Tuesday, February 12, 2008

We Have a New Home!

In case anyone stumbles across this site or you still are subscribing to the feed, here's a headsup letting you know that we have moved.

Our new home is Life in the Cell. In case you adverse to hyperlinks, here's the address spelled out: www.lifeinthecell.com

We've condensed down from our SweetHomeSports empire to a cozy Sox dedicated blog again. So please, come on by and don't forget to update your bookmarks/RSS feeds

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Hello RSS Readers

I noticed there are still a number of people getting the feed here at CSB, so I just wanted to make doubly sure that you guys know that I moved on to a different site; I didn't just disappear. As I said in my last post with the help of James and DT Kelly we've expanded into an all Chicago Sports site called Sweet Home Sports. We currently have a healthy stable of writers and have the Sox, Bulls, Bears, and Cubs site running. We're still looking for writers to write about the Blackhawks and the Fire; if you're interested drop me an e-mail (chisoxblog@yahoo.com).

Hopefully you guys find your way over to Sweet Home Sports and Life in the Cell, our Sox' page.

Cheers,
Jeeves

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Big News for CSB

Hey hey folks, big news over here at Chi-Sox Blog.

We're moving on to bigger and better things.

I've teamed up with James and DT Kelly to form Sweet Home Sports. It's a blog dedicated to all Chicago sports. Our master plan is to have a stable of writers for each Chicago team (Sox, Bulls, Bears, Cubs, Fire, Blackhawks) that can essentially do what we do here at CSB but for their respective team. Each blog is hosted out of our main site, Sweet Home Sports, as well as a separate blog where we'll comment on other things that happen in the sports world.

So please come check it out; if you're looking for Sox news, check out Life in the Cell, which will be the new home to the page as well as Pander and DickdaStick (once I get them plugged in).

Also, if you're interested in joining us and filling one of the writing positions, drop me an e-mail (chisoxblog@yahoo.com), and we'll see what we can work out; just keep in mind, it is not a paid position, but rather a labor of love.

Cheers,
Jeeves

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Transactions, Transactions, Transactions...Well, Only Two Really

Wave goodbye to Chris Stewart. KW traded him to his favorite trading partner (the Texas Rangers) for minor leaguer John Lujan. Lujan fits the recent mold of pitchers that Kenny has acquired; great arm, suspect control/mechanics. Lujan can reach upwards of 97 mph with his fastball. Odds are the Sox were looking at him earlier for the B-Mac trade, so he may be a guy that the Sox' Organization likes. He pitched in high-A ball, so don't look for him to reach the bigs anytime soon.

I will admit Stewart was a good defensive backstop, but outside of that he didn't really bring much to the table. With the addition of Toby Hall (thank God), Stewart didn't really have a place on the team. He would have been shuffled off to the minors and eventually would have run out of options. It's a good move by Kenny to flip an unecessary player for someone who could eventually make an impact.

In the minors, that leaves Gustavo Molina as the emergency catcher if AJ or Toby go down. Molina is pretty good with the glove, and he can't be much worse with the bat than Stewart, so for the third catcher spot, it isn't much of a downgrade.

One thing of note is that the trade of Stewart opens up a spot on the 40-man roster. Does that mean a trade is forthcoming? I don't know; only Kenny does, but hopefully that means some outfield help is on the way.

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The Sox also signed Joe Crede to a very frugal, one-year, $4.94 million contract. By signing Crede, the Sox avoided arbitration and seem to have saved a decent chunk of change. I figured Crede would get around $6 million or so, considering Boras was looking to get him $8 million.

Odds are Crede will be gone after next season or the year after, but avoiding the arbitration process is a plus if the Sox do have any intention on re-signing Crede long term. It's best not to drag your future players through the mud.

So rest assured Chicago, you man-crush is back for another season...I hope.

Monday, January 15, 2007

DA BEARS!

Here are the quick hit thoughts from my beer-addled mind.

-First Bears' playoff win I've ever seen, and if was fantastic. I'm for sure heading to O'Hara's again next week to watch the NFC Championship.

-Rex was pretty decent. He wasn't great, and by no means was he terrible. Once he learns to accept a sack, he'll be golden. I don't blame him for his pick, Moose should have caught that ball. The one thing Rex needs to work on for next week is making sure to lead his receivers more; there were a few drops by receivers on balls that were behind them. The receivers should have caught them, but Rex should make things easier on them.

-Speaking of golden, that's what Robbie Gould's right foot is made of. One thing I think should be pointed out is the fact that in Madden '07, Gould is not listed as our kicker.

-Rashied Davis: Breakout game.

-I'm so happy, I can't even tell you.

-Way to have cojones Lovie; we were begging him to go for it on 4th and 1, and thank God he did.

-I think, I think (yes I think, I think) that Cedric Benson is better than Thomas Jones, but TJ showed so much heart and intensity today. On both his TD's he went nuts, and I think the whole team should have his passion.

-Devin Hester has the same problem as Rex Grossman, maddening inconsistency. He kept dropping the ball, but then for that glorious 15 second span, we all thought he returned one for 6 (until of course it was called back on a penalty). Someone out there, was that a fair call or not? Was that penalty called on Ricky Manning Jr. or someone else?

-Ricky Manning Junior just makes plays. People tohught we overpayed for a nickelback, but it was worth it.

-Didn't hear Nathan Vasher's name once today, but maybe that's a good thing because we didn't hear Deion Branch's name all that much either.

-ROBBIE GOULD!

-I'm all done for now; check back later, I may add some thoughts as they roll through my mind.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Kenny Williams: A Beane or a Krause? -- Part 3

The two major trades of this off-season for the Sox have been those involving their starting pitchers, and it's these two trades that really started the comparisons to Beane and Krause in my mind.

I'll start with the most recent, the McCarthy trade for Danks and Masset. I'm optimistic about the trade, as I so often am when Kenny makes a move, but I can't help but seeing the terrors of trades past, namely one made by Jerry Krause. I don't think it will turn out poorly, but the truly unbiased part of me can't help but see McCarthy as Elton Brand and Danks as Tyson Chandler.

All us Bulls' fans know that Krause saw the upside of Chandler and decided that he potentially could (but didn't) have become a far more impactful player than Brand (who was averaging 20-10), so he pulled the trigger on the ill-fated trade. Likewise, Kenny sees more potential in Danks (as many scouts do). The difference I suppose in Kenny's situation, is that this trade isn't going to make or break the franchise as it did for the Bulls. he did get the added benefit of Nick Masset. Also, I trust Kenny more than I trust Krause, because at that point in his (Krause) career, he was desperate to put together a championship caliber team that had his stamp all over it.

The Garcia trade, on the other hand, reminded me instantly of Beane, and more specifically the Tim Hudson trade and the Mark Mulder trade; it reminded me of Beane on two accounts. First, the pure logistics of the trade, established started with one-year left on his contract for good, young pitching. Hudson was traded for Charles Thomas (an OF) and starters Dan Meyer and Juan Cruz, Mulder was traded for Danny Haren, Kiko Calero, and catcher Daric Brown, while Freddy was traded for starters Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd. I realize the Hudson trade doesn't look spectacular in hindsight; Cruz is starting for the D-Backs and Meyer and Thomas are in AAA (although Meyer could join the rotation), but that's not all that surprising. There is a reason young players in the minors are called prospects; it's because their futures look bright, but by no means does that guarentee success. I'm hoping and am confident that the Sox' trade will work out better and look more like the Mulder trade, but it's impossible to say at this point and it's a moot point. KW, like Beane, knew that it was better to jettison his pitcher while he had value, rather than let him walk away for nothing during free agency.

The second part of this trade that reminded me of Beane, is a little more obscure, but has the potential for a far reaching impact. In Moneyball, Michael Lewis tries to shed some light on Beane's keys to success; the thing that gets lost in translation is that Beane's aim was and continues to be to identify undervalued skillsets and acquire players that have such skills. A lot of people assume Moneyball is merely about players with high OBP, but that's just one of the skills (getting on base) that Beane felt was undervalued on the market at that time. Due to the undervaluation, players with high OBP, but say limited power or base-stealing ability were there for the signing/drafting at a vastly discounted price. Since OBP is now a hot stat in the Bigs (thanks in part to Beane), he is undoubtedly looking elsewhere to try and exploit the market.

So how does this relate to Kenny? Well, in my eyes, he's doing the same thing. In today's market, veteran starting pitchers and even veteran relief pitchers are way over priced. (Gil Meche for $55 million, anyone?) The reason for the overvaluation is two-fold; there is a shortage of good starting pitching out there (a whole different post, in itself, that I'll get to soon) and teams are suddenly flush with money due to revenue sharing, increased gate receipts, et al. As Beane looked for players with an undervalued skillset, Kenny set out to acquire young, cheap pitching talent. Many of the teams that sought to plug holes in their rotation relied on old, expensive pitchers; as we've all seen, Kenny went in the opposite direction, and he should be applauded for it. He has taken necessary steps to try and preserve this club's future while also strengthening the '07 ball club at a dirt cheap price.

The truly impressive thing about it all, is that Kenny horded young pitching talent. He didn't just pick up a one or two players; this off-season he has acquired John Danks, Nick Masset, Jacob Rasner, Andrew Sisco, Gio Gonzalez, Gavin Floyd, David Aardsma, and Carlos Vazquez. If your eyes just glazed over, that's 8 pitchers. The reason I think this is so impressive and important is because of the volatility of prospects and relievers. As I said before, you never know if a prospect will match his potential, but while each prospect's career is independent of eachother, the thought of two prospects failing is far more unlikely than just one prospect flaming out. By acquiring a number of prospects, Kenny is insulating the team from the strong possibility of a prospect not panning out.

The place that Kenny stands out the most is the way he's dealt with the bullpen. Quick, name the highest paid reliever on the team...Mike Macdougal? Good, now, how much does he make? He's due to be paid $1.5 million (after making $0.43 million last year). Every other reliever is making somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000. This to me is smart business sense. Consistently good relievers are pretty rare in this game. For every Mariano Rivera and K-Rod (note, that those are closers, I struggled to think of a middle reliver off the top of my head) you get a Kyle Farnesworth, a Cliff Politte, or a Neal Cotts. Relievers are up and down, volatile as I said. When you pay bottom dollar for your 'pen, if one pitcher is unproductive, he can just be dumped; had he been making $3 million a year, a GM would have to think twice about dumping him. The beauty of it, is that the bullpen isn't a bunch of low-rent dregs; Kenny has established a stable of good, hard-throwing relievers that have a legitimate chance to be one of the best units in the game. I laugh when I see pitchers like Joe Borowsky and Ryan Dempster make $4 million a year. The Sox pen as a whole will make somthing like $6 million.

I realize I'm giving Kenny a lot of credit for what he's done, but he's by no means the only GM to take such measures. Beane has been doing it for a while now and ironically enough Brian Cashman of the Yankees is following a similar plan as seen by his trades of Sheffield and Johnson. I find it ironic that the Yankees are looking for cheap pitching, when they are most responsible for the game's current financial landscape.

I think many GM's in the league are waiting with bated breath to see if Kenny's gambles pan out. If he does succeed and secures the Sox' future as championship contenders for the next handful of years or dare I dream it, an Atlanta like run of a decade plus, I'm sure GM's will suddenly start valuing their cheap starters more. They'll try follow Kenny's model, much as GM's followed Beane's model the past few years.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Quick Hits on the BCS Title Game

I know everyone in the world has already said their bit about the championship, but I consider myself an avid college football fan, so here's my quick hit thoughts on the game.

Troy Smith got owned


Everytime he dropped back to pass, I was worried he was going to get sacked (yes, I was cheering against Florida). Even when he was in the shotgun, he had trouble getting off solid passes.
Give a lot of credit to Florida's line for that. The Gators didn't have to do a lot of fancy blitzes, because their ends had no problem running by the offensive line.

Good-bye smashmouth OSU football?

OSU has long been known for smashmouth, run the ball up the gut, style football, but they completely abandoned the running game yesterday. Antonio Pittman had only 10 carries; naturally you would assume he had so few carries because he couldn't run the ball effectively. The funny thing is he averaged 6.2 ypc. OSU tried airing the ball out too much at the start, and once they fell behind they forgot the running game.

Zone defense against an accurate passer = gross.

The Buckeyes refused to get out of a zone scheme and Chris Leak absolutely picked apart the secondary. He gashed the defense for 6 and 7 yard passes and OSU was helpless to stop him.

Injuries can hurt.

If Teddy Ginn played the whole game, he no doubt would have made an impact, but it wouldn't have been enough. Unless they decided to put him on the line to block Harvey, and then put a headset on him and have him call a non-zone defense, then maybe, he could have won the game for the Buckeyes.

Where was Tressel?

Senor Sweater Vest was pretty much absent from this game. The only memorable move he made was that 4th-1 call on the OSU 29 yard line. I actually liked that move, but I didn't like the play they called. I fully expected Tressel to change tactics and light a fire under his team in the second half, but there was no such change.

Big ups and respecc to Florida.

They played a complete game. Their defense was early-season Bears-esque, the special teams was solid, as was the offense. They totally earned the win, but I still feel like OSU is the better team, maybe it's my Big Ten bias, but I felt like this game was the perfect storm for Florida. They just happened to have their best game (again, props for that) in the championship, while OSU had by and large their worst game.

Love for the kicker.

Florida kicker, Chris Heltand was 4-13 on the season and had the world's shortest leash coming into the game, but he came through with two 40+ yard field goals.

The most fitting half-time show ever.















Did anyone notice that the OSU band played "My Heart Will Go On" during the break? I'd say that was the most fitting song, for the occasion. The OSU juggernaut was taking on water at that point and completely sunk in the second half.

I wonder if the band director had two songs for the band to perform. The Titanic one if the Buckeyes were losing and a different song if they were winning or at least in the game.

Baines lives to see another vote… and other various opinions…

Thanks for the warm welcome. I feel the only way to start my career here is to plagiarize myself!

For those that don't know me or my writings, I'm a realist at heart. Growing up a White Sox fan had a lot to do with that. What I say might not be the most popular, and may even sometimes sound anti-White Sox-- but trust me, it's tough love.

With that out of the way, let's move on.. shall we??

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Harold Baines eeked through to next year’s voting for the Hall of Fame, being only one of two freshman candidates to move on to next year's vote (the other was McGwire).

I can honestly say I’m torn on whether Harold deserves to be in the Hall. On the personal side, I have many, many fabulous memories of Harold Baines from my childhood. He was the player that always seemed to be up when the game was on the line and he was a lock to produce. And when he didn’t, it seemed like a fluke.

However, I don’t think his numbers are good enough to be enshrined-- 2866 hits, 384 HR, .289 AVG. These are fantastic numbers, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think they’re HOF numbers. And don’t bother emailing me about Player Q who had worse stats and is in the HOF. I won’t listen. ;)

Harold, I wish you all the luck in the world in the next 14 years, you’ll always be Mr. Clutch to me.

——–

I have to say I was glad to see McGwire not make it to the Hall in his first attempt. It makes you wonder though, would his vote count have been the same sans all the steroid crap? I’m thinking no. But would his numbers have been the same? Again, I’m thinking no.

But it does raise an interesting question– what’s going to happen when Bonds reaches eligibility. Will he sail through? Or will he be met with the same (apparent) apprehension. I for one, hope so.

——–

Uribe– Will he stay or will he play?

I’m hoping he stays at home this year. And while he’s home watching the team play without him, hopefully he’ll be practicing his swing, getting rid of that gawd-awful “I’m a power hitter” mentality.

———-

McCarthy—

I’m going to say something that probably isn’t very popular– I’m glad to see him go. And BM may very well make me eat these words one day, but i don’t think he’s the pitcher he’s been hyped to be. I just hope the trade doesn’t turn out to qualify for Sports Illustrated worst trades of all time honor.

Time will tell.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Housekeeping

Sorry for the hiatus, I realize these are my first three posts of the New Year. I didn't mean to go so long between posts, but Winter Break sort of disrupted my blogging pattern (namely writing when I should be doing homework). Rest assured, I'll be back in full force by the weekend. I can't make promises with regards to this week, but odds are I'll be posting prety regularly again.

Look forward to my take on the best pitcher's of all-time. It'll be similar to my analysis of the best hitters, where I won't provide a definitive answer so much as I will provide some tools to compare pitchers from different eras.

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Also, welcome to D.T. Kelly, the newest writer at CSB! D.T. for awhile ran his own sports blog, and was a frequent commentor on this site. He's recently started the blog, the Exploding Pinwheel, so between here and his site, you should hear plenty from DT.

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A Belated Happy New Year to you all! My resolution is to have the White Sox win another World Series.

Crede's Glove Gets Some Love

Lee Panas over at Tiger Tales, has recently taken a look into fielding metrics. He took a look at various different measures, but due to small inefficiencies in each, he took the average rankings from various metrics to come out with his "average fielding rank." I'm glad to say that his ranking of 3B looks favorably upon our very own Joe Clutch. He's also got up a ranking for SS, and I'm sure the rest are to follow soon.

Kenny Williams: A Beane or a Krause? -- Part 2

I scrounged up most of the trades that the Sox have made during the Kenny Williams era, just to see whether they can afford us any insight into his more recent trades. I also went ahead, and grouped them into categories; feel free to tell me where you think I went wrong with the categories.

Heists

1/15/2003 Acquired pitcher Bartolo Colon and infielder Jorge Nunoz from Montreal in exchange for pitchers Rocky Biddle and Orlando Hernandez, outfielder Jeff Liefer and cash considerations

6/27/2004 Acquired RHP Freddy Garcia, C Ben Davis and cash considerations from Seattle in exchange for C Miguel Olivo, minor league OF Jeremy Reed and minor league INF Michael Morse.

7/31/2004 Acquired RHP Jose Contreras and cash considerations from the New York Yankees for RHP Esteban Loaiza.

3/8/2006 Acquired INF Alex Cintron from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for RHP Jeff Bajenaru.

3/20/2006 Acquired LHP Matt Thornton from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for OF Joe Borchard.

Good Pulls

6/29/2001 Alan Embree, LHP, was acquired from San Francisco in exchange for Derek Hasselhoff, RHP

1/15/2003 Acquired pitcher Orlando Hernandez and cash considerations from the New York Yankees in exchange for pitcher Antonio Osuna and minor-league pitcher Delvis Lantigua.

7/1/2003 Acquired outfielder Carl Everett from Texas in exchange for frank francisco, josh rupe, and anthony webster

7/29/2003 Obtained LHP Scott Schoeneweis and minor league RHP Doug Nickle from the Angels for RHPs Gary Glover and Scott Dunn and LHP Tim Bittner.

12/2/2003 Acquired infielder Juan Uribe from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for infielder Aaron Miles.

11/25/2005 Acquired 1B Jim Thome and cash considerations from the Phillies for CF Aaron Rowand, LHP Dan Haigwood and LHP Gio Gonzalez

12/13/2005 Acquired INF Rob Mackowiak from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for LHP Damaso Marte..

6/15/2006 Acquired RHP David Riske from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for LHP Javier Lopez;

7/24/2006 Acquired RHP Mike MacDougal from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for nonroster LHP Tyler Lumsden and nonroster RHP Daniel Cortes

Winner by a nose

1/14/2001 Acquired pitchers David Wells and Matt DeWitt from the Toronto Blue Jays for pitchers Mike Sirotka, Kevin Beirne and Mike Williams and outfielder Brian Simmons

7/13/2002 Acquired 3B D''Angelo Jimenez from San Diego for catcher Humberto Quintero and outfielder Alex Fernandez

7/29/2002 Traded catcher Sandy Alomar to Colorado for RHP Enemencio Pacheco.

2/13/2005 Acquired minor league OF Jerry Owens from Washington in exchange for OF Alex Escobar.

More or Less Even

7/26/2001 James Baldwin, RHP, was traded to Los Angeles for minor leaguers Onan Masaoka, Gary Majewski and Jeff Barry.

7/31/2002 Traded RHP Bobby Howry to Boston in exchange for RHP Franklin Francisco and LHP Byeong An.

12/21/2001 Acquired OF Scott Bikowski and IF Josh Shaffer from the Anaheim Angels for P Dan Mozingo and P Jim Sweeney in a deal of minor league players.

3/27/2004 Acquired OF Timo Perez from the New York Mets in exchange for RHP Matt Ginter.

6/17/2004 Traded RHP Billy Koch and cash considerations to the Florida Marlins for minor league SS Wilson Valdez.

7/18/2004 Acquired OF Carl Everett and cash considerations from Montreal in exchange for minor league RHP Jon Rauch and RHP Gary Majewski.

7/31/2005 Acquired INF Geoff Blum from the San Diego Padres in exchange for LHP Ryan Meaux;

Minimally bad

7/1/2003 Acquired second baseman Roberto Alomar and cash considerations from the New York Mets in exchange for minor league pitchers Edwin Almonte and Royce Ring and infielder Andrew Salvo.

7/23/2006 Acquired C Sandy Alomar Jr. from the Dodgers in exchange for RHP B.J. LaMura

Poor Trade

7/25/2002 Traded 2B Ray Durham to Oakland for RHP Jon Adkins

7/28/2002 Traded OF Kenny Lofton to San Francisco for RHP Felix Diaz and LHP Ryan Meaux.

8/5/2004 Acquired 2B Roberto Alomar from the Diamondbacks for cash and a player to be named.

(Non-Magic) Beans for a Cow

12/13/2001 Acquired RHP Todd Ritchie and C Lee Evans from the Pittsburgh Pirates for RHP Sean Lowe, RHP Kip Wells and RHP Josh Fogg.

12/3/2002 Acquired closer Billy Koch, Neal Cotts and outfielder Daylan Holt from Oakland in exchange for pitcher Keith Foulke, catcher Mark Johnson, minor league pitcher Joe Valentine and cash considerations.

Can't judge

12/13/2004 Acquired OF Scott Podsednik, RHP Luis Vizcaino and a player to be named from Milwaukee in exchange for OF Carlos Lee.

-We got the short end when it comes to raw talent, but Pods helped catalyze the '05 World Series run; I highly doubt we would have won a title without him, so I can't really judge this one. Plus as James mentioned, it freed up a lot of cash for the likes of JD.

12/20/2005 Acquired RHP Javier Vazquez and cash considerations from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for RHP Orlando Hernandez, RHP Luis Vizcaino and OF Chris Young.

-Too soon to tell. If you believe Coop fixed Javy down the stretch (keep in mind for starters, it usually takes him longer) then this trade isn't so terrible. If you believe Javy is a bust then this is a poor trade.

I'd venture to say that Kenny has been more consistent with his trades as of late. His two albatrosses were in '01 and '02 and the results of all his good trades can be seen with the culmination of the '05 title. That probably bodes well for his recent slew of trades, unless you're the pessimistic sort and figure he's long overdue for a terrible trade.

Unfortunately (for the sake of analysis) Kenny hasn't made a trade for a prospect, where he also dealt a prospect, so we have no prior experience to jump off of. In general he has been good when he's dealt prospects. The Vazquez trade notwithstanding, Gio Gonzalez seems to be the best prospect to be shipped off, and the Sox got him back. Frank Francisco had a good shot at being something, but the chair throwing coupled with Tommy John Surgery stopped his career in its tracks.

Kenny and his staff seem to know his players pretty well. Jeremy Reed was acknowledged as the Sox best prospect and he was the minor leaguer of the year in '03, yet KW flipped him and a few others for Freddy Garcia. There were definitely split feelings over the trade, but the Sox made out like filthy bandits in the end.

Another big problem that plagued Kenny early on was trading with teams from the Bay Area, but that isn't a concern with these moves. (Ahhhh, the sarcasm)

This somewhat became and exercise in futility, looking at all these trades. They weren't as relevant as I hoped they would be, but it's interesting enough to look at. Although all this should definitely be taken with a huge grain of salt, I will say that recent history looks encouraging.

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I just want to bring up this question, see what y'all think...
Kenny has done a good job restocking the minors with arms, but what do you think is going to happen with regards to the minors and positional players? We don't have any studs in the minors outside of Sweeney and Fields, and some would even argue that they aren't studs. The Sox have no legitimate infield help in the upper leagues. Do you think Kenny will start pawning off some older players for position prospects or will he look to pick some up in the draft? Any creative trades you can think of that would net the Sox some talent without sabotaging the '07 team?

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Coming soon in the Kenny series...

-I'll outline his free-agent signings in a similar fashion. For not other reason than because I think it will be interesting to look at as a whole.

-A final comparison of Kenny to Billy Beane. I'll compare some of the Sox trades (recent trades and potential trades) to similar ones made by Beane.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Kenny Williams: A Beane or a Krause? -- Part 1

To be honest, Kenny Williams reputation as a world class GM has taken a serious hit this off-season, especially in Chicago; the media, particularly, has been mercilessly ripping him ever since the Garcia trade. Going into the 2006 season, the prevailing thought (at least among Sox fans) was that Kenny was a genius. He created a World Series caliber team, capable of competing for another title; he may have slipped up with the Vazquez/Chris Young trade, but it was at least justifiable (with the chance of being a savvy trade) and a far cry from the disaster that was the Todd Ritchie trade.

It’s incredible to see so much of the media and so many fans, for that matter, forsake the fact the Sox won the ’05 title and the fact that the Sox had back-to-back 90-win seasons for the first time since ’65. Usually there’s a three-year grace period or so, after a championship, where the GM and the coach are relatively safe from being torn apart by the fans and the media, but apparently Kenny won’t be afforded that immunity.

Perhaps it’s due to our nature, as Chicago sports fans, to assume the worst and fear all is lost, that has led so many to lose confidence in Kenny. I haven’t given up my faith yet; I still feel he is undoubtedly one of the best GM’s in the majors. I agree that his moves were ballsy and risky, but I see the direction he’s trying to take and I can see his reasoning. It’s possible that I’m underestimating the radical-ness of Kenny’s moves and this season could very well end up being his downfall, but only time will tell; at this time and point, I’m willing to give KW the benefit of the doubt. He did after all help get the Sox into the position where fans could make legitimate gripes that he’s scuttling a shot at the ’07 championship in favor of taking multiple shots down the road. I’d much rather have those gripes than debating whether the Sox will finish second or third in the division.

As I got to thinking about Kenny, his recent moves reminded me of two other GM’s in particular. One is lauded by many as the best GM in baseball, an innovative GM who has changed the way people analyze baseball. The other constructed the supporting cast to create one of the greatest basketball dynasties of all time, but was later disgraced in the eyes of fans as he sought to create another dynasty, this time from the ground up, and gambled the team’s future on signing free agents and later a risky trade. I’m speaking of course of Billy Beane of the Oakland A’s and Jerry Krause formerly of the Chicago Bulls.

Like KW, both of Beane and Krause got their start as scouts. I think this is at least partially responsible for why Beane and Krause are usually such keen evaluators of talent. While all three have made their mistakes (more on Kenny’s in later parts of this series), you cannot argue the fact they possess an eye for talent. Having such an eye for talent helped both Beane and Krause establish a team that could consistently win. When Krause stepped into the GM position, he already had Michael Jordan, but he was able to twice craft a team around MJ that would win three straight championships. That’s no small feat; thanks to his acquisitions of Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, Ron Harper, Toni Kukoc, Dennis Rodman, etc. he brought Chicago 6 championships, with the high point being the 72-win squad. Likewise, since Beane took over the A’s, Oakland has averaged 89 wins a season, while maintaining a super, tight budget. Although, Beane hasn’t won a championship, he’s hardly the one to be at fault, you can thank the “All-American Crapshoot” that is the MLB playoffs for that.

After runs of extended success, both Beane and Krause were faced with the prospect of overhauling their roster. Although neither move was technically, absolutely, 100% necessary, the terms at the time dictated that both Krause and Beane had to try and take a step forward for the good of their respective teams. Budget constraints forced Beane to surprisingly break up the “Big 3”, while the impending retirements of Phil Jackson and MJ as well as some bad blood with remaining players forced Krause to go into complete rebuilding mode. This is the point where the careers of Krause and Beane really start to deviate.

Krause sought free agency as the fix for the Bulls’ problems, and keyed in on freeing up cap space for the ballyhooed free agent crop of 2000 featuring the likes of Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, and Tracy McGrady. As we all know this plan failed miserable as Krause and the Bulls were spurned by even lower rung free agents like Tim Thomas and Eddie Jones. This led to the 2001 draft day disaster where Krause traded Elton Brand for Tyson Chandler. By most accounts, Chandler had a higher upside than Brand, and Krause banked on Chandler reaching said ceiling (keep this in mind for when the Brandon McCarthy trade is brought up, later on). Krause envisioned having Chandler and Eddy Curry team up and lead the Bulls to another period of dominance. His plan and his risk never took to fruition and eventually led to his resignation.

Beane, on the other hand, had a much more successful turn around, especially considering his team never had to sink as low as the Bulls did. After missing the playoffs for the first time in 4-years and realizing that budget constraints would cause the A’s to lose some of their star pitchers to free agency, Beane took the iniative to trade both Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder, 2/3 of the Big 3. There was talk at the time of Beane trading one of the three, but it came as a shock to many that he ended up trading two of them. Beane essentially sacrificed a few wins in 2005 (a year where they did not make the playoffs but remained very competitive) to ensure that his team would get some value in return and would not be sunk by the departure of Mulder and Hudson via free agency. (Keep this in mind when the Freddy Garcia trade is brought up, later on, as well as the thought of trading Mark Buehrle).

In my eyes, the stories of Beane’s and Krause’s career follow a similar arch until they diverge greatly at the end. They established winning organizations, and are faced with trying to secure continued success in the near future. Kenny is currently saddled with a similar situation. The Sox lose Javier Vazquez, Mark Buehrle, Jermaine Dye, and Tadahito Iguchi after ’07 and Jon Garland and AJ Pierzynski after ’08. Kenny could forsake the future and go broke for a championship in ’07, or try and preserve the Sox chances for winning a title now, while maximizing the team’s chances for prolonged success. In the coming years, we’ll get to see first hand whether Kenny’s methodology was a success or not. We’ll get to see if he’ll be a Krause or a Beane. Perhaps most importantly for baseball, we’ll get to see if Kenny’s plan of building around young, cheap pitchers (as Beane also did) takes hold, because that could cause a paradigm shift in the manner that teams build their rotations. We all know where I stand, but here’s hoping, again, that Kenny turns out to be a Beane.

In coming parts, I’ll compare Kenny’s recent trades to moves made by Krause and Beane and examine both the similarities and the departures to the moves and what that means to the future. Also, I’ll take a look at some of Kenny’s more noteworthy trades from over the years to see whether it affords Sox fans reasons to be optimistic or pessimistic about these recent changes.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pass the Ci(n)tron

We've re-upped with Alex Cintron. It's a pretty good deal for the Sox; they signed him to a 1-year $1.9 million contract. He's a useful back-up considering the number of positions he can play, and he can hold his own at the plate.

I'm still working on the Kenny piece as we speak, so check out Jim's ranking of the top-40 individual season's in White Sox history; it'll help put JD's great season into perspective.

Coming Soon

I'm working on a two or three part series about Kenny Williams. It should be pretty interesting; I hope to have part one up by tomorow evening, so keep an eye out for that.

Monday, December 25, 2006

And A Happy Jesus' Birthday to you...

Merry Christmas everyone!

From everyone here at Chi-Sox Blog, I hope you have a great and safe Christmas!
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