View Full Version : My, my. how times & thoughts have changed !

12-13-2005, 01:09 PM
July 26, 2002 article from Joe Sheehan, Baseball Prospectus.

The Daily Prospectus: Time to Go, Kenny
by Joe Sheehan

I stumbled in around 3 a.m. last night after the longest Pizza Feed we've ever had and a very late dinner in midtown. As I do no matter when I get home, I fired up the laptop to see what I'd missed while I was away, and saw that Ray Durham had been traded to the A's for a failed Yankees prospect from the late 1980s.
Oh, Jon Adkins. Well, I had no idea who he was, but at least he wasn't Steve Adkins. He's a non-prospect, though, a 24-year-old with an ERA of 6.03 at Sacramento. It's a great trade for the A's, who need the OBP injection Durham provides at the top of the lineup.
In the wake of the deal, the idea of playing Durham in center field has been floated. It's a bad one. Yes, Mark Ellis has played better than Terrence Long has, but asking Durham to do on-the-job training in the middle of a pennant race with a new team is a recipe for disaster. As bad a center fielder as Long is, moving him to let Durham roam out there doesn't help the situation, and probably hurts it. Durham is a very good solution for the second base and leadoff problems; the A's should let him be those things without risking injury or embarrassment.
Is there any general manager who has done less with more than Kenny Williams has done in the last 20 months? He inherited a division winner with a low payroll, a core of good young players and a farm system bursting at the seams with talent. Under his watch, the team has shed talent like my wife's cat Ashley sheds hair, while adding payroll and bad players like an Angelos on speed.
Has there been some bad fortune? Sure. Frank Thomas missed most of 2001, and his bat has missed most of 2002. The Sox bullpen has been beset by injuries--Bill Simas, Kelly Wunsch, Antonio Osuna--while the healthy pitchers have lost a considerable amount of effectiveness--Keith Foulke, Bobby Howry. Jerry Manuel hasn't handled the problems well, in particular losing faith in Foulke this season.
That said, the White Sox should have been able to handle these issues. They had organizational depth with which to fill holes and, if necessary, trade for good players. Williams didn't do that: he spent money badly and used the fruits of the farm system to feed his veteran fetish. Don't you think Kip Wells and Josh Fogg would look better than Todd Ritchie has in the Sox rotation? Williams has relentlessly traded young players for old ones, and is left with a below-.500 team that has been reduced to dumping two months' worth of a moderate salary for a Triple-A non-prospect.
Is Williams the game's worst GM? I'm beginning to think so, given that all the other candidates (Syd Thrift, Allard Baird, Chuck LaMar) have some positives on their resume. Thrift has actually done a good job of finding free talent for this year's Orioles team (Rodrigo Lopez, among others), while Baird has learned a bit about sunk costs. LaMar... OK, it's hard to think of much good to say about Chuck LaMar.
What positive things has Williams done? Chris Singleton for Willie Harris looks like a decent trade. Picking up Antonio Osuna from the Dodgers hasn't worked out badly. Jose Canseco played well after being signed last year. These moves collectively don't cancel out any one of the disastrous trades Williams made in which the Sox got older, lost depth and kept the fruits of their farm system from making contributions.
Jerry Manuel will take the fall for this one, but it's mostly Kenny Williams' fault. If the Sox are going to get back on track, it's going to start with Williams' dismissal and the hiring of a competent general manager.
Thanks to everyone who attended the Pizza Feeds in Manhattan the past two nights. I had a great time, as did Greg Spira and Doug Pappas. Special thanks also to David Schoenfield of ESPN.com and Alan Schwarz of Baseball America, who took time out of their busy schedules to meet some of BP's readership.
Our next Pizza Feed in L.A. is next month. Details to follow next week. Gary's having one in NorCal next week, and Chicago readers--heh, I made a funny--don't worry: we're going to have one there Real Soon Now. Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by clicking here (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/cgi-bin/contact.cgi?recipient=Joe+Sheehan&subject=July+26,+2002+-+The+Daily+Prospectus).

12-13-2005, 01:15 PM
Stop the presses! Somebody was wrong about something in the past!

12-13-2005, 01:23 PM
The whole core of the argument is two trades, Durham-Adkins and the Pirates´fiasco.

There´s no note of the success Damaso Marte was having in the 2002 season as a reliever.

Durham was traded to save $3.5 million from the payroll (his second half salary) and to open up an opportunity for Willie Harris to play everyday to prove he would be the starter in 2003.

The other reason Durham was dealt is there was much consideration that the FA compensation system of sandwich draft picks would be gone and that the White Sox would get absolutely nothing in return. Adkins was a pitcher that eventually did contribute one strong year out of the pen.

This period of time for the Sox gets black marks because of Julio Ramirez, DAngelo Jimenez and Lofton-Clayton.

Also not mentioned was the botched James Baldwin trade for Onan Masaoka and the wrong Berry. Not to mention Lofton for Felix Diaz.

Later on, we would get Paulino Reynoso from the Rockies for Alomar and Frank Francisco for Howry, who we later flipped for Carl Everett.

I think the Adkins trade wasn´t such a big deal in the long-term....more in terms of upsetting the fan base than an actual on-field loss, because we weren´t going anywhere in 2002.

But it was compounded by bad trade number 2, Foulke for Koch-Cotts. The only redeeming thing about that trade was N. Cotts, obviously.

Flight #24
12-13-2005, 01:40 PM
The core problem in big Joe's argument is a failure to recognize that that "system bursting at the seams with talent" consisted primarily of names like Borchard, Malone, Stumm, Ginter, Rauch. The only "talent that was "shed" was Wells & Fogg, i.e. a serviceable #4 and #5 starter in the NL. That doesn't excuse the Ritchie deal, but it's a far cry from that Joe insinuates - that there were many such deals instead of 1.

In fact, from that "#1 ranked farm system", it's arguable that the best players ended up being Buehrle, Rowand, Crede. And guess where they all were last October - still with the team. And Jow conveniently neglects that at the time of the Durham trade, comp picks were eliminated from the CBA, leaving no benefit to keeping Durham and making KW's negotiating posture weaker.

Yet another myth about KW that was never really based in much fact. Even now, you'll hear "Kenny has really grown into the job", which is tripe. He did a pretty good job from the get go, had some bad luck (Thomas/Wells injuries), and made 2 bad trades(Ritchie, Koch) that were more than offset by a ton of good ones.

12-13-2005, 01:41 PM
Many of us are aware how big a stinker the Todd Ritchies deal was.

But Kenny learned from his early mistakes and is one of the games best.