White Sox retooling, not rebuilding, for 2009

Kenny Williams the Lumberjack.

One cut for Swisher

Two cuts for Vazquez

Three cuts for Dye and Jenks?Then 'Timber!' for the White Sox in '09?

Not quite.


Too many assume that the White Sox goal this offseason is to free up as much cash as possible. Dump payroll, get younger, rebuild for 2010 is what many White Sox fans are thinking is the path that General Manager Kenny Williams is taking.

The two major trades the White Sox have done (Swisher to Yankees, Vazquez to Braves) are simply cutting away from two players who underperformed in the 2nd half of last season. For a team that barely made the play-offs last season they cannot simply carry extra weight or continue to put out on the field players who are not going to perform to expectations.

Swisher was in a season long funk. Yes, he's a great defensive player but when given a chance to take the starting first base away from the injured Paul Konerko, he floundered. Plus, the trend is starting to look like that Swisher might only be a guy who hits 20-25 homers and drives in 80-85 RBI's. His highest batting average four big league seasons is .263 (2007). Not exactly All-Star numbers, nor numbers you would like to see from an everyday first baseman in the American League.  Yes, it doesn't look like the White Sox are getting much from Swisher at a first glance. However, remember the Jose Contreras trade? That didn't look like a good idea at first, but he helped win the 2005 World Championship.

As far as the recent Vazquez trade, his number was up pretty much after his lackluster comments during the heat of the race. When his desire and his unimpressive record in pitching big games was brought up by Ozzie Guillen, Vazquez commented by saying... 

''I'm not looking to have to change minds if people feel that way. I won't be paying attention to that. If I do well or if I don't, I'll still go home at the end of my career and be the same person.'' -Javier Vazquez, Chicago Tribune 9/22/08

Javier did nothing to reassure his manager, teammates, the organization, or fans that he would step up and perform better. Instead, he tumbled even further as he didn't make it past the fifth inning in his last three regular season starts, and his lone play-off spot.

What the Braves are getting is a pitcher that they can count on for at least 200 innings and 180-200 strikeouts. When it looks like they are going to go with young pitcher in Jair Jurrjens and oldies in John Smoltz and Tom Glavine they need someone who can be counted on to make his start.

However, in what you gain in innings and strike outs with Vazquez, you lose in outcomes.  Plain and simple: Javier Vazquez is a .500 pitcher. He might lead the National League next season in innings pitched and be in the top five for strikeouts, but he hasn't won more then 16 games in a season (2001) and has only won more then 15 games twice (2001 and 2007).

This past season young hurler Gavin Floyd posted 17 wins and realiable Mark Buehrle finished with 15 wins being the fifth time he has posted 15 wins or more in a season.

At best going into next season Vazquez was going to be the fourth pitcher in the rotation for the White Sox, but being paid ace money at 11.5 million for the next two seasons. Way too much for a pitcher who has averaged only 13 wins in four seasons in the American League. 

It has been widely reported that next on the chopping block for the White Sox is right fielder Jermaine Dye. A fan favorite who won the 2005 World Series MVP, a 2006 Silver Slugger, and knocked out 34 home runs this past season would leave a lot of people scratching their heads on why the White Sox would want to move him.

Barring injury, Dye is still capable of hitting 30 home runs and driving in 90-100 RBI's. The problem with Dye is that he turns 35 in January. His range in right field has diminished and the White Sox already have a DH who is in his late 30's with Jim Thome. Also, Dye batted only .269 with runners in scoring position, and a woeful .210 with runners in scoring position with two outs. It seemed that if the White Sox needed a big two out hit, that Jermaine Dye wasn't the right guy for them. Carlos Quentin batted .311 with runners and .268 with runners and two outs.

Reports are that Cincinnati and New York Mets are interested in Dye. Not only are the Mets interested in Dye, but they would also love to have closer Bobby Jenks (Quickly on Jenks for a second - If the White Sox are playing with the idea of trading him, then something must be wrong with him in which the White Sox think it will be a lasting impact, right?).

Dye has so much value for other ball clubs that the White Sox would probably get in return highly touted pitching prospects or someone that can play second base right away. Dye made 9.5 million this past season, and is scheduled to make 11.5 million this upcoming season (with a 12 million mutual option in '10). 

The idea right now is to move Carlos Quentin to right field and have either Brian Anderson and Jerry Owens play left or center field if Dye is moved. Almost everyone is expecting Quentin to bounce back from his wrist injury and be the feared hitter he was last season. Anderson and Owens both had plenty of chances to secure starting spots, but inconsistent play has hindered them. It would be very difficult to see both of them starting in the outfield. So if the price is not right for Dye, don't expect Williams to trade him.

If the Mets or Reds (or a mystery team) wows the White Sox enough to move Dye, they will still have Quentin, Thome, and Konerko in the heart of the line-up. A terrific talent in Alexi Ramirez, reliable catcher in AJ Pierzynski, and a 1-2-3 top of the pitching rotation in Buherle, Floyd, and John Danks.

At the very least, that could be good enough to contend for the 2009 AL Central crown. If they get anything productive out of the Swisher/Vazquez and possible Dye trades, then the White Sox just might make it back to the postseason.

Doesn't sound like rebuilding to me.




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