Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yankees Shouldn't Sign Pronk

Travis Hafner destroyed American League pitching from 2004-2007, but has been a shell of his former self ever since then. So it was disturbing to learn on Wednesday that the Yankees are reportedly in talks with the free agent to become their designated hitter against right-handed pitching. WEEI in Boston even reported the Yankees are close to a deal with the man nicknamed "Pronk" (Coined by former teammate Bill Selby- part project, part donkey).

Just say no.

Hafner's offensive numbers improved during the first three years of that four year, career-best stretch of time. It topped off in 2006 when he belted 42 home runs, drove in 117 runs, and led the AL in slugging (.659) and OPS(1.097). In 2007, Hafner drove in 100 runs for the fourth straight year,  but other numbers noticeably dipped.

Hafner had hit over .300 from 2004-2006, but he dropped to .266 in 2007. His OPS (.837) dropped 260 points and he hit just 24 home runs, despite playing in a career high 152 games. He's topped 100 games played in a season only once since then.

As you can see in the details that follow, Hafner has been placed on the disabled list seven times since the beginning of the 2008 season, including a stint of over three months in 2008. Hafner had his right shoulder scoped a month after the 2008 season ended and was still feeling its effects in 2009.

2008 - right shoulder strain 5/30
2008 - transferred to 60 day DL 7/26
2008 - activated 9/9
2009 - right shoulder soreness 4/29
2009 - activated 6/5
2010 - right shoulder inflammation 7/29
2010 - activated 8/15
2011 - strained oblique 5/20
2011 - activated 6/17
2011 - strained right foot 8/22
2011 - activated 9/11
2012 - sore right knee 5/24
2012 - activated 7/4
2012 - lower back inflammation  8/6
2012 - activated 9/19

This past season he missed six weeks due to knee surgery. While he may not quite be in the same league as Nick Johnson when it comes to time on the DL, Hafner's body (there have been unproven rumors of steroid use since the injuries began) has been steadily breaking down. His numbers have shown some consistency (over .800 OPS 2009-2011) in the last handful of seasons, but the Yankees do not need another base clogging, one dimensional player. Though he was no outstanding defender, Raul Ibanez could play left field adequately for the Bombers last season. Hafner has only played 72 games at first base in an 11-yr career.

The obvious thinking by Brian Cashman and others in the Yankees organization is that Hafner will wear out less with less play. It's the same type of logic the Yankees used when they signed Eric Chavez in 2011 and 2012. With Alex Rodriguez out until July and maybe for the season due to hip surgery and/or a steroid suspension (more on that tomorrow), Cashman has to feel Hafner can provide some of the punch missing with no Nick Swisher or Rodriguez in the lineup.

Horace Greeley once said "Go West, young man." I'll say to Hafner, go anywhere else rapidly aging baseball player.

No comments:

Post a Comment