Six years ago yesterday was a bittersweet day in White Sox history. I was just recovering from my World Series hangover when Kenny Williams made the announcement on November 25th, 2005 that he had traded Aaron Rowand, Daniel Haigwood and later Gio Gonzalez to the Phillies for Jim Thome. The trade slapped drunken happy White Sox fans out of their World Series coma.
A lot of people weren't very happy about that trade. Rowand was considered by some to be the heart of the championship team. The guy that would run through the wall to catch a ball for you and on Sundays during the winter would be in Chicago on the Bears sideline. He was one of the more popular Sox players before, and seemingly got even more popular after the trade. Meanwhile, Thome was coming back off of an injury plagued season and Ryan Howard filled in remarkably for him. Thome was the odd man out.
The sad part of that trade for me was that it signaled the end of Frank Thomas' career on the South Side. There was no way the Sox were going to have room for Thome and Thomas, even if free agent Paul Konerko left for greener pastures. Konerko would resign with the Sox 5 days later and Frank would sign with the Oakland A's on January 31st, 2006 for $500,000. Thomas went on to finish fourth in the MVP voting that year as he had a remarkable 2nd half and led Oakland all the way to the ALCS.
Thome had a good season in his own right, as he finished 12th in the MVP voting with 42 homers and a 1.014 OPS. Meanwhile, Rowand had a down year in Philadelphia, mostly due to this. Rowand had a big season in 2007 as he hit .309/.374/.515 with 27 homers. After discussing a return to the South Side, Rowand took the Giants offer of 5 years/ 60 million dollars. That proved to be an albatross of a contract for the Giants as Rowand was only worth 2.6 BWAR during his stay in San Francisco. Rowand will be collecting 12 million from the Giants next year and is currently searching for work.
Kenny clearly won that trade. Thome was a solid producer for nearly four seasons on the South Side, with some highlight moments. None bigger than this one. Rowand had a big year and earned a large contract which he didn't live up to. Thomas had a huge year in 2006 and earned a nice contract from the Blue Jays. He had a good 2007, but was out of baseball midway through 2008. We also reacquired Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd for an injured Freddy Garcia which was icing on the cake.
Kenny Williams was killing it in those times. Now he has been forced to get creative again. Hopefully Kenny can get back to his mid 2000s successes instead of his recent failures.
Maybe the first move Kenny should make is to sign Rowand to be the 5th outfielder. After all, Thomas is back as a White Sox ambassador and Thome has resigned with the Phillies to help take over for the injured Ryan Howard.
This would complete the circle of life.