Dec
27

Where does Hairston fit on the 2010 Yanks?

By

It’s not quite Jerry Hairston’s time of winter yet. Teams seem to make their bigger moves in December, viewing January with an eye to secondary players. The Yankees, with a solid rotation, bullpen, and lineup already assembled, could start looking at possible bench options over the next few weeks. A versatile, familiar player like Hairston could be in their plans.

With a 12-man pitching staff and a set DH, the Yankees have room for four bench players. One of them goes to Francisco Cervelli, leaving two spots for utility infielders and outfielders. With this scheme it makes sense to carry a player who can handle both the infield and outfield. Jerry Hairston is not only one such player, but he’s one who plays good defense at most positions.

In an article on ESPN Insider Tom Tango looks at a trio of unheralded players from this decade. Their bats keep them from the starting lineup, but their defense makes them valuable assets off the bench. Says Tango of Hairston:

He started between 40 and 98 games at five positions (SS, 3B, LF, CF, RF) in addition to his 515 starts at 2B. Since 2002, his UZR is +34 runs overall and his WOWY is +46 plays in the infield and +32 plays in the outfield.

Having a player like Hairston on the bench makes the team more flexible. Because he can spell players at multiple positions, it allows the Yankees to keep a power bat — like, say, Eric Hinske — on the bench. Also, if they do intend to start Brett Gardner in left, they could also carry Rule 5 pick Jamie Hoffman. That’s not a bad bench heading into the season, and we know that if something like the bench or bullpen isn’t working, the Yankees can fix it on the fly.

The question, as with all free agents, is of whether Hairston wants to sign on, and whether he’ll sign for the Yankees’ price. Perhaps Hairston would prefer a team that offers him more playing time, or possibly more money. But if his demands are in line, I can’t see a good reason why the Yankees wouldn’t pursue him. He’s a useful player, especially on defense, where he can play multiple positions, both infield and outfield. That sounds like a valuable asset off the bench.

Categories : Hot Stove League

84 Comments»

  1. Anthony Murillo says:

    If the price was right, I would welcome back Hairston with open arms. He is a useful player with decent speed and can play multiple positions. I’d say bring him back…but only if he doesn’t cost much.

  2. Mattchu12 says:

    Only if the price is right. My understanding is that Ramiro Pena has been training to play the outfield as well, so we’d get his gold glove caliber infield defense and what I have to imagine would be plus outfield defense. He does all the things that Hairston does, plus if I remember correctly, he is a better base runner than Hairston. Hairston has more power, I’ll give him that, and that is the only reason I’d offer him a contract and a spot over Pena. So like I said, if the price is right, I’ll take him.

    If not, I’m happy with Pena as my backup infielder/outfielder and second pinch-runner to Brett Gardner.

    • whozat says:

      Pena can’t really hit. Hairston can’t hit enough to be a regular, but he’s got solid on-base skills and is a righty who plays plus D in the OF and can also play tolerably all over the IF. Pena plays great SS and 3B, can probably play plus 2B, but won’t hit very much at all.

    • andrew says:

      I don’t think it’s fair to assume that Pena will be a plus outfielder, but besides that, i agree.

      • Mattchu12 says:

        The speed and reflexes that we’ve seen him show in the infield makes me think he would have pretty good range in the outfield. I know there is no proof for that, I’m just saying that I can imagine that. He has a plus arm as well, so he’d have a solid outfield arm too.

        No evidence, just my observation and my guy talking.

    • Lanny says:

      Pena cant hit. Let him get 600 ab’s in AAA.

    • I’m concerned that Pena’s solid bat could retreat if exposed to more playing time. His numbers in the minors have never spoken to any sustained level of success at the Major League level. Hairston makes sense as a guard against a Pena fall off and as a possible righty caddy to Gardner if Hoffmann struggles. Pena isn’t guaranteed a spot on the 25, a Hairston, or even Kevin Russo could take that job right out from under him.

      For Left Field though I’m thinking of some out of the box options, a Garret Anderson, Tatis, Marcus Thames, Baldelli. Not as crazy as you think and well within budget. Check the article @ yankeespeak.com

  3. Crazy Eyes Killa says:

    He made 2 mil last year, isn’t Pena essentially the same thing? I rather sign an extra bullpen part I feel like (if there is still one out there) with that money than a super util guy, although I do value having the IF/OF guy around, I just assume Pena can do it?

    • JobaWockeeZ says:

      He played a whopping 7 game sin Scranton only as a CF. Hasn’t played the corners. I don’t think he’s ready just yet.

    • The addition of Vazquez sets the bullpen. The high cost of even mediocre bullpen arms renders 2 million dollars almost worthless. Bad setup men are making more then that. Cashman’s greatest genius may be his refusal to buy set up relief and grow it instead.

      Kelvim Escobar is a good gamble by the Mets, I would have pursued him hard because its a low base proposition and in the end the bullpen might be a way for him to refind his explosivity. I’m sure when the dust settles the Yankees will throw an invite at a relief pitcher or two, maybe a guy like Joe Nelson falls to that point but in all honesty I’d rather see Mark Melancon get his shot.

  4. Anthony Murillo says:

    If Cashman feels the need, I would imagine that he could trade for bench players through the regular season, much like he did in the 2009 season. I believe began the season with:

    Melky Cabrera OF
    Jose Molina C
    Ramiro Pena U
    Nick Swisher OF/1B

    The bench would later feature the likes of Angel Berroa (enter Peter Abe joke here), Jerry Hairston Jr, Eric Hinskie…

    The bench probably isn’t the top priority. I’d be willing to go into the season with Pena, Hoffman, Cervelli, and someone like Miranda.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      While Miranda could potentially provide a decent or good bat of the bench, is he really worth a roster spot? He is at-best average defensively at 1B and can’t really play any other positions. For 1B, we have Johnson in case Tex needs a day or two off (while another regular like Posada or A-rod or Jeter fills in at DH). For that reason, he really doesn’t offer any value besides (potentially) his bat. Hinske, will providing a similar bat, was at least able to play 3rd and RF in addition to 1B. He wasn’t good out there but at least he could play those positions.

      I said potentially because we aren’t sure how good his bat will be, though it has been great in an extreme SSS

  5. Salty Buggah says:

    Agreed on everything in the post. He’d be great for the bench.

    Ramiro Pena could possible be him but I dont know if he can perform well defensively in the OF yet. So, I wouldn’t trust him in a situation late in the game in case he is needed…yet.

  6. Anthony Murillo says:

    One thing I’ve liked from Pena is his glove, at least at shortstop. He made some really nice plays from what I remember.

  7. Meat Loaf says:

    Hariston is more versatile than Pena. My picks would be Hairston, Gardner/Nady (platoon), Cervelli, Hoffman (over Hinske?)

  8. JMK THE OVERSHARE's Glenn Beck Complex says:

    Some of you guys may be a bit too high on Pena’s offensive numbers. Nothing should give us any reason to expect that he’s even close to being that good of a hitter. He’s more likely to put up .230/.310/.330/.625 than not.

    Can he play the OF? Maybe. We have no idea. I’d rather not take the risk and find out he can’t hit or play the outfield when we’d have a proven, valuable commodity in Hairston on the cheap.

    Sure, we’ll probably have a lot of moving parts for the bench later on, but I’d feel much, much better with Hairston on the roster than just entrusting Pena for a super utility role.

    Get him if the price is right.

    • pete says:

      I’m a little confused as to how a .230/.310/.330 line translates into a .625 OPS…but other than that I agree.

      • pokey skokey says:

        If Pena could hit .640 in limited at bats, is that really THAT much worse than Hairston’s career .701 OPS? Yeah, it’s a little worse, but at least you’re developing a young player and he’s cheaper.

  9. Yazman says:

    Agreed that Hairston would be a terrific bench asset.

    A light-hitting bench is OK for a team that won’t need to pinch hit.

    If one of our big bats goes down, Cashman would be likely to deal for another bat (either for the bench or as the replacement).

  10. themgmt says:

    Russo over Pena.

    Can play all over the infield and has just as much ‘experience’ in the outfield. He can actually hit and if any of the infielders went down he could step in. His defense would be passable in LF and with 4 OFs capable of covering CF, that’s all that’s needed.

    If they signed Hairston for cheap as the final man on the bench that’s fine

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE's Glenn Beck Complex says:

      Here’s the one problem, though: he may be a better overall hitter, but nothing suggests he’d be capable of playing all of the IF positions passably, let alone the outfield. If the jury is still out on Pena being able to play the OF with limited experience despite being a far more accomplished fielder with better range and defensive tool set, logic would infer that Russo would fair far worse.

      Kevin Russo may be able to provide you a better bat and if any of the infielders went down, you’d probably bring him up from AAA anyway since a spot would be available.

      But some of this strikes me as needing a “Jump to Conclusions” mat.

      • themgmt says:

        While Pena may have the flashy tools, he’s still raw defensively. You say nothing suggests Russo’s capable of playing the rest of the IF passably… but Russo has played more games away from his position than Pena by a wide margin. 1/3rd of his games have been away from 2nd, while Pena played every game at SS before being sent down in 2009 to get a handful of games at other positions.

        Maybe you can get some use out of the jump to conclusions mat too.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      #whenwasitcool to play an average defensive 2Ber over a good defensive SS (as JMK said, we dont really know how they’ll do in the OF so we cant trust them much). #iloveitwhen a slight advantage in the bat (we dont really know how well Russo will hit in the Majors yet) is better than a significant advantage in defense for a utility guy. I’d rather have cheap Hairston, then Pena, and THEN Russo. If someone thinks Russo can play all IF positions passably, well, #nowthatsafreak. He’s average at 2B so he’ll probably be worse at SS.

      Russo over Pena? #NahImGood. I agree with JMK.

      /Current Trending Topics from Twitter’d

      • Salty Buggah says:

        Oh, and for JMK, #Justinishotter (Btw, this came after #Chazishot )

      • themgmt says:

        We don’t have any info on how Russo will hit in the majors, but there’s also no hint that Pena will be anything but sub replacement level with the bat. The only like data we have doesn’t give Pena a leg to stand on.. Russo has more than a ‘slight advantage’

        And unless you have some quantifiable data on either guy defensively at all the positions (FRAA will do I guess), you can’t really make the assessment that ‘Russo can’t’ or ‘Pena can’ play well.

  11. cvatp says:

    I feel like the Yanks need to decide who their “SS of the future” is. Alot of people this time a year ago would’ve said Pena, but I don’t know about now. He lost a year of development in AAA last year due to injuries in NY forcing him into action there. With Russo, Nunez, Corona, and Pena all on the 40 man roster, something tells me they all 4 won’t be around after ST (trade?) and Hairston may not fit in with them. Russo is very solid, was a AAA All Star in Scranton last year, and Corona almost made the team in Seattle as a Rule 5 pick last year. Also, it’s make or break time for Miranda.

    • Hughesus Cristo says:

      Pena has never hit at any level. No way in hell will he ever start for the Yankees.

    • JMK THE OVERSHARE's Glenn Beck Complex says:

      We don’t need to decide our SS of the future now. Jeter will be back. It’s practically set in stone. So that’s two years, if not more. There’s a better chance we find a guy in FA when Jeter retires or in the event he’s moved off SS, than any of the options listed panning out.

      None of them profile as a SS at the major-league level. Most aren’t even shortstops. Nunez has the best chance, but I hear his defense is erratic.

      I can’t believe you left Carmen Angelini off the list. But seriously, we do need more high-ceiling Middle Infield prospects in our farm system. I’d be shocked if they didn’t go SS in the first two rounds of the 2010 draft. Marcus Littlewood, Justin O’Connor, Josh Rutledge are all guys to be on the look out for. I doubt Christian Colon, Manny Machado, Yordy Cabrera are there by pick 32, but they definitely have good upside. That said, they probably won’t be ready in time when Jeter’s off SS.

    • Hughesus Cristo says:

      I just want to reiterate:

      Pena’s .699 OPS in 115 MLB ABs last season is the highest he has ever put up, at any level.

    • Drew says:

      You can’t just “decide” who the ss of the future is. Even if you do, chances are once Jetes retires the ss position will be a very fluid one for a while. It’s not easy finding a stalwart at any position, especially SS.

    • Lanny says:

      Why do they have to decide that? Who knows who they will trade for after the season? Most likely Pena isnt it.

    • I think the Shortstop of the future is still Derek Jeter, at least for the next 3 or 4 years. The hope is that Jeter stays dedicated and healthy enough to continue being serviceable but the Yankees won’t push him out regardless in my opinion.

      If you have to pick though I’d say Nunez with great attention to his 2010 AAA numbers. I don’t think Nunez makes the team because I think they want to see how he does with 550 more minor league AB’s. Pena is more likely the Luis Sojo of the future.

  12. t says:

    Hinske got one at bat in the entire post season. Hes gone. Hairston got 8 or 9, managed 2 hits and scored a run. Neither are anything special though I do like Hairston and feel he can provide a solid utility if Hoffman doesn’t pan out.

  13. Mo says:

    I am not convinced that by Memorial Day, Francisco Cervelli is reminding us of a young WIL NIEVES (although I do agree with giving him an opportunity but need insurance). Jose Molina? Hairston can go as far as I’m concerned. I’d like the Yanks to go after Alberto Callaspo as UTIL, he’s young and he’s a switch hitter. Cust is the new Hinkse.

    • I don’t think Molina would take a MiL deal, though.

      • The Three Amigos says:

        Plus, lets not pretend Jose Molina is a good offensive catcher… His best OPS+ ever was 76. Last year it was 51.

        In the short time we’ve seen cervilli he seems to be at worst an above average defensive catcher, and possibly a very good defensive catcher. Quick feet, strong arm.

        He doesnt walk a ton, has little power, but he makes contact and has a career 275 BA in the minors.

    • Lanny says:

      why would cust take a deal where he gets 250 ab’s? when there are desperate teams out there looking for power?

    • I think Mike Rivera fills that insurance Catcher role, but he’s going to sit behind Montero in AAA. It is a shame about Jose Molina, can you imagine a better teacher for Montero?

      In the end I think Molina will wind up taking a Minor League contract out of necessity but I think it will be with a team that provides him a better opportunity at Major League at bats then the Yankees.

      Its hard to imagine Cervelli being anything less the Molina was with the bat. I don’t buy the insinuations that the plan is for Cervelli to get about 40-50 starts behind the plate. Posada showed few signs of slowing last year and I think the Yankees intend on riding him out this year and going with Posada, Cervelli, and Montero as a part time Catcher, part time DH in 2011. If the plan was for a backup to start 40-50 games the Yankees would have went with a surer option then Cervelli.

      • 2010Yanks says:

        Posada needs to start spending less time behind the plate and his multiple mistakes/errors in the 2009 playoffs are a sign that he needs to start spending more time at DH!

  14. JoeX says:

    Cervelli is a lock for 1. Hoffman is there to face lefties for Granderson and is a lock for 2. Assuming they get Reed Johnson or someone else for left, then Gardner is 3. This leaves Pena vs. either Hairston or others for infield utility man. With luxury tax Pena costs about 3/4 mil vs. Hairston’s 3 mil and he keeps a spot open and over 1 mil for Cash to make a timely midseason pickup to address needs, which he always does very well. Flexibility and savings. Pena is the choice. Heck, he might even picup Hairston then if that’s where the need shows up.

    • The Three Amigos says:

      Bingo… these guys are easy to trade for midseason. No reason to pay them now. Last year Pitts ate 400k of hinske remaining salary to trade him.

    • Lanny says:

      why would hoffman be a lock?

      hes a rule 5 pick up. dont make the mistake of thinking hes a sure thing here

      • JoeX says:

        I called him a lock because Cash hired him to solve a specific problem, Granderson’s troubles with lefty pitching. Until Granderson gets better that problem will still need to be addressed either with Hoffman or someone else but it wont free up a position on the bench.

      • 2010Yanks says:

        Currently Hoffman is our 4th OFer. We traded Brueny for the Rule 5 pick to draft him. If he doesn’t stay on the major league roster, he goes back to LA and then we traded Bruney for nothing. Cashman made the moves for a reason.

  15. Richard Deegan says:

    I like JH -he’s a pro, has pro genes (like Swish) and does what he’s supposed to do. That said, I wouldn’t overpay for him. I think this year, more than any other, there’ll be a lot of GMs and owners with rose lenses seeing what they want to see in ST: their rookies or cheap MinL contracts looking good, putting up Jerry Lumpe, Bill Short or Jim Bronstad numbers in grapefruit games and deciding to go with these low-priced options when the “welsh” days (March 15 and 30 -pay only xx% or yy% of annual contract) come, and letting go of higher-priced players (including some “luxury” models with lots of mileage left).
    It seems to me (or maybe it’s just more info available through blogs and such) that there are lot of players being signed to MinL contracts for this time of year (not yet January, even), possibly indicating a desire by GMs and owners to place more hope on lottery tickets than realistic options.

  16. Mo says:

    OK. Cust, Branyan, Pena, Cervelli, Gardner. Done. Balls fly out of RF, make the most of it 82 times a year. Cust can play LF, RF, DH. Branyan 1B, 3B, LF, RF, DH.

  17. Mo says:

    pardon 81 times a season. I just laugh that right handed power hitters are scared to play for the Mets at Citi. I imagine the LH power hitters must be licking their chops to play at YS3 for a WS champ!

  18. [...] Joseph Pawlikowski of Yankees Blog, RiverAveBlues.com wonders if there will be room on the 2010 team roster for Jerry [...]

  19. Slu says:

    With the rotation the Yankees have and with the number of off days early in the season, I don’t get why they don’t go with an 11 man staff, which would leave room for Pena and Hariston.

    • whozat says:

      They could, for a month. But you still have to decide whether to try to go get Hairston or not.

    • Lanny says:

      they shouldnt make the mistake of not having a long man again. which has hurt us the past 2 seasons

      • I think a long man is assured, Aceves, Gaudin, if Hughes is the 5th starter I think you leave him off the roster until the need absolutely arises for fifth starter every time out to help with his innings intake, I believe he has options left.

        Thats an opening day staff of CC, Burnett, Vazquez, Pettitte, Gaudin, Aceves, Marte, Melancon, Robertson, Joba, Mo. Obviously you could switch out Melancon for Hughes in that period but why have struggle to stretch out a 5th starter in the regular season yet again.

        I don’t think Boone Logan makes the roster.

        I think the 11 man staff to start makes sense but rather then be a chance for Hairston I think you see an extended tryout for Kevin Russo, Reggie Corona, or Jamie Hoffmann, who is as another poster said, no lock to stick despite his Rule V status.

  20. pokey skokey says:

    It’s amazing how much time and effort people put into figuring out who the Yankees’ 25th man is going to be. Does it really matter if it’s Hairston or Pena? No, it really doesn’t. Neither is going to make or break the season for the Yankees.

  21. miketotheg says:

    Its crazy to me that we have guys like Hairston (who i like) hinske (iffy) Pena (love him!) and miranda (cuban power!) and we can just play the hand or fold and it wont have a major effect on our line up. Meanwhile any of those guys on another team could get starting jobs.

    As far as problems go, this is a great problem to have. I think it comes down to another round of “who wants to play on championship caliber team”. I say keep ‘em. Girardi can micromanage them into the lineup all over the place.

    life is good in the bizzonks.

  22. gianthinker says:

    I like Hairston. I was very glad the Yankees finally decided to carry a solid bench again. Its amazing how a good bench always seems to equal a championship run for the NYY. I’d be for him coming back however with Pena stepping his game up and playing some CF in AAA I think he might be a younger cheaper option for a utility guy off the bench.

  23. larryF says:

    Saw Russo play 3 games at 2B at Scranton with errors in all 3 games…Hands of stone “No Mas”

  24. cvatp says:

    Why would anyone want Jose “Sand Wedge” Molina back for God’s sake? We should all be happy that HUGE waste of space (yes I mean how fat he is) is gone off the bench. Cervelli is just as good behind the plate and calling games, and is alot better hitter and base runner. Don’t hand me the BA’s from last year, I know they are pretty close, but Cervelli showed alot in his first year in the bigs, so here’s to hoping he can continue to improve his numbers this season. He even looks like a baseball player instead of your overweight Uncle Joe. Molina should try playing tennis, there’s a better chance of making contact with the ball. O yea, you actually have to be able to move your feet to play tennis. Never mind… Three cheers for not having Jose Molina clogging up our organizational catching depth though.

  25. YankFanDave says:

    Nice piece Joe and couldn’t agree with you more. Jerry Hairston adds insurance should Gardner not handle LF as well.

    As far as Pena = Hairston, let’s remember Pena has a total of 69 games (slightly over 100 ABs) of MLB experience, none in the OF. It is true that he began to train in the OF last year but even that only added up to 7 innings of MiLB at CF, none in the corners. I like Pena but he is a work in progress and projecting equal production of a seasoned, highly proven professional is more than a stretch.

    Pena and Hairston would give that team true depth and flexibility, as it did last year.

  26. emac2 says:

    I have Hairston on my 2010 roster based on my hope that we sign him. It’s a no brainer if he is up for a bench role.

    I also think we will go with 3 catchers. I think the third will be a pinch hitter/emergency catcher type. Redmond is a goood fit for this role.

  27. David in Cal says:

    I’d love to see them sign Hairston. Hairston, Pena and Hoffman would be a very flexible group of utility players. Based on the past, Hairston and Hoffman hit lefties better than Granderson and Gardner. So, the team could go to a regular platoon in LF and CF. All 4 of these players can play CF, so there’s lots of flexibility as to who plays where.

Leave a Reply

You may use <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> in your comment.

If this is your first time commenting on River Ave. Blues, please review the RAB Commenter Guidelines. Login for commenting features. Register for RAB.