OK, I can understand a GM's perspective when the team's chances for the season are completely shot, and the goals change from "winning the division with our young power arms" to "Please, God, we can't finish behind the Royals!" At that point, it's time to cut costs where you can, and start thinking about next season, or better yet, several seasons down the road. Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell. Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz.
The ESPN.com version of the wire story has the headline "White Sox send Durham to Athletics for prospect, cash." Um, no. Jon Adkins is 24, and had a career minor-league ERA of 4.13 coming into this season, during which he's been lit up in Sacramento, with an ERA that would fit neatly above the median for the Texas Rangers and peripheral numbers that do not hold much promise. Maybe Adkins will be the one guy in a thousand who breaks the mold and turns into a legitimate quality major leaguer. It's not likely, but you have to root for the guy.
Durham is eligible for free agency after this season, and with the Collective Bargaining Agreement being bounced across the table between Rob Manfred and Don Fehr, it's possible that clubs will no longer receive draft-choice compensation for players lost to free agency. But even if there's a chance that compensation will still be had, and even with the costs associated with signing a first-round pick, don't you have to take that chance instead of settling for a guy who just doesn't look that promising?
How did the conversation go? You know Beane's been working on Durham for a bit, so the closing call might have gone something like this….
Billy Beane: "Morning, Kenny. How are you?"
Ken Williams: "I'm fine, Billy. You calling about Ray again?"
BB: "It's my job, Kenny." (laughs)
KW: "Sure, I understand. But like I said before, we can't just give him away. Hey, did I tell you I bought a new car?"
BB: "Well, we're not going to pull the wool over your eyes or anything. What kind of car did you get?"
KW: "One of those Lincoln Navigators. It's huge, and impossible to park, but it's really comfortable, quiet and pretty slick. And man, those car dealers can be chumps!"
BB: "How so?"
KW: "Can you believe I talked them down to only $149 for the floor mats?"
KW: "Not only that, but they were closing the shop, and the guy had to make his quota, so I got a BEAUTIFUL deal on the fabric protection and rustproofing. And for only a few extra bucks, all the scheduled maintenance for the next three years. They're lucky they still had all their fingers and toes after I left." (laughs)
BB: "Um…so how much did you pay?"
KW: "That's the real beauty of it! I didn't even have to buy the car! I'm just LEASING it!"
BB: "Wow. Kenny, you're a shrewd man, so I won't waste your time trying to talk you down. I'm willing to accede to your demands and give you Jon Adkins."
KW: "Done! Let me fax the papers over before you change your mind!!!" (begins victory dance)
BB: "Shouldn't be a problem."
KW: "Who's your daddy?"