Sunday, August 2, 2009
Several people read and enjoyed Brett Ballantini’s comment to my blog the other day and have recommended it to others.
To make it a little easier for all to find, here it is again …
(So note, this is Brett, not me. The only thing I don’t want to have happen is his very last line, but otherwise, great post, Brett. Enjoy)
BRAVO Ken Williams!
Not once, but twice he swoops in and makes a deal others could not. Other GMs might have had their feelings hurt by Peavy’s rejection in May–as a fan I’ll admit I was turned off–but not our guy.
The tide is turning now. Writers and analysts are being dragged kicking and screaming over to his side. No longer is he considered inexperienced or even underrated, now everyone recognizes he’s the most aggressive GM in sports, with a feel for players that can’t be taught.
Williams gets it: Trade future potential for immediate impact every time. Beckham is a rare case, a player so good he bulled his way into a role quickly. Richard, even Poreda, had a chance to make the big team and never look back, as Beckham did. We wish our young pitchers all the best in San Diego. As Williams himself would say, the best trades, both teams win, and perhaps this is one. But considering Williams’ history, things don’t look good for San Diego.
I did a little, unofficial research on just how brilliant our GM has been over his nine years. I count only four deals where Williams gave up a veteran who had any measure of success in his post-White Sox career: Keith Foulke (for Billy Koch in 2002), Carlos Lee (for Scotty Pods in 2004), Aaron Rowand (for Jim Thome in 2005), and Javier Vazquez (for Tyler Flowers in 2008). Give KW a mulligan for Foulke (Koch was ill and didn’t know it, and one eventually amazing year of Neal Cotts did come back in the deal). The Lee and Vazquez deals were not lopsided and represented essential moves to preserve team culture. Rowand was just the opposite, a deal that hurt us chemistry-wise, but it’s impossible to claim we got the short end of that one–it’s a draw at worst.
Now consider how KW has done in trading away and acquiring young players–and keep in mind the White Sox are more often buyers than sellers, so the deck is stacked against him to come away looking good when it comes to young players. But in nine years, Ken has brought in Damaso Marte, Cotts, Matt Thornton, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, and Carlos Quentin as relative unknowns. He’s dealt away Miguel Olivo, Jon Rauch, and Chris Young. Most would agree the four best players from this group are Matt, Gavin, Danks, and Q.
Now consider the players Williams has signed who were completely off most team’s radars, guys he acquired for “free” from a talent-surrendered perspective: Esteban Loaiza (later dealt straight-up for Jose Contreras!), Bobby Jenks, Tadahito Iguchi, Alexei Ramirez, and Shingo Takatsu. Those players alone (including Jose) represent roughly 15 seasons high-quality play we benefited from just because the Sox were smart enough to grab them.
Finally, KW made major deals for two players who ultimately flopped: Todd Ritchie (in only Williams’ second major deal as GM) and Mike MacDougal. And yet, in neither deal did we surrender players who “haunted” us in any way.
So by any measure, over nine seasons, Ken Williams has traded countless prospects–NONE who became a star (wonder why the Trib never touts Arizona’s “steal” of Chris Young from the White Sox any longer? CY is south of the Mendoza line these days). Allowing for the tricky circumstances surrounding the Billy Koch trade, he’s never been outright pickpocketed in a deal. He has, however, by under-radar signing or trade, picked up Thornton, Gavin, Danks, Q, Jenks, Contreras, Iguchi, Lexi, and Takatsu for nothing.
If I was an opposing team’s GM, if “Ken Williams” or “White Sox” shows up on my Caller ID, I don’t pick up the phone!