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Fire Sale? Not So Fast

by Mike DePilla
Monday, June 7, 2010
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In giving American League punching bag Justin Masterson his first victory since District 9 was the top-grossing movie in theaters, the Sox sunk to a new low at the Cell Friday night. In fact, after the 10-1 drubbing at the hands of the lowly Indians, it may have been time to quarantine the whole Sox team away from human contact somewhere in South Africa.

Now 4-19 in games following a win (including 14 losses in their last 15 tries), the Sox have once again failed to put together any kind of winning steak and have now clinched a losing record for the all-important 60-game mark, which will come later this week.

Kenny Williams has taken notice.

ESPN writer Buster Olney has tweeted all day about the Sox:

Heard this from multiple executives: The White Sox have made it clear they are open for business, and ready to trade off parts from what has been a very disappointing team. The perception of other teams is that Paul Konerko is available right now (more) via web

Olney goes on to tweet that other executives have the most interest in Matt Thornton (who they believe is "probably unobtainable") and Andruw Jones. Konerko would be more appealing if he wasn't owed $8 million for the rest of the season. Olney also relays that some executives find Jake Peavy "flat-out untradeable."

This comes just a couple of days after Jayson Stark weighed in on the Sox trade options:

Changing Sox: As the White Sox drift out of the AL Central race, it's hard not to wonder if GM Kenny Williams will listen to offers on any of his starting pitchers. But longtime Williams watchers would be shocked if he deals anyone other than replaceable bullpen parts and possibly Paul Konerko.

"The thing you have to remember about Kenny is, he always expects to have a good team," said one rival GM. "If he doesn't think he can win this year, he still expects to win next year. So why would he move his [top four] starters? I don't see him doing that. He'll move a free agent, or bullpen guys he thinks are overpriced, because those guys are replaceable. But he can't replace a Gavin Floyd or a [Mark] Buehrle or a [John] Danks. So I don't see that one."

So, with multiple national writers reporting it, and the players constantly talking about their own fates, are we on the verge of a full out fire sale or a mostly-holding pattern?

I'm of the opinion Stark got it right: Kenny will trade away walk-year veterans and overpriced relievers if he can, but keep everyone else around for a run in 2011. (It is, however, sad that I have to use to word "2011" already; we're only in the first week of June 2010.)

I'm sure Williams is extremely disappointed in this team. And I'm sure he's itching to fire the proverbial shot across the bow. And I'm sure Jerry Reinsdorf wants payroll cut.

But before Sox fans come up with their blow-it-up scenarios in which Williams dumps everyone for prospects, remember 2007. The 2007 season was a full out disaster, much like 2010 is turning out to be. But after the 90-loss season, Williams put his mind to reloading, not rebuilding.

The short version of what happened next: the Sox acquired Cabrera, Swisher, Linebrink, Quentin, Ramirez and Dotel. The Tigers acquired superstar Miguel Cabrera. Many ridiculed Williams. The Sox won the division in 2008.

There's no reason to think Williams won't go into next year with a similar mindset. Besides, these Sox are bad, but they're not 2007 bad. Could Floyd, Peavy, Beckham and Quentin improve next year? Could Williams pull off a stunner of a trade for a Joey Votto-type middle of the order bat? Could Reinsdorf, saving $20+ million on Konerko, Jenks and Pierzynski, authorize the signing of a significant free agent?

It seems like a stretch now, but it's possible.

So I don't expect Williams to be in full-out dump mode. (Nor do I think he'd be particularly good at it anyway.) Like I've said repeatedly, I'm all for trades of Konerko and Jenks. I have no strong opinions on Pierzynski either way. I would be strongly against trading away any starting pitchers.

The fact is, the Sox could dump everyone on there and not recoup any top notch prospects to make it really worthwhile anyway. Possible trades of Thornton, Danks and Rios could bring back some serious minor league talent, but would set the Sox back significantly for the coming seasons.

The last word on this matter is that nobody expected the Sox to go from 90 losses in '07 to winning the division in '08. Heck, nobody even thought they should try. Yet they pulled it off. Just because things seem bleak now doesn't mean they won't find a way to pull off that kind of turnaround again.

Or at least try.


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