I haven’t been able to post for awhile because of the terrible flooding and heavy rains that have hit the Central New York region since Tuesday. We had to turn the power off in our house, which means I’ve had no access to my home computer.
Hopefully, we’ll be able to get things back to normal in the next couple of days.
Take care, everyone.
In their continuing search for veteran outfield help, the Yankees really just need to find the 2006 equivalent of Mel Hall: a platoon player who can bash right-handed pitching. Of course, it would help if the new Mel Hall could field a little bit better and draw a few more walks than the old version, but when the trade pickings are slim, you have to settle. The Hall comparison fits well with the hottest name on the Yankee rumor mill, that being the Cubs’ Jacque Jones. Like Hall, Jones can’t hit lefties and doesn’t draw walks, and he throws even more erratically from his post in right field. But he figures to come cheap, given Chicago’s interest in unloading the balance of his three-year contract (which includes an average salary of $4.5 million in 2007 and ’08), and will probably cost no more than two grade-B prospects. The Cubs will likely ask for Melky Cabrera, but might end up settling for a package of lefty Sean Henn and right-hander Steven White… If the Yankees can pull off a deal for Jones, they’ll platoon him in right field with Bernie Williams, which should be an acceptable arrangement until Gary Sheffield returns in mid-September. The acquisition of Jones might also result in a parting of the ways with both Carlos Pena and Erubiel Durazo, who remain stuck in neutral at Triple-A Columbus… While Jacque Jones has moved to the head of the list among trade candidates, the Yankees are also developing a list of contingency plans. Plan B is Washington Nationals property Ryan Church, who continues to struggle at Triple-A New Orleans and can be had for a song. Plan C is Seattle’s Raul Ibanez, whose surprisingly good season in the great Northwest has lifted his trade value to unprecedented heights. And Plan D is more or less keeping the status quo (not the best of ideas), with a rejuvenated Bernie Williams receiving the bulk of the playing time in right field, backed up by late-inning caddy Bubba Crosby…
Earlier in the week, a Philadelphia writer suggested the Phillies might have to settle for Jaret Wright as compensation for Bobby Abreu. If that deal happened, it would be the greatest Yankee steal since Col. Ruppert procured Babe Ruth from the Red Sox for a large sum of CASH. I understand that Phillies fans are frustrated over Abreu’s perceived lack of clutch hitting and that Phillie management would love to unload the remainder of his slightly bloated contract, but they have to acquire more than Clyde Wright’s boy for their best all-round player. GM Pat Gillick is smart enough to realize that he’ll have to demand either super-prospect Philip Hughes, or a package featuring secondary prospects like Eric Duncan, Sean Henn, Matt DeSalvo, and T.J. Beam…
We’ve almost hit July, and yet no managers have become extinct this season. That doesn’t mean the trend will continue. If the Phillies don’t start to make a run at the Mets in the NL East, Pat Gillick may have no choice but to fire Charlie Manuel, whose game strategy is questioned almost nightly by the Philly faithful. (Why does he continue to bat Jimmy Rollins leadoff, the talk show hosts want to know?) The same can be said of the Cubs and Dusty Baker. While the Cubs don’t need to make a playoff push to keep Baker in the Wrigley Field dugout, they do need to show some semblance of improvement over the next two months. Baker’s handling of his starting pitchers and his odd placement of batters in his lineups continue to undermine what had been such a favorable reputation in San Francisco. Was Baker really an effective manager in the Bay Area, or he was simply the recipient of the good fortune of having Barry Bonds in his lineup every day?… One manager who appears safe is Eric Wedge, despite the Indians’ lofty status as the Great Underachievers of 2006. GM Mark Shapiro continues to believe in Wedge as a manager; if the GM makes changes, it will involve some minor trades, possibly involving platoon first baseman Eduardo Perez and third baseman Aaron Boone, or a major deal centered on closer Bob Wickman.
As baseball fans, we love the game so much that the season tends to fly by—much more quickly than we’d like. Perhaps that’s why it seems impossible that Delmon Young’s 50-game minor league suspension has ended already. At first, I thought that the International League had reduced the suspension, but no, the 50 games have simply come and gone. Somehow, I think that it felt more like a hundred and 50 games to Young, who remains the Devil Rays’ No. 1 prospect but may have seen his major league debut pushed back from this September to sometime in 2007…
Speaking of Young, there are whispers coming out of Detroit that his brother Dmitri may not return to the major leagues this summer because of recent domestic violence charges brought against him. If that’s the case, the Tigers will face even more pressure to complete a deal for a left-handed slugger. Earlier this season, we heard rumors of the Bengals pursuing a trade for either Cliff Floyd or Barry Bonds. The latest scuttlebutt has the Tigers talking to the Devil Rays about Aubrey Huff, who has been mired in a mysterious season-long slump. At 29, Huff is too young to be considered over-the-hill, and might just be the kind of player who’d be rejuvenated by a trade to an overachieving pennant contender…
While the Angels continue to fight the Indians for the right to be called baseball’s biggest underachiever this summer, their front office continues to slump, a carryover from an unproductive offseason. The other day, the Angels made room on their roster for a rehabbing Bartolo Colon by demoting rookie right-hander Jered Weaver to Triple-A Salt Lake City, despite the fact that the 23-year-old right-hander had won all four of his starts while spinning a 1.37 ERA. The Angels explained that Weaver was a victim of the numbers game, but it makes no sense for a last-place team to demote its hottest starting pitcher. At the same time, the Angels sent out a dangerous message to all players in their organization—that guaranteed salaries and payroll issues matter more than the ability to produce. At the very least, the Angels could have kept Weaver on the roster by using him in middle relief, a philosophy often espoused by Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver (no relation). As The Earl of Baltimore correctly reasoned, the relatively low-pressure job of middle relief provides an excellent, low-stress way of indoctrinating a young pitcher into the major leagues…
Jorge Posada’s hot start at bat this season had some of his fans on the internet championing his climb on the Yankees’ all-time catching roster, putting him ahead of the likes of Thurman Munson. I had to bite my tongue when I heard those ill-advised commentaries, but lately Posada’s defensive play isn’t reminding anyone of Munson, who was a superior defensive catcher. On Monday night, Posada failed to block a low slider that Kyle Farnsworth had thrown for strike three, resulting in an eighth-inning insurance run for the Phillies. The play was properly called a wild pitch, but it was a ball that a good catcher would have smothered and kept near home plate. And on Saturday, Posada’s poor throw to second base on Alfonso Soriano’s steal attempt allowed the former Yankee to score all the way from first base, as the Nationals tied the game on their way to a comeback victory. Posada’s inability to block low pitches and lack of consistent throwing have only added to New York’s defensive problems in recent days, as the injury-plagued Yankees have dropped eight of their last 11 games…
Finally, Monday’s transactions were not kind to journeyman players. Four vagabond veterans were given their walking papers, either designated for assignment or outright released. The group included Red Sox first baseman J.T. Snow (designated for assignment), Twins third baseman Tony Batista (released), Rangers reliever Antonio "Six Finger" Alfonseca (released), and Reds reliever Rick White (designated for assignment). Batista might have hit the end of the road, but don’t be surprised if the other three find jobs with teams that fancy themselves as contenders.
It’s a little hard to swallow, given that Atlanta hasn’t missed the playoffs since the administration of the original George Bush, but the first sign of a Braves’ surrender is upon us. According to whispers out of Georgia, the Braves are now shopping Marcus Giles, a sign that the gap between them and the Mets–and between them and the wild card–may be too great. Giles’ knack for injury is part of the reason for Atlanta’s thinking, along with the belief that the younger and cheaper Wilson Betemit could fill the hole at second base. Unfortunately for the Braves, few pennant contenders need second basemen; one of those teams is the Mets, but it’s unlikely that the Braves want to be seen as helping their Eastern Division rivals. Still, a prime suitor could be found in the National League Central, where the Cardinals realize their major league roster needs fortification. Aaron Miles has played decently at second base, but the Cardinals believe they can do better. And then there’s a possibility north of the border; the Blue Jays not only need a second baseman but have some young minor league talent that Atlanta would find useful… There are some non-contenders that could use help at second base, such as the Cubs, but it’s debatable whether Chicago will be in a buying model. The Cubs would also need to find a taker for Todd Walker, who will be forced to move back to the middle infield once Derrek Lee returns from the disabled list…
While the Cardinals make efforts to improve their middle infield, their top priority remains left field. They’ve targeted Pittsburgh’s Craig Wilson as their No. 1 choice, but Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield is not a wheeler-dealer type who will make a move quickly. He has asked about St. Louis’ top pitching prospect Anthony Reyes, which gives you a sense that he is looking for someone to overpay for Wilson. Littlefield needs to be careful here; if he fails to trade Wilson because of overpricing, he will lose him to free agency. There is no chance that the “Blond Bomber,” who remains dissatisfied with his playing time, will return to Pittsburgh in 2007…
If you’re looking for reasons why Allard Baird is no longer the general manager in Kansas City, just consider the asking price he placed on the Yankees when they inquired about veteran outfielder Reggie Sanders. Baird wanted Philip Hughes, the Yankees’ top pitching prospect and one of the top 10 pitching prospects in the game. When general managers make such outrageous trade proposals, they don’t really succeed in driving up the asking price, just in ticking off other general managers. They develop reputations for being difficult to deal with, which leads other GMs to think twice before even picking up the phone.
Thursday was not a good day for coaches. In Washington, Nationals manager Frank Robinson fired bullpen coach John Wetteland for allowing too many hijinks to take place in the bullpen. (Coincidentally, this came only five days after the passing of Moe Drabowsky, the No. 1 bullpen prankster of all-time.) In San Diego, the Padres fired batting coach Dave Magadan, replacing him with former Braves and Tigers batting instructor Merv Rettenmund. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Rettenmund, who played for the Padres back in the late 1970s and then served as the team’s batting instructor from 1991 to 1999.
June 15 used to be an important day in baseball. The date once marked the old trading deadline, a date that remained in effect until the current deadline for making trades (July 31) became standard operating procedure. As a young fan in the seventies and eighties, I used to wait anxiously on this day, wondering whether one of my favorite teams–the Yankees, Pirates, or A’s–would do something to strengthen themseves for the second-half pennant run.
Thirty years ago, the most memorable trading deadline of my lifetime took place, consuming the back pages of newspapers for days. Ever controversial in the ways that he ran a ballclub, Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley sold off three star players as part of a blockbuster housecleaning. Finley sent Gold Glove left fielder Joe Rudi and ace reliever Rollie Fingers to the Boston Red Sox for $1 million apiece, and No. 1 starter Vida Blue to the New York Yankees for $1.5 million.
The moves signaled that the A’s had conceded the American League West while allowing to Finley rid himself of three players he had no intention of signing once they became free agents at the end of the 1976 season. At the same time, the trade figured to have major ramifications on the American League East pennant race, where the defending league champion Boston Red Sox were trying to stave off the new-and-improved New York Yankees and the always formidable Baltimore Orioles.
Alas, Fingers and Rudi would not be able to help the Red Sox, while Blue would not rejoin former teammate Jim "Catfish" Hunter in New York. Why? Three days after the player sales, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn voided the moves, saying they were "not in the best interests of baseball." Kuhn ordered the players to return to Oakland, but owner Finley would not allow manager Chuck Tanner to use any of them in a game until June 27. Finley’s decision might well have cost the A’s the postseason, considering they lost the AL West by just a pair of games.
Finley’s finagling aside, the June 15th trading deadline had its share of watershed moments. Let’s consider a few other blockbusters that were allowed to take place, thereby changing the outcomes of a few pennant races.
*On June 15, 1964, the St. Louis Cardinals made one of their best trades ever, acquiring outfielder Lou Brock from the Chicago Cubs for pitchers Ernie Broglio and Bobby Shantz and outfielder Doug Clemens. In the short term, Brock would help the Cardinals win the National League pennant and the World Series in 1964; over the long haul, Brock would set the all-time stolen base record and reach the 3,000-hit mark.
*On June 15, 1969, the New York Mets made one of their best trades ever by acquiring first baseman Donn Clendenon from the Montreal Expos for infielder Kevin Collins and pitchers Steve Renko, Bill Carden, and Dave Colon. Clendenon would hit 12 home runs over the second half of the season and help the Mets to their first World Championship.
*On June 15, 1977, the Mets made arguably their worst trade ever by dealing franchise pitcher Tom Seaver just moments before the trading deadline. In an unpopular move, the Mets sent Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds for four lesser players: second baseman Doug Flynn, outfielders Steve Henderson and Dan Norman, and pitcher Pat Zachry. Seaver would go on to win 75 games for the Reds in five and a half seasons. Flynn, Henderson, and Zachry would be given important roles in New York, but all three players would flame out as Mets regulars.
*On June 15, 1983, the Mets rebounded from the Seaver disaster by acquiring first baseman Keith Hernandez from the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers Neil Allen and Rick Ownbey. Solidifying the team at first base and cementing the No. 3 spot in the batting order, the onetime MVP would help the Mets win the World Series in 1986.
The culture of baseball is a little less rich today. We lost one of the all-time colorful characters on Saturday when Moe Drabowsky died from bone marrow cancer at the age of 70. Drabowsky was a journeyman pitcher for much of the 1960s and early 1970s, but gained far more acclaim for his extraordinary abilities as a practical joker. In fact, Moe–and how can you not love the name Moe Drabowsky?–might have been the greatest prankster the game has ever known.
Let’s consider some of Drabowsky’s most comical stunts:
*Moe regularly ordered Chinese food from the bullpen phone, once placing a direct call to Hong Kong for some takeout. I doubt that Drabowsky’s orders were ever actually delivered to the bullpen, but the habit was reminiscent of a moment in Seinfeld when Elaine once ordered Chinese food and had it delivered to a janitor’s closet.
*Drabowsky wasn’t satisfied with giving hotfoots to teammates and other players; he once found a victim in Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Laying out a trail of lighter fluid from the trainer’s room to the clubhouse, Drabowsky set the commissioner’s foot on fire. And by using the trail of lighter fluid, he made it more difficult for Kuhn to find out who had been the perpetrator.
*In a game between the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City A’s, Drabowsky pulled off what is generally considered his most famous practical joke. With A’s pitcher Jim “Jumbo” Nash mowing down Drabowsky’s Orioles, the troublemaking right-hander called Kansas City’s bullpen, impersonated the voice of A’s manager Alvin Dark, and ordered reliever Lew Krausse to begin warming up. With Baltimore relievers howling in the bullpen, Nash became so unnerved at the site of warm-up activity that he lost his composure and began getting shelled by Orioles hitters.
*After the 1968 season, Drabowsky departed the Orioles when he was left unprotected in the expansion draft and was taken by the Kansas City Royals. Drabowsky exacted some “revenge” in 1969, when he sent the American League champion Orioles a six-foot-long boa constrictor during the World Series. Coincidentally or not, the Orioles went on to lose the Series in five games to the upstart New York Mets.
Such hijinx overshadowed Drabowsky’s pitching abilities, which were certainly respectable. At one time a highly touted young starter with the Chicago Cubs, Moe became an effective reliever for the Orioles during the mid-1960s. In Game One of the 1966 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he became downright Herculean. Relieving Dave McNally early in Game One, Drabowsky came on to pitch six and two-thirds innings of one-hit ball and set a World Series record for relievers by striking out 11 Los Angeles Dodgers. Buttressed by Drabowsky, the Orioles won Game One, setting the tone for a surprising four-game sweep of Los Angeles.
It was the hallmark moment in a career filled with hotfoots, six-foot snakes, and crank phone calls. Thanks, Moe, for making the game fun.
Now that the Yankees know with some certainty that Gary Sheffield will be sidelined until at least September, they’ll have to trade for a veteran corner outfielder with some power. They’ve been able to ride out Hideki Matsui’s injury because of Melky Cabrera’s strong throwing arm and patience at the plate, but they can’t push their luck with another minor league replacement. Kevin Thompson is an excellent defensive outfielder, but he projects as a platoon or part-time player and simply doesn’t have the power ideally needed from a corner outfielder. There have been all sorts of rumors about players the Yankees will pursue, but let’s begin with the false candidates that have been championed in some corners of the mass media… Ken Griffey, Jr. makes little sense; he’s aging and injury prone, two qualities the Yankees already have in overstock. Pat Burrell and Bobby Abreu will cost two much in terms of prospects, specifically Philip Hughes, who has been placed in an untouchable container by the Yankee front office. Xavier Nady won’t happen either, if only because the Mets and Yankees rarely make meaningful in-season trades with each other… On the other hand, several names do make sense for the Bombers. David Dellucci has become a hood ornament in Philadelphia, where’s he’s been wasted by Charlie Manuel, and can be had at a reasonable price (Sean Henn and/or Matt DeSalvo). Buried in the Nationals’ organization, Ryan Church remains very much available, probably at the middling cost of a B-level pitching prospect. And then there’s the Diamondback duo of Jeff DaVanon and Shawn Green, either of whom could be cleared out to make room for a younger outfielder. Green would cost more for the Yankees in terms of talent, but he’s far from an untouchable and could be pried loose without having to surrender a talent like Hughes in return…
The Blue Jays are convinced—and rightly so—that they’re a good middle infield away from overtaking either the Yankees or the Red Sox. Knowing that Aaron Hill Russ Adams aren’t the answers, the Jays continue to talk to the Devil Rays about Julio Lugo and the Angels about Adam Kennedy. Lugo would be a perfect fit at shortstop; he has good range on artificial turf and would give the Jays a needed basestealing threat. It’s debatable whether the Rays would take Shea Hillenbrand in return, though he would certainly be an upgrade over Travis Lee at first base…
Finally, the Mets did well in obtaining a warm body from the Rockies for Kaz Matsui, who had become an albatross on Willie Randolph’s bench. Eli Marrero is nothing spectacular, but he is a versatile bench player with some power who gives the Mets a third-string catcher and a backup outfielder. If Randolph so desires, he can use Ramon Castro as a pinch-hitter in close games and still have an emergency catcher available in Marrero.
"Symposium" is one of those dreaded words that academic types use from time to time. I don’t know exactly what it means, but whenever I hear the word symposium, I think of Cooperstown in early June. That’s because the National Baseball Hall of Fame has sponsored an annual baseball symposium for the last 18 years, with baseball scholars from around the country gathering in our small village to talk baseball during the early days of June.
The Symposium gives baseball fans and diehards like myself a chance to watch numerous presentations on the game of baseball as it pertains to the American culture. A wide array of topics are explored, including baseball and racism, baseball and politics, even baseball and sexuality. The presentations–there are 30 scheduled over the next three days–will make you think about baseball in different ways; I’ve attended the Symposium every year since 1995, and there’s never been a year I haven’t learned something new about the National Pastime.
This year, I’ll be presenting at the Symposium for the first time ever. I’ll be talking about the Pirates’ all-black lineup from 1971 and then taking questions from the audience. One of the highlights of this year’s event will be today’s keynote speech, which will feature former Negro Leagues players Stanley Glenn and Mahlon Duckett. They’ll surely be asked a few questions about some of the 17 former Negro Leagues standouts who will be entering the Hall of Fame later this year.
The Symposium, however, is not a headline event. There will be little to no media coverage, and you almost surely won’t hear your local baseball broadcasters talking about it during major league games this week. But it’s a wonderful experience, one that gives diehard fans of the game a little something different to think about when discussing what happens to be new in baseball.
Here are a few "bunts and boots" to keep you busy on a Monday afternoon:
In spite of a rough week against the Yankees and Red Sox, the Tigers still maintain baseball’s best record through the first nine weeks of the season. And since people around Detroit are starting to believe in this team’s staying power, we’re hearing all sorts of rumors about the Tigers making a trade for some veteran supplements. Over the past week, various reports have indicated the Tigers would like to trade for a left-handed bat with power, in order to balance what is a heavily right-handed batting order (i.e Pudge Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez, Chris Shelton). The lack of balance has become even more problematic given the absence of the switch-hitting Dmitri Young, who remains on the disabled list. The first name to emerge from the rumor mill is that of the Mets’ Cliff Floyd, who has hit well in recent days after a slow start but can become a free agent at season’s end. The other name being mentioned is none other than the Giants’ Barry Bonds, also a free agent and a player no longer capable of playing a respectable left field. While both Floyd and Bonds are probably longshots because their current teams are contenders, do not be surprised to see the Tigers sacrifice some young pitching from a deep farm system in exchange for a potent southpaw slugger…
How great is baseball’s unpredictability? On the verge of being released and watching his career come to an end just about a month ago, the ageless Jose Valentin is now making a case to be the Mets’ everyday second baseman. Having looked like he was ready for the Senior League in April and May, Valentin started his sixth consecutive game at second base and hit his fifth home run of the season on Sunday. With Kaz Matsui reverting to his 2005 ways at the plate and Anderson Hernandez trying to find his batting stroke at Triple-A Norfolk, it is Valentin who is now making a rather incredible run at Comeback Player of the Year honors. And while it’s unlikely that Valentin can sustain his recent level of play on an everyday basis, he has at the very least stopped the bleeding for the Mets at a position that has become a perennial problem…
It is absolutely dumbfounding that the Yankees, with all of the monetary resources at their disposal, have resorted to signing and promoting washed-up players like Scott Erickson and Terrence Long to their major league roster. While the wave of injuries has hit high tide in recent days in the Bronx, there’s simply no excuse to carry a player like Long, let alone play him regularly in the outfield. Like Omar Moreno in his latter days (Yankee fans from the eighties remember that), Long has no strengths: he’s a lifetime .270 hitter who doesn’t walk, hit for power, steal bases, or play particularly well anywhere in the outfield. As for Erickson, he hasn’t been a credible major leaguer since 1999. He hasn’t been a particularly good influence in the clubhouse during that span of time, either. A few years back, he and Albert Belle served as the ringleaders of a protest against the Orioles having to play an in-season exhibition game against their longstanding Triple-A affiliate in Rochester. Unfortunately, Erickson’s antics led to the discontinuation of the game, and sadly, the Players’ Association followed suit by not allowing major league teams to entertain their minor league affiliates in head-to-head exhibitions…
On a lighter note, I saw where Milwaukee’s Geoff Jenkins had to leave Sunday’s game after a collision with hefty teammate Prince Fielder. I’m surprised that Jenkins didn’t die. Hopefully, he’ll be able to avoid the 60-day disabled list. (Actually, after seeing the replay of the incident, it’s lucky for Jenkins that Fielder wasn’t running at full speed when the collision occurred. Fielder was only in about second gear, thus preventing Jenkins from being steamrolled into the right-field chalkline.
I received some good news from Westholme Publishing today regarding sales of The Team That Changed Baseball. According to publisher Bruce Franklin, the book has virtually sold out its first printing, thus creating the necessity for a second printing.
Speaking of the book, it’s time for this week’s trivia question regarding the 1971 Pirates. The first person to post the correct answer will win a pair of 1972 Topps Pirate cards. And aaaaway we go!
Which member of the 1971 Pirates was nicknamed "Buster?"
Which member of the 1971 Pirates was nicknamed "Buster?"
The Blue Jays aren’t fooling themselves into thinking that the recently signed Edgardo Alfonzo will solve their middle infield problems. They were prepared to trade Shea Hillenbrand to the Angels for their underrated second baseman, Adam Kennedy, but the Halos pulled out of the deal at the last moment. The trade would have solidified the Jays at second base while allowing GM J.P. Ricciardi to concentrate efforts on upgrading the team’s situation at shortstop, where neither Aaron Hill nor Russ Adams appear to be the answers. It’s a bit mystifying why the Angels rejected this trade, which would have cleared second base for top prospect Howie Kendrick while adding a much-needed power bat to the middle of the order. As is, the Angels have too many middle infielders and too few home run hitters, a situation that will have to be addressed by GM Bill Stoneman if the team is to re-enter the American League West sweepstakes…
The injury to Gary Sheffield may force the Yankees to do something they have tried to avoid: giving up young talent for a veteran outfielder. Along those lines, Brian Cashman has talked to the Phillies about both Pat Burrell and David Dellucci. Burrell rates as more of a headliner, but Dellucci makes more sense. He’s a better defender than Burrell, bats left-handed, and would command less in a trade. A package featuring two pitchers—pick from a group that includes Matt DeSalvo, Sean Henn, and Darrell Rasner—might be enough to pry loose Dellucci, who has been wasted as a glorified pinch-hitter in Philadelphia…
Nothing will happen until later this summer, but the injury-riddled Dodgers will probably make a run at trading for Greg Maddux. That’s assuming the Cubs remain out of contention and the Dodgers stay near the top spot in the National League West. The Dodgers did talk to the Cubs earlier this week about Jerry Hairston, who could have offered some help at second base and in the outfield, but the two teams couldn’t get together. Chicago instead decided to take Phil Nevin from the Rangers in an even-up swap for Hairston, who was never one of Dusty Baker’s guys in Chicago…
Speaking of the Cubs, their decision to trade Hairston for Nevin indicates they’re not quite ready to throw in the towels on the 2006 season. There has been speculation that the Cubs will start a firesale soon, but that won’t happen for at least another month. By the beginning of July, the Cubs should know whether they’ve re-emerged as contenders–or whether it will be time to part company with Baker as their manager.