KenWo's Corner- Put Me In Coach

Kenny Williams has been taking a lot of heat for his recent major moves.  The fact that Jake Peavy, Alex Rios and Adam Dunn aren't playing anywhere near their massive salaries are definitely a major slap of the face of the gunslinging GM. If you listen to sports talk radio, you have heard the calls for his head.  I read on here almost everyday someone suggesting he moves up the corporate ladder to let Rick Hahn take over as the General Manager.  The fact is, when you swing as often as Williams does, you are going to come up with some misses.  Unfortunately, all of his misses have come in a row:  Tony Pena, Nick Swisher, Wilson Betemit, Mark Kotsay, Scott Linebrink, Edwin Jackson, Manny Ramirez, Peavy, Rios and Dunn.  All while giving up Brandon Allen, Gio Gonzalez, Swisher, Clayton Richard, Daniel Hudson and endless amounts of money.  Its more than enough to get the man fired if he didn't work for Jerry Reinsdorf.

I am here to defend what is turning out to be one of his worst moves.  On August 10, 2009 Kenny Williams picked up Alex Rios and his 60 million dollars remaining on his contract off of waivers.  It was definitely a gamble, as The Cheat pointed out after the move was made.  It is fair to say that other than one month (May 2010), it is a gamble that has failed miserably.  

Even though it hasn't worked out the way we all had hoped it would, we can look all the way back to November 27, 1981 to see why the Rios pickup was a good one to make in 2009.  

That was the day the White Sox traded the best center fielder that they have ever had.  Chet Lemon was a stud for the White Sox in the late 70s and early 80s before being moved to the Detroit Tigers for Steve Kemp.  From 1977-1981, Lemon put up 23.1 WAR (4.62 average per season).  

  • 1977-  .273/.343/.459   19 HR 67 RBI  5.2 WAR
  • 1978-  .300/.377/.510   13 HR 55 RBI  4.4 WAR
  • 1979-  .318/.391/.496   17 HR 86 RBI  5.3 WAR
  • 1980-  .292/.388/.442   11 HR 51 RBI  3.8 WAR
  • 1981*- .302/.384/.491     9 HR 50 RBI  4.4 WAR

 

There have been very few seasons where the White Sox had production like this from their Center Fielder.  Since 1959, here are the best seasons from a White Sox CF'er not named Chet.

 

  • 1959- Jim Landis         .272/.370/.379   5 HR  60 RBI   6.0 WAR
  • 1961- Jim Landis         .283/.362/.470  22 HR 85 RBI   4.4 WAR
  • 1966- Tommie Agee    .273/.326/.447  22 HR  86 RBI  6.4 WAR
  • 1974- Ken Henderson .292/.360/.467  20 HR  95 RBI  4.1 WAR
  • 1993- Lance Johnson  .311/.354/.396    0 HR  47 RBI  5.9 WAR
  • 1997- Mike Cameron   .259/.356/.433   14 HR 55 RBI  4.3 WAR
  • 1999- Chris Singleton  .300/.328/.490   17 HR 72 RBI  4.6 WAR
  • 2004- Aaron Rowand   .310/.361/.544   24 HR 69 RBI  6.0 WAR
The only name to appear more than once is Landis.  Johnson had a couple more good seasons in '94-'95.  Rudy Law stole a lot of bases in 1983.  The guy I was named after, Ken Berry, was a monster on defense according to my dad.  

Centerfield for the White Sox has been a pretty ugly position.  Warriors like Dave Gallagher, John Cangelosi, Darryl Boston, Darren Lewis, Brian Anderson, Jerry Owens and even Kenny Williams himself have failed miserably in their quest to provide mediocrity out of the position.  Even when they do find a successful one, it is a one year wonder (Agee, Henderson, Singleton).  

In Williams tenure of GM, he's had Singleton, Jose Valentin (moved to CF in 2001 to make room for defensive wizard Royce Clayton at SS...ouch), Kenny Lofton, Carl Everett, Aaron Rowand, Anderson, Rob Mackowiak, Owens, Nick Swisher, Ken Griffey, Dewayne Wise and Scott Podsednik all try to fill the slot that he himself couldn't handle as a player.  He also tried to sign Torii Hunter to a huge contract and got bamboozled by the Angels.  

It is no wonder that when Rios (who was a two time all star and hit near .300 with around 20 homers for the three previous seasons before 2009) became available, he jumped on it like myself at a dessert table.  The prospects of bringing in someone who could be Lemon-esque, as a good all around CF'er for years to come, was something we all would have done.  

Unfortunately, Rios hasn't held up his end of the bargain.  That doesn't mean it wasn't the right move to make.


*1981 was a strike shortened year, only 106 games were played.  The Sox were 54-52.

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e-gus e-dit: hope you don't mind kenWo, but this seemed too long for a comment

Counterpoint: Grab Some Bench

I admit that I was optimistic when the Sox grabbed Alexis Rios off of waivers. I see now I was merely blinded by my White Sox love.There were 60 million reasons why no other team seriously considered grabbing this guy.

Lets look at his 3 year trends as he entered his 'prime' age of 27:

age 25, 89 strikeouts, .516 slugging

age 26, 103 strikeouts, .493 slugging

age 27, 112 strikeouts, .461 slugging

 

That's when you expect a guy to peak! He was already on a downward spiral. When the sox grabbed him he played 108 games as a Jay:

age 28, 78 Ks, .428 slugging.

the strikeouts leveled off, but the power was still dwindling.

 

Terrible. 

The Sox are paying that bum $12.5 M this year, and next year, and then two more seasons at $13 MILLION!

All those White Sox center fielders you listed probably didn't make as much money as the Sox already wasted on this guy over their entire careers combined(just counting what he already made, never mind the 40 or so million left to go). It was a bad move that has given the Sox one month worth of production that can justify that salary.

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