Williams continues righting past wrongs

By trading Scott Linebrink, Kenny Williams might have climbed out of the mess he made over the last three years.

If Kenny Williams is actually confusing Hanukkah with Yom Kippur, nobody tell him differently. We wouldn’t want to stop him while he works to atone for his biggest sins of the past three seasons in one 24-hour period.

Now that Linebrink only hits bricks, we probably can retire Vince's wonderful Photoshop job.
It started with the swift and surprising signing of Adam Dunn, which officially ended the Rotating DH’s bid for a second season. It ended with Williams trading Scott Linebrink to Atlanta for Not Scott Linebrink and $2 million of salary relief.
(In the process, it served as a terrific example of what kind of Type A free agent to pursue. Both Dunn and Linebrink cost a draft pick. A first-round draft pick isn’t likely to replicate Adam Dunn’s career, whereas one can easily turn into a Linebrink. In fact, by bWAR, Chris Sale has matched Linebrink’s accomplishments in their White Sox careers. Sale has been on the team for two months; Linebrink three years.)
The White Sox sent $3.5 million with Linebrink to Atlanta, not $1.5 million like originally reported. Still, the amount was enough to make room for the middle move — the re-signing of A.J. Pierzynski for two years and $8 million, unusually backloaded in order to load up for 2011.
I remain dubious of any contract that pays Pierzynski $6 million for his age 35 season. Combine it with his 10-and-5 rights, and he’s virtually unmovable unless his parents buy another MLB club (and even then, his mom likes him where he is). But with both Pierzynski and Dunn receiving less money in their first years, Williams — with Jerry Reinsdorf’s blessing — is doing all he can to make up for the third sin:
Trading Daniel Hudson for Edwin Jackson.
That deal’s fatal flaw has been thoroughly dissected here: Jackson is under control for one year and $8.35 million. The Sox would have had Hudson for six full seasons, and the first three close to the league minimum, and the performance gap is a lot narrower than the salary disparity.
I thought the trade’s only chance at payoff ended when the Sox were mathematically eliminated on Sept. 22. Jackson only made sense if the Sox were committed to winning now, and after they fizzled out in September, it looked like “now” was “then.”
But I sold the Sox a little bit short, because I didn’t count on them going balls-out for 2011. As a result, “now” is “now” again. Even though it comes at a price, Jackson is a better bet to succeed in the American League in 2011, and he’s much better suited to pick up the slack while Jake Peavy’s status remains unclear.
None of these moves are perfect masks. A GM can’t completely make up for handing a four-year contract to a reliever entrenched in his decline phase. Nor can he regain a lost opportunity from the previous season, nor a pitching prospect who would look awfully good in black and white.
The best he can do is learn from his mistakes, make the most of what he has and get rid of what he can’t use. Williams accomplished all three, and he did so in less than a day.
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Some leftovers from the feast, starting with Adam Dunn…

*Big Donkey was officially introduced as a member of the White Sox, and Scott Reifert took video of Dunn surveying U.S. Cellular Field for the first time. The first question he asked:

*Dunn’s contract is backloaded, too, collecting his $56 million in this order: $12M, $14M, $15M, $15M.
*Big League Stew compiled a lot of dissatisfied comments from Washington Nationals bloggers and reporters.
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About Scott Linebrink …
*Williams said he wouldn’t be surprised if Linebrink bounced back:

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Linebrink put up a heck of a year down there,” Williams said. “It’s a little bit of a mystery as to how he went in and out of effectiveness, but his stuff never left.”
“My arm feels great,” Linebrink said. “Everything feels great. This just gives me even more motivation while I get ready for the season.”

*Not Scott Linebrink is actually Kyle Cofield, a “prospect” of little renown. He didn’t even rank on the Braves’ Top 40 prospects list compiled by my SweetSpot Network colleague at Capitol Avenue Club. He has a big body and a good enough fastball, but he misses targets more than he misses bats, and hasn’t finished a full season of Double-A yet at age 24. He does get grounders, so there is a little bit to work with, but he’s Not Scott Linebrink for a reason.
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About Paul Konerko…
*Konerko and Craig Landis are waiting for the Winter Meetings to really talk turkey, and Adam Dunn is willing to chat him up.
*Jon Heyman thinks it’s largely a foregone conclusion:

competing execs believe konerko will surely stay with the #chisox. he loves jerry reinsdorf. best guess is $13 mil per yrless than a minute ago via web

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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ricksch

Well said Jim. As perhaps the biggest hater of the Hudson-Jackson deal from day one, I have to admit now there is at least some logic to it.
Giving Atlanta $3.5 and Liney makes sense. I don’t know why any other team would pay more than $2m for the bum. Williams made the best deal he could and we suddenly have a new roster spot that can be filled with someone useful.
I just hope Williams doesn’t stop here and really shores up the pen in a big way.

knoxfire30

Im going to make the assumption Konerko and CQ are coming back. That really leaves only the bullepn to be addressed. With news that Adrian Gonzalez is headed to the bosox, do the whitesox try and form a package around flowers, viciedo, and more to obtain Heath Bell??? That would really sure up the bullpen.

dalton

Sounds like too much for Bell… I think Vidiedo has a bright future, and if it isn’t going to be with Chicago, I think Chicago should trade him in a package for a power-hitting OF, rather than for a reliever the Sox wouldn’t have under control for very long.

buford

Whenever I read about the Hudson-Jackson trade, I reflect upon the 2004 Freddy Garcia-Jeremy Reed trade.
Many Sox fans were upset that the Sox traded Reed who was rated a top ten prospect in all of the minor leagues and rated as high as #2 IIRC. Plus he played the premium position of CF, could steal bases, was under team control for 6 years and cost-effective.
When Seattle gave him a September call up, Reed put up these numbers :
.397/.470/.466/.935 in 18 G/58 AB
Even with the small sample, these Sox fans were now incensed that Reed would not be wearing a White Sox hat at his Hall of Fame induction. We now know Reed will need a ticket for any Hall of Fame experience.
Fast forward to 2010. Hudson has a terrific two months in Arizona. But it included a .219 BABIP which is absolutely unsustainable. And a 6% HR/FB which is also unsustainable in the thin Arizona air. Plus hitters will make adjustments the more they see him.
Hudson’s current value centers around his great 11-game Arizona career, making the ML minimum salary, and under team control for 6 years.
Going forward, the salary and control only matter if Hudson performs well. If he turns out to be a quality ML pitcher, the salary and control are extremely favorable by-products. If he turns into Oliver Perez, not so much.
When all is said and done, trading Hudson may be accurately judged a blunder. But after a two-month Arizona hot streak, no one on the jury should be incensed and should definitely not be rendering any decision in the near term.

jmsdn58

Well put, completely agree.

brettdavis

That is a great point Buford. I remember while watching Hudson’s last Sox start in Oakland that he was never again putting on the Sox attire. He may well become a dominant pitcher in the NL, and he defintely pitched well down the stretch. But at the time of the deal, we still had major designs on the Central title, and my opinion is that only elite prospects don’t get dealt when there is a chance to go to October. Championships resonate a lot longer than do prospects not dealt. Also, I didn’t realize Hudson’s BABiP was so low. In that ballpark, he may well regress majorly in 2011, while Edwin will help our rotation be good enough, if Peavy comes back in June or so, to get to 95 or more wins. Without Jackson, we punted 2010 and had a less effective rotation in 2011.

buford

With few exceptions, I’ve always preferred receiving MLB talent for MiLB talent than vice versa for the following reasons:
1. A MLB player has a MLB track record. A MiLB player doesn’t or its too small. And while MiLB stats mean something, the gap between MiLB and MLB stats are huge.
2. The majority of MiLB “top prospects” never reach their anticipated stardom. Go back and look at Top 10 Prospects lists from as far back as you want for verification.
3. The same thing you touched on. When you’re going for a championship, you’re going to go after experienced MLB players at the expense of prospects. Just like Boston did in the Adrian Gonzalez trade today.
Championships matter. Even trying to your fullest and not succeeding is admirable. Accumulating prospects – I don’t think so.
Discussing why one team’s “top prospects” are better than others is just an exercise in accumulating debating points.
The important question to be answered is “Can my team win the World Series?” Fortunately, this question is determined on the field by who wins more games. And not by who won the debate.

brettdavis

A great point Jim.

buford

I agree. I’m sure all teams would be thrilled to have 6 or 7 top-tier star players with the remaining team comprised of players with average ability and small salary demands. This is baseball nirvana for GM’s and a deep farm system is the best solution.
But all teams go outside their organizations for second-tier players and can look back on their successes and failures just like the Sox. And I sure they’re trying to draft better to have more in-house options just like the Sox should be doing.
But my central point was that teams need to value their assets in their farm system properly. With all the top prospects that flop, somewhere along the line these prospects go from valuable to overvalued.
And these overvalued assets can actually bring value if they are traded in time especially if they are traded for a successful MLB player either at the top-tier or middle-tier level.

Shinons

Am I the only one who sees Hudson as having been traded for Dunn, not Jackson…?

chisoxt

Buford, relative to your first point,…you have to consider the era that were going into now…with the decline of PEDs, the trend clearly seems to favor younger players over older ones. Of course there are notable exceptions, but in recent years haven’t we have seen players’ production quickly decline when they hit their 30s? Sure, if this were 10 years ago, you can count on an older higher priced veteran to sustain a reasonable level of productivity because of chemical enhancements. Nowadays, this is not the case. So to say blanketly that you prefer a player with a MLB track record does not mean squat if that player is declining physically. This IMO, is Kennys biggest fault as a GM…he looks too far in the rear view mirror when gauging a players value. You have to try to project what a player will do for your team going forward (based on age, sabermetric trends, etc.)…not what he did five years ago.

buford

“You have to try to project what a player will do for your team going forward (based on age, sabermetric trends, etc.)…not what he did five years ago.”
I absolutely agree. My point is that projecting this future ML performance is easier using historical ML performance. And If you can acquire a talented player in his 20’s by trading top prospects I would do it because history proves that the majority of top prospects never reach their projected star status.
“… haven’t we have seen players’ production quickly decline when they hit their 30s?”
“So to say blanketly that you prefer a player with a MLB track record does not mean squat if that player is declining physically.”
I have never been a proponent of acquiring 30+ year olds or fat guys under 30. Having said that, I think DH’s like Dunn are an exception since most DH’s are typically older players.
“This IMO, is Kennys biggest fault as a GM…he looks too far in the rear view mirror when gauging a players value.”
This can be said about any GM who makes a bad trade involving a veteran player. This “rear view mirror” analysis is especially evident in free agent signings. Most free agents are 30+ and don’t fulfill their expected value throughout their multi-year contracts.
Like all GM’s, Kenny’s gotten burned but you have to take the bad with the good and you have to look at his full body of work.

dalton

I don’t believe MLB is testing for HGH. As of now, detecting exogenous HGH in a subject requires blood testing. I don’t see the union ever consenting to that.
“Cheating” aside (and I put that in quotations because I think the accusation is ludicrous and myopic), if I am a pro ballplayer, I’m on that stuff, no question about it. And if you (read: anyone) knew anything about it at all, you’d be on it, too. Doesn’t have the same profound impact on hypertrophy as anabolic steroids, but it does aid in muscle-building while also having terrific effects on connective tissue and the like.

ricksch

Even if Hudson only becomes a middle of the pack starter, he still has great value to a team with such a high payroll like the Sox. Sox are going to be in for roughly $50m for their starting rotation alone this next year — that’s unsustainable.
Also, at the time of the Jackson deal, the Sox’ chances were not very good. That wasn’t the team to gamble on so heavily and it limited Williams’ payroll flexibility. Lucky for him, and for us, Reinsdorf appears to be stretching the budget despite lower season ticket sales. That’s really the surprise above all others.

buford

“Even if Hudson only becomes a middle of the pack starter, he still has great value to a team with such a high payroll like the Sox.”
“If he turns out to be a quality ML pitcher, the salary and control are extremely favorable by-products.”
We agree.
“Also, at the time of the Jackson deal, the Sox’ chances were not very good.”
On 7-31-10, the Sox were a half-game ahead of the Twins.

ricksch

What I meant was that I really never thought the team would go deep in the playoffs, even if they were to make the playoffs — which it turns out, they didn’t.

dalton

I disagree. With their rotation, they could have gone deep into the playoffs.

brettdavis

I highly disagree also. The Sox were the favorites into mid August. The Twins run was improbable without Morneau, and honestly, until Jim Thome went yard off of Matt Thornton in Minnesota, we were in it. So I think Jackson was made with the idea of going for two Central pennants.

brettdavis

Jim, question for you sir. When thinking back to my offseason plan, I called for Dunn and Konerko to be signed, along with Rafael Soriano and Pedro Feliciano. With the Sox going all in for next season and your above mention of a Heath Bell trade, is there a chance that Soriano is a possibility at all for the Sox? What about Feliciano? If we were able to sign those two guys, I’d personally drive from Arkansas to Chicago and buy Kenny Williams a beer. That man has been electric this week!

brettdavis

I’d also love Heath Bell in a Sox uni. San Diego is my favorite team in the NL, and Bell is my favorite current closer in baseball. He gets it done with good stuff and is a face of his franchise as a reliever. He is exactly what we need. But who’s better, Bell or Soriano? And what is more important right now, keeping cash or prospects?

bigfun

I like Feliciano but don’t get the enthusiasm around here for Bell and Soriano. Paying a premium for the made-up “job” of closer seems especially unnecessary when the Sox have one of the best relievers in baseball and several very good ones backing him up.
Would rather see them go after some bargains to fill out the other end of the depth chart, just like they did last year by getting Putz.

Shinons

Cosigned. I’d rather take two or three guys at face value than paying extra for a front row seat of watching Soriano’s arm blowing up.

soxfan1

I don’t see Kenny trading Viciedo. We still don’t know if he has star potential & he is one of our Latin super signings! Ozzie would throw a gigantic fit if Dyan is traded.
Besides, don’t we still have Thornton or Sale available for closer?

knoxfire30

If thornton closes and sale is a starter we dont have a lefty in the pen for innings 6-8 thats bad, real bad.
And im going to be in a small minority on this but I dont think thornton will be a great closer, i love him in his setup roll being used in the most important situation that can occur innings 6-9 vs the other teams best left hitter(s).

buford

Jayson Werth signs a 7-year $126M contract ($18M/year) with Washington. Werth turns 32 in May 2011 so his contract runs through age 37.
Anybody want Jayson Werth at age 37 at $18M ? These are the type of signings involving 30+ players that I question.

buford

Make that age 38.

knoxfire30

HAHAHA OMG I cant freaking believe this deal,
the nationals have blown the 100 million mark away on a player who isnt a superstar, who is currently age 31 and who they are taking out of a great lineup and great place to hit to put into a bad lineup in a bad place to hit, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH RIZZO!!!!!!!!!!!

brettdavis

Wow. I agree on the severity of the badness of the Werth deal. Well, if Werth was that overrated on the market, then only the Good Lord knows how much Carl Crawford is going to get.

buford

As much as he is werth.

ricksch

What a terrible deal for the Nationals. A huge overpay. Werth is much older than their core hopefuls. 7yrs.? Rizzo is a lunatic.