What Went Right: The Midseason Pickups


Over the next week or so, we’ll again break down what went wrong and what went right for the 2009 Yankees. The series this year will be much more enjoyable than the last.

The Midseason Pickups

While the big offseason additions received the majority of the media and fan attention during the season (rightfully so), the little moves the team made to tweak the roster midseason also played a key role in bringing them to the promised land.

For most of the first half, the best bat the Yankees had on the bench belonged to Brett Gardner, which was sad. That all changed in late June, when the team acquired World Series veteran Eric Hinske (and $400,000 to pay his salary) from the Pirates for two throw away minor leaguers (a.k.a. Casey Erickson and Eric Fryer). Hinske immediately became the team’s primary pinch hitter, and even chipped in a few starts here and there to keep the regulars rested.

Hinske famously clubbed five homers in his first seven games with the Yanks, and hit .226-.316-.512 overall. He also played three different positions (not including DH), and reached base in his only postseason plate appearance, eventually coming around to score.

The second midseason pickup came right on the July 31st trade deadline, when the Yanks used their surplus of minor league catching depth (in this case: Chase Weems) to import the versatile Jerry Hairston Jr. from Cincinnati. Hairston replaced the overmatched Cody Ransom as the all-purpose bench player, and he went on to play every position but pitcher, catcher, and first base for the Bombers. Hairston’s overall batting line of .237-.352-.382 wasn’t spectacular, but bench players that can get on base more than 35% of the time don’t grow on trees.

On the roster for all three playoff series, Hairston ignited a game winning rally with a lead off single in the 13th inning of Game Two of the ALCS. He later made a spot start in rightfield for the slumping Nick Swisher, going 1-for-3 off Pedro Martinez in Game Two of the World Series and igniting another rally with a lead off single. Although Hairston and Hinske saw limited action in the playoffs, both certainly contributed in big ways once their names were called.

The final midseason pickup came a week after the Hairston trade, when the Yanks shipped $100K to San Diego in exchange for Chad Gaudin. The righthander initially worked out of the bullpen, but soon displaced Sergio Mitre as the team’s fifth starter. The Yankees won all six of Gaudin’s starts, during which he posted a 3.19 ERA. Even though he was on call to make a start every round, Gaudin appeared in only one game in the postseason, mopping up a blow out win in Game Four of the ALCS.

No team is ever complete in April, and the Yankees did a tremendous job of upgrading their roster during the season while using minimal resources. Weaknesses were addressed by acquiring veteran players familiar with the roles they were being asked to fill, not players who weren’t accustomed to coming off the bench or pitching on an irregular schedule. The added depth rewarded the team down the stretch and in the postseason.

Photo Credits: Reuters, Reuters, and Reuters

Categories : Analysis
  • Matt ACTY/BBD

    Hooray for Cashman. I was puzzled at the Hairston acquisition, but it made a lot of sense. Good move, Brian.

    • Bo

      Why would obtaining a versatile guy who can play all over be a puzzler?

      That should be what they call a no brainer. Especially after dealing with Ransom and Berroa.

      • JMK aka The Overshare


  • Rose

    I’d be all for bringing Hairston back. Depending on our other pickups, Hinske could be in there too…but if Cameron is picked up…I won’t bat an eyelash saying “take it easy” to Hinske.

    If the outfield (plus DH) is Damon, Cameron, Swisher (Matsui) with Gardner and/or Melky on the bench (depending on relievers)…Hairston being the infield utility guy who could also play OF if needed…I could deal with that.

    Gaudin is what he is. I enjoyed his role last year and would gladly take it again.

  • Zack

    Cashman got Pirates to pay for Hinske’s salary, love it.

  • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    The final midseason pickup came a week after the Hairston trade, when the Yanks shipped $100K to San Diego in exchange for Chad Gaudin.

    Straight Cash(man), Homey.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside (safe, skip to the 1:20 mark)

      Reporter: Is that your son?
      Tron: Naw, naw, I just bought this baby. Cash.

  • vin

    These were all great pickups. Every guy served a purpose. Although Hinske’s bat wasn’t as necessary in Philly because of Matsui, his presence really balanced out the roster in the 2nd half.

    Hairston reminded me a lot of Cody Ransom, except with a competent bat. Oh yeah, and a capable glove. But Cody does jump higher.

    I’d love to see Hairston back for next year, but I’m guessing Cashman will roll with the young guys (Pena & Garnder) and make another low-risk acquisition if the need arises.

    • Rose

      I’d love to see Hairston back for next year, but I’m guessing Cashman will roll with the young guys (Pena & Garnder) and make another low-risk acquisition if the need arises.

      Cashman should look at this year as a reason NOT to do that. He’ll just have to gamble on similar moves mid-season again and the options may not be as great. Hairston gives the Yankees a veteran and able bat as well as glove to insert at any time. He has some pop (10 HR in a limited role) and some speed as well. He’s the perfect option. Hinske has some pop too…but doesn’t offer much more. Pena’s bat is basically non-existent. Gardner we figure to be in there some way or another either way…

      • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Perhaps, but frankly, guys like Hinske, Hairston, and Gaudin are generally available every single midseason trading deadline.

        The key strategy is to try to not need anything more than a Hinske/Hairston/Gaudin, so that you don’t have to give up any actual prospects to plug your holes.

        • larryf

          agreed-say goodbye to all 3 plus Molina. Enjoy the World $erie$ guys and thanks for the memories….time for some inexpensive new blood midseason, hungry for a championship..

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          “Perhaps, but frankly, guys like Hinske, Hairston, and Gaudin are generally available every single midseason trading deadline.”

          I’m not sure I totally agree. I definitely agree that the strategy of not pouring too much money into these roster slots in the offseason and that developing guys from within and off the scrap-heap is the way to go, but I don’t think that’s always the way to go. I won’t shed any tears if Hairston is not on the team in 2010, but I think this is one case where I’m cool with bringing a guy like him in during the offseason. He’s just a really goof fit as a bench player – guy plays all over the field, can hit a bit, and can run a bit. The random Hinske-type bat? Sure, there’s not much reason to hang on to that kind of player. I just think Hairston might be one guy the Yanks should think about keeping; you don’t know that a guy like him, who is as good a fit as he is, will be available for a cheap trade during the season.

          Again, though, I’m not saying this Hairston thing is a big deal and I usually agree with what you’re saying. This is just one situation where I might buck my usual trend and sign the guy.

      • vin

        It will all come down to what Jerry wants to do. Would he rather get more AB’s somewhere else, and most likely miss the playoffs?

        He could be a more talented version of Luis Sojo.

      • Chris

        Pena’s bat is basically non-existent.

        Pena career OPS: .699
        Hairston career OPS: .701

        Pena 2009 OPS: .699
        Hairston 2009 OPS: .710

        Hairston’s bat is (at best) a marginal upgrade over Pena. I would personally prefer Pena because the position will primarily be a backup infielder and Pena’s got an edge defensively at all of the infield positions.

        • Thomas

          Ramiro Pena’s minor league OPS:
          2007 (21 in AA) .629 in 233 PA
          2008 (22 in AA) .687 in 506 PA
          2009 (23 in AAA) .637 in 180 PA

          Pena’s MLB OPS:
          .699 in 121 PA

          I’d guess the .699 is an outlier.

        • Matt ACTY/BBD

          I’d say Hariston’s .701 career OPS is more likely to keep up than Pena’s .699. As Thomas said, Pena’s .699 OPS is rather above his head, which sits very shallow.

          • Chris

            Ok, so Pena’s true talent right now is closer to a .650 OPS. I’d still prefer him to Hairston. Hairston will be 34 next season and is not likely to improve. At least there is a reasonable possibility that Pena will improve.

            • Matt ACTY/BBD

              I’d say it’s even below a .650 OPS.

              Anyway, I do agree with what you’re saying, that Pena could get better, but Hairston can also play OF, which helps his value. I think the Yankees would be glad to have him back and the decision is going to have to be up to him: does he want to stay with the Yankees as a bench player or does he want to go somewhere else and start?

              • Zack

                well he does have a WS ring now so I think he’ll be less likely to accept a lesser role with the Yankees. Not trying to get into his brain but thats just my opinion.

                • Ed

                  OTOH, maybe after seeing how awesome it is to win the World Series he wants to do it again.

        • Rose

          10 HR in 383 AB’s ain’t bad for a platoon player.

          Pena has absolutely no chance to mimic that even if he tried to pay for it…

  • Bo

    Cashman overlooks the bench every off season. He should be targeting players like Hinske and Hairston every off season anyway. otherwise we get stuck with nick greens and ransoms and berroas.

    This is one of the major advantages being the Yankees is. They can afford to pay bench guys. Shouldnt have scrubs on the bench.

    • tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      I see you still haven’t learned anything. There’s a reason the bench gets neglected. Players don’t want to come here to sit on the bench.

      Bravo for failing to understand things, yet again.

      • LI Kevin

        Oh. That Bo!