Rate Kenny Williams' 10 years of trades

I’m in the midst of writing a retrospective on Kenny Williams’ first 10 years as general manager of the White Sox, which will be the central theme/essay in White Sox Outsider 2011. It’s using up most of my analytical/organizational mojo, so I figure I’d foist today’s post onto your collective brawny shoulders.
Below is a list of Kenny Williams’ 55 significant trades since taking over in November of 2000. He made plenty more, but these are the trades that ultimately had a measurable major-league impact, either for or against the Sox.
The best example of where I drew the line: The first Roberto Alomar trade made the cut, because it cost Royce Ring and Alomar was brought in to make a difference. The second one didn’t, because the Sox traded a player to be named later (Brad Murray), and Alomar had nothing left. No risk, no reward.
What I’d like you to do is rate them on a scale from 1-10, from “most embarrassing” to “most impressive,” with the middle representing no net gain or loss. Warning: Them’s a lot of trades, but 1) it’s a fun walk down memory lane, and 2) you might not have much else to do.
A couple of quick definitions:
Most impressive: Weighing a large net gain while factoring in a high degree difficulty. The Sox got a good year out of Alex Cintron for nothing, but trading Brandon McCarthy for John Danks took serious balls. I would say the latter is better résumé fodder.
Most embarrassing: Flawed reasoning, flawed execution, zero redeeming value (I would call your typical salary dump a “3.”)
So have at it. You have the option of leaving trades blank, although I imagine if they inspire zero emotion, you could just as easily call it a  “5.”

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

My biggest challenge filling these out was the fact that a 5 could mean three different things. 5 could mean just overall “Meh” (Fernandez and Quintero for Jimenez comes to mind – none of these guys was an impact player) or “This was a major deal that was basically equal” (Lee for Podsednik + Vizcaino comes to mind) or “I have no idea yet” (Hudson et al for Jackson). That obviously relates to the other issue, which is that it’s a lot easier to judge older trades, because we know by now whether the prospects traded actually amounted to anything.
I do realize that we’re supposed to take into account the thinking at the time; the Swisher for three piles of garbage was obviously a bad trade because the piles of garbage were clearly malodorous, while Garcia for Floyd was great because Floyd had fallen out of favor and the magical hand of Coop resurrected his career.
Nevertheless, it’s still harder to judge the more recent trades without knowing exactly what people like Hudson and Richard will amount to (not to mention how long/effectively Peavy and Jackson will pitch).


I think Lee for Pods and Vizcaino took a lot of balls. replacing a 30 hr bat with a guy coming off a very bad offensive (and defensive) year and a middle reliever. Looks pretty one sided on paper.


I had to really juggle some similar issues about blame. Do I blame KW for Peavy’s injury? Maybe, he’s got a history. Slight point against that trade given how much cheaper/durable Clayton’s been for SD (although effectiveness vs. AL and vs. NL might be a large factor dinging Richard).
The real question for me comes into play with the Teahan for Getz/Fields trade. Teahan is the best hitter, and probably the best player in that trade. So the TRADE does favor the Sox. But it’s the extension AFTER the trade that gives this such a sour taste in my mouth. Both are Kenny’s doings, but am I grading him on overall GMship here, or solely on the results of a trade? The former gives this trade a 7, the latter gives it a 3. I think I averaged it to a 5.


I suppose everyone can interpret it as they wish, but I ignored extensions and just focused on the discrete trades themselves.
If Jim wants to do a separate poll of all of Williams’ free agent contracts / extensions, I would be happy to put my “2” for the Teahen extension there.


Yeah, I had the same thoughts. I left out the subsequent extension regarding Teahen since we’re focusing only on trades, even though it was clear that the extension was a requisite for the trade in the first place. Although now thinking about it, I wish I had graded it lower – would we be a better team with Getz at second and Beckham at third, or Beckham at second and Teahen at third. I think we’d all agree on the first one…
With the Peavy deal, I graded it pretty well – since Poreda was the main man from us in that deal and hasn’t panned out, I figure we won it. Judging by Richard’s move to the NL plus his horrible home/away splits makes me think that he’s still the serviceable-but-no-better-than-that option that he looked like at the time.


If Petco splits are reason to think we didn’t lose too much in Richard, shouldn’t they also be a reason to be pessimistic about the idea that we “won” because we get to pay $37 million over the next two years to a guy who had the same kind of splits?


Well, sure. Peavy’s a Cy Young guy at Petco and merely a top of the rotation guy on the road, whereas Richard is a solid starter at Petco and a complete disaster on the road. Hm…
And for what it’s worth, they also both pitched better at the Cell than on the road. But again, the bottom line remains the same.


True. Kinda strange, Teahen played 77 games this year and 72 for Getz. I suppose either equation ends in Vizquel and Beckham…


In doing this survey, my thought was to go back to how I felt about the trade at the time the deal was made and not wait until after the fact when I had perfect hindsight to evaluate the deal.


I did go with a little hind sight and it makes you remember, in my opinion three things:
1. A GM makes a lot of deals that aren’t all that important.
2. Kenny has probably made more “for the better” trades, then “for the worse.”
and 3. I still REALLY hate Nick Swisher.


Such a tough assignment, you have to factor salaries, trickle down effect, block out some hindsight, and try not to equate a bad extention signed with an actual bad trade. I think I gave the Teahen trade a 7 because on paper it was a low risk (getz and fields are replacement level at best) decent upside, you put teahen in a better hitting park with a better team around him, with the bonus of controlling a couple of his arbitration years.
If the shock of a 3 year 21 mil for Juan Uribe wasnt enough for me to handle yesterday, watching bum ass De La Rossa sign for 30-33 mil just puts me over the top. THis bum has never produced an ERA under 4 in the freaking national league thats worth 10 plus mil a year???? HAHAH crazy


Reinsdorf get’s a lot of criticism for being cheap but if you ask me I think he’s smarter than most owners.


Eh I don’t think it’s such a bad deal. ERA isn’t a very useful stat, and while it is the National League, it’s also one of the most offense-friendly parks in baseball.
De La Rosa gets tons of strikeouts and ground balls. Probably something of an overpay (because of the thin pitching market) for a guy with health/walks issues, but hardly crazy.


when your career ERA is over 5, you cant be a 10mil + a year pitcher, this is like brutally overpaying aj burnett cause he has awesome stuff, he doesnt win games
im always happy when teams make these mistakes


Career ERA doesn’t really represent who he is now. When he was with the Brewers and Royals he was giving up 6+ walks per inning, and was of course awful. His ~4/inning now is still bad but is manageable when combined with high strikeouts and a great ground ball rate. With the Rockies he’s averaged an FIP just above 4 and xFIP under 4.


he was with the royals facing real lineups, now his era still above 4 has come down from the 550-600 range he had with the royals because he is in the NL with the rockies
FIP and XFIP says every year javy vazquez will be 25-5 and Mark Buerhle will be 5-25, games are played on a field not in a computer. Facts are the metrics like him for some reason but on the field he is 2 games over 500 for his career, and a career ERA over 5 for 7 seasons isnt something I would be proud of.
De La Rosa was worth about 2 years 12-14 mil, he got 3 and 32, im thrilled thats a decesion made by a team not playing on the south side of chicago.


You can find fault with FIP and xFIP if you want but then why use ERA as your stat of choice? FIP is just a refined version of ERA.
I actually mostly agree with you on the deal size, I think he got an extra year due to the short supply of FA starters. But it doesn’t seem that crazy to me in an offseason where Joaquin Benoit (lol!) getting $16.5/3. That’s crazy.


well we dont agree on how good we think de la rossa is, or in my case how bad i think he is
but yea your dead on free agency pitching shortages lead to these types of contracts that make your head and the benoit one is definitely in that category


What you need to do is survey fans when the trade happens, then survey them again later to see what they think of the results. A lot of KW’s trades look good at the time but it’s hard to tell if they work out in the long run. Fan’s opinions today about the Hudson/Jackson trade will be different than the day it happened because Hudson did so well. They could be different at the end of 2011 if Hudson gets injured and Jackson finishes in the top 5 for Cy Young.
The way I rated was like a measuring scale. 5 is even. 6 leans a little towards the White Sox. 10 leans all the way towards the white Sox. 1 leans all the way towards the other team.
Some of these deals are hard to rate now since KW trades prospects and you don’t know how most of them will turn out (Allen, Carter, Hudson, etc.).


If there was a way to combine the trade of Ryan Sweeney, Gio Gonzalez and Fautino de los Santos for Nick Swisher plus Nick Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez, I think that would certainly take the cake as the worst. Hell, standing alone, I think the Swisher for Marquez may be the worst.
I vote the Lee/Pods swap as Kenny’s best work. Looking back, I still don’t understand how that worked out so well.


Neat survey. If I rated them at the time of the trade most would have been a point or two higher.
I was surprised at the number of trades that I rated 3-5. I like Kenny but this survey shows how difficult his job is. If I were to rate Kenny’s 10 years on the job I think it would come out a couple of points higher than my numerical average of all these trades!!


It will be easy to identify Phil Rogers’ submission based on those last two questions on the survey.


What really struck me going through this list was how many trades really didn’t amount to anything in the end, what Bill Veeck used to call a “$100,000 dog for two $50,000 cats” trade. This includes several that seemed important at the time, such as Sirotka/Wells and Richey/etc. Take those inconsequential moves out of the picture, and we’ve got several good moves (Pods, Thornton, both Garcia trades, Danks,Contreras), two lousy trades (Swisher and Swisher), and a bunch where the jury is still out (Hudson/Jackson, Pena/Allen, Quentin/Carter).
Not a bad record overall, but I’d second the idea about rating the free agent signings. For that one, it might be helpful to list salaries, and who else was available at the time.


pods move was still insane. “worked out” is kind of obvious since they did win the world series and all, but it wasn’t because of scott podsednik.
hudson/jackson is totally out unless the white sox win the world series next year and jackson signs a 5yr/$9mil deal. giving up cheap team control for 1.25 years of an expensive pitcher with 1.5 good seasons is insane.
same goes for pena/allen. allen could accumulate more wins in two good season than pena will in his entire career. and i like pena!