cub fans holding out hope for general manager jim hendry to do something in the aftermath of the derrek lee disaster have their answer: rangers' spare part phil nevin, in exchange for jerry hairston jr.
nevin, you may recall, is the 35-year old longtime padre whose erstwhile all-star career has been rattled by injury since 2002. the former first-overall draft pick out of powerhouse cal state-fullerton, who very nearly busted with the tigers, managed to resuscitate his career only to break his arm in 2002, followed by a dislocated shoulder that required surgery in 2003. nevin returned from that odyssey to post a very respectable 2004 -- managing 26 homers and a .492 slugging percentage despite playing at san diego's petco park -- but a poor start to 2005 finally moved him from southern california to texas in exchange for chan ho park, a deadline deal of onerous contracts worn thin.
with the rangers, nevin hasn't hit worth a damn -- 275 at-bats of mendoza line production (204/287/382). he's lost playing time to prospect jason botts, which should say something. a longtime masher of left-handed pitching -- his heavy splits fuelled some discontent in san diego, along with the worst of personalities -- he lately hasn't seemed to hit anything at all.
you may think me slightly daft, dear reader, but for the short term this is a not a bad move for the cubs. mind you, nevin will solve few problems -- this is not the 40-homer player of 2001 that hendry has just obtained, and he's played little but first base in years. this team will still lose with regularity. but nevin did play right field as recently as 2003 -- beyond the return of derrek lee in some weeks, hendry may actually have made an attempt (however half-assed) at a platoon for jacque jones. what is the loss of a second baseman to this team that carries a dozen? and the rangers are further rumors to be covering a large part of nevin's sizable contract -- there seems little fiscal downside. if a small miracle does occur and nevin does hit, hendry will have added to the club; if he doesn't, nothing much was lost.
more disturbing, however, is the implication of the trade -- that this addled and stupefied management still thinks this year is not a totally lost cause. if macfail and hendry really think they are still in a position to add, rather than to start working toward a july disassembly, things at clark and addision have gone to a yet more insular and delusional place of total denial than this page might have feared. just as disturbing is the notion that phil nevin could, at this stage of his career, be considered "adding" in a meaningful way -- but then, sensibility and competence seem rarely to rear their fearsome heads anywhere near andy macfail and jim hendry these days.