Acquiring Eric Hinske from the Pirates made sense for the Yankees for one particular reason—he’s versatile, meaning he can play 3B, 1B, RF and LF. Playing 3B is especially important, though, as the Yankees intend to give A-Rod a few off-days, here and there, so that he can remain healthy throughout the season. When asked why the Yankees didn’t promote Shelley Duncan when Xavier Nady went down, rather than bring in Hinske, Brian Cashman noted that Hinske could play 3B while Duncan could not—so, for those wondering why Shelley didn’t get the nod, now you know. It’s all about 3B and A-Rod. Ultimately, Hinske looks to be A-Rod’s regular backup with Cody Ransom, who is hitting .200 and is not a good defender, slowly fading out of the 3B picture (he’ll likely fill-in at SS and 2B).
Already, though, there is some question as to how good Hinske can be at 3B.
For instance, from Peter Abraham, we have the following:
Both Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman were quick to say yesterday that Eric Hinske can play first base, third base, right field and left field.They are correct in the sense that he has played those positions in the past. But as far as third base goes, he should not.
Hinske has played 68 innings at third base since the start of the 2007 season, making two starts for the Pirates this season and four for the Rays last season. Based on the metrics, it is by far his weakest position. Most of his time at third base came early in his career.
Said one exec to Joel Sherman for his blog:: “If the Yanks think he can play third base one time a week for A-Rod, they are crazy. He stinks there.”
That’s pretty blunt. Probably pretty accurate, too.
To be honest, according to UZR Dead & Breakfast video , yes, Hinske isn’t the best at the hot corner, but he did have a particularly bad defensive year in 2003 (-11.9 UZR) at the position which seems to skew his overall numbers (he was better in 2004). I mean, he’s definitely below average there and that was even the case this year with the Pirates, however, with limited time he probably won’t be a terrible third baseman. Also, Cody Ransom, who would have been manning third whenever A-Rod was out, doesn’t figure to be any better there, either (and Ramiro Pena was only slightly above average there, defensively).
In the end, Hinske will be a below average defender at 3B, yet his bat—which is significantly better than Ransom’s (and Pena’s)—will hopefully make up for his defensive shortcomings (Cashman obviously didn’t acquire him for his defense). For that reason alone, he was a worthwhile addition and a smart pickup.
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