The future of Scott Hairston has New York at a standstill

Is the title of this post a statement or merely a question about the lack of news surrounding the moves both the Mets and Yankees are making lately?

As it has been widely reported, it appears that Scott Hairston is mulling his options between two teams: the Mets and the Yankees. Hairston is looking for a two-year deal, while most teams are only willing to offer him a one-year deal. However, Adam Rubin is reporting that the Mets may eventually cave in and be willing to give Hairston a two-year deal.

Hairston earned $1.1 million last year for the Mets, and no one can blame him for trying to cash in after an effective 2012 season. Last year in only 377 at-bats, Hairston slugged 20 home runs, 25 doubles while driving in 57 runs. In 2012, Hairston sported a healthy .263/.299./.504 slash line.

That’s good bang for the buck.

Hairston has stated this winter that he wants to stay with the Mets. While other teams can perhaps offer more money, the Mets could offer more stability and most of all a starting position. Hairston would prefer to earn his money by playing on a regular basis, as opposed to being a team’s fourth outfielder.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman recently tweeted the interest the Yanks have in Hairston is waning. With not that many people willing to meet Hairston’s demands; by default he may end up back with the Mets. Hairston has also stated that he may consider a one-year deal if the pot is sweet enough. There is also the chance that the Hairston camp used the Yanks’ interest (significant or moderate) to drive up the price for the Mets.

For a team that could use all the outfield help it can get, Hairston returning to the Mets makes the most sense. For a team also bereft of anyone who could hit against lefties (Hairston did bat .286 against lefties last year and hit 11 of his 20 home runs off southpaws), the re-signing of Hairston does seem to be a no-brainer.

With the Mets’ outfield a jumbled mess and the team looking to place square pegs to fit in to round holes, re-signing Hairston does bring some stability to an outfield in flux. Hairston is a vet who could be the bridge before the Mets can ideally bring in legitimate high-dollar free agents. This may not be the season for the Mets to gamble on signing expensive outfield free agents.

Granted, the outfield is a concern and one barren of major talent, this year could be better used to adequately evaluate what the future exactly holds for the likes of Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and the recently acquired Collin Cowgill. Conceivably the Mets could also give Matt den Dekker a look this season as well this year. After the 2013 season, the Mets can accurately assess who belongs and who doesn’t and then go about opening up the checkbooks once some of the big contracts come off the books.

While the signing of Hairston may appear to look like the placing of a band aid on a broken leg, it does make sense for the time being. And for what he’s asking for, Hairston is worth the moderate risk.

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Scott Hairston Appreciation Post

With the season rapidly and mercilessly winding down, this very well could be the last 12 games we see Scott Hairston in a Mets’ uniform.

For a season that has gone south with each agonizing moment begetting another one, one of the constants (specifically on offense) through all the turbulence this season has been the play of Hairston.

Hairston came up big on Friday in the Mets’ first win at Citi Field in what seems like a decade, as he went 2-4 with a home run and three RBI’s. Then again, Hairston has come up big the whole season, as he has been a valuable asset from the start while playing mostly off the bench. Hairston now has 18 home runs on the season to go with 51 RBI’s and a healthy .812 OPS.

However, this may be Hairston’s swan song with the Mets, as he probably does not fit into the Mets’ long-term plans (he is on a one-year $1.1 million deal). Also, considering the season he is enjoying, Hairston should be in line for a nice pay raise next year and he’ll likely be out of the pay-range the Mets would be willing to offer.

Although these assumptions are not absolute, I view Hairston’s chances of coming back to the Mets as slim and none.

That being said, I would like to dedicate this space for Hairston and thank him for his brief time with the Mets.

While his 2011 season was nothing to write home about (.235/.303/.470 slash line with seven home runs and 24 RBI’s in 132 at-bats), Hairston more than made up for it with a terrific rebound season this year. Hairston’s slash line this year now reads .267/.305/.506 in 330 at-bats.

What Hairston will be remembered most for this season was the numbers he posted against lefties. He simply assaulted lefties, as he posted a .297/.330/.564 slash line while mashing 10 of his 18 home runs against southpaws. Those numbers are amplified when you consider the clutch factor behind many of those hits.

This season’s highlights (yes cynical Mets’ fan, there are a few) will be centered on the pitching heroics of R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana achieving the first ever Mets’ no-hitter and the emergence of pitching prospect Matt Harvey, but the play of Hairston should not get lost in the shuffle.

They say you don’t appreciate the fine things in life until they’re gone. Well, I have a felling the Mets will be longing for Hairston and his big bat next season as that production will not be easily replaced.

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Can Terry Collins hit the sweet spot with Scott Hairston’s PT?

Scott Hairston has been pretty terrific this season.

Hairston has 99 ABs so far in 2012 and if he keeps up his current pace, he would finish the year with 286 at-bats. In the past 20 years there have been 1,702 players in MLB to finish a season with between 100 and 300 ABs and at least 75 games played. These parameters were chosen to look for guys who spent the majority of the season in the majors, yet who were not full-time regulars.

If Hairston finishes with 286 ABs and his current 162 OPS+, he would be tied for the sixth-best mark among players in this group.

It makes one wonder if Terry Collins is maximizing Hairston with his current playing time mix or if he would be better served to get one of the club’s best hitters into the lineup more often. The injury to Jason Bay opened up more playing time for Hairston and the veteran has come through with flying colors, as he has a .293/.340/.626 line in 106 PA.

But Bay will be returning soon and Hairston figures to lose significant playing time. The injury to Mike Baxter eliminated whatever small chance Hairston had of being cut from the major league roster, as Vinny Rottino will likely be shipped out when Bay is activated. But with all indications that Bay will return to make outs as the everyday left fielder, Hairston will be mostly limited to pinch-hitting duties.

The possibility does exist that the Mets will send down Ike Davis, move Lucas Duda to first base and use Hairston as part of a platoon in right field. This would be an ideal situation for Hairston, who has absolutely crushed LHP here in 2012. Here are his splits:

vs LHP – .361/.400/.770 in 65 PA
vs RHP – .184/.244/.395 in 41 PA

The fans are ready to send Davis to Buffalo to rediscover his swing. However, Davis is less than thrilled with that plan and management has given no indication it is ready to send Davis down over his objections. So, perhaps the platoon to get Hairston’s bat in the lineup can come at first base, where he could spell Davis?

Interestingly, Hairston, now in his ninth season in the bigs, has never played a single inning at first base in his career in the majors. Earlier in the year, Terry Collins vowed not to move Duda to first base to fill in on a temporary basis. But, Duda is again showing awful fielding numbers in right field, with the worst Defensive Runs Saved (-8) and UZR (-10.6) numbers of the 23 qualified right fielders.

It would appear easy for Collins to back off from his earlier vow to keep Duda in the outfield, saying that he absolutely has to get Hairston’s bat in the lineup against LHP. Since Hairston’s never played first base, it makes more sense to play Duda there when a LHP in on the hill. This way Duda still sees the majority of his time in the outfield, where theoretically he keeps improving, but once a week or so the pitchers get someone who can aspire to be league-average defensively out there.

Somewhere along the line, platooning became a dirty word. It makes sense why players are against it but managers should love it. The same skippers who bend over backwards to get the platoon advantage in the late innings pitching-wise are too chicken to do so over multiple ABs early in the game. It makes no sense.

At the bare minimum, Hairston needs to start against every LHP, especially with the lefty-heavy Mets’ lineup. I would rather see him out there than Bay but because Hairston makes a tiny percentage of what Bay does, he’ll ride the pine so the inferior player (at this point in time) can soak up the ABs.

It is an open question if Hairston can handle a full-time starter’s load at age 32. He’s never had more than 464 PA in a single season and he might be exposed if forced to face RHP on a regular basis. But there’s no reason to limit him to a role as a late-inning PH where he gets just 3-4 PA per week. It’s up to Collins to make sure he hits the sweet spot with Hairston’s playing time.

Mets Notes: Cedeno, Hairston, 40-man issues and CRG

The Mets have reached agreement with infielder Ronny Cedeno on a one-year deal, worth just north of $1 million. The Mets had no backup shortstop on the roster so Cedeno certainly fills a need. He’s very good insurance in case Ruben Tejada regresses or if Daniel Murphy gets injured again.

Cedeno is not much with the bat in his hands, as he has a lifetime OPS+ of 68 in 2,309 PA. But he is a good baserunner, despite last year’s SB/CS numbers, and he is a fine defensive shortstop. Last year he had a +8 DRS and a 6.8 UZR/150. For a comparison, Jose Reyes was below average in both metrics last year, with a -11 DRS and a -3.6 UZR/150.

The main question seems to be if he will be content in a back-up role. Cedeno, who will turn 29 in February, has topped 450 PA three times in his career, including the past two seasons. Will he accept getting just the 150 PA or so that a typical reserve middle infielder gets? Or does he figure that with the recent injury history of the Mets, he’s bound to wind up closer to the 454 PA he got in 2011.

HAIRSTON REJOINS METS – The Mets also addressed their need for a backup outfielder, re-signing Scott Hairston to a one-year deal, with a similar dollar value to Cedeno’s. After a dismal month of April, where he posted a .565 OPS in 34 PA, Hairston put up a .255/.315/.520 line over his final 111 PA before having his season cut short with an oblique injury in late August.

An experienced pinch-hitter capable of playing all three outfield positions, Hairston provides a solid bench option for the Mets. Like with the Cedeno deal, in Hairston Sandy Alderson picked up a low-cost bench player more than capable of filling in should one of the starters go down for an extended period of time.

NOW ABOUT THAT 40-MAN ROSTER – Both of these moves also create a problem, as the Mets are at their limit with the 40-man roster. Last year Hairston came in on a minor league deal, but I could find no reference to the contracts for either Cedeno or Hairston being that way. Most people would assume that two of the minor league pitchers like Jeremy Hefner, Armando Rodriguez or Josh Stinson would be removed to make room for the newest additions. There’s also been speculation about Fernando Martinez.

However, Justin Turner should not be sleeping soundly right now, either. In Cedeno, the Mets have another player capable of filling in at 2B. In Hairston, the Mets have a superior RH bat off the bench. Typically, a five-man bench consists of a catcher, two infielders and two outfielders. If Cedeno is the back-up middle infielder then will the Mets be content to forego the traditional backup corner infielder?

With Lucas Duda and Daniel Murphy also on the roster, they very well might. Duda and Murphy have experience at first base while the latter also covers third base. Still, it’s far from a given that Turner makes the Opening Day roster, as he had just a .648 OPS in his final 388 PA. And the Mets may need to open up an additional spot on the 40-man if either Mike Baxter or Adam Loewen makes the team as the fifth outfielder.

METS HIRE CRG PARTNERS – By now you have probably heard that the Mets hired CRG, the firm that assisted the Rangers in their bankruptcy sale. Of course, the Mets have vigorously denied that the reason they retained CRG had anything to do with bankruptcy but rather they are around to help with analyzing financial statements, and deal with business projections. The knee-jerk reaction is to claim the Mets are being dishonest.

But which one seems more likely – the Wilpons hiring an outside firm to handle some very necessary business planning without realizing that the media would connect the dots, see CRG’s previous high-profile baseball customer and leap to the bankruptcy conclusion or that they are planning ahead for a graceful exit strategy? Nothing in the past three years has given any indication that the Wilpons plan to leave if there’s a whiff of a hint of a sliver of a chance to retain control of the team. I think in this case we should take the Mets at their word.

We all want new ownership with deep pockets. The Wilpons want to retain control of the Mets and their majority stake in SNY. There is a lot of debt but there is also the chance to make a lot of money if the Wilpons can ride out the current storm. If the minority investors come through, which seems a reasonable chance, they will be able to pay back the bridge loan and likely meet their debt payments. The big unknown is the Madoff lawsuits. A win for Irving Picard likely means that the Wilpons have to sell. Unless the clawback suits are decided against them in a decisive way, it’s unlikely the Wilpons will put the Mets up for sale.

SANTANA THROWS – The latest report on Johan Santana is that he is throwing on consecutive days from a distance of 75 feet. This seems like good news, although it’s anyone’s guess if this means he will be on the mound for Opening Day. The signings of Cedeno and Hairston were welcome news, but I still hope the Mets add a SP before Spring Training starts. Even if Santana is ready at the start of the year, it sure would be nice to have someone push Dillon Gee for the final spot in the rotation. In Gee’s last 17 starts he had a 5.51 ERA. He allowed 14 HR in his final 94.2 IP and it’s hard to imagine those numbers improving with the fences coming in.

METS-RAYS RUMORS – Recently the Mets and Rays were linked to a potential deal. While I think the two clubs are excellent trade partners, I want no part of a Daniel Murphy-Wade Davis swap. Last year Davis had a 4.45 ERA and it wasn’t due to poor luck, as he had a 4.67 FIP and a 4.82 xFIP. He lost nearly a full point on his K/9 ratio, which fell to 5.14 after being 6.05 in 2010. Davis is another Mike Pelfrey and one of those guys is enough, thanks.

Can the Mets fit Scott Hairston into the lineup more often?

In mid-June we looked at Scott Hairston and asked people not to be in such a hurry to run him out of town. Since then he’s continued to hit, survived the additions of Reyes and Wright back from the disabled list and has even gotten a few more starts along the way. Now no one is wishing him gone. Instead people are wondering if Hairston should get even more playing time.

Since the last time Hairston was profiled, he’s posted a .298/.365/.723 line over his last 28 games, which includes eight starts. Nine of his 14 hits have gone for extra-bases, including 5 HR. He also has nine runs and 15 RBIs in 52 PA. It’s no wonder fans want to see his name in the lineup more often.

And if we look at his line since the All-Star break, Hairston has a .421/.450/.1000 slash line. Sure, it’s in only 20 PA, but it’s part of what makes his story so amazing.

Hairston is even doing better now in times when he comes off the bench. He still carries a .978 OPS as a starter but now when he enters as a reserve, Hairston has a .795 OPS. He’s hitting no matter the circumstance.

So, how do the Mets get him more PAs going forward?

The good news is that Hairston can play any of the three outfield spots. The bad news is that there is no obvious place to play him. Terry Collins wants to see what Lucas Duda can do as a starter for the remainder of the year as the primary replacement for Carlos Beltran. Besides, Duda has been hot himself, with a .295/.353/.500 slash line since rejoining the club in mid-June.

Jason Bay has had a resurgence here recently, with 10 hits in 23 ABs over his last six games. With his contract guaranteeing him millions, Bay’s hot streak buys him a regular spot in the lineup for the foreseeable future.

Which brings us to center field. Angel Pagan has not hit recently and has not delivered the same quality of defense that he did in 2010. Meanwhile, Hairston has played 134 games in center field in his career and has not embarrassed himself out there.

So, will Collins look to get Hairston more ABs in CF the rest of the year? With the way Hairston has been swinging the bat, he needs to play more and center seems to be the most logical spot.

Imagine back in the first half the thought that the Mets would be trying to fit Duda and Hairston into the lineup at the same time. And that they might accomplish that by leaving Bay in the lineup, too. You just never know.

An internal solution to replace Jason Bay

Back-to-back multi-hit games have Jason Bay’s OPS up to .651 for the season. Earlier I wrote that it was time for the team to move on from Bay. I still believe that’s the direction the Mets need to go but right now Bay should continue to play to see if this is the beginning of a hot streak or merely some type of dead-cat bounce.

The main objection to benching/releasing Bay has been: Who will the Mets play instead? With Lucas Duda already installed as a regular to replace Carlos Beltran, there is no obvious answer. But while not obvious, there is an effective solution already on the roster. How would an OPS upgrade from .651 to .823 sound for left field?

That .823 OPS is what Scott Hairston and Willie Harris have produced as starters this season in 176 PA.

Somehow, someway along the line – platooning became a dirty word in baseball. It makes sense from the players’ POV. If you’re a full-time player you should make more money than a guy in a time share. But from a team or the fans’ POV, platooning is a great way to get production at a discount. There are many players who can hit well when they have the platoon advantage but are replacement-level when they don’t.

Perhaps platooning went out of favor when pitching staffs moved from 10 to 12 players. But in the National League, that leaves a five-man bench. With five reserves, it still should be easy to platoon at two positions. How many teams in the NL could institute a platoon and immediately upgrade their offense? When the Phillies, the best team in the league, could improve with a platoon over one of their regulars (Raul Ibanez) it makes sense that the rest of the league could, as well.

But as Mets fans, we’re not interested in improving the rest of the league. We want the Mets to optimize their resources and put the best product on the field that they can. And it’s very likely that the Mets can do better than Bay in the outfield.

The sticking point for a lot of fans with this idea is that no one particularly likes Hairston or Harris. But if you accept the idea of platooning, you should be able to find players that are more fan-friendly. And it’s very likely that the platoon could play right field, allowing Duda to move over to left field where he would be less of a defensive liability.

We saw Sandy Alderson release $18 million in salaries when he cut ties with Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez before the season started. Those two represented the sunkest of sunk costs. At some point Bay will be at a similar position. Perhaps since the fans don’t hate him, he can remain as a bench option and not have to be released.

But unless Bay consistently hits an outside pitch or an offering below mid-thigh, it seems unlikely that he will post an .823 OPS like the Hairston/Harris platoon. Bay should get the remainder of the 2011 season but if at the end of the year he still has an OPS below .700, the Mets should upgrade with a low-cost platoon for 2012.

Teams are always looking for the next thing. First it was players with low AVG but high OBPs that were all of the rage. Then it was guys who played great defense who were overlooked. Perhaps the next new thing will be something that’s not new at all. Guys who can rake from one side of the plate but who are not full-time players are the new market inefficiency!

If that’s the case, maybe there will be hope for Nick Evans after all.

Comparing Scott Hairston and Justin Turner

Most Mets fans are counting down the days until Ike Davis and David Wright return from the disabled list. This seems innocent enough, as you always want your middle-of-the-order hitters in the lineup. But seemingly the fans want them back just as much for the accompanying removal of players from the current roster. And fans assume that the two players cut will be Scott Hairston and Willie Harris.

When the Mets signed Harris and Hairston in the offseason, the reaction to Harris was, “He can’t possibly take any more wins from us if he’s on our team.” Harris seemingly made a career of coming up with big plays against the Mets. The reaction to Hairston was basically a shrug.

Then, much to our surprise, both veterans pummeled the ball in Spring Training. Harris put up a .268/.397/.518 line during Grapefruit League play while Hairston posted a .345/.406/.672 slash line. Together, the two batted .307 with 10 2B, 3B, 7 HR in 114 ABs. Both made the Opening Day roster and the Mets figured to have one of their strongest benches in years.

With Jason Bay sidelined to begin the year, Harris and Hairston saw some early starts in addition to their pinch-hitting duties. Harris did well, while Hairston did not. Bay did not make his first start of the year until April 21st. In that span, Hairston had a .179/.258/.321 line. But what got lost in the shuffle was Hairston did fine as a starter and was terrible coming off the bench. Here were his splits while Bay was on the DL:

Start – .250/.368/.500
Bench: 1-for-12 with six strikeouts

Since few fans saw Hairston’s impressive Spring Training performance, their first exposure to him was mostly whiffing as a pinch-hitter. And a story line was born. While Justin Turner had the good fortune to start with a hot streak before stinking up the joint (.184/.241/.265 line in his last 54 PA), Hairston started off slow and was labeled a stiff.

Some fans reading this will say it’s just a cold streak for Turner and are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. However, that same courtesy was not extended to Hairston, who had a much tougher time as he had to pinch-hit in nearly 40 percent of his PA during his rotten start to 2011. And he still had an OPS 63 points higher than Turner does in his current poor stretch.

To compound matters, Hairston has some track record of being a productive hitter in the majors but because he did it for other teams, it seemingly holds no weight with Mets fans. This is a guy who hit 35 HR in 610 ABs in parts of three seasons with the Padres from 2007-2009. Hairston is a guy with a lifetime .823 OPS versus LHP in 671 PA.

But that’s nothing compared to a 17-game hot streak covering 74 PA by a spunky redhead.

Earlier we saw Hairston’s splits to open the season as a starter and coming off the bench the first three weeks of the season. Let’s do those same numbers for the entire season up to this point.

Starter – .313/.389/.469 in 11 starts
Bench: .182/.250/.364 in 24 PA

A large part of Hairston’s job is to perform as a pinch-hitter and it certainly is a knock against him to be hitting below the Mendoza Line here. Hey, would it be piling on to point out it’s still significantly better production than Turner (as a starter) in his last 54 PA?

Right now we could use a little more context. According to Baseball-Reference, the National League average for subs (what I referred to as “bench” above) is a .225/.297/.320 slash line for a .617 OPS. For the season Hairston has a .614 OPS in this role. So, what on the surface looks like lousy production is actually league average when we view it in its proper context.

Hairston is a league-average bench player who has performed quite well when given a chance to start. He’s also a RH power bat, which the club does not have many options for replacements, as Nick Evans failed to produce in his latest limited stint with the club.

So, this is a serious question – Do you think Turner could be a suitable replacement for Hairston as power RH bat off the bench? Because his ability to play numerous infield positions is definitely a point in his favor when the decision on who to cut comes about when the disabled corner infielders return.

His 17-game hot streak aside, Turner is not a guy we should view as a starter. So, is he merely a defensive replacement or is he also a viable bat off the bench? I can see an argument being made that his performance so far in RBI situations make him someone you would want off the bench in a key situation with ducks on the pond.

But even if you think Turner would be great in this role, hopefully you will reconsider your view on Hairston. Instead of counting down the days until the Mets can cut him, we should view him as a perfectly acceptable bench player, one with power and the ability to play multiple outfield positions.

Harris, on the other hand, we can cut him any day you like.

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Will Pridie remain when Pagan returns?

When the Mets placed Angel Pagan on the disabled list, they surprised some by recalling Jason Pridie to take his place. Pridie was not hitting early in Triple-A, and some thought Nick Evans deserved a shot for getting the short end of the stick in the past or that prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis merited a promotion based on his early production at Buffalo.

But with Pagan down and the Mets unwilling to play Carlos Beltran in center field, Evans had little shot of getting the call. And the Mets would have had to add Nieuwenhuis to the 40-man roster to promote him to the majors, something they were not ready to do. So almost by default it became Pridie, despite his .582 OPS in the International League.

Originally a second-round selection of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Pridie was taken one pick ahead of Joey Votto. While no one expected big power numbers from him, the scouting reports said that Pridie could do a little bit of everything and he drew comparisons to both Johnny Damon and Steve Finley, two players who had success in the majors over long periods of time.

Pridie did not burn up the minors, but he proved enough to be selected by the Twins in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft. He did not last the year in the majors with Minnesota and eventually wound up back with Tampa Bay before the end of the year. But the Twins eventually got him back, as he was included in the big Matt GarzaDelmon Young trade between the two clubs after the 2007 season.

The combination of Denard Span and Carlos Gomez made Pridie expendable in Minnesota and he was waived by the Twins prior to the start of Spring Training last year. He was signed by the Mets and played adequately in 40 games at Triple-A, where he posted a .280/.330/.384 line. He still showed good speed and defensive ability, but hardly the power that was expected back when he was drafted.

Pridie had a shot to win a backup job for the Mets in Spring Training, but he did not play well in the Grapefruit League and was easily beaten out by both Willie Harris and Scott Hairston for the reserve outfield positions. But the Pagan injury punched his ticket back to the majors.

In his brief time this year with the Mets, three of his seven hits have gone for extra-bases, including two home runs. In six games as a starter with the Mets, the club has gone 4-2, not including last night’s win when Pridie replaced Hairston and played the final seven innings in the Mets’ 2-1 win.

At age 27, and with 1,662 PA at Triple-A under his belt, Pridie has nothing left to gain by playing in the minors. So the question becomes: Should the Mets keep him when Pagan is ready to return from the disabled list?

Pridie can play all three outfield positions and looks comfortable out in center field. Meanwhile, neither Hairston nor Harris has been playing all that great here in the early going. But those two both offer something that the lefty-hitting Pridie does not, which may ultimately be the reason he returns to Triple-A.

Harris has the ability to play the infield while Hairston is a righty batter. Right now the only other major league caliber righty hitter on the bench is Ronny Paulino and most managers bend over backwards not to use their backup catcher unless it is absolutely necessary.

So, Hairston may wind up staying over Pridie, even though Hairston has not been a good hitter since the first half of the 2009 season. Pridie’s best hope to remain with the Mets, outside of maintaining his .538 SLG mark, is that the Mets cut ties with Chin-lung Hu, leaving Justin Turner to spell Jose Reyes if the Mets’ leadoff hitter is ever held out of the lineup.

Is Scott Hairston a good fourth outfielder?

A month-and-a-half after being non-tendered by the Padres, the Mets signed Scott Hairston to a one-year, $1.1 million deal, with an extra $400,000 in performance bonuses. Hairston, who played in 104 games for the Padres last year, should be the Mets’ fourth outfielder. He has some sock in his bat and is capable of playing all three outfield positions.

This move has been met with a collective yawn by the fan base. What has probably drawn the most reaction is who the Mets (did not) cut from the 40-man roster to make room for Hairston. With the additions of Hairston and Chris Young, the Mets cut Jason Pridie and Tobi Stoner from the roster. Some felt this was the perfect time to cut Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez.

I’d like to compare Hairston to another Mets outfield acquisition from the recent past. Here are their numbers in the year before being acquired by New York:

Hairston — .210/.295/.346 for an 80 OPS+
Player A — .250/.336/.361 for an 85 OPS+

Pretty similar, wouldn’t you say? Okay, how about their lifetime marks?

Hairston — .245/.303/.435 for a 94 OPS+
Player A — .257/.332/.405 for a 92 OPS+

Again, these guys look pretty similar. How are they defensively? Last year, Hairston saw the vast majority of his time in LF, where he had a -3 DRS and a -7.7 UZR/150. Previously he had been a solid defender, with a lifetime UZR/150 of 7.2 in LF and 7.7 in CF.

Meanwhile, Player A spent most of his previous year before coming to the Mets playing CF, where he posted a -9 DRS and a -42.9 UZR/150. In RF he had a DRS of 1 and a UZR/150 of 1.8 that same season. Lifetime, he had a UZR/150 of -3.1 in CF and 16.5 in RF.

OK, since neither guy was acquired to be a starter, how were they at pinch-hitting?

Hairston was 3-20 last year as a pinch-hitter and in his career had just a .170 AVG (17-100) in the role. Player A was 5-11 as a PH in the year before going to the Mets and had a .238 AVG (24-101) in the role.

Speed? Hairston was successful on six of his seven SB attempts last year and has a career-high of 11 SB. Player A came to the Mets successful on four of his five SB attempts the previous year and had a career-high of 18 SB. Power? Hairston had back-to-back 17 HR seasons before hitting 10 last year. Player A had back-to-back years of 19 and 18 before hitting 4 HR the year before he joined the Mets.

These two guys seem on the surface to be pretty similar. Have you figured out who Player A is yet? It’s our old favorite, Gary Matthews Jr.

Now, there are certainly reasons to prefer Hairston, not the least of which is that he is four years younger than Matthews was when the Mets acquired him. Also, Matthews came with two years remaining on his contract, with the Mets responsible for $1 million per year.

But Omar Minaya was raked over the coals for acquiring Matthews while the Hairston deal has barely registered. Last year the club was in more need of having a backup center fielder on the roster, with Carlos Beltran out for an unspecified time and only unproven Angel Pagan on the roster. This year, Beltran is supposed to be ready at the start of Spring Training and Pagan has proven he can handle CF on a regular basis.

I want Hairston to come in and hit like he did in the first half of 2009, when he had a .299/.358/.533 line in 216 PA. But the reality is in 584 PA since then, Hairston has hit for some power (17 HR in 528 ABs) but has delivered very little of anything else, including a .222 AVG. He has shown no special PH ability and last year’s defensive numbers, while not definitive of a decline, are at the very least worthy of an eyebrow raise.

Hairston seems like a perfectly reasonable fourth OF, although perhaps a bit expensive for a team counting every nickel and dime. The fan reaction to his signing seems appropriate. Hopefully he will give the Mets more production than Matthews did last year and not strike out in 41.4 percent of his ABs.

The silver lining is that at least he won’t start over Pagan on Opening Day.