It’s anyone’s guess as to how many more trades Sox general manager Ken Williams will pull off Tuesday.
Addressing a dubious rumor that had him possibly going to the Los Angeles Angels, White Sox captain Paul Konerko said players treat trade speculation more like fantasy football than anything.
It’s a lot of talk and speculation that ends up being mostly just that — a whole lot of gossip.
While that may be true, every trade that will be pulled off in the majors before Tuesday’s 3 p.m. (CDT) non-waiver deadline involves more than just a name on a computer screen.
The commodities involved are living, breathing people who have families, homes and roots, and are about to move to a new city, start a new job and undergo a major change of life.
It’s anyone’s guess as to how many more trades Sox general manager Ken Williams will pull off Tuesday, but if any more Sox players are traded, most of them already have a good idea what it’s like to be sent packing.
“Obviously, it’s emotional,” said Jim Thome, who’s been traded once in his career, from the Philadelphia Phillies to the White Sox on Nov. 25, 2005. “It’s surprising. There’s a little bit of excitement involved because you’re going to a new organization, going to a new club, new manager, new teammates. (There’s) a little bit of sadness that you leave old teammates.
“There’s a lot of, for lack of a better term, emotion because, depending on the situation, there are a lot of different situations you could be going to.”
The most-traded Sox player, Javier Vazquez, knows that more than anyone.
Vazquez was traded from the sinking Montreal Expos to the front-running New York Yankees on Dec. 16, 2003, then shipped to the sorry Arizona Diamondbacks on Jan. 11, 2005, then to a top-tier team — at least last year — in the Sox on Dec. 20, 2005.
“The first year, when I got traded from Montreal to New York, I was happy because I was going to better situation, better team and all that,” said Vazquez, who has been the subject of rumors and scouting again this year. “When I got traded from the Yankees to Arizona, I was disappointed, but when I was traded Arizona to here, I was happy again.
“It’s just a matter of what team you get traded to or what situation you’re in. It depends. You can be happy or you can be sad. Overall, I guess, it’s been good, I guess.”
Very few players control their futures at this time of the season, and most have come to accept that trades are just a part of the job.
“Inside, you’re always like, ‘I wish I would have stayed’ — everyone wants to stay with the organization for their whole career,” said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who was traded from Minnesota to San Francisco for Joe Nathan, Boof Bonser and Francisco Liriano on Nov. 14, 2003.
“But it doesn’t happen anymore, it really doesn’t. You can’t name too many guys who started and ended their careers with the same organization. You understand ...
“Most of the time, you know it’s coming. It doesn’t usually come as a huge, huge surprise most of the time. You’re expecting it. It’s more, most of the time, ‘Where am I going?’ which is more the surprise than the trade itself.”
Then again, sometimes the trade itself can be unexpected.
“I was more in shock because I had just gotten drafted by the team, I was only with them for a year, and then at such a young age, they sent me off without even knowing pretty much what I was capable of,” said Jon Garland, who was an 18-year-old minor leaguer when he was traded from the Cubs to the Sox for Matt Karchner on July 29, 1998.
“More of shock, then I took it as that other team wanted me more. They wanted me more and they went and got me.”
Of course, not all trades bring about shock, disappointment or anger. Sometimes it’s the best thing that can happen to a player.
“To be traded, it’s actually kind of fun,” said rookie John Danks, who was stuck in the minors with Texas before coming to the Sox with Nick Masset in exchange for Brandon McCarthy on Dec. 23, 2006.
“Obviously, there’s some shock early, but once you get over it and start meeting new guys, it’s fun. Baseball people are baseball people.
“Once you make some new friends, you feel a lot more comfortable.”