Update [2005-11-23 18:59:55 by Marc Normandin]: The Good Phight tells us that there are indeed prospects to be had by Philadelphia from Chicago. Check out the aforementioned Good Phight as well as South Side Sox for proper reaction, and as always, Minor League Ball for prospect analysis. And take this addition to the trade into consideration when reading this article.
Where do I begin? This is a very interesting trade for both teams to be completely honest. On the one hand, Jim Thome gives the White Sox a bat that they will lack if Paul Konerko fails to re-sign, which seems very possible at this point, unless Thome is relegated to Designated Hitter duties and Konerko is re-signed to play first base. If that is the route the Sox take, they gave up defense up the middle (but only a league average bat at best) for more production in the middle of their lineup, which in all honesty, was going to be necessary in 2006. The Phillies added to their biggest strength as a team, which is the outfield. The problem is that everyone in the outfield in Philadelphia is better than Aaron Rowand. This might signal that the expected trade of Bobby Abreu is on the horizon, or that they plan to continue to platoon Jason Michaels. Either way, very interesting. Let's take a look at Jim Thome first.
Thome's power fell off a cliff last year...then fell into a hole in the ground and continued to fall until it reached the other side of the planet. mOPS+ tells us that he was still an above average offensive player, but I think that stems from his increased walk rate (.186 BB/PA) and the fact that his batting average was so low it made his ISO look better than it should have been. Thome does not necessarily have to turn into the 2003-2004 version of himself in order to make this deal work for Chicago. He is replacing Carl Everett; all he has to do it hit better than .251/.311/.435, which considering Thome's plate patience, is a given as long as his back doesn't constrict him as much as it did in 2005. In 135 games, Carl Everett accounted for 1.5 Wins Above Replacement Level; Jim Thome, during his awful 2005, accounted for 0.9 WARP in only 59 games, and that was with his defense taking away from his overall value slightly. If Konerko is signed to play first base, then excellent turn of events for the White Sox offense, who will not miss Rowand's bat as much as FOX thinks they will. The question now becomes, who plays centerfield in 2006? My thought is that Brian Anderson gets the nod, or they move Podsednik back over (cutting into Pods value, as he is much better suited to the corners) and let Anderson play in the corner. Rowand was good for 6 runs above average per 100 games defensively in 2005, so he was a very good but not great defensive centerfielder. The possible boost to the offense from Thome/Konerko would make up for that, certainly. The White Sox are receiving cash in order to help pay for Thome's contract, so they may still have money flying around for Konerko.
As for Aaron Rowand...
Rowand is essentially a tad below league average offensively, as well as a good centerfielder. The question I have for Philadelphia is, what about these three guys?
If you keep all four of these outfielders, Jason Michaels is most likely the one who would be left out. Michaels tops the four of them in Net Runs Above Average (although Abreu's fall in the second half can be attributed to playing with an array of minor injuries), but Rowand was high profile enough to be traded for Jim Thome. Interestingly enough, Jason Michaels is the best defensive player of the four as well. Calculate his Rate2 for all three outfield positions in 2005, and you get 114, or 14 runs above average per 100 games. Rowand, as previously mentioned, was 6 runs above average in the same defensive stat. Bobby Abreu won a Gold Glove based on his Homerun Derby performance, since he certainly did not deserve it for his defensive play, -6 Fielding Runs Above Average. His bat cannot be taken out of the lineup unless it is replaced via trade. Even then, I would not advise it, since a healthy Abreu is one of the best players in the league. Pat Burrell could be moved, but his contract might make it difficult:
2006: $9.5 million
2007: $13 million
2008: $14 million
The Phillies should see if they can get something useful in exchange for Aaron Rowand to be completely honest. Such as another starting pitcher from a team desperate for centerfield (or outfield in general) help, which with the current centerfielder's market is at least half of the league. Rowand's salary (06: $3.25 mill; 07:$3.25 mill player option or $5 mill club option) should make him affordable to all teams not named the Florida Marlins, who might cut get short on their cell phone minutes to lower costs after a busy week of trades.
Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the salary information. The majority of that player card data came from David Pinto's Baseball Musings database, and the rest came from Baseball Prospectus in order to calculate Rate2.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!