BIG, FAT, GIANT EDIT: SCOTT HAIRSTON IS NOT A FREE AGENT
Since the World Series ended, we’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink on the left field situation. Well, I’m going to throw out more left field scenarios, with one of them spilling into the utility player’s spot as well. For today’s venture, we’ll be looking at the Hairston brother.
As we’ve heard recently, and as Steve reported this morning, the Yankees are interested in bringing Jerry Hairston, Jr. back. In general, this seems like a pretty good move. Hairston offers extreme positional flexibility, as he can play all three OF spots well (career UZR/150 of 20.6 in 323 OF games) and he can also play each position on the infield without being a total embarrassment out there.
Jerry also offers an upgrade over probable utility candidates Ramiro Pena and Kevin Russo. Not only is he a more experienced player than those two, but he can also play the outfield. Pena and Russo would both be awfully green heading into 2010, so it’d be nice to get at least one of them some more seasoning in the minors.
By bringing back Jerry, the Yankees can also fill two positions at once. Not only would they have their utility player, but they’d also have one who could be a platoon partner with Brett Gardner in left field. Signing Hairston likely means that the Yankees would not bring in another (Reed Johnson, Xavier Nady, etc.) outfielder because it could force the Yankees to make a move they likely wouldn’t want to make. My logic is that with Hairston, Pena/Russo, Cervelli, and (platoon partner here), one of Jamie Hoffmann and Brett Gardner becomes superfluous. So, either Gardner would have to be sent down to AAA and one of Hairston or (platoon partner) would have to start in LF, and that’s undesirable. The other option is to send Hoffmann back to the Dodgers, but I assume the Yankees would at least want to see what they have in him before doing so. They could work out a trade with the Dodgers for Hoffmann’s rights if they wanted to keep him while still sending him down. There is, however, another side to this coin.
Conceivably, the Yankees could bring in Hairston along with a left field platoon partner. In this scenario, the hypothetical/possible future battle between Ramiro Pena and Kevin Russo would more or less not matter, because they’d both end up being kept down in SWB anyway. That would make the bench:
To make this full circle, I’m going to suggest another possible platoon partner for Brett Gardner in left field. That man is the other Hairston in Major League Baseball; Jerry’s brother Scott.
Scott will be 30 this coming season and he’s spent time with the Diamondbacks, Padres, and A’s. Last year between San Diego and Oakland, Scott put up a line of .265/.307/.456 with a .331 wOBA in 430 plate appearances. Those numbers are hardly impressive, but they’re not awful either. He also played decent defense, putting up a 1.8 UZR/150 between CF (-9.0) and LF (+8.7). What makes Hairston desirable for the Yankees is that, like the other candidates, he crushes left handed pitching; last year, he OPS’d over .900 against them. For his career, his OPS vs. LHP is .867, highlighted by a .528 SLG.
In 350 PAs just in LF with +2 defense and not adjusting for a strict platoon, Scott Hairston projects (via CHONE wOBA) to be a 1.13 WAR player in 2010. Combined with Brett Gardner’s projected 1.25 WAR, a Scott Hairston + Brett Gardner platoon projects to be worth 2.38 WAR. (Begin big, fat, giant edit)Scott Hairston is not a free agent and would need to be acquired via trade. He is not worth trading for, unless the cost is insanely low.
Could the Yankees bring in both Hairston brothers? Of course. Will they?
Probably not. However, it would not only be cool to see both brothers on the same team, but acquiring the both of them could be an efficient use of money and roster space, along with being an effective deployment on the field. No. Since Scott needs to be had via a trade, it’d be much better for the Yankees to go with Reed Johnson or Xavier Nady (end big, fat, giant edit; sorry about that, guys).