Moneyball (the sequel): Starring……Kenny Williams?

After many years of being focused on high slugging percentage baseball, the Chicago White Sox will definitely have a different look. It could be argued that no team over the off-season has changed the makeup of their team more than on the South Side of Chicago. Many in the SABR community slammed Kenny Williams for his trade of Carlos Lee, but it was about money redistribution. I’ve been discussing this for some time here and the Chicago Tribune picked up on the topic, recently.

As someone who was reading Baseball Abstracts as far back as 1982, I’m a strong believer in the sabremetrical approach to the game, but one place I feel many of my breathren fail is in combining this approach with team salary caps.
There is little doubt that Billy Beane has been far superior as a general manager to Ken Williams, but their past has shaped public opinion on their recent moves too strongly.

What would the response of the SABR community been, if Williams would have signed Jason Kendall? Oh I can hear the uproar over 34 million dollars going out over the next 3 years, with the trickle down causing the Sox to trade Mark Beurhle (see Hudson and Mulder) to cut some salary. Instead, Williams smartly signed catcher A.J. Pierzynski at 2.2 million for 2005. I realize this is a bit of a simplification, but not enough credit has been dished out to Ken Williams.

Besides the re-signing of (I don’t want on my) Timo Perez, the rest of the signings look pretty good. I would argue that Pierzynski, Orlando Hernandez, and Tadahito Iguchi are 3 of the best of the off-season. It’s time for KWilliams-haters to take a deep breath (I’m doing it as I write) and admit that there does seem to be a plan in place for 2005.

One other note: The Pecota for the Sox starting staff, which has all 5 starters posting ERA’s between 4.35 and 5.05 is a load. Yeah, US Cellular is unkind to pitchers, but these numbers would be career worst for almost each pitcher in the rotation. Pecota is generally a beautiful thing, but occasionally it misses the mark and I just don’t see the staff putting up those huge ERA’s.