We all knew it was unlikely that he was coming back to the Indians, the team he called home since being brought here in a trade with the Rangers in 2002. But sometimes it is where a player lands after a distinguished tenure that makes the reality sting a bit more. Our favorite Project Donkey, generally known as Pronk, and likely known only as Travis Hafner to his wife and parents, is headed to the Yankees.
Pronk is a great hitter. I still believe this, and don’t know if I can prove it to skeptics, but I do. This I know: like so many who have played baseball, a number of factors did not always allow him to bear it out in terms of the sheer numbers. Injuries started to pile on soon after he managed to establish himself as one of the most feared middle-of-the-lineup threats in the American League. His four-year statistical slash-line from 2004 to 2007 was most impressive; averaging a robust .296 average, /31.8 HRs/108.5 RBI in that span. He received serious MVP consideration over the next two years; finishing fifth in the voting in 2005, and eighth in 2006. It appeared that the burly North Dakotan’s rise was just beginning to take flight.
But as it so often happens, the narrative appears too good to be true for reality. The right-field bleachers, newly christened as Pronkville in hopes that a hailstorm of launched cowhide would be shot over the wall with bad intentions and high frequency, became a relative ghost town other than a few occasional moments of familiar brilliance like this.
Now he’s headed to the Yankees. And I’m hoping his health permits him the ability to use the short right-field porch in Yankee Stadium to his advantage, because he will if he can. (As long as it’s not at our expense.)
Good luck, Pronk.