When the Sox acquired Jake Peavy and Alex Rios, I made an impassioned plea for increased attendance down the stretch, as they appeared to be over-extended in the payroll department (both present and future). This was assuming the Sox would stay in the race in the mediocre AL Central where nobody was going to run away from them. They've had only 6 home games since then, and for the most part the fans have responded with mid-30k attendance numbers. Unfortunately, the Sox haven't responded in kind, compiling a 3-3 record against the likes of the Royals and Orioles at home before embarking on their current 1-7 road trip of death. It's been 13 days since I've witnessed a Sox victory. They've taken themselves out of the AL Central race before the fans even got a shot to show their support.
With the Sox sinking out of the race, facing a September of disappointing turnstile numbers, and little to no hope of the significant influx of cash a playoff appearance provides, Kenny Williams' hand was forced. Well maybe not forced, but certainly coerced. Jerry Reinsdorf operates the White Sox as a business. He likes to say that he didn't get in this business to lose money, which has always made him an easy target for ill-informed talk-radio callers. The Sox were probably over their skis even if they made the playoffs, and certainly are now after the last two weeks of uninspired baseball. Thus, Kenny Williams, who is always looking to buy even when he's selling, was in full dump mode looking to shed payroll and send a message to his underachieving club.
Taking a look at the two trades, the Sox didn't get too much in the way of salary relief as they appear to have included undisclosed amounts of cash in each exchange, and didn't receive any impact players in return. Justin Fuller is a 25 year old who hasn't been able to escape the clutches of A-ball, and Brandon Hynick is a command-and-control type who needs a little more of both to have hopes of finding his way into the back end of a major league rotation. Nevertheless, he's still better than Jeff Marquez.
The Contreras trade netted the better return, which seems odd until you think about the motivation for moving Thome. This wasn't a baseball move to make the Sox better. This was Kenny Williams moving Jim Thome to an team that has a very good shot at making a World Series run, the only thing missing from the big fella's Hall of Fame career.
At first, I was quite sad to hear about Thome's departure. It would seem to make the Brandon Allen trade that I didn't bash nearly enough -- I overcompensated in an attempt to appear objective in discussing one of my favorite prospects -- look silly and short-sighted. But I suspect Thome is leaving on very good graces and will be very likely to sign back on with the Sox next year for a significant pay cut. Or at least I hope so.
We'll have to wait until we hear from the man in charge himself to try and guess his future plans for the organization. But one thing that needs no explanation is Tyler Flowers impending call-up, which just got a heckuvalot more interesting.