Even small trades not small for Williams
Sometimes lesser moves have been what Sox need
CHICAGO -- There are no small trades in the thought process of White Sox general manager Ken Williams or manager Ozzie Guillen.
Instead, some trades simply garner more attention from the fans or the media. For example, the White Sox pursuit of Jake Peavy received hour-by-hour coverage for most of Thursday, May 21, while the acquisition of backup catcher Ramon Castro earned a brief mention after a White Sox victory in Kansas City at the end of May.
Acquiring right-handed reliever Tony Pena from Arizona for Minor League first baseman Brandon Allen on Tuesday night probably would fall into the Castro category.
All three moves were designed by Williams to bring the White Sox closer to a repeat of 2005's historic performance.
Picking up Roy Halladay, the Toronto ace and one of the best starters in all of Major League Baseball, would lean in the direction of major in the collective minds of the Chicago media and the South Side supporters. But before the White Sox faithful start dreaming of a one-two, All-Star playoff punch featuring Halladay and Mark Buehrle, a few things need to be made clear.
Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi explained that he definitely is not shopping his ace hurler, but instead just listening and entertaining trade proposals. A pitcher of Halladay's skill and reliability would require quite a package in return, and Williams made clear Tuesday afternoon that he is not willing to completely mortgage the future and deplete a better-stocked farm system for one piece to the puzzle.
"We won't do that," said Williams during a 10-minute conversation with the media prior to Tuesday's series opener against Cleveland. "As aggressive as we are and have been, it has been with an action plan that has allowed us to extend our window of competitiveness. What that means is that you have to make some hard decisions sometimes and put young guys into the equation on a regular basis so that they can learn from the rest of the veteran core. They have to learn how to win from somewhere.
"If you try to put an entire team of young players out there at the same time, you are asking for what could be an extended stretch of losing and trying to climb back up to prominence. We don't want to take that fall, so what we have tried to do is selectively put in young players, even when it's not the most popular [move], that will produce and don't have to carry the load. They can be a supporting actor, so to speak.
"With that said, we are still looking to win," Williams said. "We'll continue to be aggressive and add to the club. But it won't be at the risk at what we see is our competitiveness over the next few years."
Top young talent such as Gordon Beckham or John Danks can immediately be removed from a list of White Sox trade possibilities, as if they were ever really in consideration for a move. Williams certainly will not force a deal, but instead look for trade partners that best fit into the team's overall scheme as it moves in pursuit of a second straight American League Central title.
That player was Hall of Fame-bound outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. in 2008, but in an equally significant move, that player was utility infielder Geoff Blum in 2005. As Williams explained, there are no minor acquisitions.
In the case of the 2009 White Sox, Williams is very succinct when asked if pitching is a targeted area before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"Yes," said Williams, pausing, before smiling broadly, knowing that the Pena deal could be close to completed.
"The board is open to every team, but there are certain players that are our targets that we have identified at this juncture," Williams continued. "I'm having serious discussions with all of my scouts. We've begun to make the calls and we'll explore all those opportunities. I don't believe there will be a lot of opportunity out there. Whatever there is, we will try to make our team better."
And two hours later, Williams had done just that, giving up a top offensive prospect in Allen for a right-handed reliever who should team well with Scott Linebrink, Octavio Dotel and Matt Thornton in front of closer Bobby Jenks. And the White Sox know Williams probably isn't finished, even if Halladay never makes that list.
"There's no doubt Kenny is going to kick the tires on anything he thinks is going to make the team better, even if it seems like a reach," said White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko. "I'm sure he's asking, and I'm sure he asks and does a lot more than you're ever going to find out."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.