Keeping the spirit of the offseason, I've spent the past couple days doing my best to come up with a realistic set of goals. I kind of failed. It wasn't as easy as it was last year, mostly due to the free agency of Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski and the still glaring need at DH. Things become even further complicated by the heavier contracts that kicked in this season (Peavy-$16 mil, Rios-$12). With these challenges in place, it took a little creativity to come up with a solid plan. My brainchild turned out to give the White Sox their highest payroll to date other than 2008. I'm also not too upset with this due to one main fact: the Twins and Tigers now both have the resources to outspend us. Time to empty the coffers if we want back into the playoffs. Follow me after the jump for the full plan.
Bobby Jenks- When your closer starts to cost more than $7 million, it's time to say goodbye. Arbitration could put him up around $9 mil this winter, and that is money the team could better spend on the rest of the bullpen. Sorry Bobby. We'll always have Houston.
Mark Teahen for any D-level prospect in existence- This is purely a salary dump, and as such we will not get anything of value in return. There will be at least one team in need of a utility man. Hopefully their GM will have more faith in Mark than we do.
Carlos Quentin to LAA for Mike Napoli- This one isn't entirely unrealistic. The Angels will most likely be actively shopping Napoli this winter. Mike Scioscia has clearly shown a preference for Jeff Mathis for some reason. Add in that Kendry Morales is returning from his leg injury and uber-prospect Hank Conger is just about ready for primetime and the Angels have an increasingly expensive trade chit that they're running out of places for. And that's where Carlos comes in. With an aging outfield trio of Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, and Juan Rivera and no DH left on the roster, Quentin fits in nicely. They could keep Abreu, Quentin, and Rivera healthy by rotating the three between the corners and DH. And with this move, my Quentin 20 shirt becomes obsolete. Napoli will make around $4.5-5 million in arbitration. He also brings in 25+ homerun potential from behind the plate with a .346 career OBP. He is what Tyler Flowers could ultimately become.
Offer it to everyone not named Manny Ramirez. Ideal world: Putz accepts, the others decline. If Putz declines, try snagging him on a 2 year/$8 million deal. If he declines that, move on. Plenty of other fish in the bullpen sea.
Tony Pena- Better the devil you know, right? He becomes the lowman on the staff with Scott Linebrink and should be happy with a bump up to $1.3-1.4 mil.
Adam LaRoche- Our old friend Brandon Allen made this move possible by making Adam expendable. If you're willing to tolerate his annual slow start, LaRoche offers cheap left-handed power at first. He hasn't had an ISO below .200 since 2007, and a move to the Cell could get him back over 30 homeruns. He's not quite ideal, but thanks to the glut of first basemen on the market this winter he could be had for a 2/$12 deal if the Sox time things right. I'm saying $5 mil this year, $7 mil next.
Austin Kearns- How do you replace Carlos Quentin in right? With a player who started last season on a minor league contract. He gets on base at a good clip (.353 career) and plays a good rightfield. An outfield of Kearns, Pierre, and Rios is a very solid outfield defensively. He made $1 million last year and is being removed from the Yankees due to lack of need. Swoop in and grab him cheap. I honestly believe $2-3 million gets this done easily. He'll need some regular rest, which brings up the next player. He won't be worth anymore than 2 WAR, but he'll be cheap and fill a need.
Andruw Jones- Bring him back as the fourth outfielder. By now Andruw has to have accepted that he can't be a full-time starter anywhere. Offer him $1-1.5 million to pretty much play the same role he played last season.
Adam Dunn- Please get this done. 60+ XBH with an OBP around .380? And from the left side of the plate? Do it. Do it now. I don't care that he strikes out a shit ton. You sell him on the DH/1B angle and the fact that if he comes to Chicago he'll belt 40 homers again. The downside is he is a Type A free agent. Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski signing elsewhere will take care of that. 3/$35, structured 10/12.5/12.5. I'd be willing to throw an option in at the end of that as well.
The bullpen- I have two relief pitchers in mind: Will Ohman and Justin Duchscherer. Ohman adds another power lefty to the bullpen. This allows Matt Thornton to be used in higher leverage situations. Give him 2/$4, split 1.6/2.4. Duchscherer is my Jake Peavy insurance. Duke has pitched well out of the bullpen and as a starter. He also has an injury history, which makes him cheaper. You combine that with Cooper and Hermie, and things end well. 1/$2 with some incentives.
Lineup: LF-Juan Pierre, SS-Alexei Ramirez, 1B-Adam LaRoche, CF-Alex Rios, DH-Adam Dunn, C-Mike Napoli, 2B-Gordon Beckham, RF-Austin Kearns, 3B-Brent Morel. Bench: C-Ramon Castro, IF-Omar Vizquel, UTIL-Brent Lillibridge, OF-Andruw Jones.
You know Ozzie will insist on batting Juan Pierre first. This lineup allows Morel room to grow without pressure. Beckham gets to have a nice bounceback season with those OBP monsters in front of him in the lineup. The lefties are of course spread out to stop LOOGY abuse.
Rotation: Jake Peavy-RHP, Mark Buehrle-LHP, Gavin Floyd-RHP, John Danks-LHP, Edwin Jackson-RHP.
That is a sexy rotation. There's 20+ WAR in those five arms. If the front two stay healthy and the back three continue to improve, I can't think of a better staff in the league (until the Yankees get Cliff Lee).
Bullpen: Justin Duchscherer-LRP/SU, Scott Linebrink-MRP, Tony Pena-LRP, Will Ohman-LOOGY, J.J. Putz-SU, Matt Thornton-SU, Sergio Santos-CL.
I'm making Santos the closer to allow Easy Heat to work as the true relief ace. Sergio proved he can handle big league hitters and looks to only get better with that year of experience. He has closer stuff and is one of the three power arms that Kenny and Ozzie love so much.
Using my sweet legal pad full of names and salaries, I have this team coming out to a payroll of $113.05 million (this includes the money owed to Dayan Viciedo). It's a bump from last year's figures, but a necessary one. All in all, not wholly unrealistic. Here's hoping.