As we anxiously anticipate what the White Sox will do on the trade and free agent markets in the next couple of weeks before and during the Winter Meetings in Orlando December 6-9, let’s take a look back.
Here is one fan’s opinion of the best deals of the Kenny Williams era, which began when he was named GM in October of 2000. For the record, I have come up with 11. I wanted to list the Top 10, but didn’t have the heart to exclude any of those below. They are in chronological order.
* Williams acquired shortstop Juan Uribe from the Rockies for infielder Aaron Miles in December of 2003. I think we all agree that Juan was frustrating at times, mostly on offense, but the bottom line is that he was a shortstop on a World Series champion–now two World Series champions. As far as Miles is concerned he hasn’t been a total bust, but average at best.
* The White Sox received Freddy Garcia and catcher Ben Davis from the Mariners in exchange for catcher Miguel Olivo, infielder Michael Morse and outfielder Jeremy Reed in June of 2004. History shows that Garcia was the “horse” of the splendid Sox pitching corps that carried them to the world title. Davis, whose Sox tenure was short-lived, was just a throw in. Olivo has been a decent starting catcher and is even rumored as a possibility to return to the Sox if A.J. Pierzynski isn’t re-signed–but was definitely worth giving up for Freddy. Neither Morse nor Reed, while spending some time in the majors, reached their potential.
* We obtained Jose Contreras from the Yankees for Esteban Loaiza at the trade deadline in July of 2004. Contreras turned out to be an ace after a disappointing stint in New York. Loaiza, who won 21 for the Sox in ’03, never came close to that career year.
* The Sox were certainly persuasive in getting Jermaine Dye to agree to sign on December 8, 2004 as he took less money to come to Chicago. Needing someone to pick up where Magglio Ordonez left off, Dye was an All-Star caliber player on the South Side and topped it off with a World Series MVP trophy.
* In what was a most controversial transaction, the Sox dealt slugger Carlos Lee to the Brewers for leadoff man Scott Podsednik and reliever Luis Vizcaino five days after signing Dye. The trade for Scotty Pods was perhaps the most significant in that it changed the power-laden Sox to a more versatile club–a team that would win the World Series the following season. And Vizcaino served an important role as an innings-eater in the pen. Lee has done his thing for both Milwaukee and now Houston, but the Sox have never looked back.
* It didn’t receive much notice at the time, but four days after trading for Podsednik, the Sox picked up Bobby Jenks off of waivers from the Angels. He has had his issues and battled a weight problem, but all in all he has been a top-flight closer–and was a marvel when he took over those duties in ’05.
* In January of ’05, after a lot of soul-searching, the Sox signed Pierzynski who wore out his welcome in San Francisco. He may have played his last game for the South Siders, but won’t be forgotten as a guy who would do anything to win.
* In years to come, even knowledgeable Sox fans may not be able to answer the question, “Who was the second baseman on the 2005 World Champions”? Well, it was Tadahito Iguchi who came unheralded from Japan to enjoy a fine season as a solid No. 2 hitter. He didn’t last long in Chicago, but he certainly made his mark. He was acquired just weeks before the beginning of spring training in ’05.
* The first trade on this list that doesn’t involve a member of the ’05 champs is the deal that brought Matt Thornton to the Sox from Seattle in March of 2006 for the bust that was Joe Borchard. Thornton has turned into an All-Star performer as a setup man and depending on what transpires this winter could conceivably be the Pale Hose closer in 2011.
* Another controversial trade at the time was in December of ’06 when the Sox traded the much-balleyhooed Brandon McCarthy and a minor league outfielder to the Rangers for three pitchers including John Danks and Nick Masset. The Sox did their homework on this one as Danks has been solid and keeps getting better while McCarthy has struggled with injuries and is now a free agent. Masset never really delivered in Chicago, but was a key contributor out of the bullpen for the N.L. Central Champion Reds this past season.
* Sox fans weren’t sure about the signing of Cuban star Alexei Ramirez in January of 2008 because they didn’t have much information about him, but it soon became apparent he has a world of talent. The Missle is now one of the finest defensive shortstops in the game (and should have won a Gold Glove for his play in 2010) and won a Silver Slugger Award to boot.