River Avenue Blues' Mike Axisa on the deal that might save the Yankees' season (and yes, I'm joking, but not completely): Hinske
- [Eric] Hinske, 31, hit .255-.373-.368 with the Bucs while playing first, third and rightfield. With a career .803 OPS against righthanded pitchers, he gives the Yanks' bench a little bit a thump from the left side. He signed a one year, $1.5M contract with the Pirates last winter, and [Joel] Sherman says the Pirates are sending over $400,000 to cover approximately half of what he's owed the rest of the year. Since Hinske can handle the four corner spots, the team will option Ramiro Pena to Triple-A Scranton so he can get regular playing time, as well as get some reps in the outfield. Cody Ransom becomes the defacto backup middle infielder.
You might wonder what the Yankees would want with a guy like Hinske, who's not having a good season and is nobody's idea of a future star. Well, the Yankees need a guy like Hinske. He can play four positions passably enough and he can still hit enough to give you a chance, particularly against right-handed pitching. Look at the Yankees' bench, pre-Hinske ... there is one extra outfielder: either Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner (whichever of them isn't playing center field in a given game).
Are there better fifth outfielders than Hinske? Maybe. But very few of them can also play first base and third base. Considering Hinske's negligible salary and the two "prospects" the Yankees sent to Pittsburgh -- neither was ranked among the Yankees' 30 best prospects before this season -- this might qualify as the smartest deal of the month.