Tuesday, July 31, 2012
On this day in 1997, the Chicago White Sox and the San Francisco Giants made a trade that would polarize Chicago, then help them.
The White Sox, being only three and a half games out, traded Wilson Alvarez, Danny Darwin and Roberto Hernandez to the Giants, decimating the team and creating a yearly topic for baseball fans to gravitate towards as the trading deadline approaches. In return, the Sox acquired Keith Foulke, Bob Howry, Lorenzo Barcelo, Ken Vining, Mike Caruso and Brian Manning. The trade, nicknamed the "White Flag" trade, signaled a surrender while still within striking distance of the division crown. The Sox finished six games behind the Cleveland Indians. Would the three traded pitcher have pushed them over the edge and into the playoffs? That will be speculated and debated for many years.
The trade may not have been popular, but it did pay dividends sooner rather than later. Of the six players acquired by the White Sox, only one, outfielder Brian Manning, did not play with the Pale Hose at some point in the majors. Manning's career ended in 1999, not moving past AA ball. Ken Vining and Lorenzo Barcelo made brief contributions to the pitching staff. Mike Caruso bridged the gap between Ozzie Guillen and Jose Valentin at shortstop. Keith Foulke and Bob Howry were big parts of the 2000 team that won the Central division. Bob Howry would eventually be traded to the Boston Red Sox for Frank Francisco which helped land Carl Everett in July 2003. Keith Foulke would be traded to the Oakland Athletics for the horrid Billy Koch and 2005 World Champion Neal Cotts. While the White Flag trade was a huge mistake for the 1997 team, some players that arrived from the deal helped out with a division crown and a World Championship.