Kenny Williams is willing to shed some of his regulars in exchange for some young, cheap talent. However, he’d appreciate it if that cheap talent came major-league ready.
“Williams admitted that the offers might not be overwhelming.” I’ll say.
There’s a temptation to rail on about how Williams’ complete unwillingness to sacrifice the immediate for the sake of repairing the minor league system and building a more sustainable model for success is frustrating, especially since it now seems to be steering him toward unrealistic and less fulfilling trade scenarios.
Or, one could just shrug their shoulders, accept that “Williams gon’ Williams”, and rationalize that if the White Sox ownership had a strong distaste for hearing their minor league system mocked and ridiculed, they would do something about it, or taken Kenny up on his offers to abdicate the GM role.
Trading good, not great regulars for major-league level talent figures to make it pretty difficult to acquire anyone with a high-ceiling, but there’s comfort to be taken in that this may be something Kenny Williams might actually be good at.
The White Sox 2007 season is often referred to a “secret” rebuilding year–it featured all of the shoddy baseball of a regular one–because of the array of trades for youth pulled off; youth that contributed nearly immediately.
In December of 2006, Williams dealt 30 year-old Freddy Garcia coming off of a mediocre season for the now-preposterous haul of 23 year-old Gavin Floyd and 21 year-old Gio Gonzalez. He then followed it up by dealing 23 year-old Brandon McCarthy as he was coming off a mediocre season for 21 year-old John Danks.
Neal Cotts-for-David Aardsma and Ross Gload-for-Andy Sisco didn’t exactly provide the same wow factor, but those trades followed the same principle of dealing floundering veterans for prospects with mixed-results at higher levels. Floyd had spent three seasons bouncing back-and-forth between Triple-A and the big leagues, and Danks had been dealing with homer issues since advancing past High-A.
Despite his young age and lack of polish, Danks didn’t throw a pitch for a White Sox minor league team until his rehab start this past season, and Floyd only spent time in Charlotte in ’07 due to a horrific Spring Training. Aardsma and Sisco were allowed to implode at U.S. Cellular as well. Only the packaged-with-Floyd Gio Gonzalez could not be considered major-league ready…and he was predictably flipped for Nick Swisher the following off-season.
This is far from a perfect guarantee of success. The greatness of these two deals didn’t prevent Danks or Floyd from providing minimal value to the big league club for all of 2007, and the sting of a 90-loss season probably doesn’t strike Williams as something he’d gladly repeat. Prospects are valued by franchises (besides this one) more than ever these days, and the Danks deal irked plenty even at the time.
A prospect of John’s caliber being dealt at a reasonable price, and Garcia’s shoulder blowing out to make his trade look even better, were both somewhat fluky occurrences that may not be a great road map for the future.
However, while concern definitely seems merited for Kenny Williams’ big-ticket expenditures, having him operate with a mind for limiting costs and scouring for talented reclamation projects that play on the advantage of employing Don Cooper was at least successful the last time it was tried.
The next time the White Sox do a proper rebuilding and revitalization of their minor league system, Kenny Williams will probably be retired, in prison, or deceased, but at least he’s doing what he’s good at.
Or promising to. Or hinting at it. It’s something, I guess.