CHICAGO | Amid the stifling heat of Monday’s late afternoon, Kenny Williams seemed the most cheerful man in U.S. Cellular Field.
Informally attired, the White Sox general manager talked a little trade-deadline philosophy in the dugout before showing off photos of his All-Star break trip to Egypt.
Williams got a little agitated when several writers told him Ichiro Suzuki was just traded to the New York Yankees. He couldn’t believe it at first, then soon excused himself to confirm the deal. Hmm, the word was Ichiro was not available for trade.
In the end, that’s the Mariners’ and Yankees’ business. Williams is happy with his team. He’s not the least bit discouraged by the weekend wipeout in Detroit that dropped the Sox out of first.
Like later Monday, before a welcoming sellout crowd of 37,788 on Value Monday (many seats half-priced). Top slumpers Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn unwound with homers, worth five runs in the first three innings off the Minnesota Twins’ Francisco Liriano.Not to be left out, Alex Rios out-distanced them both with a 438-foot two-run shot moments after Dunn’s blast, providing enough cushion for Gavin Floyd (8-8) in a 7-4 Sox victory.
Williams doesn’t need to snare another hitter. He’s made two steals of deals recently, the acclaimed acquisition of Kevin Youkilis and a practical move-in snaring reliever Brett Myers.
But Williams needs one more trade, for a No. 4- or 5-level starting pitcher.
With so few teams classified as sellers, Williams must pull off his best Houdini trick of the season for a starter, given so few rotation-worthy arms have yet changed hands a week before the July 31 deadline. Even Ryan Dempster was still Cubs property by the end of the evening.
“The best thing that can happen for us is for John Danks to continue to feel good,” Williams said. But the sore-shouldered lefty has been out for more than two months. Williams could only project a Danks return in another month. In all practicality, he can’t count on an effective Danks the rest of the season.
Williams can’t rely on Philip Humber at all anymore. The right-hander allowed six runs, including a pair of mammoth Miguel Cabrera homers, in three innings Sunday in Detroit. In his 12 starts since his April 21 perfect game in Seattle, Humber has allowed five or more runs in exactly half. Take out the one-game line of zeroes, and Humber has allowed 53 runs on 82 hits and 32 walks in 67 1/3 innings.
Factor in upcoming proscribed rest for Chris Sale and Jake Peavy. The need for an innings-eating starter is, well, desperate.
“Talk about a prospect-type deal, we’ll take a look at it,” said Williams.
His players expect nothing less of their GM.
“What we appreciate about Kenny is he’s letting us know he cares,” said pitcher Jake Peavy, "and that he’s in the trenches, and we’re battling for him and he’s battling for us.”
Williams will need to bottle that dugout good mood for the real heat of the deadline dash against other pitching-hungry GMs.
This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at DGemsNet@aol.com.