Kenny Williams is a very good general manager, if you can say that about a guy whose team is about as competitive as Kate Moss at a hot dog eating competition. So when he turns down a no-brainer deal from one of the best young pitchers in the game, you have to figure he has a good reason.
I'm not going to bother telling you that four years, $56 million with an automatic option if traded is a no-brainer deal for Mark Buehrle. You know that. (Or you don't follow baseball and are reading this post anyway. Either way.) So if Williams won't close the deal, it means that either:
1). He thinks his team is going to suck for the next three years or so, and would rather trade for prospects and put up a "Wait until 2012" sign on the lawn, or:
2). He know something about Buehrle that we don't.
Given that Buehrle pitched 8 scoreless yesterday, I don't think we're talking about 2. I think we're talking about 1. I think he sees a potential here for a Mark Mulder-for-Danny-Haren type of trade. Or even a Josh Becket and Mike Lowell for Hanley Ramirez and Annibal Sanchez kind of deal (with Jermain Dye as Lowell). Which, you might argue, are pretty good scenarios that might appease the White Sox faithful, who ought to be outraged by this non-signing.
Only one problem: Williams isn't going to get anything like that. Buehrle's trade value has to have plummeted as a result of these contract discussions. Right now, Buehrle's just a half-season rental. For a team to trade major assets for him, they'd have to be either confidant to the point of hubris that he would deliver them a title, or they'd have to believe that he'd sign a long term deal with them. But thanks to these talks, we know Buehrle doesn't want to leave, so the odds of him embracing a new city with a home town discount seem remote.
Just as importantly, by striking down this deal, Williams has indicated that he is desperate to make a trade. You know what happens when one guy is desperate to make a trade, and the other guy is just kind of interested? The desperate guy gets a colonoscopy, that's what.
Of course, now that I've said all that, the Red Sox will probably trade Jacoby Ellsbury for him or something, in the universe's never ending quest to make me look stupid, and teach everyone not to overestimate the intelligence of sports execs.