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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 yr