Since 2006, the White Sox have won 10 fewer games than the money they've spent indicates they should have. Another way to say it is that the average general manager would have won 10 more games than Kenny Williams managed to with the players he selected over those seasons.
And that's in an organization that employs Don Cooper and Herm Schneider. As I've mentioned a jillion times, Coop and Herm turn nothing into something every season in ways that nearly no other GM can rely on. Coop has one peer in Dave Duncan. Herm's record is by far the best in his field. So Kenny's player investment work is actually worse than merely slightly below average. Most GM's don't have his in-built advantages.
As it happens, picking up Jason Frasor's option is exactly the kind of money wasting acquisition that the Sox have made a specialty of over the years. Sure, it's only one year and how much can it really hurt? It's no Mark Teahen. It's no Scott Linebrink. Or Rios and Dunn, for that matter. The suck involved here is on a less painful level, but it manages to illustrate a number of problems that have come up time and again since the World Series win.
For starters, Frasor could have been offered arbitration. If you don't mind ending up with the guy anyway, why not offer him arbitration? But really, the hope is he declines and tries to get a multi-year deal on the open market. In which case the Sox would likely have ended up with Type B compensation. That's right, the Sox passed up on a free draft pick a year after they didn't have a first round pick.
Meanwhile, they've already got a bunch of guys doing Frasor's job quite adequately. Between Santos, Thornton, Crain and Reed, the Sox should be well set at the end of ball games. So they're basically just paying for relief insurance. As JJ suggested to me over IM, it's like Kenny Williams learned the wrong lesson from 2007. If you have real talent on the field and on the mound, a couple flammable relievers isn't going to sink your team. Kenny apparently hails from the Hawk Harrelson School of Bullpen Overemphasis.
It's all the more ridiculous when you remember the Sox are deeply underwater on their assets. Between Rios and Dunn, they're very likely to have something like $15-25M providing absolutely no production and hence absolutely no revenue. That means the premium, if you're going to spend the money at all, is on upside.
And relievers rarely have upside. Let alone relievers paid at market rates. Let alone 34 year old middle relievers paid at market rate. Jason Frasor is never going to be worth more than this deal pays him by an amount meaningful enough to subtract from the downside of taking $3.75M from some other player the Sox might sign.
Oh right. Some other player. Like -- and this is all very theoretical of course -- Mark Buehrle, for one. Sox fans kind of have a thing for him from what I've heard. But yeah, that's $3.75M we can't offer him this year. Of course it could certainly be the case that he's already gone because the Sox are so far underwater on bad moves in the vein of re-upping Jason Frasor that actually re-upping Jason Frasor isn't responsible for Buehrle leaving the South Side.
In which case, that's $3.75M the Sox can't spend in the draft or in the international amateur market. Then again, it's absurd to think $3.75M could matter in reviving a farm system that is separated from the other 29 systems by a vast chasm of suck. It's not like $3.75M is more than the Sox spent in sum on the 2011 draft.* Actually, that's exactly what it is. That was a total misdirect.
In sum: the Sox are spending too much money on a position that doesn't deserve it at the expense of other positions of need on a team that doesn't have money to waste.
Unless it does. In which case all is forgiven. You're the best Kenny!