by Mike DePilla
Sunday, August 1, 2010
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A few more thoughts on new White Sox starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, now that it is settled he is staying in Chicago.
When the trade went down Friday afternoon, I was disappointed in the return for Dan Hudson and worried about the $8.3 Jackson is owed next year. While I do think Jackson will improve down the stretch this season with the Sox, I still hold both of those concerns.
If Jackson was a free agent today, would he get an $8+ million contract? Certainly not. Yet the Sox gave up Hudson and a second prospect, David Holmberg, to take on that full contract from a team semi-desperate to shed salary. That part of the trade will forever be disappointing.
Knowing the Sox have no chance to re-sign Jackson after '11 (his agent is Scott Boras) doesn't help either.
There are a bunch of hand-waving reasons he could improve in Chicago: Don Cooper spotted a delivery flaw, he will have a better defense behind him, he may be reinvigorated in a pennant race, he's had success in the AL Central before. Now, all those things could end up meaning nothing, but Jackson is still a good bet to outproduce Hudson for the rest of this season. So at least on the most fundamental level, you can view the trade as an improvement to the Sox playoff chances in 2010.
But there is the question of whether the Sox actually wanted Jackson at all or just acquired him for the sole purpose ultimately landing Adam Dunn. While GM Ken Williams was surely upset as his highly-publicized bid for Dunn failed, I have to trust he did his homework on this one. I know Trader Kenny has an itchy trigger finger, but I don't believe he'd be so irresponsible as to be caught with his pants down, stuck with a guy he truly didn't want at all in an non-assured attempt to accommodate Mike Rizzo in a different deal. It seems simple: if Adam Dunn is the only goal, then just set it up as a one-step three-way trade.
The fact that Jackson was acquired separately is meaningful. Now, if he had his druthers, I don't doubt for a second Williams would have flipped Jackson for Dunn in a de facto three-way trade (or some similar incarnation) right at the deadline. But that still would have left the Sox one starting pitcher short. So Williams went ahead and made the Jackson trade first, knowing that if nothing else happened he had improved his pitching staff.
From that point he could move Jackson again, if he found a deal that further improved the club. If he did pull off the Dunn trade the next day, I suspect Williams already had worked on a corresponding move for another starting pitcher.
So I think the Sox genuinely like Jackson, and I think Cooper has a specific game plan to cut down on the walks (Jackson is walking more than four batters per nine innings this year).
However, I will go on record right now as saying I would not be surprised one bit if the Sox shop Jackson again this winter, especially if he looks good down the stretch. An $8+ million walk year Boras client is not the world the Sox typically live in.
I am intrigued by the idea of Jackson as a closer though. Apparently part of the Nationals' interest in Jackson was trying him out in late inning relief. It is something to keep in mind if Jackson is on the Sox in 2011. However, i do think it is very likely he'll get traded again this off season, marking the fourth time he'll change uniforms in two years.
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