While not the first nor last to say so, Newsday’s Jon Heyman is fairly certain that no GM in baseball is more deserving of accolades right now than the White Sox’s Kenny Williams (above).
Nobody else had Williams’ year, filled with great moves and practically no praise. Like his club, the second team in the Second City, Williams is overlooked and over-criticized. If he isn’t Executive of the Year, they shouldn’t award a trophy.
Williams, the senior vice president/general manager, remade his club within Jerry Reinsdorf’s middle-class $75-million payroll, excising big-name, big-salaried players and adding unappreciated, versatile types, guys who could do more for less.
Williams is like that, too; he won more with less.
Winning 99 games on a $75-million payroll isn’t bad for the GM routinely knocked in “Moneyball.” If there were justice, Williams would write a rebuttal to that book, which ridiculed him for, among other things, trading Chad Bradford for backup catcher Miguel Olivo, whom he then traded (with known steroid case Michael Morse) to Seattle for frontline starter Freddy Garcia.
Williams was destroyed in the media when he dealt power threat Lee for powerless leadoff man Scott Podsednik and reliever Luis Vizcaino, and he admitted to enduring “sleepless nights” over his gambles. That transaction didn’t play to the masses, but it freed money to sign Yankees castoff Orlando Hernandez, who brings out his best in the postseason and who, most vitally, brought out the best in Yankees castoff Jose Contreras, who finally feels comfortable.
Contreras came for Esteban Loaiza, a steal. Other trades look as lopsided. Williams took assistant David Wilder’s recommendation and acquired strong-armed starting shortstop Juan Uribe from the Rockies for Aaron Miles. He signed regular-season closer Dustin Hermanson for $5.5 million over two years and claimed postseason closer Bobby Jenks off waivers for meal money (20 grand).
He picked up A.J. Pierzynski at an absurd bargain, $2.45 million (including incentives); signed Tadahito Iguchi after viewing him on tape for a bargain $4.95 million for two years, and went against in-house stat guys to sign Jermaine Dye over Randy Winn, for $10.15 million over two years.
The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebic reports that Mets Executive VP Jim Duquette, effectively demoted last winter with the arrival of Omar Minaya, was interviewed by the Orioles yesterday. Presumably, Duquette is under consideration to work alongside nearly promoted GM Mike Flanagan.