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Right on Q: Undoing the Knot

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How one trade in 2006 caused a disaster in 2013

Too bad Chris Young is not wearing a White Sox uniform
Too bad Chris Young is not wearing a White Sox uniform
Thearon W. Henderson

Now we wait.

Several weeks ago, I wrote that Rick Hahn has the luxury of time when it comes to dismantling the White Sox. That was when Jake Peavy was healthy, so that means General Manager Rick Hahn can afford to wait even longer.

It's safe to say that Jesse Crain will be gone by July 31st. But don't count on the White Sox getting anything exciting. Crain is a relief pitcher with less than a year left on his contract.

Alex Rios is another trade candidate. But his deal runs through 2014, and the anticipated haul for the White Sox hinges upon how much of Rios' salary the team is willing to pick up.

That's well-worn territory. But it's all we've got until the dominoes start to fall in late July.

I view this season as the end of an era in White Sox history. It's an era that started in 1998, and by all accounts it was a good one.

The Sox made the playoffs three times, and won a World Series. That's fantastic. White Sox standards.

But now, Rick Hahn and Robin Ventura have to face the consequences of years of "go for it" deals that didn't get the job done.

The Javier Vazquez deal, in my mind, is the center of the knot of bad trades that lead us to this mess.

On December 20, 2005, the Sox packaged El Duque, Luis Vizcaino, and Chris Young to the Diamondbacks to get Javy Vazquez.

With Chris Young in Arizona and Aaron Rowand in Philadelphia, it was up to Brian Anderson to be the Center Fielder of the future.

Brian Anderson, at the time, was 37th on Baseball America's list of the top 100 prospects. He was ranked higher than Shin Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson, John Danks, and Edwin Encarnacion.

If only Brian Anderson was that good.

His failure to stick in Center Field led to a series of costly moves.

Nick Swisher, for example.

Did you know, that the White Sox gave up more talent to get Swisher than the Tigers did to land Miguel Cabrera?

Yes, at the time, Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller were two of the top 10 prospects in baseball. Since then, Maybin has generated 7.9 WAR while Andrew Miller has essentially been replacement level.

Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Sweeney, the centerpieces of the Nick Swisher deal, have generated 20 WAR since 2008.

The Swisher deal should never have been made in the first place. There was no way Swisher would have as much value to the White Sox as Gio Gonzales would to the A's. Trading Swisher made a bad situation even worse.

This has nothing to do with Swisher's personality. Kenny Williams undervalued his own prospects. Yes, Swish was part of a team that eked into the playoffs in 2008 (albeit in a highly enjoyable fashion), but Sweeney and Gonzalez could have benefitted the White Sox in other ways.

They could have played for the White Sox. They were under team control, giving the White Sox the financial flexibility to sign a free agent.

They could have been packaged in a different deal.

BA was back in CF after Swish was launched. But he was gone for good after Alex Rios was claimed on waivers in August in 2009. The White Sox have paid Alex Rios at least $35 million over the past 4 years, with $24 million remaining on the contract.

Again, money that could have been better spent elsewhere.

Oh, and Brian Anderson begat Mark Kotsay.

Now, imagine a world in which Chris Young stuck in Chicago and BA went to Arizona.

No Swish, no Rios, no Kotsay.

With Chris Young on the White Sox roster in December of 2007, the team could have packaged John Danks and Young in order to get Miguel Cabrera.

The same thing could be said for the ridiculous Edwin Jackson/Daniel Hudson deal (in retrospect, trading for Adam Dunn would not have been a good thing), or Jake Peavy/Clayton Richard.

White Sox prospects could have been used in smarter ways.

Now, the White Sox are in for a period of de-leveraging (2014 isn't going to be pleasant). The money's gone and so are the prospects.

However, this does present an opportunity to build a team with a stronger foundation.