12.23.2006

I am a liar and a cheat

One week without posting has quickly turned into one day without posting as Kenny Williams has lured me back to the internets with his holiday wheeling and dealing. This time it's another move that no one saw coming: Brandon McCarthy to Texas for, you guessed it, more young pitching. I'm not going to spend time here trying to analyze whether or not this is a good trade--it seems pretty decent to me, but honestly I have no fucking idea, and there's plenty of that over at South Side Sox and Sox Machine.

What's striking to me is how dedicated Kenny Williams and Reinsdorf are to their philosophy of running the club. They're setting up for the future in a financially responsible way, and that means we'll be lucky to see just one man of the current rotation stay over the next three years. I've got mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, it puts the Sox in a great position to be competitive for years to come--more in the style of the Oakland A's or the Minnesota Twins than, say, the Yanks or Red Sox. On the other hand, Kenny's making it awfully hard to get attached to any of these players. You can never tell who's going to be traded next. Take a look at how many players are already gone from the 2005 champs:

Freddy Garcia
Brandon McCarthy
El Duque
Neal Cotts
Cliff Politte
Dustin Hermanson
Luis Vizcaino
Damaso Marte
Chris Widger
Geoff Blum
Willie Harris
Ross Gload
Carl Everett
Timo Perez
Aaron Rowand
Frank Thomas

Yeah, we're better off without most of those guys, and most of them weren't integral pieces of the champions. But damn, just typing out that list floored me. Such is professional sports, I guess... you'd probably find much the same thing with any major-league team. And if Kenny builds a winner here again in the next year or two, I can almost guarantee I won't be so nostalgic about the 2005 squad. But right now I miss that team. A lot.

4 comments:

Planet Killer said...

I don't understand this move. It doesn't make the '07 White Sox better and it doesn't free up much financial flexibility, either.

To me, in order to make this move you really have to be convinced that McCarthy isn't going to pan out, and if that's the case why would you trade away Garcia before trading away McCarthy?

McCarthy's not even close to being arbitration and free-agency, is he? I mean, it seems like an MLB-ready arm is exactly what you would want if you're trying to build in the A's style. You trade veteran pitching for young pitching, not young pitching for even younger pitching.

Curious move. I wonder if it's a personal thing - Williams went off on McCarthy a few weeks ago (before the Garcia move) saying that if McCarthy wasn't interested in coming out of the bullpen anymore that he could start down at AAA if they didn't make a rotation move.

YouTellEmKellen said...

From Baseball Prospectus:

Leave it to Kenny Williams to break the monotony of one of the slowest weeks in the baseball news cycle: the Brandon McCarthy era has come to an end in Chicago before it ever really began.

McCarthy’s name carries a lot of weight in sabermetric circles, and Williams had declared him all but untradable as recently as this summer, when he’d been bandied about as part of the potential booty for Alfonso Soriano. Publicly and privately, the desire to ensure that McCarthy had a job in the starting rotation was a big part of the White Sox‘ justification for moving Freddy Garcia earlier this month.

So why the sudden about-face? The answer is likely the same as it usually is with Williams: he saw an opportunity to add value and he took it. And on that score, he’ll probably wind up on the winning side of this deal.

McCarthy has just one major flaw as a pitcher, but it’s potentially a fatal one: his Eric Milton-esque tendency to give up home runs. McCarthy yielded home runs at a rate faster than all but a handful of pitchers in the big leagues last season. He’s a flyball pitcher, and his home run rates have been high throughout his professional career, both in the majors and the minors. I watched video of a fair number of McCarthy’s home runs on MLB.com, and it was clear that they were coming on bad pitches, fastballs left up in the hitting zone or hanging curveballs thrown on bad counts. While there’s certainly an element of luck involved in giving up home runs, in McCarthy’s case there’s every reason to think that this is a real and persistant problem.

Add it all up, and McCarthy’s PECOTA projected EqERA as a starting pitcher next year is an uninspiring 4.97. The raw ERA projection is higher than that, of course, since Texas is a bad environment for a pitcher with gopher ball issues, just as Chicago was.

John Danks has had his own problems with home runs, and his EqERA projection is 5.07, which isn’t any better. Still, the White Sox win this trade on tiebreakers. Danks is nearly two years younger than McCarthy, which isn’t as important for pitching prospects as it is for hitting prospects, but still counts for something. He’s a year and a half behind McCarthy in service time. And he wasn’t the only arm the White Sox picked up in this deal.

Danks might also be a better fit for pitching coach Don Cooper. It is Cooper who would have been the key to McCarthy’s development, who could have gotten him away from the bad habits that led to all those longballs, but one senses that the White Sox viewed McCarthy as stubborn, perhaps to the point of being uncoachable. They also don’t run the risk of upsetting Danks if he starts the year in Triple-A, which should produce a genuine competition in spring training between Danks, Gavin Floyd, Charlie Haeger, and perhaps even Lance Broadway.

That is, if Williams doesn’t have another surprise up his sleeve first.

trout said...

Yeah, I think that Baseball Prospectus piece sums things up nicely (big surprise). Assuming he doesn't make another move for a starter (and, given the market, I'd say that's a pretty safe bet), Kenny genuinely believes the trio or quartet of young starters he's amassed will equal McCarthy's 2007 performance. Add to that the fact Kenny apparently has a man-crush on Danks and Masset, trading one arm for two makes sense.

I wouldn't be surprised if all this bullshit about McCarthy being "untradeable" a few weeks ago was just grandstanding to raise his price. In Kenny's mind, anyone--and I mean ANYONE--is expendable if the right deal comes along. I can't see the deal being motivated by a personal vendetta against McCarthy, although that certainly wouldn't have hurt. In my mind, McCarthy was right to be a little pissed about getting jerked around last spring. It would have seemed smarter to have kept him as a starter in Charlotte for another year rather than stick him into a role that sort of set him up for failure.

If Kenny's dealing people on his and Ozzie's shitlist, though, Brian Anderson is now public enemy #1. I never understood why Ozzie jerked him around so much last season and was unwilling to give BA the time he needed to develop.

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