If You Were Scott Hairston …

According to Wallace Matthews of ESPN-NY, Scott Hairston has decided he will play for either the Yankees or the Mets — and he’ll make his final decision within the next few days. What might be going into his decision?

The location, obviously, is irrelevant — from a MLB point of view, the Queens and the Bronx are essentially the same place (don’t tell that to anyone who has to cross the GWB and drive through the Bronx and Queens to get to Long Island, though). So let’s look at the other factors.

National League vs. Adulterated League

If Hairston chooses to continue to play real baseball, he will have to play the field (during games, not necessarily afterward at night clubs). People who haven’t played baseball may not understand this, but baseball players generally like to play baseball. Meaning, most players don’t want to DH, and want to play a game in which everyone on the field has to also take a turn at bat. Of course, there are exceptions — there are plenty of guys who have limited skills, are embarrassed / afraid of the responsibility that comes with everyones’ eyes upon you when the ball comes your way, and/or enjoy hitting and only hitting. I don’t get the idea that Scott Hairston is one of those guys — he seems like the type of guy who respects and loves real baseball.

Winning vs. Losing

Facts are facts, and the fact is, the Yankees have a better chance of having a winning season and playing in the playoffs than the Mets. Granted, the Yankees are looking less like Goliath these days, they’re skimping on their spending, and other clubs in their division — such as the Blue Jays — are looking stronger than ever. And this very well may be the year the Yankees finish fourth with only 79 wins. But, the Yankees also have a legitimate chance to finish first or draw a Wild Card. In contrast, there’s almost zero chance the Mets will finish higher than fourth in the NL East.

Playing Time

I’ve read a few online perspectives surmising that Hairston will choose the Mets because he’ll be guaranteed to get more playing time than he will if he’s with the Yankees. I’m not so sure about that. First, the Mets are in a rebuilding stage and ostensibly should be giving the few outfielders they have as many opportunities as possible. Further, everyone associated with the Mets knows that Hairston can’t hit righthanded pitchers, so he’s almost assuredly penciled into a platoon role. Finally, if there isn’t an open OF slot on a given day, Hairston is riding the pine and waiting for a pinch-hitting opportunity late in the game. On the other hand, though there doesn’t appear to be a starting job in the Yankees’ outfield, things could change very quickly if the Yankees aren’t winning. More importantly, there is the DH factor; if Hairston isn’t starting in LF or RF, there’s a decent chance he’ll be the starting DH.

Stability

On which club is Hairston’s job most stable? It could be the Yankees, and here’s why. If Hairston repeats his 2012 level of performance and has a hot first half for the Mets, but the Mets are in fourth place at the All-Star break, don’t you think Hairston will be shopped at the deadline? If it’s clear by late July that the Mets are on their way to another losing season, it behooves them to promote a youngster such as Zach Lutz or Wilmer Flores for a second-half audition. Having Hairston around will only make it more complicated to provide youngsters those opportunities.

Financial Considerations

At this point in time, one would think that a player given the choice between the Yankees and Mets would choose the Yankees in a heartbeat. That’s based on the theory that players prefer to win, and, especially in their later years, prefer to play for the team that has the best chance to get into the posteason. Only two other factors can trump the opportunity to win: location and money (with money usually trumping location). Since the location is identical, I have to believe that the Mets are miraculously offering a larger commitment than the Yankees. Maybe the annual dollars are the same, but the Mets are offering two years instead of one. Or maybe both offers are one-year deals, but the Mets are guaranteeing $5M (for example) while the Yankees are only offering $3M.

Conclusion

My gut is telling me that the Yankees are low-balling Hairston, selling him on the Yankee tradition, chance to win, opportunity to play for a Wilponless club, etc. As crazy as it sounds, I bet the Mets are bidding higher than the Yankees for Hairston’s services. If they are, do you think they should be? If you were Hairston, would you choose the Mets or the Yankees? What factors would influence your decision? Sound out in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. meticated January 8, 2013 at 8:42 am
    You have covered all the major elements of the decision, but I propose an additional condition….the teammates sadly to say on the Yankees are far more intriguing and professionally experienced than anyone besides Santana on the Mets….if I were Hairston and all things being equal I would prefer the Yankees in the clubhouse and after hours…plus who needs to be in an outfield like ours dragging down your stats and spirit ad nauseum
  2. NormE January 8, 2013 at 9:17 am
    At this point in Hairston’s career his age dictates that he should take the offer that offers him the most money/years.
    The fact that the Yankees have a better shot at the playoffs also translates into more money. How many more big paydays does Hairston have?
    • Joe Janish January 8, 2013 at 11:50 pm
      That’s a good point, and has to be part of the reason he’s playing the waiting game. This was the best season he’s had, ever, and he’s going on 33, so I imagine he has to extract every last dollar he can — because what are the chances he’ll be even better going forward?
  3. Izzy January 8, 2013 at 9:57 am
    I think Hairston and his agent played their cards as bad as possible. They let it be known clearly that Hairston wants a multi-year contract and they let it be known that Hairston wants to play in NY. So the Yankees need a righty OFer which is good for Hairston but Cashman is screaming he has to get payroll down in 14 so while I don’t think the Yanks are lowballing him for $$ they are probably offering only one year. So the Mets need any kind of OFer but stating he wants to play in NY you know that Alderson is lowballing him for money and years. So where does he go??? If he wants to win, and he should since he has never played in post season he should go to the Yanks. If he doesn’t care nobody should want him. the Mets are young. Do they need a vet who doesn’t care about winning? Hardly.
    • Joe Janish January 9, 2013 at 12:02 am
      Your last sentence is my greatest concern. I get that the Mets need a real MLB outfielder somewhere on their roster, and Hairston fits that description — in a platoon role, at least. But if he really has a legit offer from the Yankees, and chooses instead to go with the Mets, what does that say about his desire to win? And why would a rebuilding team want a veteran with that kind of attitude / motivation influencing their young, impressionable players?

      For example, I often wonder how much of Mike Pelfrey’s perspective of being an MLBer was influenced by veterans motivated by money (who shall remain nameless) who were around him in his first few years.

  4. TexasGusCC January 8, 2013 at 10:34 am
    Why hasn’t he signed? His agent is trying to get just a little bit more money this year from the Yankees, who are more apt to give out the dollars.
    Or, he really feels that he can play everyday with the Mets, and he might be right. They have no proven outfielders. Hairston may just be the best outfielder on the Mets, and by the middle of May could be starting everyday. Not one of them has proven to be a major league caliber player.
    • Joe Janish January 9, 2013 at 12:03 am
      Gus, I think you’re right — the Yankees are probably low-balling him, and he’s using the “threat” of the Mets to try and squeeze another million out of them. Brian Cashman is probably giggling.
  5. Dan B January 8, 2013 at 11:06 am
    Wow, if the Mets, feeling the pressure, sign Hairston for $5 million then this would be another example of Alderson not being a good negotiator. I thought his disastrous bullpen signings were bad, especially the Francisco contract. No wonder the Wilpons don’t want him signing major league contracts. I get the feeling Hairston wants out and he is playing chicken with the Yankees. If he wanted to be a Met he would be signed.
  6. DaveSchneck January 8, 2013 at 11:28 am
    Joe,
    I may be in the minority here, but I don’t see the Yanks as any lock to make the post-season. They may well be a 4th place team, just like the Mets. Yes, they are way more talented than the Mets, and yes, they have a better chance to make the playoffs than the Mets, but I see them as a fringe playoff team in 2013, and they may well be a nursing-home style disaster. All things being equal, I see him leaning towards the Mets, who can provide more potentail ABs, an environment he is familiar and comfortable with, a ballpark and league that he has had his most success in, avoidance of adulterated baseball, and a team that may well be trending in a different direction than the Yanks. It’s a close call.
    • Joe Janish January 9, 2013 at 12:06 am
      Dave, I agree, and stated as much in the post (you DID read the post, right? ;-)

      Of course, I thought 2012 would be the year the Yankees finally finished third or below. But there are many signs pointing toward a down year in ’13. Still, you have to agree that the Yankees have a MUCH better chance of reaching the postseason than the other NY team.

      • DaveSchneck January 9, 2013 at 12:28 am
        Joe,
        My apologies. I did read your post, but somehow bypassed the Winning vs. Losing section. Evidently I reverted back to my high school english class ways. An author of your ilk deserves better attention than Shakespeare.
        • Joe Janish January 9, 2013 at 9:11 am
          Ha! No worries. One of these days I’ll publish a Cliffs Notes version of the site.
  7. Vilos January 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm
    First of all, money and years will definately dictate the outcome.

    For Hairston, both being equal, the Mets should probably be his preference, since he’ll get more opportunities.

    But I have the following question: is baxter under team control just kirk and duda or is he in a diferent situation? What is the outlook of baxter compared to the other two?

    The reason I ask is, if kirk and duda are the real prospects

  8. Vilos January 8, 2013 at 1:04 pm
    (continued)
    If kirk and duda are the players who have a chance of an upside, then its reasonable to bring back Hairston to platoon with baxter.

    If not then I’m not so sure.

    • Dan B January 8, 2013 at 3:56 pm
      Really? You view Duda and Kirk as “real prospects”? While they might have solid professional careers, neither one has shown the potential to be difference makers. That is why I wouldn’t care if the Mets acquire another left handed outfielder. The team has punted on 2013, the current crop of Met outfielders might all be gone by the time the Mets are contenders again. Why let Duda, Kirk, or Baxter stop the Mets from acquiring a professional outfielder with real potential? It is easier to get rid of those guys then to acquire an quality outfielder, right handed or lefthanded.
  9. jerseymet January 8, 2013 at 4:43 pm
    Citi Field’s Rotunda is dedicated to a player who did not play for the Mets, Jackie Robinson. The Mets may start this season without any native born black player.. Robert Carson in on the 40 man roster, but is no lock. Come on Sandy sign Hairston.
    .
    • Joe Janish January 9, 2013 at 12:10 am
      Huh. What an intriguing point — one that completely slipped by me. This is something we’ll have to keep an eye on. Thank you.
      • jerseymet January 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm
        Sandy and Selig are only about money. I wonder If they even enjoy the game? Football and Basketball are the choice of most of today’s Black youths. Who better to promote the game than a Journeyman player from a solid baseball family.
  10. Izzy January 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm
    Well the Hairston market is now drier or delayed. with Morse now on the trade market, and with a much more powerful bat than Hairston has, and a reasonable contract with one year on it, one would think the Yanks, and the Mets if the Mets gave a crap about trying to field a big league team would pursue Morse before going after the very average at best Hairston. Morse would probably be a prefect fit for the Mets if they would pay a bit. A true slugger who could protect Davis, a good clubhouse guy, and most important for Sandy Alderson, a bit of the roids in his history. Now if he’d only agree to a 5 million dollar pay cut.
    • DaveSchneck January 8, 2013 at 6:18 pm
      Izzy,
      You are correct in that Morse’s big righty bat would look sweet in that #5 spot behind Ike. Acquiring Morse is not impossible, but the problem is not money, as the Mets can certainly afford his $5 mil in 2013. The problem is that he is only controllable for one year, and Alderson does not consider the Met system deep enough to trade off prospects for someone they can only control for 1 year. I suspect others, specifically Tampa, will be able/willing to part with a better player or two than the Mets. But, as you say, Morse is on the market, and Alderson had best have his nose in there somewhere to be sure he doesn’t go somewhere for a lower price than he would pay.
      • NormE January 8, 2013 at 7:13 pm
        I would assume that Morse’s agent would let any teams wanting to trade for him know that he will not sign any new contract or extension this year. Given that scenario, as DaveSchneck points out, Sandy Alderson probably won’t go there.
      • Joe Janish January 9, 2013 at 12:14 am
        Agreed, hard to see the Mets giving up anything of value (if they HAVE anything of value they can spare) for a one-year rental. And, hard to see Morse agreeing to an extension — particularly with a team that won’t be competing for a few years. And further, would the Nats make an in-division deal? I guess they would with the Mets, since they probably don’t see them as much of a threat.

        Who would the Nats accept in return for Morse? Bobby Parnell? Dillon Gee? A basket of prospects that includes Wilmer Flores or Jeurys Familia? I’m not sure.

        • TexasGusCC January 9, 2013 at 2:57 am
          The Nats reportedly want a lefthanded reliever. I disagree with the popular thinking that the Mets should not get Morse, but rather should give the Nationals anything that makes sense to get him. Here’s why:
          1. The Mets do not have a power hitter like this in their entire organization!!! Not a single power hitter hit .300 with 30+ hrs, or was on pace to do so over 550 at bats. Yes, he’s a one year rental, but resign him.
          2. The Mets need to sell tickets, every team does. Does keeping a Elgin or a Carson really keep you up at night? Throw in Vaughn for them too. He’s struggling at AA, forget the majors. Morse would give the Mets exactly what they need at a rediculous low cost talent wise. And, his salary is not expensive since they haven’t spent much this winter.
          3. We saw how this off season power is at a premium. Furthermore, the next off season’s free agent class does not have any power available. Why not get a power hitter, and renew him. They will have $48MM coming off the books next year, give him $9MM. Look at what Victorino, Napoli, Swisher, LaRoche are getting, $12-$14MM per year. With no power available, you think that number will go down? If he doesn’t deserve it, is Edgin or Carson worth crying over? Will we remember them?
          4. In the following article, he is compared to Kendrys Morales in terms of ability, but to names like Youkilis production wise. We don’t need that for a LHP and a throw-in? I vehemently disagree.
          Read this article in Fangraphs: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/some-comps-for-mike-morse/
        • TexasGusCC January 9, 2013 at 3:48 am
          I’m not saying that Edgin or Carson, will do the deal, but rather the Mets should offer either and a lesser prospect in order to get it done. The Yankees are offering Boone Logan and a lower prospect, and folks, he’s better.
        • Joe Janish January 9, 2013 at 9:20 am
          While I agree that what it might take to land Morse appears to be ridiculously undervalued, there are a few issues at play. 1. Is that really all the Nats want in return? We won’t know for sure until a trade is made. 2. Morse and his agent know full well what his value will be next winter, and now that he’s reached 30, Morse also knows this winter could be his only chance for a payday. That said I would be stunned to see him not test the FA market. 3. I’m not convinced the Mets have the desire or money to get Morse. They can spin all they want about the recent loans and refinancing going toward payroll, but I’m betting they need that cash to keep the lights on.

          I wonder if the Mets would pull an Athletics-type move and trade for Morse, only to flip him at the deadline to a team desperate for a power hitter? A la Matt Holliday.

        • TexasGusCC January 9, 2013 at 10:53 am
          Joe, you bring up a good point. I read Alderson’s statements, but actions are greater than words. He has to put his money where his mouth is. But Joe, if you are correct, then oh no!
          Both Dave and Izzy have touched on the rest of my thoughts about Morse’s value to the team and probably their ability to sell tickets.
      • Izzy January 9, 2013 at 8:31 am
        The Mets can afford his contract, but the Mets don’t want to spend for anything. If the Mets are so hapless that they can’t take a chance on getting a guy and convincing him to stay after a year then the future is much bleaker than I had previosuly thought.
  11. friend January 8, 2013 at 7:21 pm
    “don’t you think Hairston will be shopped at the deadline”

    DIDN’T you think Hairston WOULD be shopped at the LAST deadline

    • Joe Janish January 9, 2013 at 12:15 am
      Well, you got me there. But I can dream can’t I?
  12. Vilos January 8, 2013 at 9:12 pm
    Dan B,
    One of the reasons that the mets have punted on 2013 is that they want to see how their current Group of players under control play during the season.
    If duda and kirk turn out to be solid profesional ball players, then I would think they would part of the next contender, leaving one spot for an all star
    • Joe Janish January 9, 2013 at 12:24 am
      Vilos, the new front office (which isn’t so new any more) has spent two years evaluating the Mets’ young talent. If they haven’t figured out by now who is legit and who isn’t, then we’re in for a rebuilding period that, in length, will rival those set forth by the Pirates and Royals.

      My bet is that they have a pretty good idea that the Mets don’t have much existing to build on, but it doesn’t matter because they’re still in cost-saving mode due to ownership’s financial problems. Their PR spin has been accepted by some but in the end, actions speak louder than words — and there hasn’t been much productive action over the past two years.

  13. Vilos January 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm
    (continued)
    But finding the all star depends on Many factors, which is why the need to wait out the process.
  14. Dan B January 9, 2013 at 12:28 am
    VIlos, I thought 2012 was the year the Mets punted so they could judge their prospects. Or was it 2011? 2010? I get so confused with all those years that the Mets didn’t bother to find better ball players. Kirk has been in the Met organization since June, 2008 and spent most of 2012 in the majors. Duda has be in the organization since June, 2007 has spent most of the past 1.5 years in the majors. Why do Met scouts need one more year to judge them? Are the Mets scouts that uninformed about their own players? Or is it because the Mets keep cutting the budget for player development and the current staff of scouts are incapable of making sound judgements. Why do the Mets keep cutting the budget for player development? Why, after three years of claiming to be all about player development does Baseball America rank them 18th out 30 farm teams? Because the Wilpons care more about paying down debt then they do in putting a good team on the field. They are not investing in free agents and they are not investing in player development. Period, end of sentence. Am I bitter? Hell yeah! I have been a fan my whole long life. I can put up with losing. But I can’t stomach this current ownership plan.
    • Joe Janish January 9, 2013 at 9:22 am
      Well said!
  15. argonbunnies January 9, 2013 at 2:19 am
    Look at the Yanks’ roster — they are WAY too talented not to be one of the 5 AL teams in the playoffs. Unless Morrow stays healthy, Johnson combines health and effectiveness for the first time in 3 years, and Romero bounces back from being the worst pitcher n the league, the Yankees will cakewalk to the AL East title (no, the O’s will not go 29-9 in 1-run games again).

    If Hairston is really choosing between the Mets and Yankees, and winning matters at all to him, his choice should be clear.

  16. argonbunnies January 9, 2013 at 2:26 am
    As long as there is a non-zero chance that Baxter, Duda, Nieuwenhuis, Den Dekker, Cowgill or Brown could become a better player than Hairston, we should not be giving him playing time. He’s a great guy and he’ll win us an extra game or two, but that’s not what we need now — we need to be cultivating organizational assets for future use or trade.

    If all those guys have no hope, then fine, budget some money for Hairston… and tack it onto what we’re offering a starting pitcher, so we get Marcum instead of Young. Even if he did deserve playing time, Hairston wouldn’t be our best use of resources.

    • Joe Janish January 9, 2013 at 9:29 am
      Great points.

      I would further argue that ANY money that might be earmarked for Hairston should go toward a contract for Marcum or Saunders. The Mets are going to need someone to gobble up innings and take the strain off the youngsters. They already destroyed Beato and may have wrecked Edgin due to overuse. When the Hefners and McHughs are getting knocked out after 4 or 5 innings, who is suffering the load? It’s going to be Mejia, Familia, Elvin Ramirez, etc. And then what happens the next day when Harvey or Wheeler starts and the bullpen is short? They might push to pitch past their limit. Snowball effect.

      • argonbunnies January 9, 2013 at 4:18 pm
        Hmm. Yeah. Unfortunately, I think that argues more for Pavano, who’s been quite durable lately. I say “unfortunately” because Marcum, when healthy, is much more effective.

        Well, maybe Marcum + Hefner/McHugh > Pavano anyway…

    • DaveSchneck January 9, 2013 at 9:40 am
      Argon,
      I have to disagree with you somewhat here and agree moe with Dan B. above. The Mets have squandered several seasons in a row, have some cash, and need to make an effort to win in 2013. We know they are underdogs/longshots, but improvement is a must for the players and franchise. And, signing a platoon RH bat like Hairston is more than costing AAAA players ABs. It is about protecting Ike in the lineup. This is a crucual year for Ike, and if no one can perform in the #5 spot it will have a direct impact on his performance, especiall vs. lefties. I also agree with TexasGus, make a stong move for Morse. His bat in the #5 hole legitimizes the middle of the lineup and the enitre team. I haven’t given up on Duda and Kirk, but let them earn their ABs. If they don’t get Morse, whoever does had better have paid a hefty price talent-wise or I will side with Izzy on this one.
      • argonbunnies January 9, 2013 at 4:33 pm
        Maybe I’ve been infected by the pessimism. Maybe Jan. 9 is too soon to give up on the Mets trying to win games in 2013. It’s just… look, every time we get good news about finances, within 24 hrs there’s a quote in the media about how the team might be done shopping, and 24 hrs after that Sandy corroborates it. Check this out:

        – Madoff trustees go from asking Wilpons for $1 billion to maybe $162 million but only if certain unlikely things happen so probably $0

        – Jason Bay restructures payments to free up cash for 2013 payroll

        – David Wright new contract frees up cash for 2013 payroll

        – Wilpons get loans and refinances and SNY something-or-others of $700mil, $450mil, and $160mil

        – Alderson says “we’re not satisfied with our OF, but it’s conceivable we might not add anyone”

        – MestBlog claims Marcum wants 2 years and is thus deemed “out of our price range” by the Mets

        It seems to me that if the Mets had any interest in competing in 2013 (which they absolutely should, to avoid an empty Citi Field) they’d be gushing about all the moves they plan to make now that they have cash. Or, y’know, Sandy’s version of gushing (“As of this date we have the financial wherewithal to seriously pursue attractive options…”). But no. It looks to me like they’ve punted on 2013. So that’s why I’m focusing on 2014.

      • argonbunnies January 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm
        As for Ike:

        1) vs LH, he’ll be hitting behind Hairston, so I don’t see the development bonus there

        2) vs RH, Hairston is an easy out, so I don’t see the protection you’re hoping for

        3) Ike hasn’t shown David Wright Disease yet (aka “trying to do too much”), so hopefully he’ll use the weak lineup as strike zone practice and pile up the walks. This is an ability which he really needs in order to post respectable OBPs (as his swing and Ks will never yield high batting averages).

        Yeah, having Morse behind him would mean more pitchers challenge Ike and he hits a few more HRs. Maybe that’s good for his confidence, but I dunno, confidence seems to be the part of his game least in need of improvement.

        • DaveSchneck January 9, 2013 at 6:09 pm
          Argon,
          I agree with your comment above that the Alderson talks of competing but has yet to back up the speak with action. We all know they will not make moves that will put them on the Nats/Braves level, but there are still moves to make that can allow them to field a competitive team and one that is overall improved from 2012, even after trading the Cy Young award. Still possible, but we’ll see.
          Regarding Ike, I agree that in 2013 he needs to improve command of the K zone (+BB, -K) and he must prove he can competently hit lefties. I am not sure that they would bat Hairston ahead of him vs. lefties, at least initially. Vs. righties, the Dude will need to prove he can handle the 5 hole, and so Ike has some vested interested in how he performs as well.
  17. Joe January 9, 2013 at 8:34 pm
    41 comments on Hairston?

    Ah the pickings are slim all around!