Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yankees Acquire Eric Hinske From Pittsburgh

The New York Yankees have acquired veteran Eric Hinske from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for two minor leaguers.

Hinske, who signed with the Pirates this past off season as a free agent, was hitting .255 with one home run and 11 RBI.

He has had an interesting career. After doing minor league duty with the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics, Hinske got his big break in 2002 with the Toronto Blue Jays hitting 24 home runs with 84 RBI. He would win the AL Rookie of the Year. Hinske was signed to a five-year contract extension. However, injuries prevented him from replicating his rookie success. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox late in the 2006 season.

My guess is that Hinske will continue to have the kind of role he has had in recent years as a bench player. He'll play third base, first base, the corner positions in the outfield and DH.

Hinske might also be something of a good luck charm for the Yankees. He has played in the last two World Series earning a World Series ring with the Red Sox in 2007 and also played in the World Series with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. Hinske hit 20 home runs last season which was the most since his rookie season. He also hit a home run in Game 4 of the 2008 Fall Classic off Joe Blanton. However, he also made the final out of the World Series when he was struck out by Brad Lidge in Game 5 to give the Philadelphia Phillies their first World Series championship since 1980.

Hinske would not have got to the World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates this year. He could with the Yankees. When Hinske puts on Yankee pinstripes he will have played with every team in the AL East except for the Baltimore Orioles. Actually, Hinske came very close to signing with Baltimore this off season. Hinske might be the only player in the majors who will be lustily booed in Boston, Toronto and Tampa Bay.

On a personal note, when Hinske was still with the Blue Jays in the 2005 season my Dad, older brother and I attended a game in Toronto against the Chicago White Sox. Hinske and Orlando Hudson (now with the Los Angeles Dodgers) were playing catch near the first base line. At the conclusion of their catch, Dad shouted, "Eric, throw me the ball!!!" Hinske obliged tossing an accurate throw to Dad some 15 rows into the stands.

Dad then gave the ball to me. Yes, I still have it.

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