In an article this morning in the New York Times, Tyler Kepner discusses the situation around Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher, and dissects what would be better for the Yankees to do.

Swisher, a 28-year-old switch-hitter, is two years younger than Nady and is signed for three more seasons at roughly $21 million. Nady, 30, is a right-handed hitter who is eligible for free agency after the season.

Nady had a better season than Swisher last year, batting .305 with 25 home runs and 97 runs batted in — all career highs. Swisher had the worst of his five seasons, hitting just .219 with 24 homers and 69 R.B.I. But Swisher’s on-base percentage, .332, was actually better than Nady’s .320 figure over two months with the Yankees.

In that way, Swisher profiles better as the kind of player the Yankees seek for their lineup. He saw an average of 4.53 pitches per plate appearance last season, leading the major leagues in that category. Nady averaged 3.65 pitches per plate appearance.

Trading Swisher or Nady — who is eligible for salary arbitration after earning $3.35 million last season — would reduce the payroll, which stands at just under $200 million.

Although Swisher was in a serious offensive slump last year, I believe Swisher is the more viable option right now. He is signed for 3 more years, and he is young, a grinder, and a switch-hitter who is patient at the plate. Nady, on the other hand, if he stays with the Yankees, will use his playing time this season as leverage to get a good contract in the offseason in 2009-2010. He will almost surely bolt for greener pastures. It’s more appealing to the Yankees to trade Nady.

Plus, Nady will be dealing with salary arbitration with the Yankees in the upcoming days.

Now about Posada and Rivera…

… Cashman said he was more worried about the recovery of catcher Jorge Posada and closer Mariano Rivera. Those are players whose production could not be easily replaced by a trade.

“Our catcher and closer are coming off shoulder surgeries,” Cashman said. “That’s what concerns me, and that’s what people should be focused on. Everything is coming along fine, but nobody usually has hiccups this early. Posada’s just throwing at 90 feet on flat ground and Mo’s not even throwing yet.”

Posada will not be able to catch by the exhibition opener Feb. 25, Cashman said, but he is on track to be ready for the regular-season opener April 6. Rivera does not throw in January even when he is healthy, so his schedule is not alarming. But it is Cashman’s job to fret.

“Mo’s surgery wasn’t as serious as Posada’s,” Cashman said. “But it’s still shoulder surgery.”

Cashman has every right to be worried. His best arm on the team had shoulder surgery after coming off one of his finest seasons in pinstripes. His quiessential leader of the team, a guy who also came off his best offensive season in 2007, is recovering as well. The Yankees cannot afford to miss Posada’s bat, leadership behind the plate or his temperament. The Yankees also cannot affort to miss Mo’s 8/9th inning walk out from the bullpen.  I don’t care if it takes them both 2-3 months to recover and perhaps come in May, but as long as both are healthy and have no lingering side effects, so be it.