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Still Not Finished

"I've been talking to Jerry a lot," Bruce said Friday at Redsfest. "He should come back. He'd play center, lead off, and we'd win."

Bruce said Hairston is considering Seattle and Philadelphia as well as the Reds.

Hairston's coming off a big bounceback season with the Reds, in which he batted .326 over 300 PAs with reasonable power and versatility and excellent speed. It was exactly the sort of season he needed, as his awful spells in 2006 and 2007 threatened to bring a premature end to his career.

However, as much as last year represented a departure from Hairston's recent past, it was fueled by an unsustainable .361 BABIP and 27.5% LD%. Hitting the ball on a line is great and all, but Hairston's career BABIP is .288, and it's unlikely that he suddenly learned how to hit like a superstar at age 32. It's more likely that his true talent level lies closer to his .260/.330/.370 career slash stats. And that, of course, is a few miles below where Hairston ended up in 2008.

Which isn't real bad for a backup, mind you. It's just a lot more human. Were Hairston to end up with Seattle, I imagine he'd take over as both middle infield insurance and the 5th OF. I know we just grabbed Reegie Corona in the Rule 5 Draft, but I don't think anyone's looking for him to get 200 at bats, so this team needs to find someone who can be counted on to back up Betancourt and Lopez in the event that one of them gets hurt or needs a day off. And while I'm not sold that Hairston's bat is any better than Tuglett's, Hairston offers a little more versatility, so whatever. It's a minor role, but a necessary one, and it's not like Hairston would cost us a fortune. No matter how this turns out, I don't particularly care either way.

Fun fact: Jerry Hairston Jr. is an infield pop-up machine. Nothing quite like a veteran to put Lopez and Betancourt in their place.