Swisher's 2008 performance prompted skepticism, but White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen defended him at last month's Winter Meetings. The Chicago Tribune quoted Guillen as saying, "I take the blame for Nick Swisher. We put Nick Swisher on the spot. He wasn't a center fielder and he wasn't a leadoff hitter, and this kid showed up every day and did his best for us. Unfortunately, stuff didn't work out for him, and I will take the responsibility for playing this guy in the wrong position and the wrong spot in the lineup."Swisher has batted fourth 11 times in his career and fifth in 17 games, but his 357 plate appearances batting third indicate that he could bolster the middle of the order, where the Giants need help. Having averaged 93 walks per year from 2006-08, Swisher also possesses the plate discipline many Giants lack. As a switch-hitter who can play first base and all three outfield spots, Swisher's versatile, a quality that gives manager Bruce Bochy the personnel flexibility he values. With the Giants, Swisher likely would occupy first, leaving third base for Pablo Sandoval. At 28, Swisher's approaching what should be his peak years. He's also relatively affordable. Swisher's owed approximately $20 million over the next three seasons, a sizable yet not budget-breaking amount. Moreover, he wouldn't block the ascent of any Giants prospects. Angel Villalona, the budding first baseman, is only 18 and needs two, perhaps three more years of seasoning. Finally, Swisher's intangible assets are considerable. He still owns a home in Danville, Calif., a 45-minute drive from San Francisco, so he'd likely welcome a return to the Bay Area, where he began his career with Oakland. He'd enliven an already positive Giants clubhouse with his upbeat, somewhat brash demeanor, which would complement the genial yet quiet nature of veterans like Randy Winn or the hushed professionalism of Bengie Molina. But just because deals make apparent sense doesn't mean they'll happen.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.