Hey, did you know Alexei Ramirez’ success was a surprise? That’s awesome.
Most likely beginning with the trade that pried Freddy Garcia away from the Mariners, Sox PR and the sports press alike have wasted no opportunity to describe Sox GM Kenny Williams as operating “under the radar,” stealthily planning his moves away from the glare of the public eye.
It sounds cool if you think about, like the Good Guys have this covert agent on their side, signing free agents on foggy street corners and executing trades in the back rooms of smoky taverns on Wabash. “Do we have terms?” Williams would ask, and Jermaine Dye or Pat Gillick would nod their head and smile with conspiratorial glee at the secret mission both sides had just completed.
But when you think about it, what moves don’t come as a surprise? Not just for the Sox, but for pretty much any team in the league. Was ESPN running a Darrin Erstad Watch during the 2006 Winter Meetings? No. Did anyone outside of his family care whether or not Carlos Quentin was traded last offseason? No. Were message boards across the internet hosting Rob Mackowiak confidence pools? No, of course not. Why? Because those are all moves no one cares about, and those make up 99% of every move made by every single team in baseball. It’s not that Williams is sneaky, he just makes a lot of moves that aren’t worth noticing.
Conversely, how “under the radar” were the failed pursuits of Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu or Kosuke Fukuodome? How much sleath was involved in the re-signing of Paul Konerko? What kind of counteroperative intelligence was in place to keep Nick Swisher’s inevitable departure under wraps?
Does Kenny Williams make some unexpected moves? Yes, of course he does and we’re all eternally grateful for that. But it’s foolish to confuse non-glamorous and pedestrian with any kind of tactical mastery, and almost condescending to equate our collective refusal to get excited over Ben Broussard and Jeff Marquez with some form of outsider ignorance.