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Pass The Stuffing

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I was perusing the archives a moment ago and came across an entry I posted titled "The White Sox are a $100M Mid-Market Club." The post was essentially my reaction to the Sox losing out (read: being used as a pawn) in the Miguel Cabrera derby, which concluded with the scathing line "The Sox missed out on their 'big fish' because they refused to spend enough money on bait."

The gist of the post was that the Sox weren't use their resources to their fullest extent, specifically as it pertained to obtaining amateur talent.

The White Sox farm system seems destined to be named the 29th best (2nd worst) in all of baseball. And thanks to some dubious extensions and pretty terrible middle relief signing, the only thing about the White Sox which could be considered Big Market is their payroll.

  • The White Sox are unwilling to pay over slot in the first-year player draft.
  • The White Sox are (seemingly) afraid to offer arbitration to departing free agents. (Perhaps to help limit draft costs.) The last time they had multiple extra picks thanks to arbitration they got top prospects Josh Fields and Gio Gonzalez, who fell due to unfounded character concerns. The rest of the draft was filled with overdrafts who would sign below slot (Wes Whisler, Dony Lucy, Ray Liotta.)
  • The White Sox have been unwilling to compete for high-dollar amateur international talent, with the SS Silveiro marking their only $300+K signing of the last 5+(?) years.
  • The White Sox have been unwilling to feel the wrath of the Winner's Curse by shelling out top dollar to the top free agents. There hasn't been a singing of a true top-level free-agent since Albert Belle almost 10 years ago. And I haven't even brought up the name Scott Boras yet.
This is a team which has continued to act like a mid-market club with the exception of it's willingness to hand out contracts to it's soon-to-be free-agents. You could make a very convincing argument that the White Sox would be a better club today if they had practiced more fiscal responsibility with their contract extensions, forcing them to part with some of their impending free-agents through trades for prospects or by accepting the two extra draft picks which come from losing a type-A free-agent.

Less than a year later, amid talk of trimming payroll, the Sox don't fit so cleanly under the mid-market umbrella. They've added Alexei Ramirez and (hopefully) Dayan Viciedo from Cuba; the latter to a reportedly record contract for a player his age. They've spent considerably over slot for Gordon Beckham and Jordan Danks. And, fingers crossed, should offer arbitration to their lone departing desirable free agent (Orlando Cabrera) by Monday, netting them 2 extra '09 draft picks.

Juan Uribe is a type B free agent, and could possibly net the Sox 1 compensation pick. There is, however, a considerable chance that he would accept arbitration, where he would be guaranteed at least 80% of his '08 salary. So the Sox will probably pass on that opportunity, with good reason.

Anyway, the point of the post--aside from giving you a new thread to CAP LOX in over the holiday--on the whole, even with the disastrous Swisher trades, the Sox organization is in a much better position today than they were a year ago following the winter meetings. That's something we can be thankful for.