Yankees looking at Jerry Hairston Jr.

Nunez hurt in winter ball
It's Official: Martin's a Yankee

After losing out on Cliff Lee, the Yankees have more than $20M in 2011 payroll room to play with, and we’ve heard that they plan to spread the wealth around and shore up several spots rather than dump it all on one or two pieces. The process started on Tuesday when the Yankees agreed to sign catcher Russell Martin, who allows them to be patient with top prospect Jesus Montero while keeping Frankie Cervelli in a limited role. While Lee was busy finalizing his deal with the Phillies, we also learned that New York has interest in bringing back Jerry Hairston Jr.

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Hairston short stint in pinstripes was productive but not overwhelming. He reached base 32 times in 93 plate appearances (.352 OBP), and hit enough to post a .325 wOBA with more walks (11) than strikeouts (8). Jerry Jr. did all that while playing six positions, everything but first base and the battery. In the only postseason action of his career, Hairston made one spot start in place of the struggling Nick Swisher in Game Two of the 2009 World Series (1-for-3 with a strikeout) and came off the bench on six other occasions. You probably remember him best for racing around third to score from second on a walk-off error by Maicer Izturis in Game Two of the ALCS.

Jerry got his World Series ring then did what was best for him, signing for a guaranteed $2.125M with the Padres so he could play with his brother Scott (who the Yankees should totally sign). Forced into everyday shortstop duty due to Everth Cabrera’s hamstring injury, Hairston put up a measly .287 wOBA in 2010. It wasn’t just Petco Park either, his home wOBA (.318) was better than his road wOBA (.259). Jerry’s season ended prematurely because of a stress fracture in his tibia (the bone between your knee and ankle), which came after an elbow strain. “Every step hurt, like needles were sticking me,” he said. “I stopped thinking about the elbow. I was playing on one leg.” I haven’t found anything that indicates he won’t be ready for the start of Spring Training, so let’s just assume he will be.

Hangtime. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Evaluating bench options is pretty simple. Hairston can hit a little (career .257 AVG, .266 over the last three years) but does so without much power (career .113 ISO, .134 over the last three years), though he makes up for it with some secondary on-base skills. His walk rate is slightly below average at 7.4% career and 7.1% over the last three years, and he’s got a bit of a knack for getting hit by pitches (one every 48.5 plate appearances for his career, the modern day HBP king Craig Biggio got plunked once every 43.9 PA in his career). That’s allowed Hairston to keep him IsoD’s (isolated discipline, same idea as isolated power but with OBP-AVG) right around 0.065 over the last six or seven years. It’s not great, but if it was any better Hairston would be a starter. Unless his batting average on balls in play tanks, Hairston should get on base enough to be useful at the plate.

Of course, Hairston’s calling card is his ridiculous versatility. Like I said, he played six different positions for the Yankees and I’m willing to bet he could handle first base if needed and even chip in an inning off the mound in garbage time at some point. He’s got several hundred, if not thousands of innings of experience at pretty much any spot a team would use him, and his UZR‘s are generally positive. At 34 years old, I wouldn’t expect him to be anything more than average at any position, which is perfectly fine. The best case scenario is something like 250 plate appearances with a .320 wOBA, which is good for about 1.0 WAR.

The Yankees are focused on upgrading the margins of their roster right now, and replacing Eduamiro Penunez as the utility infielder is one place they can do it. Hairston is probably going to end up commanding a salary around $2M, which seems high, but the Yanks are in the position to overpay a bit. They’ll probably have to to get him to join their bench given their regular players. Unlike some other bench options out there, Hairston can handle shortstop, allowing them to use the other two non-backup catcher reserve spots on guys that can hit. I’m all for signing Jerry Hairston Jr. at this point in time, and really I’d love to see a package deal where his brother Scott comes along and replaces Marcus Thames as the righty bat off the bench. For once, the Yanks could start the season with a strong bench rather than worry about upgrading it at the deadline.

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Nunez hurt in winter ball
It's Official: Martin's a Yankee
  • FIPster Doofus

    Nice. Signing both Hairstons would be superb.

  • Mark L

    I agree completely, building a strong bench in the offseason is always preferable to piecing one together during the season. Waiting for a hole to appear means lost production and giving up a potentially useful prospect. Cash is never in short supply, especially now. If we can get replacement-level production at 3B from Hairston and Martin, allowing Alex to only start 120 games in the field, I think it would do a lot to keep him productive and healthy through the entire season.

  • http://twitter.com/Carlosological Carlosologist

    If we build a strong bench now, we could go hard after a pitcher at the deadline instead of focusing bench guys.

    • DareBear

      Right, in which case the yankees will be out of contention from having Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova every 5th day.

      • FIPster Doofus

        As opposed to Javy “below-replacement” Vazquez?

        • Jimmy McNulty

          Mitre probably sucks harder than Vazquez, as unbelievable as that sounds.

          • FIPster Doofus

            He absolutely does. Obviously, though, Mitre isn’t going to be in the rotation.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

    Hairston² would be a wonderful addition. Now if we can upgrade the bullpen too, that’d be sweeeeet.

  • Ryan

    Yeah! Let’s get the band back together! (I’m half way serious)

    • DareBear

      Joh-nny Da-mon!!!

  • Sean C

    I like it. I hope they look at Scott as well, and sign both. Jerry will at least not be a black hole in the lineup, like Pena and Nunez (so far) have been, while playing damn near everywhere.

  • bonestock94

    Can he pitch?

    But seriously, bring the bros

  • John

    Who cares? Fire Cashman.

    • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

      yawns

    • Brian in NH

      Fire Cashman? Because he couldn’t get Lee? Fire the guy who put together a world series winning team in 2009? All because Lee really wanted to play for Phila?

      Can someone please get rid of this guy?

    • Tarheel Yankee

      Are you freaking high or are you just a Cashman hater? We would not have the farm system we have now with out him and we would not have some of the really good players we have without him either. You need to get your head out or stop posting here!!!!!!!

  • Mattchu12

    My little dream of a Russell Martin, Jerry Hairston Jr, and Scott Hairston bench is looking like more than a pipe-dream. Makes me giddy just thinking about it.

  • Pessimistic Fan

    No Lee, but at least our bench might actually look pretty good.

  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

    I know he’s not that good but as a bench guy he’s great and I irrationally love him. Yes plz.

  • DareBear

    Who cares about the rotation? Clearly, the bench wins Championships, not pitching.

    • bonestock94

      I didn’t know signing small pieces brings the entire Yankees front office to a standstill. I’m sure they’re working on pitching…it’s not like they could have prevented Lee from taking less money.

    • FIPster Doofus

      So Cashman shouldn’t bother trying to upgrade the bench just because he lost out on Lee? Stop being so dramatic.

  • Clint Holzner

    When Free Agency started, the List of things I wanted began with Cliff Lee, but it was followed by at least one Hairston, Russell Martin and some bullpen help. Both Hairston’s and Martin seem like a very solid crew to bring in to fill the void’s here and there.

    In ’09 I’m not sure too many people predicted the 2008 Al CY-Young winner to hit the market at the trade deadline, like wise with 2010 and Roy Oswalt. Guys who seem out of reach can become very much available. Felix anyone? (half kidding) Who knows who becomes available at the trade deadline in 2011. We may have to pay in prospects but it sometimes goes that way. It is out of our control to a large extent.

    What we can do is solidify the bench. That is the first step in the right direction. Get the pieces together and this off season will not be a total loss (even though the ship may have sailed for some of you on that one). The Yankees do NOT need a big free agent EVERY year. We were 2 wins away from a world series with Jeter hitting .270, A-Rod hitting .270 and Mark Teixeira hitting .256.

    Also consider the year AJ Burnett had. I don’t expect a Cy-Young pitcher but I think it is a safe bet to see his ERA return closer to 4.00 (career 3.99) rather than the 5.26 it was this year. And don’t forget Phil Hughes, he finished his first full year as a starter, there is no reason he will not show improvement. As talked about in today’s RAB Radio Show, the mistakes he was making were common mistakes of a 24 year old. I would expect an improvement there.

    Putting things in perspective, it makes a compelling case that the sky is NOT falling and the Yankees are in good shape. It could absolutely be better, no argument there. But if we can get by for now, opportunity will eventually unveil itself in one way or another. After all, when 2010 started not once did I predict Lance Berkman or Kerry Wood to be playing in New York by the years end.

    • AndrewYF

      It’s a big mistake to rely on the mid-season trade market to build a reliable team. I remember the cries of RSN, before the 2009 season started, that Penny and Smoltz would provide historic depth, and then they could be flipped for ‘solid pieces’ which could be used in a trade for an elite starter or position player.

      There’s a reason we made fun of those people. Let’s not become them.

  • MikeD

    Why not Marcus Thames for the role of Marcus Thames? Scott Hairston’s bat is a significant downgrade, but his glove can only be better. The main question is there playing time for him? Last year, Thames could get ABs by taking some OF play from Gardner while batting against lefties as a DH. With Posada scheduled to be the DH, and since he’s a swith hitter, I’m not sure how much playing time Hairston will get, especially once Montero arrives.

    • Mattchu12

      Posada has historically been better against lefties than righties, so it would seem that Thames would not get many at-bats as a DH. I’d rather have Scott Hairston, who can play the outfield and whip up on lefties. I wouldn’t want Thames to even show up with a mitt.

    • Claudell

      I agree. Everyone agrees Thames was a nice addition in 2010… Um, why is he not coming back??

  • RobC

    Lets talk B Wagner out of retirement
    A two headed BP monster instead of a two headed SP monster
    now to get to them on days 4 and 5……….

  • Zach

    I just hope we don’t give up our entire farm system for one or two pitchers.
    Despite what Ken R and other experts say, we HAVE to keep some of the people in our farm system. I’m not willing to trade away our future for someone who could be a bust.

  • dalelama

    The Bosux get Gonzo and Crawford and we get Martin and Hairston…Ouch !!!!

    • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

      What that tells you is that Boston needed a huge upgrade to remain competitive; the Yanks are good already.

      • dalelama

        Sorry but they get a huge upgrade from players returning from the DL also while we are relying on 35 y/o+ stars miraculously finding the fountain of youth, a nutcase pitcher getting his head together, and a superstar 1st baseman who shows up 2/3rds of the season.

    • Mattchu12

      It should be noted that Gonzo and Crawford are being added while Beltre and V-Mart are walking. I think that is a huge point that people tend to forget. We didn’t get Lee, but we also didn’t lose anybody from a team that was nearly in the World Series last season.

      • LarryM.,Fl.

        Andy Pettitte 11-3,not here as of yet. I’m sure Cashman is working on pitching. My thoughts on G. Hairston is 4 get it. Let Nunez play 2nd, ss and third. this will allow for some controlled growth and to fill in for a week or two in case of injury.

  • Big Bertha

    So let me get this straight. Cashman loses out on Cliff Lee for the 2nd time and his brilliant backup plan is Mark Prior and Jerry Hairston? This is a joke and I can’t for the life of me figure out why Cashman hasn’t been fired yet for his failure to get Lee. Boston got a couple great players, to counter we get a bench player and a pitcher that hasn’t pitched in a game in 4 years. GTFO Cashman.

    • Pessimistic Fan

      Better than sitting around twiddling our thumbs or making a stupid reactionary move.

      Fact: Lee wanted to go to Philly, and in the end, this and the money they were offering were enough to entice him. Cash gave him the best deals possible (offering seven years and a shitload of money).

      Fact: We can always stand to improve on our usually poor benches.

      Fact: Prior is low-risk, high upside. He fails, no problem. He comes back strong, we win big.

      Fact: A few holes aside, this is still a pretty good team.

      Cash isn’t the best in the biz, but he does a decent job for the most part.

    • Mick

      And exactly HOW is it Cashman’s fault for Lee going to the Phillies? I really want to hear the reasoning on this.

    • JerseyDutch

      On the other hand, he hasn’t signed Damon or Matsui, which shows he’s paying attention…

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      i hate yankee fans.

      • Tarheel Yankee

        And we hate you every bit as much, if not more……. Dumbass

    • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

      Is it just the timing, or are people actually dumb enough to interpret the signings of Martin, Prior and potentially Hairston as answers to losing out on Cliff Lee? I just don’t get it. These are moves the Yankees would have and should have made regardless.

    • Clay Bellinger

      A) Prior was by no means a “response” to the Phils getting Lee, and neither would Hairston or any bench player that they sign.

      B) How is the failure to sign Lee Cashman’s fault? Maybe you can blame him for not trading for him over the summer, but not signing him when the guy takes less money to go elsewhere does not fall on Cashman.

    • Pasqua

      This post is misinformed on so many levels I have a hard time believing its written in seriousness.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Time for a Golson update! Faster (pinchrunner for Jorge), younger, cheaper, better arm/ defender in all 3 OF positions than-

    Jerry Hairston Jr. (whose bat is nothing great since I know that’s where the Golson haters will start)

    • Clay Bellinger

      Hairston >>> Golson

      Golson doesn’t play the infield. While Hairston’s bat may be “nothing great”, he can at least hit some. Golson can’t hit at all and doesn’t project to do so.

      • Monteroisdinero

        If you say so. By all means, let’s pay the $2M for the better hitter. Not as down on Golson as you are. He just turned 25 and players can improve with more opportunity-especially for a backup role. Yes Hairston can play IF which is a plus.

  • OldYanksFan

    I like JHJr, but I agree (with a small minority) that Nunez might fill that hole as well. And better? Well… maybe. But we will never know if our kids will succeed without allowing a bit of failure first.

    Not every farmhand will come up and light things up within his first month. People complain that we don’t develop players well, but at the same time complain and soon as a player appears to ‘fail’. When Pena was here, he didn’t do well and people were begging Cashman to dump him. A year later, he was a steal for TB, and people cried that Cashman let another cheap quality player ‘get away’.

    Nunez may never be a super star, but ANY cost controlled player who comes up through our system and is able to fill a MLB spot is a big plus… not to mention a lot of fun to watch.

    I’m VERY glad we missed Lee. While he made us much better in the short run, he contributed to our long run problems.

    I’ve said it before. We can NOT continue to dominate the decade without some homegrown help.

    Maybe with the ‘next Joba’, the Yankees can afford to put player development ahead of WIN NOW!

    • Tim Clougher

      I agree The team that won 4 series in 5yrs, was built around Jeter, Posada, Pettit, and Mo…with some free agents and using young Yanks..Shane Spencer and such..

      I’m glad we missed out on Lee, in 2-3yrs the Phils will be trying to get out from under that contract.

      Solidify the bull-pen…spend for Soriano and Fuentes…Wood..

      Prior will be a bull-pen guy, if he works out..

  • SRB

    Why not try some kids rather than continuing to remain old w/ bench retreads?!?

  • jsbrendog (returns)

    so do you call up jerry and scott separately and say we’d like to give you the chance to not only continue playing together but to compete for a championship AND overpay you a little to take a limited role…so, more money, higher chance of winning, guarantee of playing with family, less PT….no?

  • Monteroisdinero

    A new core 4.

    Cano
    Montero
    Gardner
    Hughes

    • Pessimistic Fan

      I’m not sure if Gardner will stick. Would love if Hughes could become as good as we think he can be though.

  • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

    I endorse this and the plea to sign brother Scott. Everybody loves Jerry and it would be great to have him as a utility / off the bench player once again. I would have loved to have him last year during Swisher’s knee problems, and he could provide that kind of cushion given a similar event should occur next season. As for Scott, it’s really nothing more than filling Thames’ shoes right? No problem with that.

  • jay

    if you had to choose one of Bill Hall and Scott Harriston who would it be?

    my choice would be Hall

  • http://www.blogs.thetenthinningstretch.com the tenth inning stretch

    Eduarmiro Penunez = awesome.

  • mike

    real question is Bill Hall or Jerry Hairston, Bill Hall can give you more pop off the bench

  • Jo3momz

    Are Jerry and Scott represented by the same agent?

  • paul

    Hairstons would be nice upgrades.

    LEE DID N OT WANT TO COM E TO NY! NOt Cash’s fault.

    Hank needs to shut up in the public sector too.

    NY fans need to chill…Lee to phils is not on cash.

    Crawford to sox-we didnt go after him…we settle on gardner…is crawford worth it at that cost?

    gonzo to sox, we have texi…

    be real…come on

    • Tarheel Yankee

      Paul, I’m 100% with on this…… LEE took LESS dollars to go where he REALLY wanted to go… Not Cashmans fault, please people leave it alone. With reguards to the Redsox nation, you did not add players YOU REPLACED PLAYER…… At a huge expense!!!!!!! Same starting rotation and Bullpen pretty much…

  • Claudell

    Eduamiro Penunez… Love that.

  • Pounder

    Hey, we lost the Lee sweeps, big deal, however,for the first time in memory, a true HOT STOVE season has fallen into our laps.Instead of closing shop after hauling in a star free agent or three,we get to see oldtime front officing where GM’s have to do their homework on lesser players.Maybe Cashman can stick in his thumb and pull out a plum.

  • miketotheg

    I think bringing back hairston would be great. bring his brother too. and overpaying kerry would to be a great set up guy. then we still need two things. a solid long relief dude ala mendoza/acevez and a clutch lefty like damon or lefty masher like thames. 2009 had some super utility dudes that came through, i think that’s what we need instead of more superstars.

    just my two cents.

  • mike

    What about Reed Johnson as a 4th outfielder? Dude killed it against LHP .301 BA.