Shea Hillenbrand, that is.
This evening, the Blue Jays designated their disgruntled infielder for assignment, giving them ten days to release or trade Shea Hillenbrand. The one-time future hope for the Boston Red Sox is due to make $5.8 million this year before entering the free agent market.
The Blue Jays opted to cut ties with Hillenbrand after he made remarks critical of the team. He was unhappy with his manager, unhappy with his playing time and generally unhappy with the organization on the hole.
Well, I have the perfect landing place for Hillenbrand: The Bronx. Shea Hillenbrand would be a huge upgrade for the Yankee bench.
On the season, Hillenbrand is hitting .301/.342/.480 with 12 home runs in 296 at-bats. That instantly makes Hillenbrand better than any of the other Yankee back-up infielders. Miguel Cairo and Nick Green can’t hold a candle to Shea. At least he has some pop in that bat.
Furthermore, at Yankee Stadium since 2001, Hillenbrand has thrived. In the Bronx, he has hit .328/.355/.527. A back-up corner infielder with an .882 OPS at Yankee Stadium? Sounds good to me.
Cut Cairo; keep Green. Or cut Green, and keep Cairo. Either way, adding Hillenbrand to the mix would be a huge upgrade for a depleted bench.
Update: In reading the comments to a post on this topic at WasWatching.com, I saw another great solution. Cut one of the extra outfielders. Do the Yankees need Aaron Guiel and Bubba Crosby? Not if Joe keeps using Bernie Williams every day. Make the bench stronger, I say.
On the season, Bernie Williams hasn’t been awful with runners in scoring position. According to the day-by-day database, before today, Bernie had 77 at-bats with RISP, and in those at-bats, he was hitting .273/.326/.351. While a .677 OPS from Bernie makes me pine for the days of the late 1990s, he has managed 31 RBIs in those 77 appearances.
So when Bernie came up with the potential go-ahead (and the Yanks’ third) run of the game at third base with one out today, I assumed he would succeed. So much for that.
Bernie feebly struck out on three pitches. An inning later, Kelly Stinnett made a mockery of his postion and cost the Yankees the game and Randy Johnson’s strongest outing of the season.
For Bernie, however, lack of success with a runner on third and less than two outs is somewhat surprising. Heading into today’s game, Bernie had 13 at bats in that situation and has 14 RBIs to show for it. While he had just 3 hits in those situations, he has a lot of what I call the Bernie Speciality: a bouncing ball to second base. That strike out, a costly one, was just Bernie’s second of the season in that situation.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time.
…and Jorge was out.
As exciting as this game was, I feel a bit sheepish about it. Everyone watching at home saw the replay over and over and over again. Even those of us sitting in the Stadium were a bit shocked. But hey, it’s a long season, and the Yanks will get good calls and bad calls.
Memo to Mike Reilly: Stay away from Lookout Landing author Jeff. He might kill you himself.
The Daily News’ Sam Borden offered up an interesting tidbit on Hideki Matsui’s recovery today. The Yanks’ left fielder could be back sooner rather than later:
Thursday is an important day for Hideki Matsui, who is scheduled to visit the doctor and could be given the go-ahead to begin basic hitting drills.
Matsui, who is recovering from a broken left wrist, already has been taking dry swings in which he allows his left hand to come off the bat to reduce stress; exercises that involve making contact with the ball (such as hitting off a tee) would be the next step.
Matsui also has been playing catch in the outfield during batting practice, though he can only catch balls that are lobbed to him; he isn’t allowed to shag fly balls yet. Matsui is targeting an August return, which would be ahead of the September prognosis he received right after his injury. “If it turns out to be that, that’s fine,” Joe Torre said. “We certainly hope it is.”
If the doctor gives the Yanks and Matsui some good news on Thursday, I would expect the Yanks to focus on landing a pitcher instead of an outfielder before the July 31 trade deadline. But can the Boss resist Bobby Abreu?
Philip Hughes’ starts have now become New York Times-worthy events, and it might be about time to give the young righty a shot at AAA.
Pitching for the first time since the AA All Star Game and the Futures Game, Hughes was brilliant. He threw 5 scoreless innings to extend his scoreless inning streak to 22 2/3. He struck out 9, walked one, and gave up just three hits.
Let’s review: Over his last seven outings now at AA Trenton, Hughes has been nothing shot of perfect. On a strict pitch count, Hughes has twirled 42.2 innings while giving up 19 hits, 3 earned runs, 12 walks and 54 strike outs. His WHIP over that stretch is 0.73, and his ERA is a miniscule 0.63.
I think it’s time for Hughes to face some hitters at Columbus. He has thrown 110 innings already this season, and the Yanks are going to shut him down soon. He ought to get some work in against slighty better hitters if the Yanks won’t just have him start in the Bronx. He can’t get much better in Trenton.
According to The Journal News’ and the LoHud Yankees blog’s Peter Abraham, Alex Rodriguez was removed from the game tonight after he “bruised” his left foot in the bottom of the fifth inning. That doesn’t explain the Chuck Knoblauch imitation in the top of the fourth or the top of the fifth. Let’s hope A-Rod’s inner demons and worst enemies don’t get to him too much.
I’m sure we won’t be able to avoid this story over the next few days.
Today’s Ridiculous Yankee Rumor comes courtesy of SI.com’s Jon Heyman. As writers scramble to fill the rumor left by Peter Gammons’ illness, Heyman brings us a rumor about Royals’ outfielder Reggie Sanders. Sanders, who turns 39 in December, received a two-year, $10 million deal from the Royals this year, and as Kansas City has woken up from its off-season bender, they want to get rid of their overpaid and underperformaning player.
Of course, if it involves a discarded Royal, the Yankees are in on this rumor. According to reports, the Royals have had the audacity to lower their asking price to include one of the live young arms in the Yankees farm system. No longer are the Royals demanding Philip Hughes or Jose Tabata in exchange for an outfielder with a .302 on-base percentage. They will simply settle for Tyler Clippard or J.B. Cox.
Here’s the skinny on Sanders: He’s bad. The Royals are his 8th team since 1998. If he were any good, wouldn’t you think he would stick around for a bit?
On this season, he’s hitting .244/.302/.417 with 76 strike outs in 254 at-bats. His VORP clocks in at -3.0. That’s right; it’s a negative. Reggie Sanders is worse than the best available AAA option. He’s worse than the guy you pick up off the scrap heap (Aaron Guiel, anyone?).
The Yankees, it seems, do not understand this concept. Why would you give up even a Minor League pitcher for an outfielder who makes a lot of money, is really old, and isn’t any good? It doesn’t make sense. This is not the impact player you seek.