Now that all the turkey has been digested and most of the leftovers have been picked over (except that suspicious stuffing which didn't appear to age well overnight), we can take a look at some of the ramifications of the Rowand for Thome trade.
1. First and foremost, Thome's arrival does NOT mean the Sox will not bring back Paul Konerko! If anything, this makes Konerko's return MORE likely, since all the money the Phillies are throwing in gives Ken Williams the flexibility to offer Konerko a large contract. Thome is better suited to DH at this point in his career, and would shift to first only if Konerko signs elsewhere. Also, Konerko's declared admiration for Thome gives him extra incentive to come back to Chicago to play alongside him.
2.On the other hand, Thome's arrival DOES put Frank Thomas' White Sox career in jeopardy. Plan A is for Thome to start at DH and Konerko at 1B, leaving no room for the big man who has anchored the Sox line up for the past decade and a half. Health issues cloud Frank's future anyway, so his only shot to return would be to accept a back up role, filling in occasionally at DH. Otherwise he'll we wearing a new jersey in '06.
3. Rowand's departure opens the door for rookie Brian Anderson to start in CF. The Sox drafted Anderson in the first round in 2003 and have loved him and his affable personality since day one. He shot threw the Sox system quickly and hit .295 with 16 HR at AAA Charlotte last year before being joining the big league club in August, contributing a big 2-HR game in Seattle down the stretch.
The big move is done, but don't expect Williams to take the rest of the winter off. Now it's tweak time. Signing Konerko is priority number one, then if he thinks he can upgrade in the outfield he'll take a swing at it. Speedy Tampa Bay OF Joey Gathright and Florida's Juan Pierre have caught Williams' eye, and in house options Jerry Owens, Willie Harris and Joe Borchard could challenge Anderson with great spring trainings.
The Sox may have overpaid for Thome, all things considered. Gonzalez and Haigwood are elite prospects whose total value probably exceeds Thome's current market value. And of course Rowand, besides personifying the heart of this team, was the starting centerfielder. But when it comes to big deals Williams is not a "value" trader- when he finds his guy he gets him, cost be damned. Jim Thome is that kind of impact guy, especially when you're only paying half his salary.