Who’s Saving the Yankees’ Season While All Their Old Men Are Out? An Old Man, Naturally


Nice quip from David Letterman last night: “Martha Stewart says she wants to meet a rich man between the age of 50 and 70. Why doesn’t she just date a New York Yankee?”

Indeed. And the subs that the Yankees have brought in to get them through a period of recovery from injuries are as old as the guys they’re replacing. Travis Hafner, for instance, who was acquired as a free agent on February , will turn 36 on June 3. A Cleveland Indian for 10 of his 11 major league seasons after playing a few games for the Texas Rangers in 2002, he’s a perfect example of how lucky the Yankees have been this season.

Going into tonight’s game with the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium they are 17-10, trailing only the equally surprising Boston Red Sox in the AL East by 2 ½ games.

And it’s all about home runs. The Yankees, despite the loss of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson to injury and Nick Swisher and Russell Martin to other teams, are leading the American League in home field home runs at 21. Hafner, who has been DH in 22 of the Yankees’ 27 games, has hit 4 of his 6 home runs, all 3 of his doubles, and his only triple at Yankee Stadium.

It’s likely the Yankees will dump most of their new-old replacements when the old-old players come back, but Hafner might be worth keeping. From 2004 to 2007, among hitters in both leagues, in more than 2000 plate appearances he was 4th with a .976 OBP (On Base plus Slugging Percentage). He averaged 32 homers, 100 RBIs and a .286 BA. In 2005 and 2006, hit 75 home runs and drove in 225 runs and was one of the best left-handed sluggers in the league. Then a list of injuries too long to go into overtook him; since 2007 he has played in more than 100 games only once, 118 in 2010), and hit only 56 of his career 207 homers. So far this year, though: no injuries.

If Pronk, as his teammates at Cleveland called him for the way the ball sounded when it connected with his bat, can keep from getting hurt, the Yankees’ season might continue to be as good as it’s been so far. And, who knows? Martha Stewart (who, after all, used to baby sit for Yogi and Carmen Barra) might be watching from the box seats. Note to Martha Stewart: Pronk is back.