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Chicago White Sox: 5 Good Moves and 5 Bad Moves Made by Kenny Williams as GM

Todd ThorstensonAnalyst INovember 26, 2011

Chicago White Sox: 5 Good Moves and 5 Bad Moves Made by Kenny Williams as GM

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    Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams has no doubt been heavily scrutinized during his 11 years on the South side, but if you ask him he will probably tell you that it just comes with the territory.

    Williams has never been one to shy away from his critics—or the spotlight, for that matter.

    He seems to thrive on the attention he draws as GM, whether it's good or bad.

    Williams has always been known as one of the more active general managers in baseball and one who is going to take chances—and just like anything else, some moves have worked and some have not.

    However, despite his many critics, the fact remains that Williams has arguably been one of the—if not the best—GMs in White Sox history.  Now some may argue that really isn't saying much based on the team's history, but during his tenure the White Sox have been pretty successful.

    The Sox have finished above the .500 mark in eight of his 11 seasons, which includes a world series title, two division titles and four second place finishes.

    In other words, the White Sox have been in contention more often than not during William's tenure.

    Recently he has taken a lot of heat for the highly publicized departure of Ozzie Guillen as White Sox manager and the hiring of the inexperienced Robin Ventura to take his place. 

    He also faces one of his more challenging off seasons this year as the White Sox appear to be a team in flux with a new manager and possibly several changes to the roster.

    Most critics are not expecting Williams to do much in terms of signing any big names this offseason because of the contracts that he is already committed to—if anything, most are expecting the Sox to lose more than they gain before next season begins.

    With that said, Williams has had a knack for pulling off surprises over the years so it remains to be seen what he has up his sleeve.

    Like any general manager, Williams has had his ups and downs.  Here is a look at five of the best and five of the worst moves he has made during his 11 years on the south side.

Good Move: Signing of Jermaine Dye

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    In Dec. of 2004, Kenny Williams signed free agent Jermaine Dye to a two-year, $10.15 million contract.

    JD was coming off of a solid season with the Oakland A's after having several big seasons with the Kansas City Royals.

    In obtaining Dye, the White Sox got an integral piece to their 2005 championship team and someone who would solidify their outfield for several years.

    Dye went on to play five seasons in Chicago and put up solid numbers every year, including MVP type numbers in 2006 when he hit .315 with 44 home runs and 120 RBI.

    Dye has been out of baseball since 2009, but something tells me the Sox could have used him the past couple of years.

Bad Move: The Trade for Todd Ritchie

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    In Dec. of 2001, Williams dealt pitchers Kip Wells, Josh Fogg and Sean Lowe to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Todd Ritchie and Lee Evans.

    This will go down as one of the worst deals Williams has made.

    Not that Wells, Fogg, or Lowe went on to have stellar careers—they were all average pitchers at best—but what the White Sox got in return was far worse.

    This deal was all about acquiring Todd Ritchie—Lee Evans was just a throw in—with the hope that he would help solidify the starting rotation.

    Ritchie went on to post a 5-15 record with a 6.06 ERA in 2002 and never pitched a full major league season again.

Good Move: Signing of Orlando Hernandez

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    Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez will always be remembered fondly by White Sox fans for his performance against the Boston Red Sox in game three of the 2005 divisional series.

    In the sixth inning, Hernandez came into the game to relieve Damaso Marte with the bases loaded, nobody out, and the White Sox clinging to a 4-3 lead.

    Hernandez would go on to pitch out of the jam allowing no runs and the Sox would go on to sweep Boston on their way to their first championship in 88 years.

    Hernandez had signed a two-year, eight million dollar contract as a free agent in January of 2005 and proved to be worth every penny.

Bad Move: The Trade for Nick Swisher

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    When the White Sox acquired Nick Swisher via trade in January of 2008 they thought they were getting a guy who would anchor their outfield for a few years.

    However what they got was a guy who struggled almost all year at the plate during the 2008 season and was gone to the Yankees by the next year.

    The problem was that the White Sox gave up a lot to get Swisher to the South side.

    In the deal the Oakland Athletics received left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez, who had already been traded once by Williams and then reacquired, as well as outfielder Ryan Sweeney and pitcher Fautino De Los Santos.

    Gonzalez has gone on to be a solid starter in the Oakland rotation and while Sweeney hasn't been what many thought he would be, he has been somewhat productive.

Good Move: The Trade for Matt Thornton

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    In March of 2006 Williams traded the highly touted outfielder Joe Borchard to the Seattle Mariners for an unknown left-hander named Matt Thornton.

    At the time this didn't seem like much of a deal for either team, but in the end the Sox definitely got the better end of it.

    Joe Borchard never did live up to the hype as he spent only two more seasons in the majors and didn't produce much at all.

    However, Matt Thornton has been an integral member of the White Sox bullpen for six years and was named an all-star in 2010.

Bad Move: The Trade for Javier Vazquez

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    Javier Vazquez had always had the talent, but seemed to be up and down over his career prior to coming to the White Sox in 2006.

    Unfortunately for the Sox, that trend continued during his time in Chicago.

    In December of 2005 Williams traded pitchers Orlando Hernandez and Luiz Vizcaino as well as outfielder Chris Young, to the Arizona Diamondbacks for the talented Vazquez.

    That's a lot to give up for a guy who was basically a .500 pitcher.

    Every Sox fan knows about the clutch pitching of Hernandez during the 2005 title run and Vizcaino was also a solid member of that championship bullpen, but the guy that hurt to lose the most was outfielder Chris Young, who has gone on to have a solid career with Arizona.

    Vazquez lasted three years on the South side and posted a 38-36 record with an ERA over four—not really what the Sox had in mind.

Good Move: Signing of A.J. Pierzynski

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    When A.J. Pierzynski was signed by Williams as a free agent in January of 2005, many White Sox fans probably cringed.

    Pierzynski had long been a member of the hated rival Minnesota Twins and was not liked by many Sox fans—just like he's not well liked by many opposing fans now.

    However, even Williams may have never guessed how well this would turn out as A.J. helped the Sox win the World Series in his first year and has gone on to play seven productive seasons on the South side.

    Pierzynski can still hit for average and more importantly, he can still hit in the clutch.  He may not be around too many more years, but he has definitely been a mainstay on the White Sox roster over the last several seasons and a good guy in the clubhouse.

Bad Move: Signing of Alex Rios

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    When Williams decided to claim Alex Rios off of waivers in August of 2009, he knew he was taking a big risk, and to this point that risk has been far more than the reward.

    Rios had just signed a seven-year contract in April 2008 with the Toronto Blue Jays for just under $70 million and when Williams claimed him off waivers, he assumed over $61 million of Rios' remaining contract.

    Rios had a miserable finish to the 2009 season in a Sox uniform and then bounced back to have a solid campaign in 2010.  However he had a huge drop off again last year and at times just seemed to be disinterested.  

    The White Sox still owe Rios $37 million over the next three years with a club option in 2015 and with the way he has played he really has no trade value, so Williams is basically stuck with Rios and is desperately hoping he can bounce back next season.

Good Move: Signing of Alexei Ramirez

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    In Dec. of 2007 Williams decided to take a shot on a virtually unknown player from Cuba and it turned out well for him.

    Alexei Ramirez was a Cuban exile who was coming off of a stint in the Dominican winter league when the White Sox signed him at the end of 2007.

    Not much was known about the rail thin Ramirez when he arrived at White Sox training camp in 2008, but it didn't take long for him to make a name for himself—and that name was the "cuban missile."

    Ramirez never even made a trip to the minors as many thought he would.  In his first full season in the majors he hit .290 with 21 home runs and 77 RBI while showing flashes of brilliance with the glove.

    He won the Silver Slugger award in 2010 and looks to be a mainstay at shortstop for the Sox for a while as he is signed through 2016.

Bad Move: The Trade for Jake Peavy

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    The trade for former Cy Young winner Jake Peavy at the 2009 trade deadline is one that Williams has been scrutinized for repeatedly, and rightfully so.

    On July 31, 2009 Williams sent pitchers Dexter Carter, Adam Russell, Clayton RIchard and Aaron Poreda to the San Diego Padres in exchange for Peavy, who at the time was on the disabled list with a strained tendon in his right ankle.

    Peavy would only pitch in three games that year for the White Sox and still has yet to pitch an entire season after having surgery on his back in 2010.

    He is 17-13 with a 4.49 ERA in two plus seasons with the White Sox and is due to make $17 million in 2012 after earning $31 million over the past two seasons. That hurts.

    And what hurts even more is what the Sox had to give up to get him.

    Clayton Richard has gone on to be a pretty solid starter for San Diego while Adam Russell has moved on to the Tampa Bay Rays and done fairly well in middle relief.  Poreda is still a work in progress, but has potential.

    Williams may never live this one down.

Jury Still Out: Adam Dunn

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    The struggles of Adam Dunn have been well documented so there is really no need to go into the details again.

    After signing a four-year, $56 million contract in December of 2010, Dunn went on to have a historically bad season for the White Sox and has vowed to rebound in 2012.

    The White Sox are stuck with him and his enormous contract now, and are just hoping that he can produce numbers close to what he has in the past.

    There are three years left on his contract and Kenny Williams is definitely hoping for a rebound season from Dunn in 2012 or this will no doubt go down as one of the worst free agent signings ever.

    Stay tuned.

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