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jklm
12-13-2001, 01:28 AM
From Phil Rogers

http://www.chicagosports.com/columnists/content/column/0,2007,169882,00.html

BOSTON - Hard to believe but Ron Schueler didn't even bother going to the winter meetings two years ago.

He figured there was so little chance to improve his White Sox team that he stayed back in Chicago, sending only farm director Ken Williams as his replacement.

While the general managers of other clubs were exchanging scouting reports and other lies face to face, Schueler said he was working the phones.

Maybe he was; maybe he was taking it easy. Who cares?

The thing that mattered was that a few weeks after baseball's best window for media exposure closed, Schueler and rookie GM Dean Taylor of the Milwaukee Brewers agreed on a deal that brought Jose Valentin and Cal Eldred to the White Sox for Jaime Navarro. It might have been the trade of the century but it certainly didn't get as much coverage as the one that got away from the Sox on Wednesday.

Williams was left in the middle of another fine mess when the Anaheim Angels seemingly backed out of a done deal for Darin Erstad.

He tried to turn his thoughts to other possibilities, with a deal for Pittsburgh starter Todd Ritchie one that could bear fruit Thursday, but it will take him a while to distance himself from Erstad, even if he and Angels GM Bill Stoneman were overruled by Anaheim ownership.

Maybe Williams should just stay home next winter. He would hate to consider that possibility because he loves the action. But the reality is that unless Thursday is a very good day he will leave Boston like most other general managers—and all agents—frustrated by the gridlock that has fallen over the player market.

It could turn into a good thing that the White Sox didn't succeed in getting Erstad, who could leave as a free agent after 2002. It left them in a strong position to continue talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates over outfielder Brian Giles, a two-time All-Star who is signed through 2005.

"Giles is the guy to get," an executive with another club said. "The Pirates are talking to a lot of clubs about him. I don't get it. To me you'd just trade away everybody else and keep Giles."

According to major-league sources, the White Sox originally targeted Ritchie as the reason to talk to the Pirates. But they were not rebuffed when they mentioned Giles, a career .303 hitter who has hit at least 35 homers three years in a row.

As Williams tried to get the bad taste out of his mouth over Erstad, Williams he said he had "no choice to but to continue on in putting together the club in the best way possible." That means he will explore every way possible to get Giles.

According to sources, the White Sox's talks regarding Giles have been preliminary. There are many moving parts—most of which are top players under 25—involved in the discussions, which could take weeks to get to the point where the Erstad deal apparently was Wednesday afternoon.

A few days ago, Pittsburgh executives downplayed their chances of making significant trades. But newly hired GM David Littlefield painted a different picture for reporters Wednesday.

Littlefield seemed to position himself to trade Giles, whose popularity soared when he signed a six-year, $45-million deal with the Pirates at midseason in 2000. The deal extended for three seasons after Giles could have filed for free agency and seemingly committed him to Pittsburgh through age 34.

"The idea of considering trading Giles goes against the thoughts of a general manager in a vacuum, a perfect world," Littlefield said. "He's a highly productive guy. It's hard to see gaps in his game. He's such a complete player—power, on-base, slugging, batting average and he does a find job defensively.

"He's the kind of player you want to keep. He's the kind of player you want to build your club around. But we have a lot of gaps."

Littlefield sees Giles as the quickest way possible toward addressing Pittsburgh's lack of talent. The Pirates lost 100 games in 2001, in part because of injuries to an already thin pitching staff.

"We do have some significant challenges," Littlefield said. "I just don't think we can continue to say no to things without considering them."

There's no question that Giles would be a difficult player for Williams to add. He might have to put together a five- or six-player package headed by Carlos Lee, Jon Garland and maybe also Kip Wells. The price could be higher than what the New York Mets paid to add Roberto Alomar.

In addition to known commodities like Lee, Garland and Wells, the Pirates might also ask for top pitching prospects Corwin Malone and Jon Rauch.

They probably could be persuaded to settle on inventory from a second tier that includes the likes of Dennis Ulacia, a 20-year-old lefty last seen throwing a four-hit shutout in the Southern League playoffs, and 25-year-old right-hander Edwin Almonte, who set a Southern record with 36 saves.

This is a dangerous game to play. But with his willingness to jump into deals for David Wells and Erstad, Williams has shown he isn't afraid. Now if only one works out right.

RedPinStripes
12-13-2001, 02:10 AM
I would be wiling to give up 5 or 6 players for ritchie and Giles. The Sox need to get rid of quite a few guys on this roster. Anyone out of this group is ok by me if they are bringing Giles here.

Wells, Liefer, Garland Lee, Durham, Singleton, Rauch, Ginter, Clayton Or Rowand. What ever it takes out of this combo. What ever it takes to gets done. If it takes 3 , or 6, of them, I don't care. Ritchie can win more then 11 games with a good offense behind him and Giles is just the guy you want on any team.