Sunday, July 29, 2012

Almost Beaten to the Punch

Remembering ...
Remembering, with twinklings and twinges,
as they lean over the beans in their rented back room that
is full of beads and receipts and dolls and cloths,
tobacco crumbs, vases and fringes.
Gwendolyn Brooks, "The Bean Eaters"

Beane Counter: Moneyball aside, Ken Williams 
never has outfoxed Oakland's GM. (Jed Jacobsohn/GI)
At some point, White Sox GM Ken Williams will cease to recall that team in Oakland, the one that was going to move to Chicago under Charlie Finley in the mid-197os, once the White Sox vacated to Denver.

If the butterfly effect didn't turn Oakland GM Billy Beane the player into an MVP, perhaps life would have played out somewhat the same, and Beane would now be the decade-plus tenured GM in Chicago, not Williams. And Beane operating in Chicago would probably mean two Hollywood movies based on his general managing, not one--or at least an Academy Award for Brad Pitt (who says he doesn't like baseball but boy, can he toss a transistor radio in digust!).

That Beane is Williams' doppelganger hardly needs rehash (but if rehash you must, read my  man Jimmy Margalus at South Side Sox and scroll down through the comments as well, h/t larry).

The fourth installment of this de facto report card on Ken Williams hones in on the trade partners he's profited most from; there is a fair amount of repetition, but lists nonetheless are broken out by GM and by team. If you're familiar with the first three parts on this blog, few if any of these moves will be news to you, and you very likely already had the breakdown of best and worst trade partners in the back of your mind. But here it is, in top fives all spelled out for you.


Favorite Partners
1. Pat Gillick, Philadelphia Phillies (19.6 net WAR and $53.8 million surplus value in four trades)
Moneyball may have played Williams for a rube, but Gillick is a Hall of Fame executive who was picked clean in his first two dealings with the White Sox GM. Freddy Garcia-for-Gavin Floyd stands as Williams' second-best deal, and the Aaron Rowand-for-Jim Thome swap, when factoring the $22 million tucked into Gentleman Jim's front pocket, played out as a masterstroke.


2. Jon Daniels, Texas Rangers (16.9 net WAR and $56.7 million surplus value in two trades)
Williams owes his advantage over Daniels almost solely to John Danks, with help from Brandon McCarthy's arrested development. 


3. Bill Bavasi, Seattle Mariners (17.0 net WAR and $37.2 million surplus value in two trades)
The Freddy Garcia deal proved a steal for Williams; an even bigger one came knocking at his door a year and a half later, when Matt Thornton came to the South Side for Joe Borchard.




4. Doug Melvin, Texas Rangers/Milwaukee Brewers (6.3 net WAR and $18.8 million surplus value in two trades)
Williams got a minor win--though neither player produced positively--in his 2000 swap of Aaron Myette to Texas for Royce Clayton. But the big win of his career--spiritually speaking, at the very least--came in dealing Carlos Lee and his larger salary north to the Brewers for Scott Podsednik.


5. Dan O'Dowd, Colorado Rockies (5.1 net WAR and $6.2 million surplus value in four trades)
Despite the four trades, Williams' plus value in dealing with O'Dowd comes almost exclusively from snatching Juan Uribe away from the Rockies.


Least Favorite Partners
1. Billy Beane, Oakland A's (-20.5 net WAR and -$75.8 million surplus value in four trades)
Enough said about Beane, eh?


2. David Littlefield, Pittsburgh Pirates (-5.1 net WAR and -$14 million surplus value in three trades)
It's a nice sign that after Beane, the trade losses fall to a much more break-even level for Williams. Of course, that his second-weakest spot came from a GM notorious for his giveaways isn't a good sign.


3. Dayton Moore, Kansas City Royals (-3.6 net WAR and -$19.1 million surplus value in five trades)
It's a well-rounded joke that Williams can't keep his hands out of Kansas City, swapping any and all minor players as if there was a rider in his contract he must. The only significant deal torpedoing KW here is acquiring the car wreck that was Mark Teahen.


4. Frank Wren, Atlanta Braves (-4.9 net WAR and -$11.2 million surplus value in three trades)
The Scott Linebrink dump in 2010 turned out to be a virtual wash, so this standing almost exclusively centers on the swap of Javier Vazquez to Atlanta in 2008.


5. John Hart, Texas Rangers (-4.5 net WAR and -$10.6 million surplus value in two trades)
Merely choosing not to include Frank Francisco in the Carl Everett trade would have kept Hart off of this list of Williams killers.


Favorite Teams
1. Philadelphia Phillies  (19.6 net WAR and $53.8 million surplus value in four trades)
2. Texas Rangers (12.4 net WAR and $46.1 million surplus value in four trades)
3. Seattle Mariners (17.0 net WAR and $37.2 million surplus value in two trades)
4. Colorado Rockies (5.1 net WAR and $6.2 million surplus value in four trades)
5. Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals (4.1 net WAR and $6.6 million surplus value in five trades)
The highlight of trades between Chicago and this transitional franchise was acquiring Bartolo Colon for an injured Orlando Hernandez and the retreaded Rocky Biddle and Jeff Leifer. Current GM Mike Rizzo badly burned his bridge with Williams during the Dunn non-trade of 2010, so don't expect any big deals anytime soon between the Pale Hose and and Nasty Nats.


Least Favorite Teams
1. Oakland A's (-20.5 net WAR and -$75.8 million surplus value in four trades)
2. Kansas City Royals (-3.7 net WAR and -$24.1 million surplus value in seven trades)
3. Pittsburgh Pirates (-5.1 net WAR and -$14 million surplus value in five trades)
Chicago is a major market fond of crying poor, so perhaps the reason Williams fares so badly in deals with the Kansas Cities and Pittsburghs of the majors is misbegotten solidarity?
4. Atlanta Braves (-4.9 net WAR and -$11.2 million surplus value in three trades)
5. Cincinnati Reds (-3.2 net WAR and -$2.3 million surplus value in eight trades)


Coming up next is a grab bag of trade and free agent data for the White Sox under Williams, including the projected best- and worst-case scenarios for KW's "active" deals, what teams Williams will not trade with, and some quick and dirty analysis of his trade deadline work in 2012. Also, answers will be forthcoming on burning questions pitting Williams vs. opponents: Who's earned more cash in trades? Who's made worse projections on minor leaguers? And, of course, what do "future considerations" really mean?


Part One: Ken's WAR wins
Part Five: What-ifs, and other trade miscellany.

The fine print: In many cases, exact details of cash consideration are unavailable, so educated guesses were made. Some player-for-considerations deals have been skipped or omitted. WAR data came only from Baseball-Reference, while yearly dollar/WAR values were estimated primarily from Fangraphs data. Players included in trades who never contributed for the acquiring team at the major league level are not listed. Numbers are through July 28.

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