Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A truly puzzling trade

The Rangers have traded Phil Nevin to the Cubs for Jerry Hairston. I'm perplexed, to say the least. This is nothing more than a junk-for-junk deal, but, I mean, this is really bad junk.

First, the Cubs. What the hell? They just traded for a DH when their own first baseman will be back in a little more than a month, at which point Nevin will be useless. Granted, Hairston hasn't done much for them, this year or last, but I can't imagine Nevin doing a whole lot more than he is right now. His projections for this season (courtesy of Baseball Prospectus) are .270/.326/.458, which isn't terrible until you consider that these were his projections in the American League, playing half of his games in Arlington. And even playing two months in Texas so far, his .216/.307/.415 line this season is well below that projection. Not exactly the "guy who can hit one out of the park" that Jim Hendry was looking for, despite his hot start.

Also, if Nevin plays first base, Todd Walker will presumably move back to second and give them one of the worst right-side infield defenses in baseball. None of the reports that I've read have specified how much of Nevin's salary will be picked up by Texas, but unless it's a virtual salary wash, I don't see how this trade helps the Cubs.

As for Texas, it's hard to see what Hairston's role will be. Before Ian Kinsler came off the DL, Mark DeRosa was playing well enough to steal some at bats as a super-utility type when Kinsler came back. But that would presumably be Hairston's role. With the infield full, DeRosa as the first option behind most of them, and Jason Botts just called up to DH in Nevin's place, I don't see where Hairston fits in.

It seems that the Rangers are committed to Botts as the DH, since they've traded away everyone who could have blocked him since Cornell alum John Daniels took over. If he hits well and the Rangers end up saving some money on this deal, then it should at least give them some more wiggle room at the trade deadline. Provided that they can justify a roster spot for Hairston in the meantime, this deal looks like a win for the Rangers.

And it warrants mentioning that in less than a year on the job, Daniels has gotten Jim Hendry to fork over John Koronka for Freddy freaking Bynum, and gotten him to take Nevin off of his hands. Keep Hendry on your speed dial, John.


Sully said...

It looks like the Cubs are actually going to make money off of this trade. They're only paying $1 million of Nevin's salary this year, while the Rangers are absorbing all of Hairston's salary (a little more than $1.5 million the rest of the year). That's surprising, and it almost makes this deal a push.

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