Despite all his winter wheeling and dealing, Jim Hendry never thought to create a back-up plan at first base. Derrek Lee, coming off a career season, had not played less than 155 games in six years. As Derrek Lee went down with a wrist injury, so did the Cubs, losing 26 of their next 37 games.
On Wednesday, Hendry found his back-up solution in Phil Nevin, sending the disgruntled Jerry Hairston Jr. to the Rangers in exchange.
Nevin, 35, has been a dangerous power threat when healthy during his 10-year major league career. However, season-shortening injuries in five of the last 10 seasons have given Nevin the oft-injured label. Nevin has spent time behind the plate, at the hot corner and in the outfield, but recently found a home at first with the Rangers. Stumbling through his 2006 season hitting .216/.307/.415, Nevin’s $10 million price tag became too high. The Cal State Fullerton product had previously been acquired for Chan Ho Park, and recently forced into splitting the position with rookie Jason Botts. The first overall selection in the 1992 draft is a free agent at season’s end, when he should have topped the 200 career home run milestone. In 1,134 games during his career, Nevin has hit .271/.343/.473.
Hairston, 30, entered Chicago more famous for his bloodlines and acquisition history than his skillset. Hairston was the main piece of the Sammy Sosa trade, and was the second Hairston to play in Chicago; his father logged 14 seasons with the White Sox. Jerry has spent much of his career on the bench, thanks to good speed and the versatility to play second base as well as the outfield. Pushed out by Brian Roberts in Baltimore, Hairston faced playing time competition in Chicago, and never capitalized on his stints as a full-time player. Hairston will also be a free agent at season’s end, and is destined to spend the rest of the 2006 season as a utility player for manager Buck Showalter. For his career, Hairston has hit .259/.331/.366 in 682 games.