What Role Will Eric Hinske Play For The New York Yankees?

Dan BentonCorrespondent IJune 30, 2009

NEW YORK - MAY 08:  Eric Hinske #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates runs against the New York Mets on May 8, 2009 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Pirates 7-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

In typical Yankees mid-season fashion, they’ve shipped off a pair of prospects to Pittsburgh in exchange for one of the few solid players the Pirates have left on their roster. It’s something that has become an annual event in Major League Baseball, but that’s a story for another day.

But what does the trade of pitcher Casey Erickson (2.25 ERA) and outfielder Eric Fryer (.250/.333/.344) for outfielder Eric Hinske (.255/.373/.368) mean for the Yankees? And what does it mean for Hinske, who was unhappy about his lack of playing time in Pittsburgh?

As it stands, the Yankees currently have five outfielders (only four of whom are capable of playing every day), two first basemen and two additional utility guys. So where does Hinske fit in?

Since Alex Rodriguez will be given one day off per week (on top of any off days), it looks like Hinske has been “rented” for half of a season merely to fill in during those games. It also means Cody Ransom, who had started in place of A-Rod to start the season, will likely be designated for assignment.

It’s a move that clearly has both pros and cons, but one that won’t be able to be weighted until we all see what Hinske brings to the table.

If he flops and performs no better than Ransom (unlikely), it would have been a complete waste of two young prospects…regardless of how minimal their chances ever were of making an impact. On the flip side, however, if Hinske is able to accept his limited role—which will likely include some pinch-hitting—and performs well, it will make General Manager Brian Cashman look like a genius.