Oh Hey, Travis Hafner! Didn’t See You Over There. What’s Going On, Buddy?

Hafner ST

When two of the defining storylines of your team’s Spring Training are “lack of power” and “injuries” and Travis Hafner is on your team, it’s more than reasonable to expect that he’s going to factor heavily into those stories.  After all, his calling card at the plate is power and you can pretty much set your watch to him pulling, tearing, or spraining something.  That hasn’t really been the case for the Yankees so far this month, as Hafner hasn’t been a presence in the lineup so much as a name on the lineup card.  To be honest, I kind of forgot he was even in camp with the team, what with the lack of power and the fact that he’s still walking around without limping.

Believe it or not, Hafner is in camp and has actually been playing in games.  He just hasn’t done much in those games.  Hafner is just 4-29 this spring, with a single solitary home run and an even dozen strikeouts.  He’s still somewhat of a presence in the lineup with four walks, but after Teix and C-Grand went down he became a much more critical part of that lineup.  As of this morning he hasn’t given much of an indication that he’s ready to be that critical part of the lineup and that’s a tad unsettling.

Of course Hafner isn’t going to be the savior of the Yankees’ season this year.  He is what he is at this stage in his career, a dangerous lefty platoon bat incapable of playing the field, and the Yankee coaching staff hasn’t shown any interest in changing that formula.  With corner infield depth becoming an issue, Hafner has done little more than pick up a glove during drills and there’s just no scenario where him stepping in and becoming an everyday contributor at the plate and in the field ends productively or with a clean bill of health.

But going back to a point I made in January when I was advocating for the Yankees to sign him, Hafner’s ticking time bomb health status does add a little bit of urgency to both he and the Yankees’ present situations.  You know never how much you’re going to get from Hafner because of his injuries and it’d be nice to get something useful from him early in the season while he’s still healthy and so many other key middle-of-the-order bats aren’t.  A solid month of April from Hafner would go a long way towards bridging the gap to Granderson and Teixeira’s returns, and would make losing him to injuries later in the season a little easier to swallow.

For a veteran hitter like Hafner, a poor ST showing isn’t a major cause for concern, certainly not enough to start wondering if he’s done.  But given the Yankees’c current lack of pop in the middle of their batting order, it would be reassuring to see him wake up a little bit in the final week plus of camp and go into the start of the regular season looking good at the plate.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

Born in Dover, Delaware and raised in Danbury, Connecticut, Brad now resides in Wisconsin, where he regularly goes out of his way to remind Brewers fans that their team will never be as good as the Yankees. When he’s not writing for IIATMS, he likes to spend his time incorporating “Seinfeld” quotes into everyday conversation, critiquing WWE storylines, and drinking enough beer to be good at darts.

10 thoughts on “Oh Hey, Travis Hafner! Didn’t See You Over There. What’s Going On, Buddy?

  1. Frank S.

    Ibanez was awful last ST, and look how that turned out.

  2. jay_robertson

    As was the other geezer, the year before. And he worked out for a while.

    (which is all you're looking for, I realize)

  3. chris

    The Yanks should look to make a trade for Garret Jones from the Pirates. He is already platooning at 1b and playing some outfield for them. He has very good numbers and could be insurance for the whole season and help in the outfield and give some DH time to Tex as well. Forget all the Mike Olt nonsense and think about a player who is cheap and could be moved. A deal with Joba/Dan Johnson and a minor league outfielder (Mus?) would make sense.

    • not Montero's dad

      Dan Johnson has no trade value.

      • Andrew

        I'm not sure Joba has that much trade value, either.

        • And that's before you even get to the part where Pittsburgh wasn't interested in trading Jones to the Yankees last year. Why would they now be willing to trade him for a middle reliever and a Quad-A player when Jones is coming off a 27-HR, .352 wOBA season?

          • chris

            I don't think the package matters so much, I was just tossing about some names. The target is what matters. If it means shipping out other parts so be it.
            I think they would be open to trading him given that he is a platoon guy who will be due a serious raise they can't afford. The Yanks have plenty of parts to send that way for a younger player with left handed power who can play 1b and the outfield (ahem, Swisher) as well as DH.

          • But the package does matter. Look at how you just described Jones. That's a valuable commodity to have, and the Pirates still have 2 years of team control over him. They aren't trading him for "parts."

  4. James Dogg

    Hafner is not Ibanez, never really was and Ibanez could play field– Hafner look horrible yesterday v Phillies- at age 35 Ibanez hit 20 hr knocked in 105 hit .290– last year at 35 Hafner 12/34/.228 do not expect him to be anything like Ibanez- roster spot could be used better- While Joba for Olt would be a steal for Yank, he is worth more than Garret Jones

  5. Michael

    Maybe injuries have sapped all the talent away from him. If thats the case and he stinks it up into the season why not just cut him, have Juan Rivera be the full time DH since hes showing that he can still hit, move Youk to first and play Mustelier at 3rd? According to scouts hes played the position better than people expected and hes in his late 20s so hes in his physical prime. Mus could always hit, who knows he could be good. It would certainly improve the defense at first and help keep Youk healthy, something hes struggled with lately.

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