Genius? Not quite. But very smart? Yes indeed. By moving Javier Vazquez to the Braves, Williams accomplished a number of important tasks.
First off all, Williams rid the White Sox of the 20+ million dollars that is going to be owed to Vazquez over the next two seasons. That's a lot of money to spend on a pitch who has been nothing more than fourth starter for most of his career. While his 200 innings pitched leave a big hole in the starting rotation, his performance left much to be desired and should be filled by a cheaper alternative.
Next, you have to give Williams credit for the package he received for the over hyped Vazquez. Even though Vazquez has the stuff of an ace, he has woefully underperformed throughout his entire career. By getting back four minor leaguers, Williams strengthened the organization and replenishes a farm system that had been decimated by the Nick Swisher trade a year ago.
There is no denying that the guys that Williams got back actually have some talent. Catcher Tyler Flowers looks like the cream of the crop in this bunch because of his power potential and his ability to get on base. Finding a good, young, power hitting catcher is very difficult to do, so I think Williams did especially well with Flowers.
And I really like the acquistion of Brent Lillibridge. One think that Williams does especially well is "buy low" on guys after they have had bad seasons. After being ranked as the Braves #6th best prospect entering 2008, Lillibridge hit only .220 in AAA this season and looked over matched during his time in the majors. However, this is still a good pickup despite Lillibridge's horrific 2008 season. This guy still has tremendous ability to get on base, steal bases, hit for average, and play multiple positions. He should compete to be the White Sox second baseman in 2009 and at worst in a future utility man.
The odd thing about this deal to me was that Jo Jo Reyes was not included. The inclusion of Jo Jo Reyes would have been classic Kenny Williams, buying low on a pitcher after one bad season (Gavin Floyd). I'm surprised that he did not go that route, but I assume it is because he is confident in either Jeffrey Marquez or some other trick up his sleeve.
I'm sure that Manager Ozzie Guillen is thrilled by this move after Guillen challenged Vazquez to pitch well in a big game. As we all know, Vazquez floundered. It's hard to imagine that Guillen had much faith in Vazquez after that, which made this move inevitable. Considering the inevitability of this deal and Vazquez's contract, I am surprised that the Braves gave up as much as they did in this trade. I think Kenny Williams played the Braves desire for a consistent starting pitcher into a potential major boon for the White Sox.
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