Friday, July 30, 2010

Kenny Williams Matches Bill Smith

Yesterday it was the Twins trading away a prospect for an underwhelming return, but today it was the White Sox who parted ways with a valuable commodity in what appears to be a pretty questionable deal.

Chicago sent starting pitcher Daniel Hudson to Arizona for Edwin Jackson.  The Diamondbacks also received a second prospect, David Holmberg, but I know nothing about him and Hudson is the clear deal-maker anyways.  For those reasons, I’m just going to forget about Holmberg.

To me, this deal looks remarkably similar to the one the Twins pulled off to get Matt Capps.  Like the Twins, the White Sox traded a consensus top-3 prospect in their organization (here’s the proof) and a player ranked highly by Baseball America (#66 in the Spring rankings).  Like the Twins, the White Sox gave up a second player (Holmberg) as a throw-in.  Like the Twins, the White Sox will have control of their new player for next year, too.  And, like the Twins’ trade, this deal makes no sense.

They traded Hudson, their #1 pitching prospect, for a decent pitcher in Edwin Jackson.  Unfortunately, Hudson appears to already be just as good a pitcher, with the potential to be a much better pitcher.  ZIPs projects Hudson to have a 4.06 FIP for the rest of 2010, compared to its projection of 4.16 for Jackson.  In addition, Jackson still has a few million dollars on the docket for this year, plus $8.35 million committed to him for next year.  Hudson, meanwhile, would make a few hundred thousand for the next couple of years, before he could even approach would Jackson is making.

I just don’t understand it at all.  It seems like the White Sox mortgaged the future, but made no improvement for the present.  They’ve replaced Hudson with Jackson in the rotation, but Hudson is probably close to, or as good as, Jackson is right now.  Is this just a total overreaction to Hudson’s 3 less-than-stellar big league starts thus far in 2010?  That’s the only explanation I can see.

In a response to a comment I left on FanGraphs, one White Sox fan offered this reasoning:

"Believe me, most of us White Sox fans don’t understand it either unless it’s because Washington wants Jackson instead of Hudson in a trade for Dunn. Either that, or “The Don” Cooper sees some sort of purportedly easily fixable flaw that will quickly turn him around. None of us discount his ability to change the fortunes of talented pitchers (Thornton, Danks, Floyd, etc) but he’s also got some failures (Mike MacDougal being an obvious one) where he never was able to do much of anything."

All in all, for the second consecutive day, an AL Central General Manager has managed to mystify me with a trade.  The fact that it was a rival of Minnesota significantly lessens the pain of giving away Wilson Ramos.

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