Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thome to the Champs
By Blogger

ESPN is reporting that, pending physicals, Jim Thome and cash have been sent to the White Sox for Aaron Rowand and a minor leaguer or two. On first glance, this looks like a win-win for both sides, as the Sox get a big bopper to either replace or complement Paul Konerko (depending whether or not they can re-sign him), while the Phillies both clear a path for Ryan Howard and exponentially improve their center field situation in one fell swoop. Upon closer inspection, however, the White Sox look like they got hosed.

Much like Carlos Delgado, Thome is an aging, no-field, limited-athleticism, slugger. Yes, he can hit, but with the big caveat of "when healthy". Delgado doesn't have the recent chronic injury history that Thome does, so he'd easily be the better bet between the two. Thome could DH a bit in the AL, but limiting him to that "position" alone would severely limit his value unless they get another big hitter to play 1B. He's much more valuable playing the field, because then the Sox will be able to cast a wider net to fill the DH role.

As for the Phillies, don't compare Thome's projected numbers to Howard's projected numbers. Compare Thome and Howard's combined production last season and compare to Howard's projected numbers. Any way you slice it, a full season of Howard is likely to be an improvement over what Philly got out of the position last year. Is Howard good for .260/.350/.550 with 30 jacks? It sure looks like it.

Now, is the real Aaron Rowand the guy who hit .270/.329/.407 last season, or is it the guy who hit .310/.361/.544 the year before? I'm taking the popular guess that it's somewhere in between, but his numbers will jump a bit because he's going from a good home run park to a great home run park. Again, compare his numbers to what the Phillies got last year out of Kenny Lofton and Jason Michaels. Will he surpass those? I'm guessing he won't reach the excellent OBP those two put up, but his SLG will more than make up the difference to match their OPS. Throw in Rowand's defense, and it looks like Philly improved significantly at two positions, while the White Sox will be going with a guy who has a chronically injured back at 1B, moving Scott Podsednik to center and going with a completely unproven prospect, the other Brian Anderson, in left. And guess what? His numbers are fine, but don't exactly induce thoughts of Foxx and Greenberg. I'd be surprised if the Sox really do go with him in left to start the season. With Thome at a discount, they'd do well to let Konerko go and try to sign a cheaper free agent like Brian Giles to play left, easing Anderson in at DH.

As of now, chalk one up to Pat Gillick. The NL East is gonna be fun next year.


Blogger Ben Valentine said...

This trade reeks for the White Sox. I thought the guys who ran this organization were geniuses? The Philles were begging for someone to take Thome off their hands and the White Sox not only part with a valuable center fielder in Rowand but also a good prospect! Rotoworld is reporting they dealt pitchers Daniel Haigwood and Gio Gonzalez in the deal as well.

Haigwood is 22 years old and posted a K/9 of 10.16 and a 1.04 WHIP in 67.1 innings at AA last year, after having a K/9 of 9.90 and a WHIP of 1.47 in 76.1 innings at high A. The WHIP at A was high, but his K/BB remained consistent, he gave up a lot of hits at A. And he's a lefty to boot!

Gonzalez, another lefty, hasn't pitched above the Sally League, so he isn't worth really projecting at this point. But the fact they had to give up a good prospect and a solid centerfielder for an injury prone guy the Phillies were looking to salary dump is terrible. Why couldn't they have just gone after Delgado? That deal looks a lot better for the Mets right now than this one does for the Sox.

I agree with you David, it's a great trade for Philly. Meanwhile, I don't think we'll be seeing the White Sox repeat next year.

8:52 PM  
Blogger Bryan Koch said...

The only way this trade even approaches any semblance of logic for the Sox is if Anderson is in fact a suitable replacement for Rowand. From what I've read, he's not great defensively. Rowand is one of the best. So it's not looking good.

Thome better come back in a big way, that's for sure.

10:00 PM  

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