A tip of the hat to Scott Merkin and Mark Gonzalez — they were definitely on to something when they said D.J. Carrasco, Ozzie Guillen’s “Team MVP” two months ago, might not be loved tender.
Here’s how expendable the Sox thought he was:
Carrasco, who made $440,000 last season, was offered a $160,000 raise. That wasn’t what he or his agent had in mind, and the gulf became apparent during a lunch Wednesday at the winter meetings involving Carrasco’s agent and a Sox official.
That’s a little bit of a slap in the face for a guy who was worked harder than any other Sox reliever last season, isn’t it?
Ultimately, it’s not a huge loss, if only because for as well as he pitched, the Sox went 18-31 in his appearances. More than half the time, he entered a game with the Sox leading or (more often) trailing by at least four runs. His velocity and occasional lack of command didn’t exactly make him suitable for higher leverage.
Yet it feels unfortunate for a handful of reasons, but the following chart sums it up nicely. Names have been changed to shield the embarrassment:
And yet the Sox tried to offer that Carrasco was only worth one-seventh of what “Scott L.” is getting paid.
Anyway, while that’s too simplistic considering Carrasco is only in his first year of arbitration, it illustrates a greater point. Namely, I liked Carrasco because the Sox acquired him by way of the spring training non-roster invitation. For a team that had flushed too much money on “S. Linebrink” (whoops) and Mike MacDougal, Carrasco was a godsend.
I hoped his presence might encourage Williams to try going back to cheap-reliever well, but the scars from 2007 haven’t healed, I guess. With the exception of Matt Thornton, none of the permanent Sox relievers is a confident bet to live up his salary. Thornton’s getting up there in price, too, as he’ll earn $2.25M in 2010.
I could also be suffering from a little Chicago Sports Fan Syndrome, because the idea that the Sox don’t need a long reliever smacks of hubris to me. Three of the five starters missed significant chunks of time last season. John Danks didn’t, but blister/circulation problems aren’t easy to shake. Mark Buehrle always takes August off. The Sox are as set as can be expected, but there’s always stuff that can go wrong.
That said, there are a few internal options to replace Carrasco, whether it’s Carlos Torres or Daniel Hudson. The latter strikes me as a bit premature, especially if the rotation lives up to its billing and Hudson ends up with Aaron Poreda’s workload. Jhonny Nunez also worked two innings regularly in the minors.
Somehow, the Sox will get by. Carrasco deserves better, though, and I hope he’ll get paid somewhere. In Chicago, he’s merely paying for the sins of others. The headlines say he’s a victim of “economics,” but I wouldn’t give Scott Linebrink’s bank account that much weight.
If you’ll miss Carrasco, it’s nice to know he’ll miss you too:
“One of the reasons I’m going to miss Chicago is the passion and knowledge of the White Sox fans,” said Carrasco, when asked if he had heard of fans’ disappointment over his departure. “It holds a special place in my heart that they wanted me back.”
I’ll miss the stirrups the most.