The Case For Trading Garland
The team's unfocused and heartless play the last week has rendered moot the question of whether the Sox could manage and sustain an improbable charge at the Twins. Our attention must consequently turn to the 2005 season, as industrious GM Ken Williams faces the most difficult off-season of his tenure. While Williams approved foolish gambles early on, the team has benefited from his stewardship, as major needs have been met near the trade deadline for two consecutive seasons. The players have failed to deliver both individually and as a team, although Jon Garland seems unusually adept at being a miserable pitcher and teammate. After pitching terribly in an outing several weeks ago, Garland failed to accept responsibility for his ineffectiveness and suggested teammate Paul Konerko's error cost him the game. His reaction is unsurprising, as his behavior is that of an egocentric malcontent who is quite obviously incapable of pitching well for a meaningful stretch in the major leagues.
The Sox should trade Garland, and the sooner the better. If a waiver deal is possibly at this late hour, the Sox would be wise to make almost any deal that would bring young, inexpensive talent. The team could then look at Buehrle and Garcia as legitimate top of the rotation talent, acknowledge that Jose Contreras is a quality fourth starter who has no business pitching third in the rotation. Williams could then obtain another quality starter to pitch third, do a better job of providing a chance to win from the fifth slot, and remodel the offense in the hope of increasing team speed and hitter versatility. The offense would feature Carlos Lee and Frank Thomas, and the steadily improving Aaron Rowand could lead a core of overachieving "grinders." Strong relief pitching would be vital, but a team built this way could challenge for a pennant under the right circumstances. It seems a fact of recent baseball history that the easiest way to field a competitive team with limited financial resources is through strong pitching. Jon Garland has worn out his welcome on the South Side, and his trade could bring more young talent while freeing up some of the dollars to bring in another dependable arm.