Another shutout shifts focus to next year(s)

The White Sox have now been shut out the most times in the American League. They rank last in batting average, hits, runs, RBI, and extra base hits. They've had almost 100 fewer at-bats with RISP than any other team in the AL, and rank last in OPS with RISP. There is no mystery to the reason this is a bad team.

I didn't realize it until I found myself doing fist-pumps in my car and living room yesterday, but I haven't even cared if the Sox won or lost lately. The only difference yesterday was that I wanted Mark Buehrle to get his 100th win.

It's not that I'm no longer a White Sox fan, far from it. It's that I've already written them off for this season, and I know that due to the lack of young impact players within the organization the fastest way back to the top of the division will come through the strategic removal (through trades) of the impending free agents.

Sooner, then later
Kenny Williams has to move Jermaine Dye as soon as possible. Any more nationally televised games including him turning singles into doubles, doubles into triples, or showcasing his inability to get around anything thrown harder than 89MPH, and he runs the risk of more GMs realizing they're bidding on the Oakland version of JD, not the MVP candidate who resided on the south side the last two seasons.

Although as Phillies GM Pat Gillick proved in the Freddy Garcia deal, sometimes a GM will ignore all signs of a player being toast. (Garcia's MRI today revealed rotator cuff and labrum damage, which I'm fairly certain would have been discovered in December had the Phillies elected to conduct a physical.) Kenny shouldn't give Stoneman or Colletti or anyone else any more opportunities to have second thoughts about trading for a rapidly aging outfielder with a bad knee and a history of leg injuries. It would be pushing his luck to think he'd be able to pull a fast one on a GM twice in the span of just over 6 months.

Mark Buehrle, the other player who will draw significant interest as the deadline approaches, is a completely different entity, however. He should be kept around for as long as possible, if for nothing else than he's a fan favorite, and I would like to see him pitch (in person) in a White Sox uniform at least one more time. I suspect there are many others who feel the same way.

I can't imagine Buehrle repeating his post June collapse of last season. And with the exception of Atlanta and maybe the Yankees, I can't see a(n in contention) rotation in desperate need of starting pitching. But it's only a matter of time before more teams lose a starter to attrition and are looking for one of the most durable arms in baseball to plug the hole.

Complicating the impending rebuilding process is the Joe Crede situation. It was just announced that he will undergo back surgery tomorrow, presumably ending his season. As I'm sure all of you know, Crede is not a free agent this year. He has one more year of arbitration left, leaving the Sox with three options; trade him, non-tender him, or offer him arbitration and play him at 3rd next year with Fields in the OF or Charlotte.

I'm sure that entering the season the plan was for Crede to repeat his '06 then be shipped off to a team in need of 3B (Anaheim, perhaps) in the offseason, with Fields taking over the hot corner in '08. Crede's terrible start while battling his ailing back and impending surgery have probably removed the possibility of a large haul in any trade. It even removed the possibility of receiving two compensation picks since Crede will not be able to attain Type A status even with a great '08.

Crede will be the third likely-departing player (Frank after '05, and Maggs after '04) to have an injury derail the Sox opportunity to fully utilize the collective bargaining agreement's compensation for lost free agents. Recently, the scouting department has taken a (deserved) beating for their inability to produce major league talent, but the system would look a whole lot better if the Sox were able to gamble by offering Frank and Maggs arbitration. They would have had 4 extra picks in the '05 and '06 drafts between 15 and 50. To put that in perspective, the White Sox top three prospects Josh Fields (18th overall in '04), Gio Gonzalez (38th in '04), and Ryan Sweeney (52nd in '03) were all taken between 18th and 52nd. If the farm system had 4 more players of that caliber, the Sox future would look far brighter than the current situation.

I imagine most of the conversation around here for the remainder of the season will no longer be about win and losses, roster decisions, or managerial moves, shifting instead to rumors, prospects, and focusing on how this team can get better in the medium to long term.

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