Big ups to an apparently sober Knox for taking the first crack at hashing out a feasible plan for an offseason strategy, turning it around so fast and so thoroughly (seriously, it was a matter of an hour or so) that it almost concerns me. Here are the guidelines, if you missed them, and below is Knox’s plan.
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1) Octavio Dotel: Arbitration, or not?
1. Decline Arbitration to Octavio Dotel. While being a pretty above average reliever the sox don’t have the payroll flexibility to try and take advantage of his type A status. In house candidates like Jhonny Nunez can help fill the bullpen void and Tony Pena may make some positive strides with a full off season and spring with Don Cooper.
2) Jermaine Dye: Mutual option, arbitration, or not?
2. Decline Jermaine Dye’s mutual option. This is an easy call as Dye has proven he really can’t cover any ground in the outfield and has consecutive seasons where he was an offensive train wreck in the second half. We love you JD but its time to move on.
3) One-year contract for John Danks? If not, what would you pay to extend him?
3. Go year by year with John Danks. I am a huge fan of going year to year with players whose rights we still own. While in the long run you may cost yourself a few extra bucks the sox are a big market team most of the time and they can afford the small extra costs of going year to year as oppose to a huge mistake locking up an arm long term and watching it falter or get hurt. Sox were burnt badly by buying out Mike MacDougal’s arbitration years and I don’t want anything similar to happen again.
4) One-year contract for Bobby Jenks, extension or trade?
4. Offer arbitration to Bobby Jenks. He is still an above average closer despite some declining numbers. Bobby knows his next big contract is right around the corner and I honestly think he will be more effective in 2010 then he was in 2009. However, if he even equals his 09 effort, he is still worth the 7 or so million he will be coming back for. We are saving on the bullpen by letting Dotel walk, its important that we keep Jenks. No one is going to want to see the trickle down effect of Dotel leaving and being replaced by a rookie or Linebrink, Thornton trying to cover the 9th for Jenks and then Pena trying to cover the 8th for Thornton. It’s a slippery slope and could lead to having a disaster pen. Trading Jenks will remain a possibility at any point in the season probably all the way to the August waiver period. I shy away from trading him during the off season as I believe his value has been shattered by the availability of free agent closers, other closers on the trade market, and his salary in today’s market being more of a liability then an asset (Something that was not the case just 2 years ago).
5) Which positions are in most dire need of an upgrade?
5. Corner Outfielder who hits from the left side, designated hitter who bats from the left side and has some power, leadoff hitter, extra bullpen arm preferably a lefty, and a backup catcher. I am also going under the assumption that Scott Podsednik will get a ridiculous offer from someone forcing the sox to look elsewhere for a leadoff man, Ramon Castro will be gone, and that the sox bring back Mark Kotsay on a 1 year 1.5-2 mil deal.
6) Name three (or more) free agents you’d consider, at a price.
6. Corner outfielders who hit from the left side:
Bobby Abreu: This guy consistently drives in runs, gets on base, steals bases and works counts. Being a lefty hitter and solid clubhouse guy just adds to his value. Only downside is that he has to be viewed as a DH and outfielder. I would go to atleast 2 years and 20 million dollars to obtain Abreu.
Randy Winn would be a cheap option. He had an awful 09 and could come cheap maybe 1 year 3 million. He still plays good defense and is only 1 year removed from a very solid offensive season where he had a 360 on base percentage.
DH who hits from the left side with power:
Bobby Abreu: already discussed.
Nick Johnson: OBP machine he may come cheap due to a long injury history, as everyone knows Hermy is the best at keeping guys on the field and Johnson coming to the AL where he could DH a lot will only help his injury problems. I do a more complicated 1 year 6 mil base deal, with a team option for 1 more year at 8 mil or a 1 mil buyout. I also throw in a provision that if he gets 450 at bats the 2nd year option kicks in. So either a 1 year 7 mil deal or 2 year 14 mil deal where the first year he likely plays a lot.
Hank Blalock: A plan C option and strictly a guy who can add some power to a lineup. 1 year 3-5 mil depending on how desperate we get.
Jim Thome: Going along with the plan C would be Thome. His chase for 600 homers may bring him back to the AL for one more year, its hard to argue with how productive he can be if the sox get him back on the cheap. Something in the 3 to 4 million range would be very worth while for his production and 2nd to none reputation in the clubhouse.
Chone Figgins: I offer 3 years 24 mil, its a token gesture he will get more elsewhere. Teams are going to fall in love with his type B status, his career year, and his solid glove and leadoff abilities. I really like Figgins but I have a strong feeling that he is going to get really over paid.
Placido Polanco: I maintain that Polanco is very underrated and does a lot of things for a ball club that equal wins but are impossible to statistically measure. His type A status may drive away potential suitors and if I’m the Whitesox I look to swoop in with a reasonable 2 year 12-14 mil deal. While not a prototypical leadoff man his OBP ability and top of the order experience should allow him to be an ample candidate.
Orlando Hudson: Solid player, again not an ideal leadoff man but great glove, switch hits and should be available. 3 years 18 mil range.
Backup Catcher: FIND SOMEONE
Joe Beimel: Solid lefty who made a name for himself by not allowing a homer in 2008 something that should play well at the cell. While he had a little less luck this year he was still a quality reliever. 2 years 6 mil.
7) Name three (or more) realistic trades that could improve the Sox team.
7. TRADES!!! These are always the most fun.
Idea 1: Alexei Ramirez for Brad Hawpe. He gives us a lefty corner outfield bat that seems to be available due to him getting benched in one of the playoff games. I think Alexei may actually have more value then Hawpe right now so maybe something else would have to be added to the package on Colorado’s side especially since Alexei has such a favorable contract. Colorado may not be a perfect fit for Alexei as they are pretty set at shortstop and third base but I think Clint Barmes numbers at 2nd seemed a bit fluky so maybe he fits them at 2nd. Hawpe also doesn’t appear to be a product of Colorado as his splits home and away are very similar to what you would expect. I think this also opens up the possibility to move Beckham to short and bring Adrian Beltre aboard to play 3rd. 3 years for 18 or 4 years for 22 seems to be a starting point, it may escalate past that.
Idea 2: Make a run at Prince Fielder. He has two years left on his contract and at some point no matter what Milwaukee says I have to believe they are lying about not wanting to trade him. They know he is going to command a big payday after 2011 and they also should be well aware of his eating habits and how his next contract is going to be way to scary for a mid market team like the Brewers to take on. Brewers also understand they have no starting pitching. Thus the sox move Danks or Floyd with a couple of prospects and try to acquire the ELITE left hand power bat they need. There are only a certain few instances where I would be willing to break up our rotation and this is one of them. Not sure if the Brewers would bite but its worth looking into.
8) Sum it all up in a paragraph or nine, and add up the total payroll.
Salary: Sox look to have about 95-97 million due under my circumstances without the exact amounts known due to arbitration raises. I expect the team to field a team in the 110 million range initially. So with the 12-16 million I have to play with I will suggest some plans.
Plan A: Abreu (10), Polanco (6) Biemel (3)
Plan B: Johnson (6), Polanco (6), Biemel (3)
Plan C: Thome (4), Beltre (6), Hawpe and bullpen arm for Ramirez (net gain 6-7)
Plan D: Figgins (10), Thome (4), Biemel (3)
Its important to note that some of these parts are a bit interchangeable, I use Biemel a lot because I prefer him there are other quality bullpen arms for about that price, Beltre and a Mark DeRosa are somewhat similar in how much value they add to a team. I like Polanco a lot but making an extra year commitment to get Hudson instead of Polanco is certainly an option. Thome could be exchanged in my ideas for a player like Hank Blalock and so on.
The main points of my ideas include adding 2 left hand hitters to the order who fill out the outfield and dh positions. Adding a veteran bullpen arm which I always think is a good idea. Gaining a top of the order hitter, even if that player isn’t the perfect leadoff option should be on the sox wish list. The return of a healthy Carlos Quentin and productive Alex Rios will remain the keys to 2010 likely no matter what off season moves are made.
Unfortunately, since he did not predict the waiver claim of Alejandro De Aza, he already loses.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ytCEuuW2_A[/youtube] Alejandro De Aza. Alejandro … De … Aza. Sorry Knox, so close, yet so far. But you won’t go empty-handed, as every participant receives the Sox Machine home game as a lovely consolation prize.
De Aza is essentially a Dewayne Wise replacement, although watching the video of him attached to the linked MLB.com article, he looks like a slightly stronger Jerry Owens to me. His minor-league track record says the same thing. Still, since neither Wise nor Owens are on the 2010 roster, consolidating their skills into one player (and one 40-man roster spot) doesn’t hurt.
Arizona Fall League:
- Phoenix 17, Peoria 4
- Jordan Danks went 1-for-4 with a solo homer, his second. No strikeouts.
And Ozzie Guillen will be serving as a World Series analyst for Fox before and after games. This could be entertaining, incoherent, or both.