2 Guys Talking: Can We Afford Scott Hairston?







Here is a guy who actually had a great year. Twenty home runs in less than full time work. Punished left-handed pitchers, and with all our left-handed hitters that was very valuable. And a cool guy to watch hit too. Scott takes a full cut, he is not getting cheated! We were able to plug him into all three outfield spots to help us when needed and although he was certainly not Mays out there it was never embarrassing to watch. In 2012 that made him one of our best defensive players.

In fact Hairston had such a great year that Sandy Alderson couldn’t bear to part with him at the trading deadline. Apparently Alderson had the over (I guess we should appreciate the optimism) and knew we needed all hands on deck to get there. But with Hairston a free agent, what now?


Hairston earned $1.1 million in 2012, he’s a free agent, and he’s put himself in position for a significant raise and a multiple-year contract. A raise, but nothing crazy. He was great last season and destroyed LH pitching. When Sandy didn’t trade him at the deadline, Howard Megdal appropriately questioned the non-move, and quoted the post-deadline press conference when our GM explained, “Right now he’s a very important part of our team. We feel it’s important to keep 2012 as competitive as possible.” (I know!) Are the 2013 Mets at a point where we can’t afford to retain a quality reserve like Scott Hairston? If we sign Wright and Dickey, what money is left? And if we don’t sign Hairston, will this be yet another case of Sandy making a short-term decision at the expense of long-range planning? 


Let’s be clear. Alderson completely choked at the deadline. Hairston had to have some level of value before the deadline. Ditto Chris Young. The Cubs traded Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson for Arodys Vizcaino —  a top 40 prospect in all of baseball —  and Jaye Chapman, a lesser prospect to be sure but a legitimate one. Was a package of Young and Hairston equal to the Cubs duo? I would say not but it isn’t worlds away either. And we got nothing, zero, zilch as for the second deadline in a row Sandy fiddled while the Mets burned.

So that ship, sadly, has sailed, as trading Hairston would not have had any bearing on whether he becomes a 2013 Met unless the Collective Bargaining Agreement has been changed and I missed the press release.

Now to the question of whether we can afford Hairston, I will go another way. I rather not pay someone for what they already did, I rather pay them for what they are going to do. I expect him to get a decent raise and regress. That combination equals pass to me. I love you Scott, you have been fun, but times are tough, Uncle Bernie still haunts us and you have to go.


I totally agree on Sandy’s do-nothing management style. (We’ll have to discuss Reyes someday, surely an asset squandered.) And the comparison to Theo Epstein is telling. Now that was a rebuild. Sandy’s primary focus has been to show “the good face,” consolidate finances for the Wilpons, protect Jeffy’s inheritance, and help the Mets operate as a mid-level team. They cut more than $50 million from payroll alone and Fred is still in power, so mission accomplished. It’s never been about, oh, winning. Hopefully he’s run out of free passes. Alderson can’t bring back the same team in 2013. And since he can’t afford free agents, and there’s little in the minor-league system, cautious Sandy is going to have to swing some deals. I hope he’s gotten smarter. A repeat of December 5, 2011 would not be helpful. All that said: if we can’t afford to retain Scott Freaking Hairston . . . well, that’s just sad.

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  1. Anne P. says:

    I like Scott Hairston, but his salary demands will put him out of play for the Mets. He’s actually not much more than a good sub, never has been, never will be, especially considering his age. I don’t think he’s worth the money and his presence won’t make the Mets more competitive anyway.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Anne. You may be right. He is a good sub who crushes LHP. A limited role, for sure, but important. He got 396 plate appearances in 2012, which is a little high, but the point is he gets on the field. As far as his salary demands, we don’t know what they are right now, and that’s the crucial piece here. If Sandy offered 2 yrs/$4.25 million, I think that would be fair and reasonable. Scott seems comfortable with the Mets, and has thrived here. I think these decisions at the margins are both enjoyable and critical. Sure, his presence or lack of it isn’t a deal-breaker. But little things add up. A good bench can make a difference. if we let him walk, we’re going to need to go out and find a guy who mashes LHP, cheap. Jonny Gomes hits lefties, is also a free agent, and he earned only $1 million in 2012. But can he actually move? I don’t think so.

    • Dan says:

      A 2 year/$5MM – $6MM contract seems right. The bigger issue is not Hairston, it is who is going to be the starting outfield? We need to fill 2, if not all 3 positions.

      • Just curious, Dan. Which player would you trade in the hopes of getting back an outfielder? Reading the tea leaves, seems like it’s Niese or Dickey.

        • Dan says:

          Really can’t answer that until we identify who the targeted players are that fit our needs. Maybe some of the fantasy baseball experts would have some suggestions of who would be a fit for us?

  3. 3D says:

    Good discussion, but I think it’s a bit unfair to criticize Alderson for not moving Reyes in 2011. Reyes went on the DL in June, and when he came off he had his one mortal stretch of the season, coinciding with the two or three weeks before the trading deadline.

    It’s entirely possible that teams didn’t want to invest a Wheeler-level trade chip on a guy who is injured a lot, just came off the DL, and wasn’t hitting, for a 3-month rental, the way they would be interested in Beltran who was red hot and firing on all cylinders. There may just not have been a good offer out there.

    • I agree, 3D, that it asks an awful lot of Sandy to get it right with Reyes — and I think what that required would have been an early decision, pre-injury, when Alderson assessed the future, knew the issues surrounding the team, knew they weren’t going to ever (ever, ever) sign Jose. And he had to show a clear grasp of the talent on the field. Then the injury came and it got much harder, I agree, especially since you can’t trade a guy when he’s on the DL. However, again, Sandy was the GM, Jose was his greatest asset, and ultimately the most exciting player in the game walked with nothing to show for it in return. It was a time for bold, decisive action — some serious, tough-minded pragmatism — and Sandy dithered. Maybe he didn’t want to face the criticism of trading Jose, but he needed to be the grownup in the room and make that very difficult call. That said: Maybe we’re a little grouchy!

  4. Ken H. says:

    I love Hairston as much as anyone, but after watching Pagan and Beltran face off in the NLCS this year, it would seem unfair to deny Hairston a similar opportunity. To quote Gordon Summoner, “If you love somebody, set them free.” …for Scott’s sake.

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