Hard to believe that he vetoed the first proposed deal that would have made it happen, just nine months ago.
Hard to believe because there's no one who believes in the White Sox now more than Jake Peavy does. And no one more interested in seeing a second huge trade bringing a star player from the south side of California to the South Side of Chicago.
"I want Adrian [Gonzalez] to be my teammate over here," Peavy said.
Peavy said he has already discussed the idea with White Sox general manager Ken Williams. Williams didn't really need the suggestion, because the talk in White Sox camp is that whenever the Padres decide to move on trading their first baseman, Williams will be one of the first in line to make a deal.
"That's really what we need, a big left-handed hitter," one Sox person said. "They're saying Kenny would give anything to get him, maybe even [Gordon] Beckham."
Interesting, because we already know that Williams can be as aggressive and as creative as any general manager out there. We know that, and we were reminded of it last July 31 when he worked out a deal for a pitcher who had already turned him down once -- a pitcher who was on the disabled list at the time.
A pitcher named Jake Peavy.
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A pitcher who the White Sox believe is the dominating ace they needed atop their rotation, and a pitcher who has already set a World Series title as the only goal that matters.
"Any athlete wants to be a champion," Peavy said. "This season is about finding a way to win that last game we play."
He never wanted to leave the Padres, the team that drafted him in 1999 and the only team he had ever known. He had signed a team-friendly contract extension, thinking it would keep him there, then watched the Padres cut ties with franchise icon Trevor Hoffman and realized the idea of loyalty was gone.
"It's disheartening to watch what has happened there," he said.
He wants to fit in with the White Sox, so much so that he told pitching coach Don Cooper that longtime Sox ace Mark Buehrle should get the opening day start.
"They're making a mistake," Buehrle said. "I think people will pay more money to see a Justin Verlander and a Jake Peavy matchup."
The White Sox open with the Indians this year, but Buehrle's point is understood. And while White Sox people respect Buehrle so much that they'll never say out loud that they needed an ace, there's no doubt that Williams and his staff saw Peavy as filling a role that Buehrle didn't.
The interesting thing is that while Buehrle won twice in the 2005 postseason (and pitched well in a no-decision in his one World Series start), Peavy has not done well at all in his most pressured starts.
In Game 1 of the 2005 playoffs, pitching with a broken rib he didn't admit to until after the game, Peavy gave up eight runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Cardinals. In Game 1 the next year, he went 5 1/3 innings and gave up five runs.
And in a one-game playoff against the Rockies in 2007, the Padres gave Peavy a 5-3 lead and he couldn't hold it.
Sleeper ... Gavin Floyd: If a hip injury late in the year hadn't left a bad taste in his owners' mouths, he'd go off the board in the Ubaldo Jimenez-John Lackey range of starting pitchers rather than the Ben Sheets-Ervin Santana range. Floyd is the best kind of sleeper pick: the one that's already a sure thing. But because the world hasn't caught on to it yet, you get to reap the benefits on Draft Day.
Bust ... Alex Rios: Rios is no safe bet for 20 homers or 30 steals and as a 15-15 player, he'd have to hit far better than .260 to justify more than a late-round pick, assuming he'd deserve a roster spot at all. Rios is still skating on potential rather than results even though, at age 29, a sudden breakthrough is pretty far-fetched.
Breakout ... Gordon Beckham: Beckham is a natural and now that the White Sox have Mark Teahen to man third base, he'll move to second, where his power should prove even more valuable in Fantasy. He has the upside to rank alongside Chase Utley as the top offensive player at the position, and as polished as he looked last year, that breakthrough might not be so many years away.
-- Scott White
Top White Sox Prospects (2010 destination)
1. Daniel Hudson, SP, Triple-A
2. Tyler Flowers, C, Triple-A
3. Jared Mitchell, OF, Double-A
4. Dayan Viciedo, 3B, Triple-A
5. Brent Morel, 3B, Triple-A
|White Sox outlook | 2010 Draft Prep Guide|
Peavy dismisses the 2006 start as one bad inning, and the 2007 start as a Coors Field anomaly.
"Pitching in Colorado is a circus," he said.
He rejects suggestions that he gets too worked up for the biggest games, and his record in opening day starts (3-1, 1.33) suggests he might be right.
"Look at [Alex Rodriguez] in the playoffs, or Mark Teixeira," Peavy said. "If you're a good baseball player, you're still going to go through stretches where it doesn't go as well.
"I really expect that if this team gets to the playoffs, I'll be an integral part of it."
The White Sox believe that. It's why they were so determined to get Peavy when he was available on the trade market last year. It's why Williams didn't back down when Peavy said no in May, and why Williams was still willing to make the deal when Peavy was on the disabled list with an ankle injury in July.
The idea then was that Peavy might make it back in time to push the White Sox into the playoffs. As it turned out, they were 6 1/2 games out with 14 games to play when he made his debut, and Peavy had more impact on other team's chances (he beat the Tigers twice in the final nine days of the season) than he did on his own team's.
But the Peavy deal was never made for just a short-term fix. The idea was always that Peavy would front the Sox rotation for years to come, and that he would combine with Buehrle, Gavin Floyd and John Danks (and eventually Freddy Garcia) to give the Sox a starting staff that would be the strength of the team.
"I think 1-5, we rank right up there with anyone," Buehrle said.
They'll need to, because the questions this spring have been whether the rebuilt offense will give the White Sox pitchers enough support. Manager Ozzie Guillen has long pushed for a team less reliant on power, and now he has one.
For now, that is. There's a certain power-hitting first baseman in San Diego who might be able to change that look.
And there's a certain general manager on the South Side of Chicago who never likes taking no for an answer.
And a certain ex-Padre who has come to love the White Sox and would welcome Adrian Gonzalez with open arms.
"There's no doubt in my mind this is a place I'm wanted, and where I want to be," Peavy said.
Hard to believe that he once said no.