White Sox want all pieces, big or small, to fit
Fans seek another power bat as front office contemplates next move
CHICAGO -- An afternoon victory over the Cubs and future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had just been completed by the White Sox on June 27, 2004, when the biggest news of the day arrived at U.S. Cellular Field.
Freddy Garcia, along with catcher Ben Davis, had been obtained from the Mariners, causing a bit of a reverberation throughout the Conference and Learning Center at the ballpark. Garcia was the top arm available, a pitcher who was utterly fearless in big games, as would be proven during the 2005 championship run, and the White Sox got him.
That buzz was quelled for the briefest of moments when looking at the prospect package sent to Seattle by general manager Ken Williams. Miguel Olivo stood as the White Sox catcher of the future, a supreme athlete with an unparalleled throwing arm. Outfielder Jeremy Reed was coming off a 2003 Minor League season where he hit .373 with 95 RBIs, while one White Sox coach predicted Michael Morse would be the best of the group.
If this scenario sounds somewhat familiar, it's probably because a similar situation just played out in the White Sox acquisition of Todd Frazier, with general manager Rick Hahn at the helm. The White Sox picked up a coveted power-hitting third baseman from the Reds as part of a three-team deal, sending second baseman Micah Johnson, outfielder Trayce Thompson and hard-throwing right-hander Frankie Montas to the Dodgers.
Plenty of social media debate followed as to whether the White Sox gave up too much. But the general consensus, much as it was in 2004 when word of mouth ruled and Twitter did not yet exist, stood behind the South Siders doing what they could to get a player they had to have.
Any talk of the White Sox undergoing a full-on rebuild seemed rather unfounded with last offseason's multiyear additions of David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche and Zach Duke. The team is in it to win, maximizing great years and even greater contractual value of players such as Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Jose Abreu.
To get something good, a team almost always has to give up something good. The best part in this deal is that Hahn held on to shortstop Tim Anderson and right-hander Carson Fulmer, the team's No. 1 and No. 2 prospects, who could help the White Sox this season. Public opinion wants the White Sox to follow broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson's advice and "don't stop now," add another power bat such as free-agent outfielders Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Gordon or Justin Upton, or a Carlos Gonzalez via trade.
In fact, there are now reports that the Sox are at least kicking the tires on Gordon, whose blend of on-base percentage, stellar defense and tough makeup seem to make him the best of those outfield options. But any deal would require the contract to fit the Sox structure; a bidding war for Gordon, or any of the others, would not work.
Let us not forget about that '05 team. There weren't exactly superstars at every position, and it remains one of the more underrated World Series champions. But the pieces fit. And that, as much as collecting talent, builds winning teams. Sometimes it's the little, under-the-radar moves that mean a great deal. Check out Tadahito Iguchi before '05, or Carlos Quentin before '08.
Hahn and Co. continue to try to figure out the right equation to win in '16, but also win more than once. It's why the next big move also must be the next right move.