Let me paint a picture for you: Adam Dunn arrives at U.S. Cellular Field and sees Kenny Williams standing outside with 12 million of Jerry Reinsdorf’s money, lighter fluid and a match.
Dunn: “Kenny what in the world are you doing??”
Williams: “Just setting this money on fire, it’s a fair reenactment of your 2011 season”
This week, the Chicago Cubs fired their GM Jim Hendry for a multitude of reasons. The Cubs have a 130 million dollar payroll, a 16 game below .500 record, a laughable starting rotation (I still do not understand how Randy Wells is in the majors), and half their payroll is Aramis Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano, and Ryan Dempster. A casual baseball fan would be able to tell the Cubs have some serious baseball and economic problems in their front office. But there are two baseball teams in Chicago, and the South siders need to get rid of their General Manager as well.
The White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams built a team in 2005 that was built around solid position players, an outstanding rotation, and good bullpen. That team brought a World Series to Chicago, and it seemed as though Kenny could do no wrong. Williams, however, has done wrong, time and time again he has been making bad trades and bad free agent deals. The White Sox have made the playoffs only one time since the ’05 run, losing in the '08 ALDS to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The grace period after a World Series victory should be over, and the White Sox should follow the Cubs and start over with a new general manager. Williams has been making deadline deals since 2009 in hopes of seeing his team get back to the playoffs. In 2009 the White Sox traded four pitchers in exchange for Jake Peavy. Peavy was not able to give the White Sox the boost they needed to make the playoffs in ’09, but the four pitchers given up for him, have not been near as valuable as Peavy in the last two seasons. So as of now, the Peavy deal was not a bad one by Williams. Williams really rolled the dice in 2009, when he claimed underperforming Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios (.. and his ridiculous contract) off waivers. Adding Jake Peavy and Alex Rios added essentially 28.5 million dollars in payroll for 2009, but the White Sox were not able to make the playoffs.
In 2010, Williams found himself with a contender at the deadline yet again, here however, is where he really started to frustrate me as a baseball economist. He traded his best prospect, who was already in the starting rotation, Daniel Hudson and his number 8 prospect David Holmberg for starting pitcher Edwin Jackson. Edwin Jackson pitched well for the White Sox, but added another 9 million dollars for the White Sox. Thus, Williams still had Peavy and Rios, and now with Jackson, he had added $37 million to his payroll, yet where were the White Sox sitting come October time? That’s right, at home, again.
In 2011, the offseason was time for Williams to keep buying players. He locked up ’05 World Series stars A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko, as well as, adding a big Designated Hitter in Adam Dunn. These players make in 2011, a collective $26 million. The Konkero/Pierzynski re-signings were not that bad of moves, with Konerko having a big year; however, Dunn has been the worst player in baseball. Thus, in 2011 Kenny Williams decided it was time to be a seller at the deadline, instead of buying players like he had of late. Williams traded Edwin Jackson ($9 million) and Mark Teahen ($5 million) for Jason Frasor ($3.75 million) and Zach Stewart ($414k). So Williams decided to get rid of a mistake in Teahen’s bad contract and acquire a pitching prospect in Stewart and an overpaid reliever in Frasor, all in all, cutting around 10 million dollars in payroll. But wait, the White Sox gave up their best pitcher in Jackson (3.22 FIP and 2.7 WARP) just to cut his 9 million dollar contract? One year before this year’s deadline the White Sox were buyers and traded their best pitching prospect, Daniel Hudson, for Jackson. Now, they have Zach Stewart instead. Daniel Hudson is making $419,000 in Arizona this season, and one must wonder what Kenny Williams was thinking in trading him, Hudson currently has a 2.99 FIP and a 3.3 WARP. Which means, Hudson would be the best pitcher on the White Sox this season, (with a major league minimum contract) but instead Williams has Stewart in his rotation, who has posted a 4.18 FIP and .1 WARP in 4 games with the White Sox.
Acquiring Adam Dunn this off-season for 12 million dollars may have been Williams’ worst move. Dunn has a -14.5 VORP and a -1.8 WARP, currently with a tAV of .230. If his numbers stay where they are currently for the rest of the way he will have cost the White Sox -$5 million dollars this season. So Dunn is paid $12 million to produce, yet has come up with a value of -5 million dollars. Alex Rios, acquired by Williams off waivers in ’09, is making $12.5 million this season, his value is also negative at -$3.2 million. Thus, Williams has used $24.5 million dollars worth of payroll and has gotten back -8.2 million dollars in production from Rios and Dunn. So it has cost him $32.7 million dollars for ZERO, let me repeat ZERO production this season, ($32.7 million is almost the entire Rays’ payroll). Just having Rios and Dunn on his team alone is unforgivable from an economic standpoint, and that is without considering the whole Daniel Hudson-Edwin Jackson debacle.
The White Sox’ official website has the motto “All In.” displayed on the top of every page. Kenny Williams has gone “All In” with his payroll, and moves of late, and if the White Sox fail to make the playoffs, currently 1 game below .500 and 4 games out of 1st place, again this season, Williams should stop gambling and walk away from the table, because at this point he is out of chips.