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White Sox’ trade was good business, not sign of surrender


Edwin Jackson

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Updated: November 2, 2011 12:43AM

Fourteen years lat­er, Omar Vizquel still can laugh about it.

“ ‘White Flag Trade?’ ” the veteran White Sox infielder said Tuesday with a smirk on his face. “You can call it whatever you want back then, but the Sox weren’t going to catch us. No one was going to catch us. To be honest with you, we didn’t care what the teams behind us did because we knew we were the best team in the division.’’

The “we’’ Vizquel was talking about? A 1997 Cleveland Indians team that went on to lose a heart-breaker to the Florida Marlins in the World Series. The team that wasn’t “going to catch us’’? The Sox, who traded pitchers Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin and Roberto Hernandez to the San Francisco Giants for six prospects, despite being just 31/2 games back of the Indians at the July 31 trade deadline.

It was called “The White Flag Trade’’ because, well, the media likes to make up cute names for events, despite how inaccurate they are.

“Dose of Reality Deal’’ was more like it because board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is not only a smart businessman, but a smart baseball man. That ’97 Sox team on its best day was a farm team compared to what the Indians were marching out there on a nightly basis. It said 31/2 games in the standings. Realistically, it was 10.

“Us going through a bad day was like most of the league having an average day or a good day in some cases,’’ Vizquel recalled. “It looked impossible to lose some days. We were playing on a different level.’’

You want to see a real “White Flag Trade’’? You just might. Because if general manager Ken Williams starts moving Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Matt Thornton or Carlos Quentin, he isn’t only raising the white flag on a bad division, he’s opening up the gates and welcoming in the enemy with a slap on the back and a free meal at Market.

The Wednesday morning trade of Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen to the Toronto Blue Jays for reliever Jason Frasor and minor-league pitcher Zach Stewart simply was saving money without hurting the product. Sure, there’s always the gamble that the Sox are a Jake Peavy or Floyd injury away from the starting rotation being undermanned, but it’s late July and time to start gambling with an underachieving roster.

It also was Williams undoing his own wrongs on previous decisions, but nonetheless, it was good business.

If there are deeper holes dug into the 25-man roster, however, then we’re talking surrender.

Say what you want about the 2011 Sox, but “mathematically eliminated’’ is one name they can’t be called.

The Detroit Tigers are not the ’97 Indians. They are just as flawed as the Sox, only with players with a little more heart right now.

They aren’t running away with anything.

With the win over the Tigers on Wednesday, the Sox are just 31/2 games back, with the Boston Red Sox coming to town Friday and buzzards circling the skies, waiting for Williams to make the decision to hold or fold.

“I think we are more likely to stick with the situation [of keeping the team together] then to go the direction I mentioned the other day,’’ Williams said, two days after he talked about overturning the roster. “Let’s wait until we get to Sunday.’’

Considering all the trade scenarios and rumors floating around 35th and Shields, it could be quite the anxious wait.

As far as what the Sox got in return, Frasor is proven, and Stewart is a wait-and-see. The one question that Sox fans seemed to be stuck on, however, was why didn’t the Sox just acquire Colby Rasmus from the St. Louis Cardinals rather than allow the Blue Jays to get him using Jackson?

Call it Williams looking ahead or another South Side conspiracy theory, but if the Sox go after Tony La Russa to manage the team in 2012, the last face La Russa wants to see on his roster is Rasmus.

“This time of year is always crazy,’’ Vizquel said. “This trade doesn’t surprise me because they’re trying to make things happen. I’m surprised there weren’t any changes before this, just to shake things around. It seems like we still don’t know who we are.’’

Maybe true. But the standings show who they’re not. They’re not a team that should be raising any type of flag right now.

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