Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hinske = AL East title

What went wrong with the Rays this season? Simple. We can sum that up in two words: Eric Hinske.

Hinske, who hit 20 home runs and drove in 60 RBIs in a very non-Burrell season in 2008, is headed to the playoffs with his third team in three years. This time it's the Yankees, who won the AL East title last Sunday.

That makes it three seasons, three AL East titles for Hinske.

He was with the Red Sox in 2007. The Rays signed him to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training before the 2008 season.

Hinske, who was not resigned with the Rays after last year and signed with the Pirates instead, ended up in the Bronx after a June trade.

He mentioned that fact to Rays manager Joe Maddon the last time the Yankees were in town.

With the Yankees the favorites to win the World Series this October/November, Hinske has a chance to do what Don Baylor did in the late-1980s - reach the World Series in three consecutive years with three different teams.

Baylor played for the Red Sox in 1986, the Twins in 1987 and the A's in 1988.

The Red Sox blew the series in the famous Game 6 collapse and a Game 7 collapse that no one seems to remember, and the A's were upset by the Dodgers. In between Baylor won a World Series ring with the Twins.

Hinske celebrated the World Series title with the Red Sox in 2007 and made the last out against the Phillies in 2008.

His absence this year could be one reason the Rays stumbled to a third place finish. The '08 Rays were energized by the presence of such veterans as Hinske, Cliff Floyd and Trever Miller.

The Rays need a lot of things if they want to return to the postseason in 2010 - a closer, a catcher, a designated hitter.

Maybe they should resign Hinske for his karma.

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