An early Christmas gift for the columnists

"Scouting the player, not scouting the stats," Kenny Williams said after reporters questioned the acquisition of 3 more minor league arms. That's about as concise a summary of the trade as one could offer.

The White Sox swapped one young major leaguer with an excellent minor league resume to go along with his good major league resume for two prospects whose stats have yet to catch up to their stuff. There were two low level players involved in the deal as well, and the Scouts vs. Stats theme held just as well there. The Sox gave up a completely unknown Venezuelan who has great stats, but has never played a professional game on US soil and has less than 200 ABs on his resume, for a young pitcher with a good frame and, I'm assuming, good stuff.

He's a 2005 7th rounder who was young for his league and wasn't totally overwhelmed by the competition. I haven't even looked for a scouting report on him, but from that info alone I'd compare him to Daniel Cortes, who I called one of our best minor league arms back in July.

* * * * *

Kenny Williams and company left no doubt. They feel that John Danks is, or maybe more accurately, will be, a better pitcher than Brandon McCarthy. Williams wouldn't answer the question directly, but the move itself combined with his own statements leave no other explanation.

"I have an answer to that question but should keep that to myself just out of respect for players that played for you," Williams said. "I think Brandon McCarthy is going to go down to Texas and be everything they feel he will be."
We've debated McCarthy's future in the past here, with the general consensus being that he should be an above average pitcher in the very near future, but probably will never develop into what could be considered an ace. The more I've seen from him, the more I like the comparison to another righty with great control, a bit of a gopher-ball problem, and reputation for having a tough first innings (a pitcher who would theoretically struggle in relief as McCarthy did in '06); the recently retired, Brad Radke. Good, not great, but a very useful player to have around. I think the Sox have the same view of McCarthy.

That the Sox traded such a useful, young, pre-arb player for Danks and Masset should tell you what they think about the ceiling of the targeted players. You can spout off plenty of numbers to make this trade look bad -- some have already tried -- but in the end it comes down whether you trust Kenny Williams and his scouts. What other choice do you have?

* * * * *

Now that I've got those rather large caveats out of the way...

In a fictional world where I'm the GM of the White Sox with free reign over all player personnel decisions, I would never -- NEVER -- have traded Brandon McCarthy for the package the Sox received.

I understood the need to jettison the soon-to-be free agent Garcia. I was all for trading him back in June. I was for trading Jon Garland when he didn't appear to be a good bet to re-sign with the Sox last off-season. I whined about the purging of pitchers, specifically lefties, from our minor league system in the last year. I fully understand what Kenny is trying to accomplish, and would have made moves very similar to his in my attempt to build the best possible club for both the present and the future.

The present and the future. That might have been my 5 word summary for Brandon McCarthy at this time last week. That's why I never would have traded McCarthy. The Sox didn't just trade a member of the '07 team, but one who figured to be integral to then next 5 White Sox clubs, all while making less than the four members of the current rotation until his second or third year of arbitration in 2010 or 2011.

Earlier this off-season, we saw the names Danks and Masset connected with the Sox, but with Garland or Vazquez headed in the other direction. If those reports are to be believed, Williams was not "bowled over" by the Rangers offer. He actually upped his offer by including McCarthy instead of one of the veterans. McCarthy's 5 years before free agency at an estimated $25-35M has to be more valuable than 2 years of Veteran at $22-25M, right?

I'm not privy to the behind the scenes discussions that take place in a trade like this, but if Jon Daniels came to me asking about Garland or Vazquez, he would have had to make a substantial addition to his proposal to get to McCarthy. It doesn't feel like that's what happened.

* * * * *

Another reason to be against the trade; Scott Boras is John Danks' agent. That means Danks is all but guaranteed to be gone in 6 years. In a couple of years, McCarthy, assuming he turns out to be what we all think he'll be, would probably sign a long term deal to buy out his arbitration years as well as a year or two of free agency. With Boras pulling the strings on Danks, there is virtually zero chance of him re-upping with the Sox beyond his initial 6-year commitment. I know that seems like a long time in the future, but since this move is about the future, it deserves to be brought up.

* * * * *

Ugh, rereading this entry it sounds like I really hate the trade. I don't. I never would have pulled the trigger, but I'm still taking a wait and see approach. I love the amount of potential the Sox have acquired in a very short period of time, but we know some of these guys aren't going to cut it. Heck, I'm not even sure that these guys are sticking around. You never know with KW.

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