Kenny Always Gets His Man


I found myself with a little time to kill before taking off on another jet plane and, conveniently, the White Sox decide to make a move.  So no complaining about a lack of analysis from the editors. hoodlight.

First the particulars: the White Sox receive Juan Pierre from the Dodgers, along with $10.5 million, and send John Ely and Jon Link back.  The payroll hit for Pierre shakes out as $3 million in 2010 and $5 million in 2011.

What the White Sox are sending west isn't anything to be concerned about.  John Ely, who spent all of last year at AA Birmingham, is a soft-tossing, finesse pitcher. But he's right-handed so guess how that usually works out. John Sickels ranked him as the 14th best prospect in the club's shallow system.  And Phil Rogers loves him.  I consider him irrelevant.  Jon Link, who spent all of last season in AAA Charlotte, has, as I've mentioned before, a high K rate but also a high BB rate.  Perhaps he'll figure it out but I'd essentially given up hope on that.

Now for what the White Sox get.  First, they get someone to fill the high socks void recently vacated by D.J. Carrasco.  They also get someone who looks like a Leadoff Hitter to fill the Leadoff Position.  They also get someone who isn't very good at major league baseball.  He shouldn't play CF anymore and, with Alex Rios in the fold, hopefully Ozzie won't get any ideas.  He can still cover ground in LF and his arm that makes 12 year old girls laugh isn't as much of an issue there.  He's probably an average, perhaps slightly above average, defender if used properly.  Unfortunately, he gives up any gain there on offense.  He's projected for a wOBA of about .310 next season by Bill James, well below the league average benchmark of .330.  That's almost 10 runs below average.  Of course, one can point to his .338 last season and, except for 2008, recent numbers higher than .310 to argue that projection is a little low.  On the other hand, he's 32 and certainly in his decline, a particularly dangerous place for a slap hitter who relies on speed, and his last five seasons look like this: .338, .308, .317, .319, and .309.  Throw out that outlier 2009 and that .310 looks about right.

All that said, the overall price, both in terms of dollars and players, is low.  Even if Pierre hits that low projection, he'll probably be worth the salary he's being paid (and whatever value you want to ascribe to the fringe prospects).  And, while based on actual offensive acumen he should be about the second to last player to be considered for the Leadoff Position (thanks Omar!), his mere presence will at least prevent the usual hand-wringing over that perceived void.  Of course, if the $8 million commitment prevents the acquisition of a player with some real offensive value and/or Ozzie decides to play Pierre in CF because "he real fast", this could turn out badly.

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