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Monday, December 13, 2004
Lee Gawn!!!

Well it finally happened. Kenny Williams has officially gone crazy. He just turned one of the Sox best hitters into somebody who can run fast and an average bullpen arm.
Brewers get:                        Sox get:

Carlos Lee($8M,$8.5M option) Scott Podsednik($550K, $1.9M)
Luiz Vizciano($1M+)
Player to be named later
If I were to evaluate this trade strictly by the numbers, it's an outright fleecing by Bob Melvin. I'll get into that later. But first, largely just to make myself feel better about this trade, here's some rationalization.

Carlos Lee had worn out his welcome on the southside. He hadn't worn out his welcome with me, but if you read between the lines back in September and October, it was clear that the White Sox brass was tired of Lee's antics(Although it's not totally clear what these may have been, I think it boiled down to him not getting every last drop out of his resevoir of talent.)

Here's a portion of something I wrote on Soxtalk back in September.
This[not mining all of his ability] is the complaint with Carlos. There is no doubt in my mind that if he wanted to he could steal 25 bags a year. There is no doubt in my mind that if he wanted to he could have an OBP above .375. Carlos has a ton of talent. He is able to do so many things well, as evidenced by his singles laden 28 game hit streak, or his 13 HR(1.134OPS) July just after Maggs and Frank went down, or his .407 OBP after the ASB in '02 when [Jerry Manuel] was in his ear before every AB telling him to be more patient, or his vastly improved defense.

Carlos has a hard time staying focused. He wants to be considered a GG outfielder. He's taken pride in the effort that he's put in there. Sooner or later he'll get caught up in another aspect of his game (maybe the longball) and his defense and other areas will suffer.
Not that you need much of a reminder, but here's what we just traded.
        BA   OBP   SLG   EqA   FRAA   WARP

1999 .293 .312 .463 .251 -8 2.1
2000 .301 .345 .484 .266 -1 4.8
2001 .269 .321 .468 .261 -4 3.6
2002 .264 .359 .484 .281 1 5.5
2003 .291 .331 .499 .274 -2 5.5
2004 .305 .366 .525 .289 14 8.4
And here's what we got in return.
        BA   OBP   SLG   EqA   FRAA   WARP

2003 .314 .379 .443 .290 0 6.7
2004 .244 .313 .364 .249 -5 3.6
It should be noted that Lee is actually a few months younger than Podsednik, so while it looks like we've gotten our hands on a young guy who struggled through a sophomore slump, and is likely to rebound. In reality we just got older an less talented. Podsednik is a .265 hitter in his 9 minor league seasons. In those 9 seasons, he stole more than 30 bases just once. He stole successfully about once every 14.5AB's, while walking once every 8.5AB's. To compare, Willie Harris was a .290 minor league hitter, who stole more than 30 bases 3 times at a rate of once every 12AB's, walking once every 8.4AB's.
Minors      BA    SLG     AB/BB     AB/SB

Podsednik .265 .347 8.5 14.5
Harris .290 .415 8.4 12.0
Harris actually hit better, stole more often, and walked at the same rate as Podsednik during their minor league careers. Harris is two years younger than Podsednik, and with some patience could absolutely become that table setter he was at the minor league level. There's nothing in Podsednik's past to suggest that he will even remotely live up to his fluke of a 2003 season.(Think Esteban Loiaza)

* * * * *

I know that we also got a right-handed relief pitcher, Luiz Vizciano, in the deal. I've never seen him pitch, or ever heard anything about him, so I'll refrain from bad mouthing him here. Who knows what we've got there. It could be Damaso Marte, or it could be Billy Koch. My guess is that he will fall somewhere in between.

* * * * *

Money, lettuce, green, dough, moolah, clams, benjamins, CASH; That's what this deal was about. By making the deal, the Sox free up about $6+M in payroll for the upcoming season. That money will likely be used to add a free agent starting pitcher.

Rumors around the internet were that the Sox were the mystery team that jumped into the Matt Clement derby, although I think landing Odalis Perez is more likely. Just for the sake of making KW look better, here's how the trade looks for both teams in terms of net WARP. I used a players average WARP over the last 3 years(only 2 for Podsednik).

Lose Gain Net
Podsednik(5.15) Lee 6.43 (1.05)
Vizciano(2.33) Replacement ???

White Sox(w/ Clement)
Lose Gain Net
Lee(6.43) Podsednik 5.15 5.85
Jackson(.9) Vizciano 2.33
Clement 5.7

White Sox(w/ Perez)
Lose Gain Net
Lee(6.43) Podsednik 5.15 5.65
Jackson(.9) Vizciano 2.33
Perez 5.5
I know that I'm going to have somebody emailing me disputing this; but assuming Podsednik is Lee's replacement, Vizciano is thriller's replacement, and Clement/Perez is the replacement for the replacement level 5th starter we've had out there for the last 2 seasons, this deal actually does make the sox better. Of course Maggs is swapped for Dye, and we lose a few wins there, but Maggs wasn't in the line-up for much of the year last season, so in theory if Dye out-performs the Borchard/Timo/Gload/Maggs platoon we had out there in RF last season we could actually add to last year's win total from that spot also.

All of this is theoretical, and the Brewers net win/loss depends on who they get to fill Vizciano's shoes. It's hard for me to wrap my brain around the Sox actually being better from this deal, but it all boils down to what does KW do with that money freed up in the trade?

In an interview on WGN radio he just kind of giggled when asked about a certain free agent pitcher being targeted with the excess funds. It was the same type of reaction he had the night before the Dye acquisition, and the trade that just went down today. So look for something to get done very shortly.