The garbage men

The Detroit Tigers’ 6-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians officially eliminated the White Sox from playoff contention.
Thank God.
From this point on, wins and losses themselves don’t mean much. The Sox are virtually guaranteed to have a protected first-round pick (top 15), and that’s all that matters. You could say that they’re better off losing, but it’s a more charming idea in theory than practice, considering it involves alienating paying customers to various extents.
Anyway, here’s a quick list of five players who would benefit from getting off the bench for the final nine games. It doesn’t count Daniel Hudson since he’s starting Sunday and that’s about all you can hope for:
No. 1: Jhonny Nunez. Nunez’s season line (4 1/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER) is skewed by his last appearance against the Royals, in which he allowed two runs for every batter he retired (two). I don’t think the Sox should plan around him by any means, but he’s a lights-out spring from being in the mix for 2010. He hasn’t walked any of the 20 batters he’s faced this season, so at least he’s challenging hitters. Guillen should challenge himself and give Nunez a few more looks this season, especially in situations where it might hurt (higher leverage, against lefties, etc.).
No. 2: Alex Rios. It might feel like a kick in the nuts if he turns it on in garbage time, but it’d be nice if he could create some video of good habits to study in the offseason. He might be the most crucial position player of the 2010 team, which is a little bit scary, but we’ll wait to see what Kenny Williams does with the designated hitter spot.
No. 3: Tyler Flowers. I hope Flowers doesn’t start 2010 with the Sox, because he still needs work defensively, and if he’s A.J. Pierzynski’s backup… he ain’t going to get much practice. Still, after watching him rope that double off the right-field wall, it’d be nice to know if there’s more where that came from. Please — no more pinch-hitting with Mark Kotsay.
No. 4: Chris Getz. Since he suffered so many small injuries, it’s hard to get a feel of Getz’s true talent level. Right now, I think that’s going to be a theme — a different malady will come up and bite him every so often, (mis)leading us to believe there’s more than meets the eye. I still think a platoon with Jayson Nix is the best bet, but we know what Nix is about, so Getz should play out the string, if only to prove he can actually play out the string.
No. 5: Carlos Torres. I still think he’s D.J. Carrasco insurance at present, but if Carrasco gets an elevated role in a world without Octavio Dotel, Torres might be next year’s long man. Let’s see if he can wring more effectiveness out of that cutter.
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I picked up the latest copy of Baseball America because it had a nice article on C.J. Retherford I wanted to clip ‘n’ save, and I ended up feeling sorry for Lucas Harrell.
Why? Because he’s the latest recipient of The Phil Rogers Kiss of Death:

Righthander Lucas Harrell has had an impressive season after needing much of 2008 to recover from elbow surgery the year before. He was 12-4, 3.21 through 24 starts between Birmingham and Charlotte, solidifying his spot on the 40-man roster and putting himself in position to contend for a big-league spot in 2010.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a bigger Harrell fan than yours truly, but Harrell wasn’t “impressive” by any other stat, whether it was WHIP (1.404), walks (4.3/9 IP), strikeouts (5.7/9 IP) or groundball rate (56.7 percent). Barring some sort of big turnaround, Harrell’s closer to falling off the 40-man roster than joining the 25-man version.
Rogers has a habit of using wins and ERA to try to find his sleeper, which has led him to endorse:

  • Heath Phillips (couldn’t crack the Royals’ staff this season)
  • Lance Broadway (5-9, 6.17 ERA between Charlotte and Buffalo this season)
  • Wes Whisler (who may be known for a 13.50 ERA and a .000 BAA if he never gets back to the big leagues)

There is a glimmer of hope, in that Rogers was on the Clevelan Santeliz bandwagon shortly after he made the 40-man roster by surprise. Santeliz’s numbers aren’t impressive across the season at Double-A, but he finished the year by striking out 17 over his last 12 innings, allowing just 13 baserunners and two earned runs.
When it comes to starters — especially starters without strikeout stuff — an endorsement from Rogers usually foreshadows doom.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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jimbo

It won’t happen but I’d love to see Beckham play ss the rest of the season.

knoxfire30

Is Jermaine Dye getting a statue and video montage on Sunday???

jeff

I am not worried about Rios – perhaps naive, but I subscribe to returning to statistical normalcy. There isn’t much historical comparisons which would suggest a consistent talent in Rio remaining in one’s unquestionable prime to just precipitously drop. A line of .275/25/85 would satisfy my demands while playing a kick-ass CF, of course.
Bobby Jenks in all likelihood will be dealt. The return loot is what has me pondering the possibilities. The Sox shouldn’t be content with their middle infield. I advocate Jayson Nix over Getz presently simply because with the streamlining of this line-up, power still matters in the AL. – Getz has none. Alexei surprisingly is a much better SS than 2B (calculated via range factors, etc), so the so solution to the problem isn’t necessarily moving Ramirez back to second; but rather hoping he continues to grow at SS and obtain a better option at 2B. This is what I would target in return for Bobby Jenks, but not educated as to available players ready for promotion or available to be plucked off a roster in need of a high-priced closer (Angels, Dodgers, Philly, Cubs). As a back-up I target a left fielder.
My Keys for next year:
Carlos Quentin must reclaim THE Carlos Quentin status, again. Foot injury was detrimental, but to bank on his production for next year and beyond, he needs to perform and stay healthy.
Scott Linebrink needs cannot be utterly dreadful and fill the void of Dotel. Perhaps the vision of him taking the ball in the 7th or 8th as a bridge with Thorton is now a pipe dream, but he proved capable of getting a couple outs – just not sealing the deal and his K/IP ratio is still pretty good.
Scott Podsednik has performed above and beyond any reasonable expectation – yet the team has continued to struggle despite a traditional lead-off hitter. His value remains only a win and a half above replacement – in his best season since 2005 and what I would classify his absolute ceiling of production! He simply cannot return and occupy either the DH or a corner infield position – the production lost is too detrimental to the ballclub and his defense is awful to put kindly.
Outside the Box Proposal: The Cubs will unquestionably have to eat a huge portion of the Milton Bradley contract, if not all of it; if you are Kenny Williams and have faith in your top down management structure and in Ozzie who has proven to handle abrasive personalities very well (AJ, Carl Everett) – would you take a flyer on Milton? He can transition to a less media frenzied ballclub and return to taking the majority of his at-bats from the DH position. You could trot him out to RF every once and a while to spell Quentin and insert him second in the lineup. The Sox need a high OBP player who won’t “clog” the bases when they take a walk, KW went on record to suggest this just a recent as a two days ago. The dude has been bad news, but in terms of fiscal opportunity in holding the Cubs accountable for the majority of remaining dollars and evaluating risk / reward – I would be inclined to trust my manager and GM on the Southside to ensure the situation would never reach boiling point. I can’t believe I’m actually advocating this proposal – but it does make sense from a pure baseball / high reward talent acquisition perspective. The question becomes is the risk worth it on a club certainly to have a lot of young players?
Left Field (assuming Quentin shifts to RF) One man supposedly would solve a lot of problems: Chone Figgins. He is having a banner season – over six wins above replacement. However, history would tell us he will regress back to his career averages – which are still very good, but much less than ’09 and will likely be paid according to this year’s production. I am a traditionalist despite seeing my team win a WS in 2005 against this philosophy: Corner OF positions must provide some thunder. Thus, I would love to a Jayson Bay as one of the Sox “kids” are still probably a year or two away (Danks, Viciendo, Flowers); but perhaps Figgins at 2B 🙂
A final note on DH opportunities: I cringe every time a Nationals game is on BTN and I see Adam Dunn crushing the ball – the Thome contract was one year too long, but wonder if the Nats would spring him loose for the right combination of players. He is one of only a few players capable of blasting 50HR in the post-steroid era.

knoxfire30

Im 100 percent against taking on milton bradley but if the cubs came to me with an offer of we will take scott linebrink and pay all but 5 mil on bradleys contract, it wouldnt be the worst gamble in the world. Any sign of trouble you could simply cut bradley and you would still have atleast gotten rid of linebrink and his contract.

john

I would enjoy seeing Figgins here too, but he’s just having way too good of a season for teams with deeper pockets to ignore him. With Boston in serious need for a 3B and realizing that Jacoby Ellsbury doesn’t walk on water, I would imagine they’ll have a decent offer for him on the table.
Agree with everyone else about Bradley. No, no, no.

iowaoaks

(If I may continue) …No, No, No, No. Make the Cubs sit on that. and spin frankly. It brings warmth to the hate in my heart to see them going through this.
And you are 100% right Jim. I could not think of a worse place then the South Side for Bradley.

canisobesus

I second the No’s. I remember when Albert Belle got cross-wise with the media & fans and sitting in the left field stands and listening to the “Joey-Joey” chants and all the taunting – (and Belle’s stats were a hell of a lot better than MB’s). Sox fans can get on the back of eccentric ballplayers with the best of them. We don’t need that Circus on our side of town.