Analyzing Chicago's McCarthyism
December 29, 2006
While it's not quite paranoia, something is preventing Chicago White Sox GM Ken Williams from realizing that the pitchers he has (or had) are better than most available in the market right now. Despite a deep rotation that won a World Series in 2005 and suffered the inevitable setback in 2006, Williams felt he could better his staff this offseason.
First, Williams traded away Freddy Garcia, an absolute rock in the rotation (a lock for 200+ IP and 13-18 wins every year) for prospects and a first round bust in Gavin Floyd. Garcia was making about the same money as newly signed Ted Lilly of the Cubs ($10 million/year), much less of a pitcher (6 months younger, 57 less wins and ZERO seasons of 200+ IP), so Garcia was exactly a huge drain on the finances.
Next, according to many reports out of Chicago, a deal was all but completed sending Jon Garland to Houston for leadoff hitter Willie Taveras and pitcher Taylor Buchholz, neither of which sends chills up the opposition's spine. Meanwhile, Garland signed an extension with the White Sox last year and is locked into a reasonable contract for another couple years. Luckily, the deal fell through and Houston grabbed Jason Jennings from Colorado instead of Garland.
Not finished yet, Williams dealt young pitcher Brandon McCarthy to Texas for more pitching prospects. McCarthy doesn't appear to be on pace for a Tom Seaver type career, but he has proven to be a solid, durable MLB starting pitcher with potential for long term success. The fact that he has already proven himself at the major league level puts him way ahead of any prospects, even those drafted in the first round. As Todd Van Poppel can attest, prospects are always a crapshoot.
The way I look at it, an even bet would be holding $1 and flipping a coin. Lose and you've got nothing, win and you've got $2. I believe with Garcia and McCarthy, Ken Williams was holding about $1.30 when he made this wager. In the end, with some luck, he still might have $2 in his pocket, but the loss could be far worse. Trading young known commodities for potential is something rebuilding teams and desperate teams do - not teams a couple pieces away from a title.
It will take a few years to learn if Williams made some smart long term deals, but fans will know by July if their GM took the path to be constantly good rather than occasionally great.