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Why exercise Jason Frasor's option?

Jason Frasor
Jason Frasor

At any point during his two months with the White Sox did you watch Jason Frasor and think, "Man, I'm really glad he's on the team?"

I can't say I did. That's not necessarily a knock on Frasor, who (barring a trade) will return to the White Sox after they picked up his $3.75 million option for 2012. He only threw 17 2/3 innings for the White Sox, and while they were 17 2/3 unremarkable innings, he's probably not as bad as he showed.

Still, Ozzie Guillen didn't find much work for him, and Frasor's work didn't really demand more. From Aug. 24 to Sept. 10, a stretch where the Sox were "battling" for their playoff lives, Frasor appeared in only three of 18 games. In one of those games, he gave up a solo homer to Jason Repko, which turned out to be the deciding run.

Frasor was also on the mound for a pair of walkoff losses. Plus, he issued a bases-loaded walk in a two-run loss to the Indians. His peripherals don't suggest any kind of underlying misfortune -- he gave up a whopping 11 walks on top of 20 hits, and three of those hits left the yard.

One more Frasor Fun Fact: He appeared in back-to-back games three times, and he allowed a run each time. OK, and another one: Hey, he never pitched two innings in an outing.

So he wasn't trusted in high-leverage situations, but he wasn't rubber-armed enough to take the load off his teammates in less crucial moments. That was Jason Frasor's two months with the White Sox in one sentence, and I couldn't tell if anybody expected more...

...until now? Maybe?

Frasor seemed more like a number than a member of the team. That number was the remainder of the $3.5 million owed to him for 2011, and it was a great number, because it was less than the remainder of the $10.25 million owed to Mark Teahen.

If Frasor was ever considered The Answer, it was to the question, "Great trade! Who'd we get?" How he performed was rather irrelevant, because he would be off the books faster than Teahen.

But now he's not, and now I'm confused, because Frasor figures to be even less important if Addison Reed is the real deal. If the Sox need to cut costs like Kenny Williams has repeatedly suggested, Frasor was one of the first places to start.

So why would the Sox pay Frasor "necessary player" money? A few ideas:

No. 1: They're planning on trading him.

The White Sox don't have much in the way of moveable assets, and Frasor is one. Granted, he doesn't possess much surplus value, if any, but he might work in a need-for-need trade. If this happens, we can disregard this move (unless it happens to be for another unnecessarily expensive player).

No. 2: Williams wants to insulate Robin Ventura against second-guessing.

The hardest part of a manager's job is pushing and pulling his pitchers, and Ventura has never had to exercise gut feelings. Having a guy like Frasor -- assuming he pitches like he did with the Blue Jays, and not the White Sox -- gives Ventura the option of managing the bullpen like painting by numbers.

It's not terribly different from 2008, where Guillen could dial up Octavio Dotel, Scott Linebrink and Bobby Jenks for 7-8-9. That worked out really well for half a season, and even half a season would give Ventura a head start.

No. 3: The White Sox have more money to spend than they're letting on...

...and so Williams is continuing his bad habit of frittering away millions of dollars on the margins.

The possibility of a trade makes exercising Frasor's option a wait-and-see move. However, if Frasor is here to stay, it's a tone-setting decision regardless of how much Jerry Reinsdorf is willing to spend. It either means the White Sox will be throwing around some capricious cash, or he's making questionable investments with the limited money he's given. With Williams' recent track record, he no longer has the benefit of the doubt.