Bryan Smith, who used to write the blog Wait 'til Next Year and currently writes for Baseball Analysts, dropped me an email yesterday. He brought up a couple of points that we haven't really gotten to lately.
Just got back from the White Sox game today [yesterdays 5-1 drubbing of the hapless Royals], which was fantastic. As a Cubs fan, I just wanted to e-mail you and say that I finally am willing to concede Mark Buerhle is the best pitcher in Chicago. Not only that, but I also believe he is the second best starting pitcher in the AL, behind only Johan. Buerhle's quickness makes him a joy to watch, and his willingness to attack hitters is unteachable. I can't say what makes him so good, but he is.
Also, Frank Thomas has looked fantastic in the two games I saw of this series (went Monday, too). He's not exactly vintage Frank, but he is what this team needs. With a bunch of average-first hitters on the team, it really isn't so bad that Konerko, Thomas and even Dye swing for the fences. I still, and will probably always think that Dye sucks, but he isn't going away. If anyone is it's Everett, which is sad, because I do think he's the best hitter in that outfield.
Who do you see Kenny trying to get before the deadline? The Trib today [Mark Gonzales article] mentions a bunch of names that don't make a ton of sense, because really what the team needs is one more swingman (to start when Duque doesn't), and they could consider a lefty bat that plays third base. In the right deal, I would even offer both Crede and Rowand to land a stud third baseman. Crede, Rowand, McCarthy for Chavez? Probably adding too much salary, but I would try it, that's for sure.
Anyway, had a lot of Sox thoughts going through my head, and I figured you would be the best place to vent them. Take care,
I was on my way out the door last night when this appeared in my inbox, so I wasn't able to give Bryan a long response. What better place to answer a private email between two people than on a public forum that will be read by many, right?
This email is great. You can hear Bryan's enthusiasm, even though he's a Cubs fan, coming right off the screen. This is what happens when you sit down at a computer immediately following a game like yesterday's. The endorphins flow right through your fingertips, and make their way to my in box.
As for Bryan's main question, what will Kenny do? I don't know. -- Right now, I'm still in 'wait-and-see' mode. Everyone is healthy, and most are producing well. Even if they aren't producing, it's hard to argue that they didn't contribute to the teams' gaudy total of 49 victories already.
The most obvious holes are third base and the 5th starter/swingman role, as Bryan stated.
We've all grown tired of Joe Crede's weak pop-ups to the first baseman, but is there a realistic alternative out there who can provide the same defense? Chavez seems like a pipe dream to me. I can't even imagine the package it would take to get him. Joe Randa is probably the most likely candidate, but he's not exactly an elite third baseman. One other name I brought up last week was Morgan Ensberg. -- There were a collection of Houston scouts in Birmingham last week while the Barons were playing the D'Backs affiliate. I don't think they were there to look at guys they could take from the Snakes for Lidge (who seems like the only fit in Arizona, should they actually think they can compete) That leaves the Sox, whose AA affiliate, Birmingham, is loaded with prospects. -- I suppose that Kenny has inquired about both Lidge and Ensberg.
I have to let Bryan know that two weeks ago, there were a bunch of Reds scouts at the B'Ham game against the Cubs AA affiliate, D'Jaxx. (Pie for Dunn?)
Another point that Bryan hit right on the head was any deal for Chavez having to include Rowand. Oakland is having trouble signing Mark Kotsay, and he could likely end up on one of the big clubs this season because of it. That would open a hole in the middle of Oakland's outfield, and I have no doubt that Billy Beane would be looking to fill center with a good defensive player. -- I wouldn't trade Rowand because our outfield defense turns to shit if you've got Jurassic-Pods-Dye out there.
I must say that my expectations for Jermaine Dye were too high this season. I expected him to continue rebounding from that horrific leg injury. Currently, he has almost exactly the same batting line that he did last season. Jermaine looked lost early this season, bottoming out with a .499 OPS on April 25th. Since that date, however, Jermaine has been very good. (.306/.366/.582)
I rambled on here, trying to address some of the points that Bryan brought up. What would you guys do if you were Kenny Williams?
Note: I asked Bryan's permission to reprint his email. He didn't respond. Let this be a lesson to the rest of you. If it ends up in my mailbox, there's a chance that it might end up on here. So don't say anything that you wouldn't want to see the light of day.