Friday, November 25, 2005
Big Deal, Part I
For a trade essentially made at gunpoint, the Phils did pretty well for themselves. They absolutely had to get rid of Thome somehow, someway, and it's surprising that they got anything valuable in return. They still have to pay roughly half of Thome's owed salary, but there were fears that they would have to chip in much more than that. For their troubles, they nabbed two of Chicago's best pitching prospects from Kenny Williams and got a pretty good outfielder. While Rowand is nothing special with the bat, he plays a great center field and could be used as trade bait this winter for something more useful. The most important part of the deal for the Phillies, however, is that now Ryan Howard gets the starting first base job all to himself, mercifully ending the ridiculous notion of moving him to the outfield.
As for the White Sox, well, this trade just serves as more evidence that sometimes even doofus GMs get lucky and win a World Series, too. Thome is still a great hitter when healthy, and assuming the Sox can bring Konerko back, his presence will greatly improve a mediocre lineup. Unfortunately, Thome only played in 59 games last season and isn't going to get any healthier at age 35. Even with the Phillies picking up half of the $43.5 million still owed to Thome, this could become an albatross for the Sox if Thome can't fully recover from his elbow problem.
The most mindboggling part of the deal, though, is Kenny Williams' bizarre insistence on pushing the trade through now when he could have just waited a while and gotten Thome for less. Speculaton had it that Thome wasn't going anywhere until spring training, and due to Thome's contract and injury problems few teams were even in the running for him anyway. Apparently this wasn't going to stop Williams from doing something rash, like giving up two good pitching prospects for the right to snatch Thome away when no one else really cared. It's nice to see that Williams fancies himself one-upping the competition even when there is no competition to speak of. Even if he had exercised some patience, god forbid, there probably still wouldn't have been much interest and he probably could have forced the Phils to eat way more of Thome's salary. In the end, Williams turned out to be the kid camping out in front of WalMart for five nights to get the XBOX 360 when he could have just waited a little while and gotten it when the price came down.
Of course, strange snap judgement deals are Williams' forte, from the Billy Koch disaster to the Carlos Lee trade. It's hard to fault him too much after the guy won a World Championship, but this trade sort of mirrors the Eddy Curry deal in the NBA. It looks fine on the face of it, but look deeper and the long term negatives far outweigh the short term positives.