Thome for Rowand Trade
I've had some time to digest the trade of Phillies firstbaseman Jim Thome to the White Sox for centerfielder Aaron Rowand - so I figured I'd share my observations.
When I first heard about the trade I thought the White Sox were crazy. Why trade a Gold Glove caliber, all-star potential centerfielder for an aging player who at best could be your DH? At first glance I thought this was a terrible trade for the White Sox. Now I'm not so sure - oh wait a second - yes I am sure. This was an awful trade by the White Sox.
Why the Phillies would want to trade Jim Thome is obvious. The man who replaced the injured Thome, Ryan Howard won the 2005 Rookie of the Year award, Thome has a monster contract and there is no DH rule in the NL. Couple those three reasons and it was clear that Thome had to go. However, because of Thome's age, injury history, his monster contract and the fact that Thome had a no-trade clause in his contract figured to make moving him a difficult task.
Because of the obstacles involved in moving Thome - I was surprised the Phillies were able to get so much in return. My understanding is that the Phillies send Thome and $22 million for Aaron Rowand and two minor league players (supposedly lefthanded pitchers Giovany Gonzalez, Chicago's first-round pick in the 2004 amateur draft, and Daniel Haigwood).
The White Sox will in essence be paying Jim Thome $8 million per year for the next three years. Jim Thome is 35-years old and coming off a season where back troubles and elbow surgery limited him to just 59 games. This is the same Jim Thome who only received a three-year offer from his Cleveland Indians back when Thome was a free-agent because the Indian were afraid his back couldn't hold up for more than 3-years. The obvious question is "Couldn't that $8 million per year have been better spent re-signing the 29-year old Paul Konerko who also plays first base?"
Another question is "Knowing that the White Sox were one of the only clubs Thome would agree to be traded to - why did the White Sox also have to include two top prospects?" Personally I think this is the perfect example of a good GM (Pat Gillick) out dealing a bad GM (Kenny Wlliams).
If you are going to use the justification that the White Sox traded Aaron Rowand because they have stud outfielder Brian Anderson waiting to play - you have to at least admit that Kenny Williams could have gotten much more for Rowand if he just waited to see who lost out on Johnny Damon. The Yankees or Red Sox would have been willing to trade anything for Rowand if they come up short in pursuit of Damon.
Plus the closer to the season it got - the more the Phillies would have caved in on any demands. The Phillies didn't want Thome and his contract on the 2006 books. Rushing to make this one of the first deals of the hotstove season makes ZERO sense.
In addition - this move makes cutting ties with Frank Thomas a fait accompli. Is it more likely that Thome or Thomas bounces back to 2003 form? Probably Thome but you wouldn't have to give up anything to retain Thomas. In regard to PR flack - in Rowand you are also trading one of the more popular players on a team that just won the World Series. Thome and Anderson are going to have to come up big to just make this a break-even deal for the White Sox.
Having said all the above - I like the trade. I like it for the simple reason that its good for the Red Sox. It takes the Phillies out of the running for Johnny Damon and it keeps Aaron Rowand out of the hands of the Yankees.
The trade also reinforces my belief that Kenny Williams and Jim Bowden are the two worst GM's in baseball.