Trade Deadline madness started officially on Wednesday.
Oh sure, Johnny Gomes was traded the night before, and everyone joked about how boring and pointless that affair was, but Wednesday was a day that will be remembered for two highly-coveted outfielders switching teams. July 27, 2011 -
And the White Sox got to be a footnote!
While Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is getting praised for trading for young centerfielder Colby Rasmus essentially in exchange for a pile of relievers, the willingness to endure Mark Teahen, and whatever's left of Corey Patterson; the White Sox set him up for glory, delivering the Jays their trade centerpiece in Jackson along with Teahen, in exchange for reliever Jason Frasor, and Double-A pitcher and fading prospect, Zach Stewart.
The White Sox--in theory--wanted Colby Rasmus, and seeing as Edwin Jackson was the centerpiece for the trade that brought Rasmus to Toronto with nothing of great significance tacked on, it's a curiosity as to at what point Kenny Williams became convinced to drive Anthopoulos to the party to make out with his girl. Did they not want to spare all the loose parts that Toronto shipped over? Did they realize that every veteran on the team would immediately hate Rasmus upon first sight? Did they not like the salary they were pegged to take on?
The third question seems like the big one seeing as shedding $10 million is primarily what the White Sox accomplished, but the first one should be taken into account. The Blue Jays had the incredible advantage of not competing this season, making every single non-essential player expendable, while the Sox probably cringed at the thought of gutting their bullpen for Rasmus.
After a season of inaction, certainly some of the steps Williams took on Wednesday were done with competitiveness in mind. He opened a roster spot by shedding one of his regrettable contracts--Teahen--brought up CF Alejandro De Aza, and while there's nothing to indicate at all that Guillen wouldn't have benched Rios for De Aza on his own, Williams definitely backed the move.
"Throw the contracts and salaries aside," Williams said as Rios was benched in favor of recently promoted Alejandro De Aza from Triple-A Charlotte. "If we have $20 or 30 million sitting on the bench, then that's a Kenny Williams problem. That's not (manager Ozzie Guillen's) problem. We'll have pretty good pinch-hitters."
On a related note, De Aza started, and hit a 2-run HR that was the only scoring the White Sox got all game, as they beat the division-leading Tigers and drew within 3.5 games. This is what we wanted, right? Space cleared to get black holes out of the way.
The addition of right-hander Jason Frasor should make an already very strong bullpen...well, I don't know if "needlessly strong" is a real term, but Frasor brings them close to that. The Sox also added Zach Stewart, a once-highly and still-decently regard pitching prospect that Future Sox profiled earlier today. He figures to either be a back of the rotation starter or closer-type for a farm system that doesn't have anyone else with even that optimistic of a prognosis.
At this stage, KW acquiring Stewart to bolster minor-league pitching depth is kind of like a father taking the 12 year-old son he's never met out for pizza to make things up to him. But hey, pizza is pizza, right?
While these developments are positive, when Edwin Jackson was touted as "the best starter on the trade market", the perceived return for him was splashier than simply being enough to convince the Blue Jays to eat Teahen's contract while throwing them a reliever they don't need and a middling prospect (which still makes him immediately a jewel in the Sox system). The loss of Edwin Jackson has the potential to make the rotation noticeably weaker, and certainly less durable. Though the holes the White Sox plugged were notable, it seems like they exhausted Jackson's trade value digging out from their mistakes, rather than add someone of equal, or even comparable impact.
It's an unimpressive haul for Edwin Jackson, but as the final chapter on the Daniel Hudson trade, I could see how it would be infuriating. Daniel Hudson & David Holmberg in exchange for a reliever, a B prospect, and the right to undo the Mark Teahen extension. That's the stuff that condemnations from Phil Rogers are built from, but it's not a fair perspective. Adapting and recouping from mistakes is just as important as avoiding them.
While Jackson was certainly frustrating, I will undoubtedly miss his presence as anyone who appreciates superlative pitching will. When he was on, Edwin was a marvel; capable of operating multiple times through a batting order with just a fastball-slider combo, with incredible stamina that allowed him to ramp up his velocity as the innings wore on. His first month with the White Sox last season were remarkable evenings of entertainment. The trade to acquire Edwin was not his fault, and we could not have expected much more.
It's that underwhelming feeling that lends to the feeling that there is more to be done by the end of the weekend. They've neither exhausted all of their internal options for improvement (though Viciedo is day-to-day) nor cut all the payroll they could have. While the Twins may be on the brink of a selling blunder, Detroit is almost certain to attain a starter soon, and raise the stakes of staying committed to 2011.
For example, if the Sox get swept by Boston while Detroit blackmails Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik into giving them Felix Hernandez for Phil Coke....sell. The Al Central has lacked for anything that definitive all year long, so the rumors of what direction the Sox will go continue to fly in all directions.
Stewart and Sale seem like possible rotation options for 2012, so there's been talk of the White Sox doing something as bold as moving one of Floyd and Danks in a rebuilding effort, or shipping out Carlos Quentin for the right price, or just selling Matt Thornton for prospects or help at a need position given his age, contract, and the arrival of Frasor making him redundant.
Or the White Sox could swing something entirely different and snatching a strong-hitting 3rd baseman, or even needlessly re-stock the bullpen again. Such is the nature of Wednesday's trade--and maybe why it frustrates--is how little it reveals about the next step. Williams has spoken about waiting (while Guillen has just dismissed adding players outright) for as long as possible to see how this week turns out, so perhaps the best sign for whether the Sox will stay in the race is if they keep winning.
So far, so good.
Tags: Alejandro De Aza, alex anthopoulos, Alex Rios, baseball, Carlos Quentin, colby rasmus, corey patterson, Dayan Viciedo, Edwin Jackson, Gavin Floyd, jason frasor, John Danks, Kenny Williams, Mark Teahen, Ozzie Guillen, toronto blue jays, White Sox, zach stewart