Peavy pitches for reunion with Gonzalez
Slugging first baseman could fill White Sox need
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Jake Peavy hangs up the baseball glove and officially puts worries over fastball command in the rearview window, the right-hander might want to venture into the world of college coaching.
Peavy already seems to have the recruiting part of that job down pat.
In a CBS Sportsline report, Peavy stated that he wanted White Sox general manager Ken Williams to go after San Diego's Adrian Gonzalez. On Sunday afternoon, Peavy not only confirmed that piece of information but expounded on his role to try to somehow get the All-Star first baseman to move to the Midwest.
"Kenny asked me at one point in time, 'What kind of guy is this guy?' I went into full recruiting mode," said a smiling Peavy, who clearly is as honest as he is talented. "I said, 'Listen, if you put this guy in the mix on this team, a left-handed bat in the middle of the lineup, a guy that could spell Paulie [Konerko] at first and is a Gold Glover ...
"There's not much bad about the guy. I said, 'Kenny, absolutely. You put this guy on your club, and he's a great person as well.'"
Early on in this past offseason, unfounded rumors of a three-way trade involving the Padres, White Sox and the Angels sent the groundswell of "Gonzalez to the South Side" into a fever pitch. And before that same fever breaks out again, remember a few things about this particular situation.
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Gonzalez, who had a banner year in Geneva, Ill., for the Kane County Cougars in 2001, is not a free agent. The San Diego native has one year left on a four-year deal, set to earn $4.75 million, making Gonzalez one of the game's top bargains. The Padres hold a $5.5 million club option on Gonzalez for 2011.
If or when the Padres decide to move their current franchise cornerstone, all the recruitment in the world from Peavy might not be enough to send him to Chicago. It's a safe bet, though, that if word starts to creep out about Gonzalez's availability, Williams will be ready to make his move.
A true power bat from the left side seems to be the glaring vacancy in this White Sox team assembled for 2010, so Gonzalez would be an absolutely perfect fit. It goes without saying that Williams will make a call or 10 for any big-name talent who can move his team closer to another World Series title.
The words from Peavy simply are support for a friend, who is in a less-than-ideal situation in San Diego, to which Peavy can relate.
"Adrian wants to win, I can tell you that," Peavy said. "If it means leaving San Diego, he won't think twice about doing that. I can promise you that. I love San Diego and I don't have a bad thing to say.
"But it gets frustrating. The guy hits .280, and he's frustrated for weeks at a time. He says, 'Peav, I got to swing the bat.' You look at some of the stretches where he had walks in multiple games and set some kind of record for most consecutive walks in a game or most two walks.
"You look at that stretch and our team record wasn't good because he wasn't getting to swing the bat. He sees that. I do feel for a player who gets in a situation where it's not best for him. But Adrian loves San Diego.
"He was born and raised there," Peavy said. "But he's understanding how, as time goes on, he's going to have to come to the point where he has to play for someone else."
At that point, Peavy paused briefly, followed by a broad smile.
"He'd look awfully good in black," said Peavy.
Any trade involving a player who has at least 30 home runs and 99 RBIs in each of his last three seasons probably will require a fairly significant haul of young talent in return. The Sportsline article quoted a White Sox source in stating that Williams would give anything to get Gonzalez, "maybe even Gordon Beckham."
That move seems highly unlikely, especially if Gonzalez was nothing more than a one- or two-year presence in Chicago. Beckham's ultimate upside has been projected along the lines of Texas' Michael Young, and five years of 200 hits, 40 doubles, 90-100 RBIs and an average near or over .300 would be about equal to Gonzalez's contributions.
Just about any other top prospect would seem to be in the trade mix. For now, though, Gonzalez remains with the Padres, and Peavy's recruitment serves as nothing more than a passing comment or two to Williams this past winter.
Make that a most persuasive passing thought.
"It wasn't anything significant," said Peavy of his Gonzalez talk with the boss. "He just asked me about the player. Obviously, I said we need to get this guy, simply because this guy can blink his eyes and hit 40 home runs in our park.
"This guy is as good a player as there is in the big leagues. I know a lot of people don't get to see that because he plays in San Diego. You put [Albert] Pujols and maybe a few guys above him, but he hits 40 home runs where he doesn't get much protection in a huge ballpark in a division where pitching is prominent.
"Who knows what will happen?" Peavy said. "It's a tough situation because if they came to Adrian with what was fair, the guy is living in his hometown, playing for his childhood team. It's hard to understand why an organization, with a brand new park in downtown, can't figure out a way how to hold down a superstar that's one of their own.
"They let guys like Trevor Hoffman walk and guys like me who want to stay there and establish themselves as a Padre. I don't know. I hope he gets what he wants out of the deal."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.