

        Of course, the results are on your side of the argument, and I wouldn’t change a thing if I could. I am just hesitant to assume that Girardi couldn’t have made this work. That probably also includes giving some of Damon’s ABs against LHP to Nady, which wouldn’t have been bad either. Again, I wouldn’t change anything, so I don’t disagree with you that his injury probably did help.

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      • Rob in CT says:

        I’m basing it on comments from Girardi in spring training and the season before Nady got hurt. He could have just been blowing smoke, of course. But he kept saying things like “Nady is the starting RF, we’ll find Swish some ABs” which, to me, sounded like “we see Swish as our 4th OFer” which was slightly nutty.

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      • Steve says:

        Right, but i am saying “before Nady got hurt” was all of 8 games of the season, of which Swisher started 6.

        Swisher had already gotten ABs in every single game while Nady was starting, and he had hit .458/.536/1.208 over that stretch.

        i am simply saying that Girardi’s statements in spring trainging may not have meant all that much in the face of Swisher hitting an XBH almost every time he came to the plate during that stretch.

        i just don’t see why it is so hard to think that Swisher would have hit his way into the starting lineup with his red-hot April.

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  5. lookatthosetwins says:

    Sure wouldn’t mind seeing him in Minnesota for 4 mil. If you add Delmon’s negative WAR to his positive WAR, you have an above average player.

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