November 2010

Sox-wise and Otherwise: The Best Deals of the Kenny Williams Era



kenny-thumb-300x330-29798.jpgAs we anxiously anticipate what the White Sox will do on the trade and free agent markets in the next couple of weeks before and during the Winter Meetings in Orlando December 6-9, let’s take a look back. 
Here is one fan’s opinion of the best deals of the Kenny Williams era, which began when he was named GM in October of 2000. For the record, I have come up with 11. I wanted to list the Top 10, but didn’t have the heart to exclude any of those below. They are in chronological order.
*  Williams acquired shortstop Juan Uribe from the Rockies for infielder Aaron Miles in December of 2003. I think we all agree that Juan was frustrating at times, mostly on offense, but the bottom line is that he was a shortstop on a World Series champion–now two World Series champions. As far as Miles is concerned he hasn’t been a total bust, but average at best.
*  The White Sox received Freddy Garcia and catcher Ben Davis from the Mariners in exchange for catcher Miguel Olivo, infielder Michael Morse and outfielder Jeremy Reed in June of 2004. History shows that Garcia was the “horse” of the splendid Sox pitching corps that carried them to the world title. Davis, whose Sox tenure was short-lived, was just a throw in. Olivo has been a decent starting catcher and is even rumored as a possibility to return to the Sox if A.J. Pierzynski isn’t re-signed–but was definitely worth giving up for Freddy. Neither Morse nor Reed, while spending some time in the majors, reached their potential.
*  We obtained Jose Contreras from the Yankees for Esteban Loaiza at the trade deadline in July of 2004. Contreras turned out to be an ace after a disappointing stint in New York. Loaiza, who won 21 for the Sox in ’03, never came close to that career year.
*  The Sox were certainly persuasive in getting Jermaine Dye to agree to sign on December 8, 2004 as he took less money to come to Chicago. Needing someone to pick up where Magglio Ordonez left off, Dye was an All-Star caliber player on the South Side and topped it off with a World Series MVP trophy.
*  In what was a most controversial transaction, the Sox dealt slugger Carlos Lee to the Brewers for leadoff man Scott Podsednik and reliever Luis Vizcaino five days after signing Dye. The trade for Scotty Pods was perhaps the most significant in that it changed the power-laden Sox to a more versatile club–a team that would win the World Series the following season. And Vizcaino served an important role as an innings-eater in the pen. Lee has done his thing for both Milwaukee and now Houston, but the Sox have never looked back.
*  It didn’t receive much notice at the time, but four days after trading for Podsednik, the Sox picked up Bobby Jenks off of waivers from the Angels. He has had his issues and battled a weight problem, but all in all he has been a top-flight closer–and was a marvel when he took over those duties in ’05.
*  In January of ’05, after a lot of soul-searching, the Sox signed Pierzynski who wore out his welcome in San Francisco. He may have played his last game for the South Siders, but won’t be forgotten as a guy who would do anything to win.
*  In years to come, even knowledgeable Sox fans may not be able to answer the question, “Who was the second baseman on the 2005 World Champions”? Well, it was Tadahito Iguchi who came unheralded from Japan to enjoy a fine season as a solid No. 2 hitter. He didn’t last long in Chicago, but he certainly made his mark. He was acquired just weeks before the beginning of spring training in ’05.
*  The first trade on this list that doesn’t involve a member of the ’05 champs is the deal that brought Matt Thornton to the Sox from Seattle in March of 2006 for the bust that was Joe Borchard. Thornton has turned into an All-Star performer as a setup man and depending on what transpires this winter could conceivably be the Pale Hose closer in 2011.
*  Another controversial trade at the time was in December of ’06 when the Sox traded the much-balleyhooed Brandon McCarthy and a minor league outfielder to the Rangers for three pitchers including John Danks and Nick Masset. The Sox did their homework on this one as Danks has been solid and keeps getting better while McCarthy has struggled with injuries and is now a free agent. Masset never really delivered in Chicago, but was a key contributor out of the bullpen for the N.L. Central Champion Reds this past season.
*  Sox fans weren’t sure about the signing of Cuban star Alexei Ramirez in January of 2008 because they didn’t have much information about him, but it soon became apparent he has a world of talent. The Missle is now one of the finest defensive shortstops in the game (and should have won a Gold Glove for his play in 2010) and won a Silver Slugger Award to boot.
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Sox Make Key Decisions on Paulie, A.J., J.J.

20090507233931_03.jpgThe verdict is in. The White Sox have decided to offer arbitration to Paul Konerko and J.J. Putz, but declined to do so with A.J. Pierzynski.
Konerko and Putz have until a week from today (November 30) to decide whether or not they will accept. If the players decline and sign elsewhere the Sox will receive top draft choices as compensation.
A.J. is another story. Since the Sox declined to offer him arbitration they won’t get anything if he signs with another team. Of course, the South Siders still can negotiate with him and bring him back into the fold.
The big question seems to be, why offer to Paulie, but not A.J. (the Putz situation seems obvious in that Bobby Jenks looks like a goner)?
Consider these possibilities concerning Pierzynski:
* The Sox didn’t want to pay him more than he made this past season. Everyone gets a raise in arbitration.

* They feel they can sign him anyway, although there is certainly no guarantee. With Victor Martinez now off the market having signed with the Tigers, A.J. will undoubtedly be coveted more by other teams.

* They want to move on without him. Word is that they made a big offer to Martinez, an indication they are looking around.
By the way, the Pale Hose also declined of offer arbitration to September flop Manny Ramirez. No surprise here.
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Sox-Wise and Otherwise: Thanksgiving Edition

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My weekly offseason opinions and observations about the White Sox:


There’s nothing more I’d like to do than write about all the trades the White Sox have made and the free agents they’ve signed. But as Lucy of Peanuts fame once told Charlie Brown when he wanted to know why he couldn’t excel in baseball AND win over that little red-haired girl, “We live in a real world.”
So, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday the truth is that there’s not much to report except some interesting rumors and minor transactions that came out this week from the GM meetings in Orlando and elsewhere.
Here’s what I do know:
*  The White Sox are still among the teams targeting Nationals slugger Adam Dunn. The Tigers and Cubs are among the other suitors. Conventional wisdom says the Sox won’t get him.
*  The Sox aren’t shopping Carlos Quentin, but reports have the Phillies interested in the Pale Hose rightfielder.
*  The Rockies are showing interest in Sox righty Gavin Floyd and outfielder Andruw Jones, who was hot and cold last season on the South Side.
*  Word is that if A.J. Pierzynski isn’t back in the fold, former Sox backstop Miguel Olivo may be.
*  Once a top Angels prospect, lefthanded hitting third baseman Dallas McPherson has signed a Sox minor league pact and likely will be invited to spring training. Also signed to a minor league deal was reliever Brian Bruney, who was on the 2009 World Champion Yankees.
*  One player the Sox won’t get is the exciting Carl Crawford, a free agent who will be leaving Tampa Bay as the  Rays cut payroll. Too expensive for the Sox to seriously consider, the Angels and Tigers are both very much in the running.
*  Four ex-Sox pitchers are in the news. Jose Contreras just signed a two-year extension with the Phillies. Javy Vazquez has expressed interest in the Marlins and the team is interested in him, but Florida may not be able to afford him (the Nationals are a possibility). The Rockies are interested in signing Jon Garland, but it appears he may find a better deal elsewhere–maybe with the Orioles. And two-time Sox hurler Bartolo Colon isn’t done. He’s making a comeback with the hope somebody will take a chance on him.
*  If Cliff Lee doesn’t sign with the Rangers, AL Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz may move into the rotation. If the Sox non-tender Bobby Jenks, the big guy may wind up as the Texas closer.
*  The Diamondbacks covet free agent J.J. Putz, hoping he can solidify their bullpen. If Putz heads to Arizona or elsewhere and Jenks isn’t retained, it’s be interesting to see what the Sox brass decides to do with the pen.
*  Word out of St. Louis is that Colby Rasmus, the talented, lefthanded hitting centerfielder the Sox apparently covet, is pretty much off the market. In Kenny Williams we trust, but don’t count on Rasmus patrolling center on the South Side next season.
*  Shortstop Eduardo Escobar, who turned heads with his impressive all-round play in the Arizona Fall League, has been placed on the White Sox’s 40-man roster along with righthanded pitchers Anthony Carter and Nate Jones. Escobar and Carter played at Birmingham in 2010, Jones was at Class A Winston-Salem.
*  There’s speculation that the Sox are considering ’09 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui as their DH. He hit 21 homers with 87 RBI while batting .274 for the Angels this past season.
*  Don’t expect the Sox to offer arbitration to Manny Ramirez. Oakland may be his next stop.
Happy Thanksgiving White Sox fans…Don’t forget to be thankful for your family, friends, good health–and for being a Sox fan.
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Sox-wise and Otherwise: Will Buehrle be the Last Man Standing From 2005 World Champs?

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Here’s a sobering thought.
When White Sox spring training begins in February,
Mark Buehrle may very well be the lone survivor from the 2005 World
Champions.

It’s certainly premature to
carve this scenario in stone, but with
Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and
Freddy Garcia
free agents and Bobby Jenks arbitration eligible, the popular lefthander from St.
Charles, Mo. could stand alone.

If you think about it, it’s
appropriate. Some may say Konerko would be the ideal “last man standing.” But
Paulie, as beloved as he is on the South Side with one more year in a Sox
uniform than Buehrle’s 11, lacks one thing–he’s not a home-grown White Sox. 

While some Sox fans might be surprised because Paulie is so identified with the silver and black, Konerko grew up in the Dodger organization and played briefly for the Reds before coming to Chicago. Buehrle, on the other hand, was a 38th round pick for the Pale Hose in 1998 and has been with the organization ever since.

So, if Konerko, Pierzynski,
Jenks and Garcia go elsewhere in the next few months, only Buehrle will
represent the greatest year in Sox history on the active roster–and will do it
with a pretty impressive resume. Here are some of his career highlights,
already worthy of consideration for a likeness on the left field wall at the
Cell:

 

     ·     Perfect
Game against the Rays

 

·     
No-hitter
against the Rangers

 

·     
148
wins in a Sox uniform, an impressive 38 games over .500

 

·     
A
Major-league record 45 consecutive batters retired

 

·     
Four-time
All-Star, winning pitcher for AL in 2005

 

·     
An
ALDS victory, an ALCS win and a World Series save in 2005

 

·     
10
consecutive seasons of 200-plus innings pitched, leading the league 
twice–also led league twice in games started

     

     ·     
Two
Gold Gloves, including this past season

 

·     
White
Sox record (8) for Opening Day starts

 

·     
Arguably
the game’s best pickoff move

 

·     
Among
the Sox career leaders in wins, starts, innings pitched, winning percentage,
quality starts (1
st) and strikeouts

 

And the above accomplishments
don’t factor in his leadership  
abilities, ultra-competitiveness, team-first attitude, good humor and
charity/community involvement.


Sox
Notes of Note:
  Rumors run rampant this time of year.
One is that the Sox are willing to listen to offers for
Gordon Beckham (really?)…Another is that Jermaine Dye, after sitting out the entire 2010 season, wants to
play next season. Reports are that the Rockies, Phillies and Rays are
interested…Yet another is that Sox are exploring the possibility of signing
free agent closer
Rafael Soriano,
who was so strong last season for the Rays. Another sign that Jenks may be a
goner…Finally, congratulations to Buehrle for his winning a 2010 Gold Glove and
Alexei
Ramirez
for his first Silver Slugger
award. Truth is, the Missle should have won a Gold Glove as well.

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Sox-Wise and Otherwise


My weekly off-season opinions and observations about the White Sox…


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With the World Series in the rearview mirror, The White Sox brass can now get busy preparing for a championship run in 2011.


No huge news has come out of the Sox camp thus far, but there have been some productive and interesting activity as we wait on bigger things to come. Those “bigger” things I’m talking about are the decisions around free agents Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, the attempt to get a solid lefthanded hitter (the Cardinals’ Colby Rasmus has been rumored as a target), a move to shore up the bullpen which will impact the futures of arbitration-eligible Bobby Jenks and free agent J.J. Putz, plus various and sundry other determinations.

Here’s a rundown of what’s happened up until now:


Omar Back in Fold

Omar Vizquel‘s signing for another year at $1.75 million is the most positive move so far. He was a godsend this past season and, aside from Konerko, was probably the club’s MVP as a result of his infield wizardry and respectable .276 batting average. With promising third baseman Brent Morel slated for third base, Vizquel provides insurance there and valuable backup at both second base and shortstop.

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Thornton, Castr
o Return to Unsettled Bullpen and Catching Situations

Next to the Vizquel deal, picking up the options of All-Star setup man Matt Thornton and Ramon Castro, perhaps the best backup backstop in the game, have provided the most positive news. Depending on what happens with the bullpen, Thornton could be next year’s closer. And Castro, who batted .328 with eight homers and 21 RBIs in only 37 games, gives depth to the catching position, especially if Pierzynski walks.

Paulie News

Konerko’s decision will probably take a while, but word is that there is at least one serious suitor–his hometown Arizona Diamondbacks. Paulie, who lives in Scottsdale and grew up in that area, certainly could be tempted to stay home as opposed to re-upping with the Sox.

Pal Joey

Unless something surprising happens, Joey Cora will be back as the White Sox bench coach. Just last week he came in second to Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke for the Milwaukee Brewers managing job.

Peavy on the Mend

Because his shoulder injury is so rare, no one knows when and, frankly, if Jake Peavy will come back close to his Cy Young form. Latest word is that he’s working hard in rehab and it won’t be long until he starts soft-tossing.

Sox Seek New AAA Skipper

The White Sox are looking for a new manager at AAA Charlotte. The previous incumbent, Chris Chambliss, best known for his pennant-winning homer for the Yankees in the 1976 ALCS, is the new hitting coach for the Mariners under new skipper Eric Wedge.
Lucy, Williams Minor League Free Agents

The Sox have outrighted both catcher Donny Lucy and lefty reliever Randy Williams to Charlotte. They are now off the 40-man roster and qualify as minor league free agents.
Rising Stars: White Sox Style

Three White Sox prospects were named to last Saturday’s Rising Stars Game, the Arizona Fall League’s All-Star Game.
Those Sox chosen were standout shortstop Eduardo Escobar (pictured below), right-handed pitcher Anthony Carter and the club’s 2009 No. 1 draft pick, Jared Mitchell.
Thus far, Escobar has been far and away the most impressive of the trio in the AFL. He is hitting .377 with an outstanding OPS (on base percentage plus slugging percentage) while leading the league with four homers along with great play in the field. For the record, he has also added four doubles and four triples.
Carter has recorded two saves while striking out 12 in seven innings of work while Mitchell, sans the gaudy stats, is still making significant progress after missing the entire 2010 season due to a leg injury.
In the Rising Stars Game itself, Escobar and Mitchell were both 0 for 1 and Carter pitched a scoreless 2/3 of an inning. Their team, the West, nipped the East, 3-2.
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Lords of the Rings

Congratulations to Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand, both key members of the 2005 White Sox, for winning their second World Series rings last night as the San Francisco Giants gained MLB supremacy by defeating the Texas Rangers in Game 5 of the Fall Classic.


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