Last off-season, the Padres signed Cliff Floyd. This was weird because the Padres were still located within the National League and Floyd’s knees were discovered alongside Ardi years ago. Floyd was fresh off a season with the World Series runners-up and immediately became the Padres’ designated pinch hitter. He appeared in 10 games, walked once, and hit two singles. The coincidences aren’t damning, but Matt Stairs may want to glance over his apparently slim shoulders come springtime.
The deal is of the minor league variety, meaning Stairs is hardly guaranteed a roster spot. Evidently his role could be similar to that of Floyd’s; which is to say, the left-handed pinch hitter and clubhouse presence extraordinaire. The rest of the Padres’ bench seems settled though; Jerry Hairston Jr. will play everywhere, Dusty Ryan will be the back-up catcher, Salazar will be the right-handed pinch hitter, and one of the other outfielders (presumably Scott Hairston or Tony Gwynn Jr.) will take the other bench spot.
Trying to project a 40-something pinch hitter’s offensive performance is an unenviable task. I hesitate to compare Stairs to Lenny Harris, since he walks more than Harris ever did and Stairs is yet to go through a season where he’s exactly -1 WAR off the bench (which Harris did in 2003 despite impressively only appearing in 88 games). CHONE calls him a below average hitter and fielder who will come oh-so-close to that -1 WAR mark, but I’m hopeful CHONE is wrong.
The odd thing about Harris – which I guess isn’t so odd when you consider the sample size – is how he was able to produce one final string of plate appearances as an above average hitter before bowing away in 2005. I don’t know if this is Stairs’ final year or what his plans are, and there is little doubt that Stairs is a player with an immense amount of cult appeal which he’ll continue to hold long after his playing days are done.
A large part of that appeal stems from his mustache (amongst the universal rules in life: you must respect a man with a nice lip sweater) and I guess what I’m saying is: I hope Stairs and his mustache go out on top. Whether that comes with the Padres or whatever contender he latches onto in August. He’s not the most useful player anymore; he’s just fun to watch.
Print This Post