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White Sox Fri Jul 29 2011

Kenny Williams: Making Moves, Faking Moves

Thumbnail image for white sox.gifIt's July, which means Kenny Williams is trading guys. And for once, he seems to be looking at the price tags.

Sure, there's some baseball logic to the Wednesday trade that sent Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to Toronto for reliever Jason Frasor and minor-league arm Zach Stewart. As that thinking goes, the White Sox have six solid-to-good starting pitchers, so why not trade one of them for more bullpen depth?

Jackson will be a free agent in two months, anyway, and Frasor has a club option for next year, a sterling 3.08 ERA the past three seasons, and a 2.12 ERA in 17 career innings against the Sox (which sadly is probably all Ozzie knows or cares about).

The fly in that ointment is that while bullpen depth is all well and good, the Sox do have Sergio Santos and Jesse Crain and Chris Sale and Matt Thornton. Their offense, on the other hand, is in the bottom third in scoring runs. You know, those points that help you win games? Preventing them is awesome, but scoring them is equally important.

Thus do we come to the crux of the matter: The White Sox couldn't trade Edwin Jackson directly for Colby Rasmus, the promising young outfielder Toronto immediately acquired from St. Louis for Jackson, because the whole point of the deal was getting rid of Mark Teahen's contract. Chicago couldn't get St. Louis to take Teahen, so they had to settle for the Blue Jays' moderate offer.

Teahen's much-maligned contract actually has only one more season on it, for $5.5 million, but Kenny acknowledged money was an issue in the deal. "We needed to make a little bit of a dent in our payroll here, which has been stressed a little bit," he told reporters.

In other words, this doesn't change much on the field. Mostly the Sox are cleaning up their own mistakes -- how's that Jackson-for-Daniel-Hudson trade looking now? -- though at least they're doing a good job of it.

Stay tuned, as rumors swirl around Carlos Quentin and Sox fans wait for a big move that might not come this year. At 51-52, they're still three games back in the mediocre AL Central, third behind Detroit and Cleveland. They're definitely in contention, but instead of importing a big-name player, they likely are going to have to pin their hopes on a trio of somnambulant bats.

Adam Dunn, famously, has a .163 batting average and a .604 OPS after coming aboard for $56 million over four years. Juan Pierre is earning $8.5 million for his .660 OPS and 57-percent steals rate. Alex Rios and his .555 OPS, amazingly, are owed $12 million this year and another $38 million over the next three seasons.

Maybe Rios won't have to do anything, with Alejandro De Aza finally in town. Maybe Dayan Viciedo will come up and bump Dunn to the bench. But most likely, any playoff push is going to have to come from within the organization.

Gapers Block reserves the right to cancel that whole last section if Kenny Williams acquires Albert Pujols and Matt Kemp this weekend.

 
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