Monday, January 11, 2010

Would Hairston Be "Perfect" For The Yankees?

As mentioned earlier this morning, the Yankees are rumored to be "in serious talks" to bring back Jerry Hairston, Jr. Rob Neyer contends that he would be the "perfect Yankee", but I'm not so sure.

The source of that rumor was a tweet by ESPN's Chris Singleton, who added that the Yankees would use the 33 year old utility man to "spell Jeter and Rodriguez and platoon in left possibly". Hairston is capable of playing every position 3-9, but the problem is that he's not particularly well-suited to any of the three tasks Singleton listed.

Although he's right handed, Hairston doesn't make much sense as a platoon partner for Brett Gardner. In his career against left handers, Hairston has put up a weak line of .264/.323/.386, which is better than Gardner but much worse than Reed Johnson (.313/.378/.463) who is also available. Hairston does figure to be an asset defensively, but just how much of one is largely up to your imagination. His 37.7 UZR/150 in LF is simply too good to be true considering it's based on only 132 games and 594 innings there.

Hairston has similar sample size issues with his defense on the left side of the infield, but not the same encouraging results. He's started only 46 games at 3B (40 of them last year) and made 10 errors in that time. Shortstop is a relatively new position to him as well, having logged only 533 career innings there with almost all of them coming in the last two years. The initial numbers say his range isn't great at either position.

Additionally, the Yankees already have four utility infielders on the 40 man roster - Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez, Kevin Russo & Reegie Corona. Hairston figures to contribute more offensively than any of them, but Pena in particular is a far superior defender at both short and third.

Joe from River Ave. Blues explained how Hairston, acting as a back up infielder and outfielder, would free up a spot on the bench. Since the Yankees 12 man pitching staff affords room for only four extra position players, flexibility is at a premium. But production is the end goal, not flexibility.

While Hairston could play a number of positions, he doesn't excel at any of them - at least not in the capacity the Yankees would utilize him. The upshot is that he might save a roster spot by performing multiple functions for the Yanks, but that would only be useful if they could fill that spot with a player who can offer something that Hairston can't. Are the Yanks willing to spend a couple million dollars on a guy who is a bridge to signing another bench player? Because that's the only way it would make sense to bring him back.

1 comment:

  1. Steve B from CT1/12/10, 7:43 AM

    Right...BUT, having Hairston AND Reed Johnson gives Girardi a great deal of flexibility, and Hairston did help the Yankees in winning a World Series title...Hairston and Reed Johnson is a far better alternative than Pena and Hoffman.