Sep
24

Replacing Jerry Hairston

By

Jerry Hairston Jr.Even though the Yanks walked away from Anaheim with a much needed series win, they may have suffered a pretty significant loss when supersub Jerry Hairston Jr. left yesterday’s game in the middle of his 7th inning at-bat after hearing “a pop” in his right wrist. Apparently Jerry has dealing with wrist issues for quite some time, initially injuring it when he dove for a ball while with the Reds. He’ll hit the MRI tube later today, at which point we’ll know the extent of his injury, but I can’t remember the last time I heard a player said they heard something “pop” and it didn’t turn out to be serious.

On the surface it might not seem like such a big deal, especially since Hairston’s hit just .175-.306-.325 in the team’s last 32 games, but he gave the Yankees two things: extreme versatility and a usable bat off the bench against lefthanders. We’ll get back to the versatility thing in a second, but for now let’s discuss the value of Hairston’s bat off the bench.

You may think his offensive contributions are insignificant, and in the grand scheme of Yankee Universe they kinda are, but the guy has hit .252-.326-.439 off southpaws this season, by far the best any righty on the Yanks bench can offer. Melky Cabrera offers the next righty bat off the bench, going .253-.329-.407 off lefties, but chances are he’ll be starting in center since Joe Girardi seems to like having Brett Gardner ready to go as a pinch runner late in games. Based on what we’ve seen out of Girardi the last two seasons, I think it’s extremely unlikely he’d send Eric Hinske or even Gardner up to plate to hit against a lefty late in games, regardless of what the numbers say. So with Hairston potentially out for a while, the Yankees may have to do without a righthanded hitter on the bench in the playoffs.

(Sorry, but Shelley Duncan doesn’t belong anywhere near a Major League playoff roster.)

Getting back to the versatility issue, it’ll probably take two players to replace Hairston. Ramiro Pena is the no doubt about it backup infielder in Jerry’s stead, but he’s never played the outfield in the big leagues and got just 18 total chances in a handful of games in centerfield with Triple-A Scranton. There’s just no way you can send him out there in the playoffs and expect him to get the job done. There’s also the little matter of Pena hitting .284-.318-.363 as a big leaguer, just .091-.130-.091 against lefties (SSS warning). He’s a more than acceptable backup infielder on the defensive side of the ball, but he offers almost nothing at the plate

As for replacing the outfield portion of Hairston’s contributions, the leading candidate would be Fast Freddy Guzman. The Yanks are fortunate enough to have two approximately league average centerfielders on their roster, so Hairston didn’t figure to get much playing time in the outfield anyway (he’s played just 90 innings out there for the Bombers). There has already been some talk about Guzman making the postseason roster as a pinch runner, and a lengthy injury to Hairston should all but guarantee his spot. Surprisingly,  Guzman has a .900 OPS against lefties in his career, but the small sample size warning applies again. In reality, Guzman offers little value at the plate like Pena, with a career .541 OPS in the bigs and .704 in the minors.

We still don’t know how badly Hairston’s wrist is hurt, and while we all hope it’s nothing a little rest and/or cortisone can’t solve, the Yankees have to be prepared for the worst. They’ll probably have to go into the postseason without a reliable righty bat on the bench to send up against lefthanders, but how often would they have pinch hit for someone in this lineup a playoff setting anyway? The loss of Hairston’s flexibility is what really hurts.

Photo Credit: Rob Grabowski, US Presswire

Categories : Injuries

114 Comments»

  1. jsbrendog says:

    how do you think this affects the chances of the yankees resigning him?

  2. Muel says:

    I assume even with an injury situation, one would need to be on the 40 man for postseason eligibility…meaning ajax would be an impossibility?

  3. iYankees says:

    When would J-Hair ever be called upon to face a lefty? Doesn’t that mean he would have to pinch-hit for someone? I don’t think the Yankees are going to pinch-hit for Damon, Matsui or others when in the postseason (I can’t even see him coming in for Brett Gardner). Maybe I’m missing something, though.

    I also don’t really see him coming in as a defensive replacement in the infield (for defensive and offensive reasons). I guess I could see him replacing an outfielder in the later innings (Damon, hopefully), but then again, we’ll probably have one of Melky/Gardner available at all times, so he may not even be necessary there.

  4. I think a Hairston injury opens the door for the 11th pitcher on the postseason roster.

    I felt the pecking order for the 6 bench spots was
    1) Molina – backup C
    2) Hinske – lefty PH
    3) Hairston – righty PH, occasional IF LIDR
    4) Gardner – pinchrunner, OF LIDR
    5) Guzman – pinchrunner, OF LIDR
    6) Peña – IF LIDR

    There’s no other good candidates in the system for a postseason roster spot (Shelley can’t hit big league pitching, Miranda’s a lefty and is duplicated by Hinske, Cervelli is pointless because we don’t need two catchers), so if Hairston is done, lop him off, give his IF LIDR role to Peña, roll with a 5 man bench, keep an 11 man piching staff (which means both Joba and Gaudin make it), and pray we never need a righty pinch hit situation.

    (although, I wonder if it’s possible to 60-day DL Hairston and sign Yurrendel DeCaster back… hmmm…)

  5. Mike Pop says:

    Heh, Jerry was all stoked about being able to play in the postseason.

    Quick question: If he hits the DL now, and the Yankees win enough in the postseason, does he get the bonuses, and even a ring if they win the world series? What about Nady? Does he get any of this.

  6. mryankee says:

    Loss of Hairston is no big deal he was a marginal contributor at best. I am really hoping Joba has a good showing tomorrow night, great opportunity for him. Pitching against the Sox and Lester is a challenege he should rise to if he is going to an ace type pitcher, of course teh Soc will know he is only going to throw so many pitches so that is a major disadvantage for Joba. I am also glad to see Girardi press Joba a bit maybe that will wake him up. As Bill walsh said “this is the pros and we dont have to keep you”

  7. Kiko Jones says:

    (Sorry, but Shelley Duncan doesn’t belong anywhere near a Major League playoff roster.)

    Sad but true. It’s hard not to root for Shelley but…ugh. If he’d at least looked decent while up in the bigs in these days he could be possible trade bait (a DH for a desperate team out there?) but as it stands–and at his age–it looks like Duncan will be a veteran minor leaguer at best. Too bad.

  8. Jake says:

    Personally, I think Pena is better defensively than Hairston JR, but that’s just my opinion. I agree his offense needs some help, maybe that can get done in the winter leagues, but he has had some nice hits from time to time.

  9. crawdaddie says:

    Hairston has no structural damage to his wrist and took another cortisone shot for his tendinitis. Probably won’t see him play until sometime next week. This information is being reported on all of the NY papers blogs.

  10. [...] As River Ave Blues points out, he’s been so versatile for the Yankees that if he were not able to play in the playoffs he would literally have to be replaced by two players. So lets say that if he were to miss the playoffs, or even just the first round, the Yankees would have to carry Ramiro Pena as an infielder and probably Freddy Guzman as an outfielder. [...]

  11. [...] As River Ave Blues points out, he’s been so versatile for the Yankees that if he were not able to play in the playoffs he would literally have to be replaced by two players. So lets say that if he were to miss the playoffs, or even just the first round, the Yankees would have to carry Ramiro Pena as an infielder and probably Freddy Guzman as an outfielder. [...]

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