Eric Hinke was overlooked for most of the regular season and on this version of the Yankees it is easy to see why. At nearly every position they have an all-star so there usually isn’t a big need for a bat off the bench.
No his numbers don’t overwhelm, in just 39 games with the Yankees this season Hinske hit .226 with a .828 OPS and seven homers. But there are a few reasons why they would help.
Extra innings: The Yankees have played back-to-back games in extra innings. Both times manager Joe Girardi used speedsters Brett Gardner and Freddy Guzman off the bench. Neither time ended the game, but their spots in the order did come back around and the only other hitter the Yankees could possibly use for them were Francisco Cervelli and Jerry Hairston Jr.. Hinske would have been the better option.
The Yankees are carrying 3 catchers: To me, this seems completely unnecessary. I understand the reason behind it, Girardi wants to use both Jorge Posada and Jose Molina in games. But there is no reason to do that. Posada is more than capable of catching AJ Burnett as seen from May 27th till July 27th when AJ went 8-2 with a 2.08 ERA throwing to Jorge.
Still, even if Girardi felt he had to have Molina catch Burnett, it is still unlikely that the Yankees would be left without a catcher. In an emergency either Hairston or Hinske himself could be used behind the plate. Not the ideal situation, but neither is letting Guzman hit in the ninth inning of a playoff game.
Struggling outfielders: Both Melky Cabrera and Nick Swisher are struggling right now. If Hinske were on the roster Girardi would have the option of benching one or both of them for a game or two without the offense taking a major hit.
CC Sabathia: Via the NY Post’s Joel Sherman, we find out that Sabathia has been a legit pinch hitting option for the Yankees these past few games. Sabathia, a career .261 hitter, was almost used before both Cervelli and Guzman last night. Considering the Yankees have two pitchers who have suffered major injuries while at the plate, Andy Pettitte with Houston and Chien-Ming Wang last season, is it really worth risking Sabathia’s health because the Yankees left Hinske off the roster?
Off all the roster moves I anticipated before the ALCS, I never really considered that they would leave Hinske off the roster. No, he is not an integral part of this team, but he does add an important dimension that they are missing right now. Remember his OPS+ with the Yankees this season was 113, he’s not exactly an automatic out.