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Saturday, January 29, 2005

Hendry's Ball And Chain

Save us from the ball and chain,
Save us from the ball and chain,
Save us from the ball and chain,
oh yeah,
The diggers and the tower cranes,
The diggers and the tower cranes.

Don't want demolition,
Don't want your compensation,
It's not just bricks and mortar,
We are lambs to slaughter.

-- "Ball And Chain", Colin Moulding, XTC
Even though the Cubs are semi-officially denying it, the Cubs' long association with Sammy Sosa looks about to end, and in the morning, we have a better idea of what they're getting in return.
20042005 PECOTA
PlayerABAvg/OBP/SLGVORPAgeABAvg/OBP/SLGVORP
Sammy Sosa478.253/.332/.51727.936385.259/.351/.51325.3
Jerry Hairston, Jr.287.303/.378/.39713.828298.274/.348/.37612.8
Clearly, Sammy's in the decline phase of his career, but Hendry's move here is a puzzler: why give up the final year of a first-ballot Hall of Famer for a guy who's only had two seasons playing more than 100 games in his career? Sure, Hairston, Jr. is younger, but at 28, isn't it a bit late to be hoping for a breakout season -- along with an extended bout of health? Moreover, Hairston, a converted second baseman, hits like a middle infielder, too -- only once in his career has his SLG topped .400. Given the Cubs already signed Todd Walker, why do you do this? In right, Hairston is at best a fourth outfielder. As with Sammy, Hairston doesn't have any particular troubles hitting either lefties or righties, so there's no platoon issues there, either.

The other two pickups weren't so enticing, either:

So, why unload Sammy for this stew of uninspiring players, two out of a farm system that's been one of the worst in the majors for years? I don't know. Getting younger should also mean getting better, but this deal doesn't do that. On the other hand, Sosa nears retirement; if getting any deal for him was a Hendry goal, mission accomplished, but why do it? If the Cubs no longer worship at the temple of veteran presence, neither have they accomplished much besides declaring their unfitness to compete in 2005. Those hoping for a Wrigley sequel to Boston's 2004 cursebusting will have to keep waiting.
More on this from And Another Thing, who forwards extremely unreliable rumors that the Cubs may be pursuing Aubrey Huff (.297/.360/.493, .297/.363/.505 40.0 VORP projected) from Tampa Bay. Hendry, a genius? Man. I wouldn't want to be him at the press conference.

Update 2: Rotoworld passes on a Chicago Tribune story claiming the Cubs are about to sign former Dodger Jeromy Burnitz. As Throws Like A Girl put it, "Exactly what question are you asking if the answer is Jeromy Burnitz?"


Comments:
There is a simple reason Hendry is trading Sosa - Sammy's a clubhouse cancer. This is where statistical measurements fail but the real and observable effects are apparent.

With all due respect (it is your blog, i tread lightly and respectfully), maybe chemistry is an abstraction when it is not an excuse, but there is a reality of group dynamics - not one conveniently measured with a few tables to line up when one is thousands of miles away from the situation, but anecdotal evidence would indicate that the average group of people in a work situation will perform their jobs better if a toxic personality is removed from the group.

HF
 
HF:

Its hard to be a cancer when everybody in the clubhouse is united in their hatred towards you. Sounds like Dusty didn't want the headache of dealing with Sammie. Well, what's $10mln and 40 HR? In any case, someone needs to do a contrast and compare with the Green deal. I'd say Dodgers got the better return, tho admittedly the Cubs had Sammy's clubhouse rep to deal with and a Dustygun put to their head.

I see Baseball Primer is now over 500 posts on its Sammy thread with opinions all over the map. However, with the Cubs now freed from the Sammy contract and the Tigers reportedly offering Ordonez $55 MILLION dollars over 5, I'm awfully glad we got JD when we did.
 
Lloyd -- normally I don't believe in chemistry, but in this case I'm willing to make an exception. It's not so much chemistry, though, as outright insubordination; you don't just leave the park during a game, no matter how meaningless. He's paid a ton of money. Almost every observer watching the Cubs in the offseason was certain Hendry would move Sosa, and that became even more true when Hendry asked -- and received -- Sosa's agreement to waive his 2006 salary clause (in the event he was to be traded before his contract was up, he would get an automatic extra year at $16M). At that point, it becomes obvious that Sosa no longer wanted to play for the Cubs. Helen informs me that his image did not appear on any Cubs merchandise this year, nor was he used in any advertising or promotional campaigns. The club had clearly had enough, and whether you want to chalk that up to chemistry or not, they have the right to move a player like that. But this demands another question be answered: if you were going to move such a player, why make it so obvious?
 

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