This season's moves could top 2004's for White Sox

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This season's moves could top 2004's for White Sox

In the weeks leading up to this season's non-waiver trading deadline, Kenny Williams acquired Kevin Youkilis, Brett Myers and Francisco Liriano for two utility players and four expendable minor-league pitchers. In other words, he addressed three key needs on the White Sox without subtracting much of anything.

When Brent Lillibridge and Eduardo Escobar -- both of whom, it should be noted, we well-liked in the White Sox clubhouse -- are your two biggest losses at the deadline, that's pretty impressive.

In 2004, Williams made a pair of moves that wound up being important for the White Sox World Series run in 2005. Like in 2012, Williams didn't wind up giving up much, although it didn't look like it at the time.

Freddy Garcia and Ben Davis cost the White Sox Jeremy Reed, then a blue-chip outfield prospect, Miguel Olivo, an up-and-coming catcher with great defensive skills, and Michael Morse, a powerful Double-A infielder. At the time, it looked like Seattle had made out well in the deal -- Reed was ranked as Baseball America's preseason No. 25 prospect, while Baseball Prospectus had him at No. 2.

But after playing a full season in 2005, Reed was relegated to a backup role for most of his eight-year career, in which he's posted a .309 OBP at the major-league level. Olivo bounced around and has since landed back with Seattle, but he has a career OBP of just .275. And Morse never broke through with Seattle, but seven years after the trade hit 31 home runs for Washington.

Garcia went on to throw 228 innings with a 3.87 ERA for the 2005 White Sox and compiled 8.4 WAR in 2 12 years with the team. Reed, Olivo and Morse have combined to be worth 9.4 WAR in the eight years since the trade, mainly buoyed by Morse's fantastic 2011 season.

When the White Sox traded for Garcia on June 27, they sat one game back of Minnesota. With Garcia in tow, the Sox went through an up-and-down month and led the division as late as July 24. But on July 25, the wheels began to come off, and by July 31, when the Sox suffered an extra-inning loss to Detroit, they were five games out of first place.

Esteban Loaiza was struggling to tread water in 2004, a year after a brilliant season nearly garnered him the AL Cy Young. Jose Contreras, the most-hyped Cuban pitcher to come to the United States at the time, had a 5.64 ERA in 18 starts with the Yankees.

The White Sox and Yankees swapped struggling starters on July 31. The team was in a much different place than they were on June 27, and hoped newly-accredited Dr. Cooper could fix Contreras' woes.

That didn't happen in 2004, as Contreras limped to the finish with a 5.30 ERA for the White Sox. Loaiza was worse off in New York, though, and was blasted to the tune of an ERA over 8 after his move to the Yankees.

Contreras started off 2005 strong, posting a 3.30 ERA through the end of May. But by the end of July, Contreras' ERA had risen to 4.58. Luckily, the Sox weren't worse off, as they entered August with a seemingly-insurmountable lead in the AL Central.

But as the White Sox struggled and the Indians caught fire, it was Conteras who helped hold things together in the rotation. In his final 11 starts of the season, the White Sox went 10-1, which included three key victories in late September to help hold off Cleveland. When the playoffs began, Contreras anchored a rotation that put together an all-time great postseason performance.

The moves Williams made leading up to the 2004 deadline didn't help the White Sox immediately. It was a year later when they finally paid off in the form of banners, rings, and a massive parade.

In 2012, Williams' moves were designed to pay off immediately. Liriano is a free agent after the season, while Myers and Youkilis both have options for 2013. There exists the possibility that none of those three players return next season.

But if Youkilis, Myers and Liriano help push the White Sox deep into the playoffs this year, it won't matter. And Williams will have pulled off his most successful string of pre-deadline deals in eight years.

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