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SportsMonday: Trade Bait

I wonder if the White Sox and their fans were starting to worry when they couldn't even draw 30,000 for Friday's game with the A's.

Fortunately, 35,000-plus and 32,000-plus showed up for Saturday and Sunday, respectively, or Jerry Reinsdorf may have started slashing payroll, given his history of such threats.

Still, people, get your butts to the park. Not only is this a good team with a chance at greatness but it is a good team with a chance at greatness that needs you and your energy to beat the Minnesotans. Did you notice what happened this last week? That was when the White Sox won six of seven and lost ground in the standings to the Twinkies (winners of eight in a row).

Fortunately, the Twins now face much tougher opposition than the pathetic Mariners (who they swept over the weekend) on their upcoming lengthy road trip. But it isn't as though the White Sox have a series of cream puffs coming up.

One way the White Sox beat the Twins last week was that, in the grand scheme, the South Siders' big trade was a better move than Minnesota's big trade. I know that doesn't conform to conventional wisdom but hear me out.

Now, former Washington National Matt Capps is a good reliever and he has been a successful closer this year. He was what the Twins needed to stabilize their bullpen. But there are plenty of knowledgeable analysts who think he wasn't worth one of the top catching prospects in the game (Wilson Ramos) - a prospect the Twins were apparently unwilling to include in a potential deal for uber-ace Cliff Lee last month.

As for the White Sox's acquisition of Edwin Jackson for Daniel Hudson and a prospect, well, several national baseball columnists at mainstream sports web sites are convinced the White Sox acquired Jackson from the Diamondbacks only to pass him along to the Nationals in a deal for Adam Dunn.

And if that was the case it wasn't a good deal for the White Sox. But these guys are selling Kenny Williams short. It was actually clear Williams knew there was a decent chance Nationals GM Mike Rizzo wasn't going to accept a deal for Adam Dunn for anything less than Jackson and either Gordon Beckham or Carlos Quentin. And Williams, who understandably was not willing to deal one of his cornerstones and a prime young pitcher for the slugging first baseman who will be a free agent at the end of the season, did the deal for Jackson anyway.

Jackson has had powerful, accurate stuff and has proven he can use it to good effect over a long haul (13-9 with an impressive 3.62 ERA for the Tigers last year before being traded to the Diamondbacks). He has had a rough season this time around, especially since he threw about 150 pitches in a no-hitter last month.

But the White Sox have watched pitching coach Don Cooper resurrect or jump-start a series of careers over the past half-dozen years (starting with Jose Contreras during the glory year and moving on, most recently, to John Danks and Gavin Floyd, just to name a few). The only way the White Sox will win down the stretch (and in the playoffs for that matter) will be if they get consistent quality starts against good teams, the kind of starts that happen much more frequently with experienced pitchers with powerful stuff on the mound. If Cooper can just work a little of his magic, Jackson clearly has a better chance to provide more of those starts than callow rookie Hudson.

Of course it was also telling that Williams made sure to mention early and often that the Jackson trade helps the White Sox in 2010 and 2011. I think people are already forgetting it will be a minor miracle if the White Sox make the postseason this year for several reasons but most prominently because they lost their big money ace for the season for goodness sake. Jake Peavy's injury is the sort of setback that 99 percent of teams cannot just shrug off on their way to success.

Williams and White Sox fans know it will be tough for even Cooper to transform Jackson on the fly. But Williams decided it was a chance worth taking. And Jackson will have a great chance to be a great fourth starter for the White Sox next year.

In the end, isn't it something that Rizzo's stubbornness apparently paid off in his negotiation with the Twins but didn't with Williams. After all he got nothing for a slugger, Dunn, who will probably go elsewhere in free agency next year. Dunn reportedly wants to keep playing first base but his defense has slipped and he will be more valuable to an American League team that can at least play him at designated hitter some of the time.


As for the Cubs' big trade, the best rundown I found is this one from Call To The Pen.


Jim "Coach" Coffman brings you SportsMonday (nearly) every Monday in this space. He welcomes your comments.

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