Everybody loves a swashbuckler, especially when he has a Cy Young Award in his trophy case.
General manager Ken Williams fell for Jake Peavy in 2009, and the trade that brought him to Chicago proved a poor return on investment, both for Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and White Sox fans who pictured Peavy pitching their team back to the playoffs. But Peavy has a huge personality and competes like his life always depends on the next pitch, and it's easy to believe he can make a difference.
We'll see in Boston. History is not on the Red Sox's side, but Peavy is arriving at a magical time for the Red Sox, who scored six runs in the ninth inning Thursday for their 11th walk-off victory of the season. Maybe he can ride the wave.
He was impressive in his Boston debut Saturday night, giving up two runs on four hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings of the Red Sox's 5-2 victory over the Diamondbacks.
GM Ben Cherington locked into the idea of adding Peavy to a starting rotation that could be missing Clay Buchholz until September, if he returns then. He didn't want to give up top prospects, however, and it didn't appear first-year White Sox GM Rick Hahn would be able to off-load Peavy. Then Cherington modeled Billy Beane, bringing the Tigers into the talks as part of a three-way deal.
Not much later, Peavy was in Boston for the rest of 2013 and all of '14. He could wind up making his first playoff start in seven years and adding glory to a career that has been going the wrong way since he was 26, when he gave up six runs in 61/3 innings for the Padres in Game 163, failing to protect a third-inning lead against the Rockies.
Peavy was well liked by management, teammates and fans in his four years with the White Sox. Almost 24 hours after the trade, former White Sox slugger Ron Kittle was asked to name his favorite Sox player.
"Jake Peavy,'' he answered.
Peavy was on the disabled list when Williams took him and a long contract on at the deadline in 2009, hoping Peavy's ankle would heal fast and he could work magic with a Sox team that was 53-51 but only 11/2 games behind the Tigers. That didn't happen and Peavy's 2010 season was ruined by a detached lat muscle, which affected him until 2012. He returned strong last season, helping the Sox hold first place in the American League Central for almost four months, but he made no impact late. This season he spent time on the disabled list with a back injury and a stress fracture in a rib.
When Williams traded for Peavy, sending 25-year-old lefty Clayton Richard and three pitching prospects to the Padres, the team's belief was that Richard might thrive in the National League West, based at a pitcher's park, but that it took a gunslinger like Peavy to survive in the AL Central, based in a home run hitter's park. It was easy to see what they were talking about when Peavy was at his best but ultimately he was a tease.
The White Sox spent about $64.7 million for their four years with Peavy, the last $10 million because Hahn bought into building a contender around him this season. Peavy delivered a 36-29 record and 4.00 ERA in 83 starts, working 5372/3 innings.
During Peavy's tenure in Chicago, Chris Sale (2.91), Hector Santiago (2.94), Edwin Jackson (3.66) and Jose Quintana (3.69) had lower ERAs starting for the White Sox. But Peavy was better than John Danks (4.02), Mark Buehrle (4.16) and Gavin Floyd (4.26).
The White Sox were 46-37 in Peavy's 83 starts, a .554 winning percentage. They played .481 ball behind all other starters in that era (272-293). That's impressive. But in the one stretch that the Sox most needed him to make a difference, he did not.
Peavy could not stop the Sox from collapsing last season. They were 6-14 in Peavy's last 20 starts in 2012, including a Sept. 21 loss to Ervin Santana and the Angels when the Sox still led the Tigers (5 ER, 5 IP for Peavy) and a 3-2 loss to the Rays on Sept. 27, after the Sox had fallen one game behind.
Maybe Peavy was saving his real heroics for 2013. We'll see.
Getting it done: Here are the top five winners from the July trading period.
1. Orioles: In adding Bud Norris, Scott Feldman, Francisco Rodriguez and Alex Liddi, an already strong, deep team got deeper. GM Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter addressed the need to improve in a league that has playoff spots for only five of eight tough teams. The competition between the Rangers, Tigers, Red Sox, Rays, Yankees, Orioles, Indians and Athletics down the stretch could be fierce.
2. Cubs: No front office did a better job of selling parts to add prospects. C.J. Edwards, Corey Black and Ivan Pineyro upgrade the organization's low inventory of pitching prospects. Third baseman Mike Olt could be a long-time regular if his vision and confidence return from two beanings. Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop also are interesting reclamation projects.
3. White Sox: In moving Peavy they added a potential All-Star outfielder in Avisail Garcia and saved about $20 million, which will go toward rebuilding the lineup over the offseason.
4. Tigers: GM Dave Dombrowski hated to give up Garcia but acted responsibly in adding shortstop-third baseman Jose Iglesias as insurance against Jhonny Peralta disappearing from a Biogenesis suspension.