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The Most Illuminating Interview You Will Hear By a GM
2007-01-03 21:04
by Scott Long

Readers here know I'm not big on linking, as thejuiceblog is a mouthpiece for me to feed my ego-driven soul. Look, I know many of you think this and you would mostly be right in coming to this conclusion. Every once in awhile, though, I run into something I think you should check out. With the transition which took place this off-season, where free-agent pitchers were able to ask for long-term, massive money deals and get them, the most out front GM in bucking this trend was White Sox GM Kenny Williams. Below is an interview where he discusses his thoughts on the subject.

During this long radio interview with Chicago sports morning show host, Mike North, Williams in his Barry White-lite baritone, explains much of why he decided to make the trades that he did during the off-season. Discussion topics include the out of whack free agent pitching market, picking up players that fit well for your ballpark, and even Scott Boras.

North, who is the living, breathing embodiment of the SNL "DaBears" character can be a really tough listen for out-of-towners, but his bombastic style of interviewing did pull out a lot from Williams. Has there been a sports GM of any team who has went from being seen as bad to suddenly good at his job faster than Ken Williams? While many teams have spent a lot of free-agent dough to affect their 2007 season, the White Sox have gambled losing impact players (Garcia, Cotts, Gload, McCarthy) to gain in exchange a lot of young, power arms. It will be interesting to look back in 3 years to see if they seem prescient in their decision making. I seem to be one of the few White Sox observers who think they have timed the market, magnificently.

The link comes from Run by a man who goes by the moniker, The Cheat, it's one of the best baseball blogs out there.

2007-01-04 08:54:39
1.   scareduck
The actual interview link is here:

2007-01-04 09:28:37
2.   Chuck R
North can be a really tough listen for in-towners, too. To think he was considered as the replacement for John Rooney in the Sox radio booth still sends chills down my back...
2007-01-05 10:03:16
3.   Tom
/I seem to be one of the few White Sox observers who think they have timed the market, magnificently./

Such an interesting statement. Philosophically, I can't agree or disagree with the idea of timing the market for players in baseball. Free agent pitching is almost never cheap, and there's no reason to believe front of the rotation guys are going to go down in price or years in the near future.

If he's claiming that he's holding back money now so he has it to spend in the future, that's one thing.

But, that also sounds a lot like being cheap because he's bought a few years with that WS win.

(In fairness, I did not listen to the interview, because I'd rather have my eardrums punctured with a rusty awl than listen to K. Wills)

And, it all really depends on what you want out of your team. I don't believe a team is ever "three years away." There are too many variables, and free agency is too important to say you're going to build a good team from the ground up. (FLA Marlins might be about to prove me really wrong, though).

Ultimately, had my team just won a World Series, I'd break the bank trying to repeat. And, if I didn't, I'd break the bank the year after that trying to repeat.

You've got a lot more instances of teams going back to back than you do of teams winning a World Series, reloading, and winning one 3 or 4 years later. (I couldn't find an example of this happening since free agency, but it was a really quick look.)

So, this idea that you've got a World Series contender, are going to sell off some parts, and then build a new contender in the near future is, at the very least, ahistorical.

2007-01-05 13:23:09
4.   Scott Long
Tom, I don't think Williams is giving up on this year, just think he realizes that expecting to have a rotation of quality veteran starters is something that was a plan of the past. Let's remember this team won 90 games last year, with their starting pitching showing a lot of wear and tear from the previous long season.

Contreas, Buerhle, Garland, Vasquez, and Garcia is a staff that on the current open market would cost a team in the ballpark of 60-70 million. This is about 20 million more than they were paying them now. This is not a good allocation of resources.

With the craziness of the market, I believe that constantly developing young pitchers is the only way you are going to be successful, unless you are one of the top 5 payrolls.

Williams is going the direction of the A's and Twins, even though he should have about 25-30 million dollars more in revenue to work with. I will agree with your cheap label, if the White Sox don't take on some big money player through a trade, if it someone who can help them get into the playoffs. Currently, they would appear to be at the top of the list of payroll flexibility in MLB.

Garcia was not the same pitcher last season and of all the Sox pitchers, I felt he was the guy I would have given up. I didn't like the near Garland trade, as I think he is the best suited pitcher for US Cellular and felt the Astros prospects were question marks and I had no interest in Taveras.

The McCarthy deal will be interesting to see how it develops, but I don't think he was well-suited to pitch at US Cellular. I think he will be a solid pitcher though, so we will have to see how Danks, etc. grow into the player the Sox expect.

Who was out there in the free agent market that made any sense in adding to the White Sox? They didn't need veteran pitchers and all the top hitters didn't play center or short, where the Sox seem to be weakest. I wouldn't mind having Drew in left field, but at the price the Red Sox were offering it didn't seem like a good move. Now the Sox have the pitching prospects that could get a player that fits their needs during the season.

Like I said, I like all their deals and think Williams made a lot of good moves for the present and the future. Definitely a lot better plan than the massive money roll of the dice that took place on the other side of town.

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