Another off-season is upon us. The White Sox have about 80 million dollars committed to the players here now. They don't have any trading chips in the minors worth much of anything, so that leaves 20 million dollars, maybe 25 if we're lucky, to fill some major holes for the organization. Paul Konerko and AJ Pierzynski's contracts have expired, vacating two starting spots we haven't had to worry about in quite some time. The bullpen only has a few guys signed on for next season and another two eligible for arbitration. I only expect one of those back so the Sox need half a bullpen. Remember last season when all we really wanted was a DH? Yeah, well we still need one of those. The Sox highest paid player Jake Peavy is still on the mend and hopes to start playing catch this month. Can they trust him or do they need another starter? Can they afford one with all the other holes to fill?
The Sox are on record as wanting to bring a lot of their potential FA departures back. Is this a good idea? What free agents catch your eye? More of my thoughts after the jump.
The Sox have to try and resign Paul Konerko. The problem is he had an amazing season in 2010 and probably made himself more expensive. Good for him, bad for the Sox. He still should be the priority however, because there just aren't that many options Id like to see standing over there after him. Hopefully they lock him up before Sunday when other teams can put their hat into the ring.
Adam Dunn- Washington probably will try to resign him. Big left handed power, a ton of walks to go with a ton of strike outs.
Derek Lee- A lot less power than the other options, can still pick it pretty well over there.
Lance Berkman- Shunned the Sox last year and I hate him for it, in steady and rapid decline, but this is it, this is the end of the list.
Aging sluggers past their prime are just about the White Sox only option and these are the only ones I would accept. No thanks to LaRoche, Overbay, Branyan and the Kotsay crowd.
They have to resign the captain. To me that is the only option. Two years just under 20million? I dont know what it will take but they have to make it happen. I dont think he'd accept a one year deal. He might even want three which is a huge risk for any club. The only current in house option is Viciedo. His power is legit, and he sure as hell isn't a third baseman, so first base is his logical destination. Let him play some first in Charlotte and ripen for year. Sign Paully AND another one of these guys and I'd be ecstatic.
As good as Castro was last season, he's just not a starting backstop. Flowers seems to have regressed last year and AJ's contract has expired.
Victor Martinez would be great. I just dont see the Sox heaping that much of their remaining budget on one player(assuming they sign Kong- he'd be a fine addition as the 1b as well).
If Colorado pays Olivo 500K to go away instead of 2.5M to stay, I'd love to see him come back to the south side. He can actually throw guys out which would be a nice change to see around here, he has some power and the guy cried when they traded him for Freddy.
Pierzynski was all over the place last year. Two bad months, one good, one bad, two good. His HR production dropped below 10 for the first time since 2003 and he will turn 35 this winter. I can see why his phone hasn't rang yet. I'd be okay with him coming back, but if he gets a 3 year deal somewhere else I think he should take that. Thanks for everything and good luck. The Sox taking a wait and see approach with AJ is the smart thing to do.
Carl Crawford- Sign this guy and you probably have the best outfield in baseball by a wide margin. Its a shame its going to take north of $100 million to get him to put on your hat. Forget about it.
Carlos Quentin is arbitration eligible. He got 3.2M last year, Im guessing it will likely be in the same neighborhood this year. I think the Sox keep him around, hopefully he stays healthy as the DH and not in right field.
They still need a right fielder. In my mind De Aza isn't the answer.
Magglio? I loved Maggs. Too bad he's 'a piece of shit' according to Ozzie Guillen. The Tigers arent going to pick up that option, right? No way he comes back unless Kenny wants to give OG a big F-U. He's pretty long in the tooth now, but I think he'll hit for at least one more season. The Sox wont consider it however, forget him.
They cant afford Jason Werth. Forget him too.
This leaves a big pile of not much available out there.
Do they take a stab at Johnny Damon? I mean a real one, not a last second 'hey we tried!' deal like last year. Hes a year older, and he'd give the Sox the weakest corner outfield arms in the league by a wide margin.
Andruw Jones? He was worth the 500K last year, but I don't think Id go much higher than that, maybe 1M? The previously mentioned Cuddyer is probably too expensive as well if hes even available. Jason Kubel has a 5.25M option with Minnesota. He can hit but that puts either him or Quentin as a full time regular in the outfield. I can see them bringing Jones back.
The rest of the crop is underwhelming: Gabe Kapler, Kevin Mench, Hideki Matsui? Cheat's target last year Xavier Nady? The field makes Jones look like a decent option all things considered. They could sign two 1b/DH types. I'd be ok with Quentin in right if we had Paully back at 1b and Berkman or Dunn as the DH. I just don't think this is very likely.
They could go get another starting pitcher, because my modest expectations for Jake Peavy comes out to about a million dollars per start(16). Jake says otherwise:
My goal is to be there and be there from the get-go and pull my weight, and we’ll work as hard as we can to make that a reality. Once the time is right, I believe I will be there. If I do have to miss a start or two at the beginning and can’t start the season with the boys, I can’t believe I would be much behind.
That sounds nice and everything, but he is just stating to play some 'easy catch' sometime this month. I don't know that they can bank on his optimism.
I don't trust Jake Peavy to be ready but the Sox might have to. Not signing a starter frees up more money for better bats. I suppose Freddy Garcia resigning wouldn't be the end of the world, but he might have earned himself a better salary elsewhere. Ben Sheets got 10M last year, so I dont think a guy like Brandon Webb is an option. I'd love to see Jeff Francis brought over, his injury history might make him a little cheaper and is a perfect Don Cooper candidate on top of the lefty tricks he could pick up from Buehrle and Danks. De La Rosa, another Rockies starter will be out there as well. I just dont know if the Sox have the luxury of pursuing a good starter with all of their other immediate needs.
One thing we do know for sure is that the bullpen will look a lot different. They gave Bobby Jenks a record 7.5M last season in arbitration(a record for a whole day that is until Papelbon broke it the following afternoon). I love Bobby, he's been a favorite of mine ever since I learned he was released by the Angels for drinking on the team bus too many times. Unfortunately I just don't think he's worth that much money when too many other big contracts are hand cuffing our White Sox. He had 61 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings, the second highest total in his career. Except he also had his 2nd highest walk and hits allowed total, too. Continuing a three year trend where baa, whip and ERA have all climbed. There's no way they would have won it all in 2005 without him emerging as the closer, and there's no way they can afford to keep him this season.
Tony Pena is also arbitration eligible and got 1.2M last season. Pay the man his 1.5M and put him in the pen.
J. J. Putz is a free agent, if he'd come back for around the 3M they gave last year that would be great. Unfortunately, he looks to be one of the most sought after relievers this winter.
Frankie Francisco needs a job, he'd be a nice addition. Koji Uehara and Matt Guerrier are also out there. You could probably land two of these guys for what you would have to pay Bobby. Other options include Jason Frasor(Oak Forest High School alum), former Sox farm hand Jon Rauch, and Kerry Wood. Jose Contreras is available. Wood and the count are interesting options because they just might be able to give you a spot start here and there if Peavy needs more time to get up to speed. Risky and less than ideal options, but somewhat interesting none the less. Scot Shields is old and tired, but was an elite set up man recently and is also a free agent.
As the pen stands now, we have Thornton, Santos, Linebrink and Threets with arbitration options for Pena and Jenks. Two quality arms for Bobby's money is the practical way to go and frees up a little more cash for the bats they need.
Please sign a couple good hitters, Kenny. Don't do me like last year, man.