One of the only rules to being a sports columnist for a major metro newspaper is to do everything within your power to avoid sounding like a moron. As easy as this advice may sound, it was still too difficult for Chicago Sun-Times columnist Chris De Luca, who probably would have been better off not penning this article or at least he should have tried to pass it off as Jay Mariotti's work.
In the article, De Luca outlines two transations that occurred on a "wild Wednesday afternoon," namely the Cubs trading away Jerry Hairston, Jr. for the services of Texas Ranger Phil Nevin and the biggest transaction of the MLB season to date, Roger Clemens and the Houston Astros coming to terms on a contract. Although he makes the claim that these two transactions will change the landscape of the NL Central, De Luca may be overstating how big of an impact each transaction will have.
First, let's look at some choice quotes from De Luca's opinion on the Cubs trade.
It was a wild Wednesday afternoon in the National League Central, where two teams that were expected to be much closer to first place on June 1 announced their intentions to keep on playing deep into October.
Unfortunately for those with a vested interest in the Cubs' and Astros' seasons, merely stating one's intentions to play deep into the posteason carries little weight. The games still have to be played.
But for a Cubs team that had gone into complete paralysis — from the front office to the back end of the bullpen — since losing first baseman Derrek Lee on April 19, this was proof that general manager Jim Hendry still has been clocking in for work.
If trading for Phil Nevin is the reason why Jim Hendry has been clocking in for work, then the Cubs should change all the locks on their doors and inform Hendry his services will no longer be needed.
By acquiring Nevin, Hendry was acquiring a player, who at the age of 35, is a high risk for decline and is already providing evidence that said decline is already taking place. As it stands now, Nevin's 2005 year where he batted .237 BA/.287 OBP/.379 SLG with an OPS+ of 79 (100 is average) while splitting time between the Padres and the Rangers seems to be about what one can expect from Nevin now, especially when added to how he started this season (.216 BA/.301 OBP/.415 SLG), as a DH. Numbers like that are never palatable to a baseball club, and taste even worse when being served up by a 1B/DH.