There was a period of time where Sammy Sosa was one of the greatest players of the Chicago Cubs of all time, and arguably the most popular.
Sosa and Mark McGwire almost singlehandedly brought baseball fans back into the stadiums with their home run record chase. Sosa owned Chicago for a few years and looked like he could be heading towards Cooperstown. Then it all fell apart. He was slowly falling out of favor with the Cubs administration, and then the last straw was when he left a game early at Wrigley Field.
He never played for the Cubs again and after that season and was traded to the Baltimore Orioles.
The deal involved Sosa going to the Orioles for Jerry Hairston Jr., infielder Mike Fontenot and pitcher Dave Crouthers. Sosa continued on a downward spiral statistically in his first year with the Orioles, batting only .221 with 14 home runs. After that year, the Orioles didn’t offer him a contract, making him a free agent.
One would have thought that maybe Hairston would have made this trade a winner for the Cubs. After all, he had a fairly steady major league career and was a nice player. This was not the case. Cubs fans were glad to see Sosa go because he had declined so significantly, but Hairston did not do anything spectacular as a member of the Cubs. He played pretty badly and failed miserably as a leadoff hitter, stealing just eight bases. Hairston’s tenure in Chicago was not a memorable one.
In the end, I am giving the Cubs the edge in this trade, but only because of Fontenot. His career has been pretty unspectacular, but he did come in second in the NL Rookie of the Month back in June 2007. That is about the most promise that he showed. In terms of the third player in the deal, Crouthers never saw light of day in the bigs.
This was a trade about unloading baggage. Have you ever eaten a bad meal and walked away from it feeling disappointed, underwhelmed and a little disgusted? For both sides, this trade was exactly that.