During Kenny Williams 12 year era the number one goal was to win a championship year in and out and who could blame him, its good goal to have, and in 2005 it worked. Williams compiled an 1109-998 record (.526 win % or about 85 wins a season), a World Series Championship, and a few division titles along the way, all in all a successful tenure. Though this success came with a price; trading the future for the present, which for him more times than not worked out. This formula isn’t terrible but it leads to inconsistency and minimal long term success. During his tenure the Sox peaked in 05-06 having back to back winning seasons and not having a losing season since his takeover. However since then a back and forth shuffle between winning and losing seasons, leading to an aging core, lack of young talent depth, a frustrated fan base, low attendance, and overall not so great team product.
While I admire Williams’ effort to put a winner out there and push off rebuilding every year. The fact of the matter is rebuilding is a necessary part for any team in baseball, it’s near impossible to have your cake and eat it too. Of the 16 teams over .500 as of today, only 3 (Yankees, Cardinals, and Braves) have not undergone some type of rebuilding process within the past decade.
We step into the present with the Rick Hahn era underway in an unspectacular fashion; the Sox sit 24-28, 4.5 back of 1st, and 6 back of a wild card. While neither deficit is out of realm to overcome with about 2/3rds of the season still to go, when you look at the talent on this club it’s uninspiring to say the least. So let’s assume the sky continues to fall till the trade deadline and Hahn decides to finally put the Sox in rebuild mode, what could we be looking at?
On the offensive side Viciedo and Gillaspie are the only guys of the age of 25 or under and worth keeping around long term. Viciedo is under team control till 2017, has shown glimpses of being a middle of the order bat, and worth being patient on. Gillaspie is still somewhat an unknown and likely doesn’t have much more upside than he’s shown thus far, but he’s cost effective, young, and at the very least a Band-Aid at 3rd base that hasn’t stung. A case could be made for Beckham or De Aza however if a team were willing to give something decent, you have to take it. Flowers is the only other guy under 30, but I think we can all agree on his fate.
On the pitching side things are much brighter; Sale, Quintana, Santiago, and Reed provide a nice core of 25 or younger as well as cheap and effective. There is also Danks whom solely because of his contract and health status is a given to stick around for a while. Regardless of how the offense shapes up this core will keep the Sox in games and has of room for upside.
That leaves everyone else expendable; however some are not so easy to move if at all as alluded to before with Danks. The prime example of this is Dunn, unless he somehow refigures how to hit a baseball, the Sox are likely stuck with him till the end of his contract. The same could probably be said about Keppinger though because he’s a lot cheaper and more useful around the diamond Hahn might be able to find a suitor, but don’t expect anything special in return if he does. Lastly I wouldn’t be surprised if Alexei was immovable as well, his defense still remains top notch, but he’s 31 with a steady decline in his offense. He’s due approx $24 Million between now and the end of his deal in 2015, which is a lot of money for a defense only guy.
Minus the core, the untouchables, and DFA level guys (the Tyler Greene’s of the world) we’re left with the true expendables; Rios, Peavy, Konerko, Crain, Thornton, Lindstrom, and Wise. While the Sox can technically hold off on Rios or Peavy to sell them now would accelerate the rebuilding process, return on them, and minimize the risk of fall off or injury which has been all too common with either. So where could any of them end up and what could we expect back in return?
My method will be using Fangraphs WAR position per team seeking lowest overall fWAR combine with teams over .500, and no immediate solution. Let’s start with Rios; the Pirates could be a logical fit. They have a combine .4 fWAR from 4 guys in RF all of whom are meh at best and no immediate solution on the way. A “B” level prospect as the center of the deal seems to be fair return, so the likes of an Alen Hanson, Josh Bell, or Tyler Glasnow all seem within range. If lucky and or eat some money might be able to grab a high risk/reward “C” level guy or two, but too many to list so just sticking with the focal point of the deal.
Next Peavy, the Giants could be a fit, despite being well known for their starting pitching, their starting pitching has been disaster between slow starts and injuries thus far with only a combine 1.1 fWAR. A “B” level prospect again seems fair return, so someone of the likes of a Joe Panik, Gary Brown, or Chris Stratton could be plausible.
Onto Konerko, as much as I hate to see him go it might be time, he also is the most perplexing because he offers nice upside but the results have yet to show. But perhaps a trip to the mile high city could fix all his offensive woes; the Rockies 1B situation has been dismal with a combine -.9 fWAR. The best case scenario is that PK picks up production and bumps his stock, but even so because of his age and only being under control half a year a “C” level guy might be in order. Someone like a Tyler Anderson, Corey Dickerson, or William Swanner could work.
As for the rest of the guys there are too many possibilities for middle relievers and backup outfielders to list. Almost any team in contention will be bidding for them and the return would be minimal at best. In these types of deals you just hope to get lucky on a high risk/reward prospect, ala the Indians and Carlos Santana.
These are just a couple of potential scenarios and a lot can change between now and the deadline, but assuming it didn’t and the Sox sold off for the likes of the after mentioned guys it could be a big step in the right direction. They could potentially grab 3-5+ solid prospects, grab higher picks for next year, and begin to see how guys in the current system (Mitchell, Thompson, etc) fair vs. MLB talent. When you throw that in the mix of the core they have now, they could have something by 2015, and have a base to build off of going forward. The rest of this year and 2014 would likely be a punt, but a rebuild could offer a chance to become relevant for many years as opposed to the on and off process we've become accustomed. Which would be a welcomed site after years of “retooling”.
So what do you guys think? Is a rebuild necessary? If not why? If so, what would your plan be?