There are many ways to be loved as an athlete in New York. You can perform at the highest level in the biggest moments, like Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera. Like Brett Gardner, you can "wow" the crowd with brilliant athletic abilities, or throw blazing fastballs followed by boisterous emotion like Joba Chamberlain.
In the case of Nick Swisher, you can just laugh your way to love.
His play as a New York Yankee has not been sub-par by any means. In three seasons in pinstripes, Swisher has batted .267 (above his .254 career average), driving 81 home runs and 256 RBI from mainly the sixth spot in the lineup. His defense, though not Gold Glove-worthy, is still respectable most of the time. His biggest attribute is ability to get on base as a switch hitter, carrying a .368 on-base-percentage with the Yankees.
Unfortunately for Swisher, his charming personality and good regular season play can only carry him so far. The crowd favorite has become a goat in the postseason, where he has mirrored into a completely different player. He is a career .169 batter with six RBI in the postseason, and four of those are from solo home runs. Swisher has looked over-matched in New York during October, even as the team went on the win 2009 World Series.
It may be a very difficult and unpopular move for the Yankees, but Swisher may need to be moved for someone like Carlos Beltran. Though older, Beltran is also a switch-hitter and an overall better player than Swisher in many ways. He is a much better hitter for average, has the potential for more power and plays better defense.
Beltran had similar numbers to Swisher, with 22 homers and 84 RBI, but batted a much higher .300 for the Mets and Giants. His only downside is his tendency for injury. His 2011 was his first full season (or close to it, as he played 142 games) in four years. If he can stay healthy, however, he would be a very nice addition for the Yankees in right field and probably one of relatively similar cost to Swisher.
The Yankees must decide their order of priorities this offseason. Do they please the fans and keep Swisher or sign Beltran and let one of the loves of New York go? It would be a sad departure for Swisher, but it may just be the one the Yankees need to progress toward their 28th championship.