The days before the trade deadline always prove to be stressful times for both fans and players who are constantly wondering whether or not their team will be buyers or sellers. It is also a test. It forces general managers to make decisions that will solidify their popularity with the overall fan base as well as with the owners who are worried about, unlike the fans, not just winning but also financial stability. For example the miraculous Pirates this season have put the Pittsburg organization in a tough spot because they must decide whether or not to prove they are committed to the team by adding a key player. The overall struggle for a general manager to keep fans content while also taking financial concerns into consideration can be extremely difficult.
White Sox general manager Kenny Williams seems to be displaying some of this stress at the current moment. The term ALL IN has become a household term in the homes of avid White Sox fans. Sporting one of the highest payrolls in the major leagues the White Sox took a major chance this season. They hoped that attendance would pick up and they did what many people in America have done. They spent money with the intention to pay for their purchases in the future after earning more income. Almost like buying something with a credit card. They structured their pay timeline for specific players in order to compensate their high profile line-up. For example Adam Dunn is making the bulk of his 4-year deal salary at the end of his contract to allow other players to be paid first whose contracts expire before his. This payment plan is the reason the White Sox were able to have such a high payroll this season. The reason they were able to go all in.
As the trade deadline approached I wondered what moves the White Sox would make. On paper the team is very talented and there aren't many areas that lack talent. The team is filled with players that excel at their position. The team that goes onto the field everyday should be winning a lot more often then it is. But they aren't winning and they are now one game below 500. ALL IN should not produce a 500 team. It should produce a serious contender. With an overall underperforming AL Central the White Sox are surprisingly still contending. This is why Kenny Williams is in such a difficult situation.
Today the White Sox were involved in a three-team trade with St.Louis and Toronto. The White Sox traded Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to Toronto for reliever Jason Frasor and prospect Zach Stewart also a pitcher. This was simply to drop payroll. Getting rid of Mark Teahen was a smart decision because he has been underperforming and is simply getting paid to mainly sit on the bench. However Edwin Jackson was a quality starter and although the White Sox have six starters he has performed very well and pitching is a major key to success in baseball. This move could possibly affect the rotation that has been in a consistent flow. It also would force a four player pitching staff if one of the other starters were to be injured. The addition to the bullpen helps but was unnecessary at the moment because the bullpen has been flawless. They have below a 1.00 combined ERA in the last few weeks. It may have been a better decision not to mess with that area of the team because it is working.
Many analysts have been calling the trade a white flag trade. This term means that a team throws in the towel when the season isn't over. It is a surrendering trade. I disagree, I think it helped lower payroll without much damage to the team but it is the abundance of trade rumors that worry me. There is talk of Carlos Quentin being traded. He has hit a few home runs in the last week and nearly hit a grand slam today. With Adam Dunn in a major slump he is a source of production in the White Sox line-up. Eliminating him would be a major mistake. That would certainly be a white flag trade. Williams has announced that Gavin Floyd as well as John Danks can also be considered available going into the trade deadline. How can two of the White Sox's five quality starters be available? Matt Thornton, another vital reliever for the White Sox is also in danger of being traded.
If the White Sox are worried about attendance then these trades would be major mistakes. During the last series versus Detroit the stadium was packed. The fans were electric. There was a post season feel in the air. It was because the White Sox were in contention playing the first place team. They were in striking distance and after winning today they still are. Rumors are rumors, but Kenny Williams seems to be losing patience. In the next few days the lineup could be considerably different. He might decide to clean house. Williams with today's trade also opened up a space on the 25 team roster and inserted minor leaguer De Aza into that spot.
De Aza replaced center fielder Alex Rios who has had a very disapointing season. De Aza made a handful of decent catches and hit a two-run home run in his first at bat. When asked if the change was a message to Rios, Williams responded adamantely and boldly, "It's a message to everyone." Dressed in a fresh suit the message seemed eerie knowing that Williams could be taking that anger to the table.
If the team was to be reshaped White Sox fans would most definitely not be compelled to spend money and attend games knowing that the organization has already given up. The White Sox would be contradicting their slogan ALL IN. If Williams continues to trade away the season, which is what the rumors predict he would be doing then the slogan should have been ALL IN until the trade deadline. It would make a lot more sense if they stuck with the same team throughout the whole season and made a few minor adjustments.
Hopefully Williams understands that when playing poker going ALL IN is something that cannot be reversed. You can't simply pull back your chips if the outcome looks grim. In this case it actually doesn't look grim. A few key players have been in slumps. Even if this year does not work out due to that, next year could be different. If players perform with or above expectations then the team could reach major heights and possibly a deep playoff run. There is no reason to pull back the chips now, after a little over half a season. This team has great potential and it should be given a full season to prove it. Hopefully the team will resemble the current team after the deadline and will be able to win key games that will keep them in playoff contention.