Alright, let's direct the conversation a leetle more than that. Let's talk rosterbation. And spare me the "Oh, the season's not over! And what about waiting for the playoffs!!" line. Real Sox fans completely disregard anything Die Mauer has a hand in. So let's get to it.
The Sox have about $90MM in commitments next year unless they for some not good reason take Bobby up on his third year of arbitration, which would knock the Sox up into the $100MM range. If they expect to have approximately the same budget as in 2010, adjusting for inflation, that'll come to something like $110-120MM in total commitments. That leaves a cool $25 million or so for the Sox to deal with holes at 1B, C, DH/RF, 3B, fifth starter (depending on Peavy), closer, not to mention some bit parts.
That adds up to adding about a win per player at the key positions mentioned, so hole-plugging via free agency will likely yield fairly minimal returns given the demands of first place. The interesting thing about the team's current contracts is that they could fill every one of those holes with interesting yet flimsy in-house solutions. Teahen is a man without a position, but he's guaranteed a roster spot. Ramon Castro has a club option for 2011. Tony Peña has shown he's capable of taking at least a few starts. And of course there are the not exactly ready for prime time players in the form of Brent Morel (3B), Dayan Viciedo (1B), Tyler Flowers (C), not to mention Chris Sale whom various talking heads have already pegged as a future closer type. John Sickels thinks Morel can be Joe Randa pretty soon, but not without an adjustment period. He's the closest thing to an immediate answer from the prospect ranks. Or that's the case if you see Sale as a future starter needing time in the minors like I do. Regardless, the Sox could field a respectable squad from their current heap of parts.* Raise your hand if you're excited for:
That's a 75-80 win squad I'd guess. Add $25MM in free agents and that's like 81-86 wins.** Plus some benefit of the doubt and we're right back where we started from in '10. Ignoring simple variance (and keep in mind that's a huge factor), that's not enough to catch the Twins and perhaps not enough to maintain 2nd place over Detroit. Recall that adding Jim Thome to the White Sox at the start of this season would not in itself have been enough to bridge the Twinkie gap entirely. On the other hand, KW's options seem limited. There aren't any 2006 Freddy Garcias on this team, though the closest might be Edwin Jackson. Maaaybe Buehrle, but he's got a full NTC. So what do y'all think Kenny will do? And what should he do? Who are the undervalued free agents to be? Who on the current roster might be overvalued by MLB GMs? What can we expect from the youngins? Are we really going to spin the wheel with AJ and Paulie again?
Many here have predicted some variation on the notion that the team will eventually fall into a morass of Too Old Not Enough since at least May '07, but so far Kenny has kept his head above water and the team entertaining. I'm not sure how long he can put that off with timely trades and shrewd moves, especially as problems like FNS, Linebrink and Teahen pile up. But I'm damn sure going to watch.
* It's somewhat depressing to note that the cost of that hypothetical team would be more or less what the Twins paid the jerkstore this season for their collection of pasty
** Nobody likes to be reminded, but the FNS disaster continues to figure in here. That was simply 2-3 wins wiped out with no return and little salary relief.