If Day 3 of the Winter Meetings were defined primarily--for White Sox fans at least--by crushing loss and the rolls of cookie dough that were eaten to cope with it, Day 4 was defined by Angels owner Arte Moreno dousing the free agent market in gasoline, lighting it aflame, and then laughing as he flew away on a magic carpet woven entirely from $1000 bills.
At nightfall on Wednesday, the Marlins were being ushered out of the bidding for Albert Pujols after a long and drawn out courtship, with nothing but faint whispers of a mystery team keeping him from waltzing back to the Cardinals. Surely Pujols had just been jacking up the price for his hometown team...like you do.
By the time I woke, the Angels were a surprise bidder, and by the time I reached work, it was a done deal.....and there was still a mystery team. The terms--10 years, almost $260 million--were so gargantuan, C.J. Wilson nearly slipped into Anaheim alongside him without being noticed.
Hell, was anything else noticed? Is there time to even trifle with the Cubs-Rockies crap-for-crap trade when Pujols just switched leagues? Why not? It beats the pants off of the Brewers signing Alex Gonzalez to replace Yuniesky Betancourt, or someone actually trading for Dana Eveland....or a post explaining who Dana Eveland is. Anyways, back to the Angels.
Seeing as he was the top starter on the market, Wilson's $77.5 million over 5 years comes off as borderline reasonable. Sure, Wilson's got a short track record of effectiveness and they're paying him till he's 36, but it's basically just the Buehrle deal with an extra year, and he's been throwing in a homer factory in Texas to get his current numbers.
Obviously by nabbing Pujols and Wilson, the Angels over-extended them--well, did they? They over-extended themselves with an onerous absorption of Vernon Wells' cancerous contract last off-season, and responded to it by spending over $300 million in free agency. I really don't think I have a grip on what their payroll limits are anymore, but I'm guessing it's more than my best estimation. Maybe the rest of their infield entering free agency after 2012 is no problem whatsoever for them. Maybe the Angels front office is taking a year or two off from acknowledging "problems" as something relevant to their existence.
Regardless of Pujols possibly being in decline, the upgrade from Mark Trumbo no longer being their biggest power bat and adding Wilson to the rotation should turn the AL West into a bloodbath with the Texas Rangers for a few years. It may be hard to snatch a Wild Card birth in the AL for a while. Fortunately, I know just the friendly hometown team that's ready to punt the next few seasons...
The Chicago White Sox stood pat for the remainder of the winter meetings, literally doing nothing after trading Sergio Santos to Blue Jays.
Well, not nothing. They met with other teams, quoted exorbitant trade prices, and shunned the urge to purge all their trade chips in an impulsive burst of disaster. Huzzah!
But the Sox did nothing in the sense that they didn't appear in any serious trade rumors for the last two days, will now leave Dallas with the bulk of the roster re-working left to be done, and left no evidence to indicate their awareness that the Rule 5 draft exists as a thing.
Not that any of those things actually damaged them in any real way. Ever since teams were granted an extra year to protect their prospects in 2007, Rule 5 players are basically worthless as a population. In sum, The Sox lost RHP Terry Doyle to the Twins off the strength of fantastic Arizona Fall League, and made no selection of their own.
"It sucks", said Kenny Williams, in reference to the loss of Buehrle but totally applicable to the pool of talent available in the draft.
They probably have actually lost Doyle for good. First, Doyle's a flashless, strike-thrower, so the Twins obviously adore him. Second, the Twins are in a state of flux, have plenty of innings to be eaten, and are as capable as anyone of hiding Doyle around in different roles as necessary to keep him on the MLB roster all year. Unless of course he got really shelled, in which case the White Sox will get back a pitcher who apparently can't cut it in the majors.
While he was one of the few minor leaguers generating positive stories of recent, Doyle is still a guy who's 26 years-old with no real prospect status. He could definitely be capable of providing some fill-in starts, but how much more does anyone want to see him over Dylan Axelrod? Or Hector Santiago? Or John Q. Sinkersliderwithashowmechange?
Pretty much any September call-up start is hopefully Nestor Molina territory now. Is there any clear situation where the Sox would make room for him? Does a playoff rotation ever include Terry Doyle? I hope so! That team clearly scores a truckload of runs.
I can see why they White Sox would protect Doyle, but I can't work up the energy to criticize them neglecting to.
The wait on pulling off trades is more clear to understand. While the White Sox have decent chips, they lack the premier target at any position, and are thus better served by waiting for reduced supply to drive up the price. As such, it might take till after Gio Gonzalez is dealt to set the demand for John Danks and Gavin Floyd, and it might not be till Cuddyer and Willingham are signed before teams starved for bats real bring themselves to pony up for Carlos Quentin.
On the other hand, maybe if a legit package comes up for Matt Thornton they should just take it. Octavio Dotel signed a contract with the Tigers and it was completely reasonable. The jig may be up as far as fleecing team for guys who pitch 60 innings a year.
So the Sox are waiting things out, or they're done, or they plan on trading absolutely everyone you can possibly imagine being on the table. Every logical thinker approaching the situation has reasoned that Kenny Williams is drawing things out with a purpose.
He's got one chance to cash out what waning promise is left in the White Sox organization, so he's making damn sure he nails it.
And I have confidence in Kenny Williams' decision-making process, his ability to optimize the value of his assets and fortify the future of the organization, so much so that prolonged periods of inactivity do not serve to ratchet up the anxiety that things are going awry.
No, that's a lie.
Tags: AL, AL West, albert pujols, Alex Gonzalez, arizona fall league, arte moreno, baseball, c.j. wilson, Carlos Quentin, Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies, Dana Eveland, Detroit Tigers, dylan axelrod, Gavin Floyd, gio gonzalez, hector santiago, ian stewart, John Danks, josh willingham, Kenny Williams, Mark Buehrle, mark trumbo, miami marlins, michael cuddyer, Minnesota Twins, nestor molina, octavio dotel, Sergio Santos, st. louis cardinals, terry doyle, toronto blue jays, tyler colvin, White Sox, wild card, winter meetings, yuniesky betancourt