What It's Like To Be An Aging And Increasingly Average Major League Baseball Team: A Rope of Sand

So, if we ever go into EVERYTHING MUST GO mode, what do you all propose.  I think the first part is identifying the pieces currently up and the pieces we probably have in the minors.  

Postionally speaking, we have 2 starters under the age of 30, Torpedo Boat and Crede.  AJ is close, in his age 30 season, Pauly and Pods are 31 and Tad is 32.  Dye has already been dubbed "DH Dye" by some around here and clocks in at 33, along with gulp Grinderstad.  Thome is a very young 36.

Which of these are long term assets?  Uribe is the youngest, but has seen his BABIP drop every year since he entered the league except a decidedly uncharacteristic '04.  He has the ability to post a .200 iso, but a low batting average and, like, zero on base skills (he's trending up, but still nowhere near average in bb%) means he's more or less a defense-only SS.  He combined with Crede to post 19 plays above average on the left side of the infield (here) and losing both of them would likely mean a serious decline in defense on that side of the infield.

This, I guess brings us to Crede...

Joe's back is probably impairing his play at this point and the White Sox training staff is widely regarded (well, by Will Carrol anyway) as responsible for his continued improvement up until now.  At this point his ISO is by far as low as it has ever been and his BABIP has swooned after three consecutive years of better scores.  It's all about his back at this point and the Sox docs know better than anyone what to expect from it.  If he continues to under perform, it may be possible to resign him.  As it stands, his performance and injury will make teams wary at best.  If he can recover for 2008, he may again become an asset for the Sox.  At the moment, he's a huge question mark.

AJ, the next youngest, is projected by BP to fall off a cliff after 2008, the year his contract runs out.  He may not be an asset, but in the very least, we should hold onto him until that point.  He's already almost 6/7 the way to his projected VORP, so barring injury, he should prove to be a decent option in the very least for the next two years.  If we choose the fire sale route, Toby Hall is only 1 year older, but should be seen only as a stop-gap measure if we do indeed decide to tank it.  Otherwise, someone should stamp his head with LHP ONLY.  AJ isn't expensive and won't bring a substantial return, so keep him?  Keep him.

Paulie's next.  He's got a limited no-trade (though I didn't discover what exactly that means), is currently underperforming, but long term is expected by BP to hit 28 HR in the final year of his contract.  12 million/yr isn't even that much considering his normal production.  At some point he may have to move to DH, but, like AJ, his contract isn't overwhelming and he'll likely produce enough to make it worth it.  Plus he's Paulie!  Come on! (end Gob mode)

Tad.  If he were hitting at all, he might possibly garner a "momentary trading asset" tag.  As it is, I believe he's unrestricted at the end of the year and we've got no 2B in the pipeline other than Andy Gonzalez and Chris Getz.  Both are no pop, OBP guys, though Gonzalez is hitting a mere .242 despite a .329 BABIP.  Getz is repeating AA at age 23 and is probably 2 years away.  I do like his 22:17 BB/K ratio though and he's the best non 1B  infielder in terms of OPS outside of Josh Fields in the entire organization at .834.  Ugh.  I don't think you'll get much of anything for the Emperor until he starts hitting and even then, I can't think a team will think to themselves "we could really use a decent hitting, little D second baseman for half a year."

Erstad.  Uh.  He's on a hot streak and hopefully that means we can ditch him for what could be considered "talent".  If Kenny flips Erstad for anything, it'll be a decent turn, since our in house options probably weren't that much better anyway.  That would make it sound like Kenny didn't think we could compete this year and that seems unlikely.  Blargh.

JD.  Hey! A potential trading asset!  He's been hitting well of late and if we don't flip him, he'll only be a sandwich pick, since he probably won't deserve to be signed.  We've already got a better version of the aged, powerful DH.  The only problem is he's a free agent anyway and teams in need of a bat may not be willing to give much for half a year of poor RF play.  A sign-and-trade makes his potential return much greater.

Thome.  He's hitting and that makes him a potential asset, though that would mean total commitment to the fire sale.  It would gut out lineup, as he's apparently the only one who will take a walk of the nine.  

In sum, it would appear our aging fielders are probably unlikely to make for a decent return and any and all trades will have to center around Buehrle and Garland.  We probably should resign Buehrle since he's still young and very good.  Garland has a lot of value, especially in the NL, and we could probably replace his production fairly adequately with one of Masset, Floyd, Broadway or Haeger (in that order).  

That brings me to our other option.  We are flush with young, middling potential 4 and 5 starters in AAA right now that, packaged with either JD or Garland, could bring a decent piece in return.  We probably don't have enough pieces to actually pull of something that could actually qualify as a firesale.  That's probably just as well, since the media would throw a shit fit.  They crapped themselves when Kenny ditched Garcia and McCarthy, so who knows what a trade of actual talent might bring down upon Kenny's head.

I would go over the replacement options, but we already know the usual suspects.  Anderson, Sweeney and Fields deserve their shots if we aren't going to be contenders and we need talent in return for our fading stars if we can get it.  Here's hoping Kenny does what he usually does: trusts his stats and scouts and forces the media to apologize later.

What I'd like to hear from you guys (aside from the multitude of mistakes this lengthy and sleep-deprived post no doubt contains): who are our potential trading partners and how do you see the trading deadline playing out?

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