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In the ever-developing case of Jenks v. Conditioning, we know which side Kenny Williams is taking:
“It comes into question when you are not in the best shape you can be in, now doesn’t it?” If [Jenks] doesn’t like that, I don’t really care if he doesn’t like that. It’s the truth.
“I’ve seen it time and time again. We would not be in his corner and we would not be real friends, real people of support, if we didn’t give him the information.”
At first glance, this seemed like more coal in the engine on the train out of town. Now, I don’t think this necessarily increases the chances of Williams trading Bobby Jenks. In fact, it might mean that he’s staying.
Here are some reasons.
No. 1: His words are awfully harsh about a guy whom Williams is supposed to pretend has value.
I went back to the Nick Swisher trade last year. As the rift grew larger between the clubhouse core, Ozzie Guillen and Swisher, I tried to see if Kenny Williams had anything to say.
Here’s what I found from the Sun-Times in the wake of the Sox’s ALDS exit:
After the 6-2 loss to the Rays, general manager Ken Williams stopped at Swisher’s locker, gave him a hug and said, ”Come back next year and start all over again.”
Reports began to surface soon after saying that Williams was shopping Swisher, but he had nothing but his typically terse statements until the trigger was finally pulled. Here’s a deal in which Williams was content to get nothing in return but salary relief, and even then, he kept his lips zipped.
No. 2: Chris De Luca has been wrong before.
De Luca is on record as saying Jenks has thrown his last pitch in a White Sox uniform, but in that same article referenced above, he said “Swisher would likely be back,” so there’s precedent. And with Joe Cowley saying on a Score 670 that Jenks would be back, I don’t think there’s a solid hunch leader.
No. 3: Jenks will have a hard time living up to his salary the next two years.
Because of the early trajectory of his career, Jenks will be making roughly $6-7 million next season, and then possibly $9-10 million in his final arbitration year if 2010 isn’t a disaster. Problem is, he would have to revert to his 2007 self in order to be worth that much, and with his various health issues of the last two years — they all seem kind of fluky, but the same could be said for Chris Getz — the odds aren’t in the Sox’s favor.
If Jenks needs every ounce of his ability to be worth Williams’ money, it makes sense that Williams would do — or, in this case, say — anything he could to get Jenks to shed some pounds. It’s probably a risky strategy, but Williams doesn’t have a lot of leverage otherwise.
Putting it another way, the lack of demand gives Williams a lot of leeway, because no team seeking Jenks would be doing so under the pretense of sheer value. I have to think any trade would come late in the winter. Should another team needs to move a contract later in the winter at a position the Sox need, a salary exchange seems reasonable, because Jenks is still good. His salary projections just don’t line up with his performance projections.
Then again, a salary exchange doesn’t exactly benefit the Sox, because with Octavio Dotel gone, the Sox aren’t exactly overflowing with bullpen options. Unless they think Jhonny Nunez or Clevelan Santeliz is ready for primetime, the Sox might be robbing Peter to pay Paul.
So the more I consider it, the less I think Jenks will be moved. Maybe I’m overthinking it and failing Occam’s Razor when the Sox have shown an indication to get rid of guys they publicly disagree with. Then again, the simplest answer is to not do anything at all.
Coco Crisp seems like an attempt to lessen Scott Podsednik’s leverage. That is all.