Wednesday night the Chicago Cubs signed Scott Hairston to a two-year contract worth "up to $6 million," which answered at least one of my questions about the St. Louis Cardinals' two-year contract with Ty Wigginton. Engendered many, many more questions? Well, sure. But it answered this one: Is there ever a situation in which it makes sense to a sign a thirtysomething bench/platoon bat to a two-year deal worth several times the league minimum?

Well, yes, as it turns out. Scott Hairston is exactly the right-handed, power-hitting bench bat the Cardinals acted like they had with Wigginton: He's a career .247/.302/.449 hitter with a very useable .276/.325/.500 split against left-handers, and he's coming off a (relatively) big season.

The only difference? His teams conceded much earlier than Wigginton's did to the reality that he isn't really a second or third baseman. Instead he's played what looks like an above-average outfield, including some work in center. Also, he can hit, and Wigginton can't.