In a general management tenure which includes absolute triumphs and a few missteps, Kenny Williams of the White Sox has mostly been a success story. Fans like to talk about how KW always has something up his sleeve, and his willingness to make deals, much like another Sox GM of yore, Frank “Trader” Lane. He’s been able to flip bust prospects for players like Matt Thornton, and has been able to make the right free agent signings for the team’s need. But one grand success has still eluded him: the move for the true ace starting pitcher.
Near the dawn of my fandom was the infamous “Shouldergate” trade. Mike Sirotka was my favorite player at the time, so it was my first time having to deal with a beloved player leaving my team. Obviously, it ended up being moot anyway, but I was so incredibly disappointed in David Wells that season.
The Jake Peavy trade, executed on deadline day in 2009, is the latest installment in Kenny’s quest for an ace. Unfortunately, Peavy’s tenure for the White Sox has been one beset by injury upon injury–even when “healthy” he has rarely shown the ability to perform at the level which made him a Cy Young winner.
We also know that if the Cy Young was determined by talking a good game rather than pitching one, Jake Peavy would be a perennial winner. Peavy is never shy to talk about how intense and “ready to go” he is, and it is this quality in him that makes life all the more frustrating for Sox fans. If there is a single unknown quantity in the 2011 White Sox, it’s obviously Jake Peavy. In my previous post I mentioned some of the frivolous things that cause the ridiculous excitement of spring training. The 2 minute video of Peavy throwing that showed up on MLB.com yesterday is proof that we get worked up about strange things. Peavy throwing to live batters? Has he changed his delivery? What was his speed? Which Peavy will show up?
At this point I don’t think many fans, writers, or even members of the organization think Peavy will return and become and absolute ace. It’s becoming clear that the Sox don’t have an ace pitcher. Arguably, the Sox haven’t had an ace pitcher since Jack McDowell.
I think the most that Sox fans can hope for Jake Peavy in 2011 (and maybe for the remainder of his tenure in Chicago) is to stay relatively healthy and perform like a 2-3 starter. Will he be one of the most expensive 2-3 starters of all time? Of course. But at this point, all the team can do is cross their fingers and hope for the best with Jake Peavy. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Peavy will win 15 games this year with a 3.00 ERA. I hope I am.
But speaking as someone who is usually a quite optimistic sports fan, I just don’t see it happening.