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Kenny Williams' Genius

Truly unparalleled:

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- By Kenny Williams' estimation, left-hander Matt Thornton has been on the White Sox general manager's radar screen for two years. On Monday, Williams zeroed in and got his man.

What Matt Thornton has done over the past two years between Tacoma and Seattle:

172.2 IP
106 runs (5.52 per 9)
130 walks
161 strikeouts
19 home runs
19 wild pitches

It takes some serious dedication to target someone that bad for that long.

Said Thornton:

"I had a rough year last year, but I learned a lot about myself."

Most notably, that he sucks at his job.

Anyway, in case a few of you aren't feeling as warm and fuzzy about this deal as I am, I thought now would be a good time to review some of our favorite Thornton moments from the 2005 season. So, without further ado...

April 5: Inherits a 4-2 fifth inning lead against Minnesota. Four batters later, the Mariners are behind 7-4. Appearance prompts this post, which I'll never regret.

April 10: Thornton enters in the fourth inning and pitches respectably for 2.1 innings. But, as I said in the recap:

...then the seventh inning started, and Thornton was right back out there with nobody up in the bullpen. He started missing his spots, badly, and I started feeling that all too familiar nervousness again. It took a leadoff double by Teixeira and some ugly pitches to Hidalgo to cause some stirring in the bullpen, and I wanted to scream "GET HIM OUT NOW, BEFORE HE KILLS US ALL!!" Fortunately, Thornton didn't try to kill anyone, except for some guy in the right field bleachers. David Dellucci crapped all over a gift pitch and launched it a long way, and the universe was right again.

April 11: Thornton doesn't pitch. Mariners win.

May 11: After the Mariners scored five runs in the top of the first against the Yankees, Jamie Moyer gave them right back, and was pulled in the third with the M's trailing 6-5. Matt Thornton came in and got out of the inning, but after the M's rallied for four in the top of the fourth, Thornton allowed home runs to Tino Martinez, Gary Sheffield, and Derek Jeter and left after having put his team behind 12-9.

June 30: Classic Thornton appearance. Six batters faced, three walks, one homer, two strikeouts. Turns a close 4-2 game against a division rival into a 6-2 snoozer.

July 19: Similar to the Yankees game - down 10-4, the Mariners rally for five in the sixth to make it a one-run game. In comes Thornton, who promptly allows a single and a two-run homer to Eric friggin' Hinske. Complete momentum killer. Enjoyable game thread, too. In retrospect, anyway.

August 17: This one's fantastic. The Mariners are leading 11-1 against the Royals in the top of the ninth, so Hargrove goes to Thornton to finish things off. His inning: walk, walk, double play, walk, walk, grand slam, strikeout. Kansas City ranked 27th out of 30 teams in walks drawn, but somehow Thornton still managed to issue seven of them in just three innings of work over the course of the season. That's beyond hilarious.

August 27: Not an unusual game, but worth noting because on this particular afternoon Matt Thornton allowed the eventual game-winning home run to Carl Everett. Seven months later, they've switched places, but should they face each other again, the outcome'll probably be similar.

August 29: Made all the better by the game thread's hilarious foresight. Up 4-2 over the Yankees in the top of the sixth, Ryan Franklin got pulled after putting two men on with one out. Jason Giambi was due up, so Hargrove decided it'd be a good idea to call on Thornton for the biggest at bat of the game. BAM!! 5-4 ballgame. Absolutely crushed. Soon thereafer, Hargrove walked out to the mound, put his finger into Thornton's chest and started screaming. Looking back, I'd say that made it all worthwhile. Might've been the most comically devastating Thornton appearance all season long.

October 1: Fitting that Thornton allowed a run in his final game of the season. It would've been too easy to come back from being down 3-2 in the ninth inning, so Matt decided to go ahead and double the deficit. And, wouldn't you know it, the Mariners ended up scoring but a single run in the bottom half. Curses!

Look, here's what it comes down to - Matt Thornton's final 14 appearances all came in games that the Mariners eventually lost. Over the entire season, they were 11-44 in games in which Thornton pitched. Correlation doesn't always equal causation, but Thornton frequently allowed a lot of runs and failed to earn anyone's trust, so he wound up having to make most of his appearances in lost causes. Interestingly enough, this is when he actually pitched his best; I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I know for a fact that Thornton was markedly worse in close games (gap of 3 runs or fewer). Maybe it was a fluke, or maybe Thornton is just so bad and so thin-skinned that he can't handle having to throw important pitches. If the latter is the case, then Chicago will find that out pretty quick, with the way in which they manage their bullpen. And if it's not, they'll still have a crappy pitcher on their hands, because changes of scenery only tend to help guys who've had success in the past, and that just doesn't apply to Thornton. Guys who can't throw strikes in Seattle probably won't be able to throw strikes anywhere else, particularly in a park as hitter-friendly as US Cellular where Thornton will only be more wary of leaving something over the plate, so I don't think the chances of this working out for the White Sox are very good at all.

Joe Borchard may or may not turn into something useful, but that's of secondary concern. Matt Thornton is no longer a Seattle Mariner. Go celebrate.