Season's Meetings, Day 1: Putz out the door

One free agent heads to the Arizona Diamondbacks, but it's not Paul Konerko.

While the Paul Konerko camp and the White Sox danced around numbers, J.J. Putz made his move to Arizona, signing a two-year deal that guarantees him $10 million, with an option that can max out the deal at three years and $15 million.
Following the progress of the deal on Twitter, the Sox were supposedly involved in discussions shortly before Putz decided on the Diamondbacks. So maybe that price wasn’t worth it to the Sox — not solely due to the price, but also because they gain a much-needed draft pick out of letting him go. Or maybe Putz wanted to close, or maybe he wanted to sleep in his own bed (he lives in the Phoenix area).
That said, I’d probably work with two years and $5 million per as a cap for the space reserved on the payroll for a proven reliever. And I probably wouldn’t expect this to get worked out any time soon. Watching the MLB Network this evening, Peter Gammons said relievers were still seeking the commitment Joaquin Benoit received, and thought January would be when the market would eventually loosen up.
As for Putz, I’d call it a successful signing. The knee tendinitis was poorly timed (lining up with Matt Thornton’s problems), and it prevented him from giving the Sox the full Tom Gordon Experience, but he threw enough quality innings for a guy with a pre-existing condition, as health insurers would say.
So happy trails to J.J. Putz. Now it’s time for Kenny Williams to find another free agent like him.
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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale dropped a bombshell:

#mlb #whitesox #redsox The Chicago White Sox were runner-up in the Adrian Gonzalez derby, offering IF Gordon Beckham and prospects.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck


I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around this one, which leads me to believe it may not be entirely true. I know Kenny Williams is “all-in” for 2011, but that would leave the Sox with one position player who would provide surplus value for 2012. It’s one thing to trade him for a similarly young player (like the Brandon McCarthy-John Danks trade), but another to acquire a rental.
For his part, Williams didn’t confirm it, and gave Beckham this endorsement:

“I’m more confident that he has now gone through some struggles that you go through as a big leaguer and he’s come through it on the other side. It’s just unfortunate that he had the injury. He was having quite a second half. That ‘Chicago tough’ that I talk about, he showed some, a little bit of it, in doing what he did.”

**************************
The Konerko negotiations could be considered deliberations, as they’re moving as slow as Konerko himself. Williams gave terse answers when asked about him, and had to clarify that he wasn’t frustrated, only neutral – neither optimistic nor pessimistic.
Jon Heyman has more faith in the proceedings:

#chisox, konerko talks appear to be going well.he’ll likely get $12.5 mil a year, maybe 3 yrs. #rangers, #orioles other options.less than a minute ago via web


**************************
Williams certainly expressed frustration at the Chicago media for continuing to ask questions about his relationship with Ozzie Guillen, especially after the GM and manager had a productive dinner that left both of them ready to roll. After one question too many, he said:

“I’m going to say this without cursing … I am tired about talking about what was last year and what is old news,” Williams said. “We are above and beyond that and it just … come on. You know what, I’m not going to answer any questions on that. I’m not. It’s a waste of my time.”

But that wasn’t the only stern talk Williams issued. He also singled out Phil Rogers. Combining some Joe Cowley tweets, as he took particular delight in this:

Here’s the Phil crushing. Phil asks about KW’s optimism toward his relievers in the organization …KW says, “Phil, I’m more optimistic about everything than you are about us. And it doesn’t matter what answer I give u, ur going to take the worst, most pessimistic road. So again, I’m not going to waste my time on you.” BAAAMMM. Then Cowley yells out, “Get ’em a body bag!”

I laughed at the last line. I’m surprised that Williams gives him that much credence, because nervous hand-wringing is Rogers’ shtick. I mean, even Monday morning he was talking about the Diamondbacks being a contender to sign Konerko, and I thought they bowed out last month.
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Christian Marrero Reading Room (Winter Meetings Edition):
*A.J. Pierzynski was thisclose to going to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
*Bobby Jenks talked to Scott Merkin, and spoke well of Sox fans:

“It [stinks], but it’s the nature of the game,” Jenks said. “I wish things would have been different. I wish I could have been out there healthy and finished the year, but things aren’t always perfect.
“Hopefully, the White Sox front office and my agent, they can work something out. But if they don’t, it’s not because I don’t want to be in Chicago.
“My first thought is my family and what’s best for us,” said the married father of four. “But if this is goodbye, I wish I had something more romantic, but slow down, drive safe and see you on the other side of the fence.”

*If Jenks did return, Guillen would make him earn the closing role.
*Brett Ballantini rounds up the first day of action from the Swan and Dolphin, and so does Examiner.
*White Sox Observer tries to figure out the possible plans of attack to add relief.

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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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chisoxt

What is it with Kenny Williams? He acts as though the press is constantly dogging him and not giving him a fair shake? I think that if anything, the media is an enabler to Kenny. Every seasson, it has become a ritual in which the talk radio, newspaper writers, and internet bloggers hang onto every move and soundbite the GM makes during the two weeks prior to the trade deadline. Make no mistake about it, Kenny loves the attention when the bouquets are being thrown at his feet, but when the heat is turned on him, things get a bit testy.
As for Phil Rogers, it is true the guy writes some goofy stuff at times and had taken up the title as Mr. Windsock, once Jay Marioti left town. But the column that he wrote at the end of the season calling out Willimas for his impatience and impulsuveness was spot on. Kenny should just be thankful he has a boss willing to expand payroll and bail his ass out of trouble.

djroomba

I think you should do a White Sox poll on the outside factors that are out to get some prominent White Sox figures.
Including:
The mysterious umpire scandal and Hawk,
The death of the Fox World Series producers over the 10 second edit button and Ozzie.
or
Scottie Pods and a lack of range despite speed on the bases.
Just a thought.

striker

1. Hindsight is 20/20. It’s easy to call KW out on the Jackson/Hudson trade now because you see the results. Who really thought Hudson would dominate the NL? I doubt Rogers did. Besides that, I still think Kenny’s intentions were never to keep Jackson otherwise he would have had some money thrown in. There is still time before the jury is out on this one, IMO.
2. Rogers also knocked KW for the Ely/Link for Pierre trade after 3 good starts for Ely. Where is Ely now?
3. Rogers used to praise Heath Phillips. Where is he now?

knoxfire30

Rogers is an idiot. His reasoning is terrible but he actually got the hudson for jackson and pierre for ely/link stuff right. Its not that Hudson has dominated the NL or that Ely was off to a hot start, its that based on their career norms it made no sense to be paying Jackson 8.5 million for 2011 and Pierre 5.5 million for 2011. That money could have been much better spent while saving Hudson, Ely, Link for deals taht would have made sense.

buford

I question how much research Rogers performs.
I remember after the Danks/McCarthy trade went down, there were baseball executives saying they liked Danks more since his upside was a top of the rotation pitcher vs. McCarthy who they vewed as a 4th or 5th starter.
Also, the Tigers were after Danks (I believe Texas wnted Bonderman) and they were surprised all it took was McCarthy.
I don’t recall Rogers offsetting his pro-McCarthy opinion with these professional opinions. Instead, you see him on TV and he goes into his typical I-know-I’m-right diatribe. Doesn’t he realize how foolish he could look when rendering an opinion with the certainty that the sun will rise in the east?
As far as Rogers writing good columns, I chalk that up to “Nostradamus”
writing. If you make enough predictions, you have to be right eventually.

fustercluck

So Pierzynski was almost a Dodger for 1yr/$4MM. Doesn’t that mean the Sox could have had him for $2MM in May? Same as how Uribe’s 3yrs/$21MM means the Sox get him back next year for 2yrs/$8MM. Kenny’s failing to account for the Dodger discount.

David

If Derrek Lee is truly the “backup plan”…and it makes sense given his relationship with Ozzie from Florida days, then…
I’d prefer DL for 2 yrs and +/-$12 mil vs. PK for 3 yrs and $37.5 mil.
This PK contract is going to be ugly…

dalton

Does signing Lee for 2/$12mm give us any room to go get Carl Crawford?

knoxfire30

no

dalton

Party pooper.
Ack, he’s just out of Chicago’s price range altogether.

knoxfire30

If I was Kenny I would be sick of the media talking about his and ozzie’s relationship too, as if the sox dont give reporters in this town enough to talk about they have to keep bringing up this garbage.
With Putz going to Arizona its becoming very eveident that the bullpen is going to be the primary focus moving forward this offseason. Right now it scares me to death, I think the sox need to make a run at a lefty like Joe Biemel, and then take a flier on a guy like Andrew Miller, we need to get some lefty arms in the mix if Thornton is going to close and or if Sale becomes a starter.
I believe the sox were after A-Gon, why wouldnt they be, him and Dunn on board would have been fantastic, I think Beckham is gonna have a big bounce back year but if your all in, go all in!

Shinons

Yeah, but Kenny always getting frustrated about the questions doesn’t help himself. As a reporter if you get Williams to lash out at you, you get entertaining quotes – hence those tweets. If Williams had just said “No comment,” there’s no tweets, no story, nothing here on Sox Machine, and eventually the reporters just get bored of asking you about it and move on.

knoxfire30

I think getting a respected general manager mad at you as a reporter, makes you look like a dumb ass as a reporter.
Anyone can say no comment, Im happy when kenny shows up a reporter that isnt doing a good job.

Shinons

Williams didn’t win. Rogers did. Rogers isn’t trying to get invited to Williams’ Christmas dinner or look like a good reporter, he’s trying to muckrake – and did so successfully.
There was no news here. The Williams-Guillen controversy hasn’t been newsworthy in months – the “news” was Williams frustration toward being asked about it. If Williams says “no comment,” Rogers loses. His attempt to incite failed.
Yeah, it’s not doing a good job as a reporter. It’s lazy and dishonest. But you see it all the time, and it works to generate headlines.

knoxfire30

No rogers continues to look like a dumbass bringing it up, its OLD NEWS, does rogers really have nothing else to go to with the winter meetings underway and the sox involved in a flurry of activity over the last week.
As a fan, do you now like KW more, or are you dying to read Rogers next article??? Rogers is becoming the new Jay Mariotti.

chisoxt

It’s always convenient to pull the ‘Hindsight is Always 20-20’ cliche when defending a trade or in this case trades that I as well as MANY OTHERS did not like the time they are made.
Again with Rogers, I said that he frequently writes silly stuff. But his underlying thesis I do agree with…And that is…that Kenny’s approach of habitually borrowing from tomorrow to pay for today is no way to sustain a sucessfull franchise. At some point, the music is going to stop.

dalton

Perhaps, but when it stops, hopefully we have another Championship or two to reminisce about, and I’d rather have that than be the Oakland A’s, winning 88 games per year but rarely making the post-season (or making a dent in it). I’m fine with the White Sox having the third highest payroll, and with the money coming off the books after this season, I’m not too worried about a three-year deal for Konerko if signing him means the Sox are the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central and a serious WS contender.

bigfun

Prohibitive favorites? I wouldn’t rule out the Twins (or the Tigers for that matter) just because the Sox bring back Konerko, who will help but will almost certainly regress from last year.
The Twins will probably (smartly) wait until later in the offseason to get bargains, like they did last year.
Can’t imagine any of those three teams being a very strong favorite.

dalton

Konerko will likely regress, but with Dunn providing protection, I think he’ll still put up a terrific year.
You don’t think Thome will regress? Morneau will be back, but the Twins stand to lose several relievers.

bigfun

I don’t think lineup protection exists. I know it’s still an open debate, but the most convincing arguments I’ve seen suggest it doesn’t. I’m willing to keep an open mind on that subject, though.
As far as the Twins, relievers are pretty easy to replace. I expect them to be a low-90s win team again next year, which is what the Sox are also looking like with the addition of Dunn and reasonable improvements in a few other areas.
I don’t see how any of the three contending Central teams can hope to become a prohibitive favorite, unless maybe one of them gets Lee or Crawford, which doesn’t seem very likely.

striker

“Kenny’s approach of habitually borrowing from tomorrow to pay for today is no way to sustain a sucessfull franchise.”
This isn’t the government this is baseball. These players aren’t expenses they are assets. Assets that can be turned around and sold the next day for “tomorrow” prospects.
Waiting for prospects to develop isn’t a sure thing for success, just ask the Pirates.

dalton

Amen to that. KW isn’t using our money (i.e. tax dollars or quantitative easing); he’s using Jerry Reinsdorf’s. And if the Sox tank in 2012 or 2013, Kenny – if he’s still there – can flip Dunn or Konerko or whoever for prospects, draft picks, all those things people who desire consistency (read: 85-win ballclubs) desire.
Me? I’ll take 90+ wins each of the next three years with real shots at winning it all over the alternatives.

bigfun

prospects, draft picks, all those things people who desire consistency (read: 85-win ballclubs) desire.
I don’t get this statement. The Rays and the Rangers are two of the biggest practitioners of that approach and they’re clearly not 85-win ballclubs. Acquiring a strong base of cheap, young players is one of the best ways to go to the playoffs multiple times and thus maximize the chance of winning a World Series.

dalton

When Texas starts going to the playoffs every year, let me know. They’ve also made two of the highest profile acquisitions of the past ten years or so in Cliff Lee and A-Rod. The Twins (you didn’t mention them, but they’re one of those “homegrown ballplayer clubs) haven’t been to the World Series since 1991. The Athletics since 1990. The Rays have been an exception, though for how long, I’m not sure. Tough division, that AL East.
And it’s not like Chicago is bereft of guys they brought along themselves. Morel, Beckham and Ramirez are all projected to start this season, and Buehrle is a Sox draftee.

chisoxt

“When Texas starts going to the playoffs every year, let me know”
Dalton…maybe I missed something, but could you please give me a heads up as to when WE start going to the playoffs every year?
Some of the those who defend Kenny point to 2005 and 2008. In reality, the blueprint for those two successful teams had less to do with ‘going for broke’ but rather, more to do with Kenny uncharacteristically showing patience with bargain free agents and younger players.

bigfun

Getting to the playoffs is a better gauge of a well-built organization than winning a World Series. The former represents a strong showing over the course of a regular season, while the involves a lot of luck in short series match-ups.
I think there’s an excellent chance Texas, with the core they have there, will go to the postseason in two or three of the next four years. If you want a past example, the Braves during the 1990s is a classic one.

dalton

Would you prefer a well-built organization to be profitable? Profitable and contend? Or profitable, generally contend, and actually win a WS title?

dalton

So this approach will only work for Boston and NY? It won’t work for Chicago? Just curious.
As for Texas, they may be on the rise, having won two more games than Chicago in a slightly tougher division, but in the past four years, they’ve had 75- and 79-win seasons, so it’s not like they’ve been consistently producing.

bigfun

Would you prefer a well-built organization to be profitable? Profitable and contend? Or profitable, generally contend, and actually win a WS title?
Profitability generally correlates pretty heavily with contending, as postseason appearances make a lot of money. And winning a WS title is just a result of contending over and over.
If it’s what you’re getting at, I certainly agree that there’s a time and a place for trading future value for immediate impact, which is what the Rangers did in acquiring Cliff Lee. But a club can’t fill its entire roster that way, and it sometimes seems like that’s what Kenny Williams wants to do.

dalton

I think KW does get the itch to land those big-splash FAs, and I agree that if he goes too far in that direction, his visions of perennial division championships and WS titles will be a mirage.

buford

A successful franchise should have good prospects upon which to build. And the Sox should draft better. But the prospects Williams has traded seldom turn into anything.
I would think this is a Williams strength. He can identify overvalued players that other teams want.
Now let’s start working on this drafting thingy.

dalton

He’s been smart about trading starters at their peak value, too (Garland, Garcia, McCarthy, etc.). I think, on the whole, KW is a top-tier GM – especially having been able to dump Linebrink’s contract.

sars

while i agree getting rid of linebrink was smart…signing him to the contract was idiotic in the first place.

dalton

Agreed.

pmj3358

I agree completely with KW’s ability to value prospects. Of the prospects we’ve “given away”, who has turned into anything? Jim, any chance you could put together a list?? Jury is still out on Hudson, and I thought it was common knowledge the only reason KW acquired Jackson was to flip him for Dunn but Rizzo screwed us…
Personally, I think KW has done a good job of building AL Central contenders. The front office needs to work on the draft, however.

dalton

I think there should be a new term, Pulling a Rizzo. When you lose your only proven star to free agency when you could have gotten a talented starter in return, then compound the mistake by catastrophically overpaying for a talented complementary player – and giving him a seven-year contract worth $18mm per. That’s Pulling a Rizzo.
When some poor schmuck turns down a chance to date a hottie because he’s been fooling around with some average talent from down the hall, and he gets that girl pregnant, he can smack himself on the forehead and say, “Looks like I Pulled a Rizzo.”

striker

It will be interesting for Nats fans to see if that draft pick they got from us for Dunn turns out to be better than Hudson.

bigfun

common knowledge the only reason KW acquired Jackson was to flip him for Dunn
Was this ever proven? Because I still don’t get why it would make sense for the Nationals. Why would they have wanted a guy like Jackson in 2010? Seems like they would have only wanted to trade Dunn for young cost-controlled players.

blah

“Seems like they would have only wanted to trade Dunn for young cost-controlled players.”
I don’t know what Rizzo is thinking. In light of his actions throughout last year, keeping Adam Dunn, Adam Kennedy, Josh Willingham, Livan Hernandez and then, this offseason, not extending Dunn, signing Jason Werth, IMO there is no way to tell what this Rizzo is up to.
I agree that, on it’s face, the Jackson-for-Dunn deal looks crazy, but so is a lot of the above.
Especially signing Werth to a 126 million dollar contract.

buford

Another way to go would be to list all 30 GM’s and identify their worst trade/free agency signing/contract.

buford

Two prospects come to mind – Gio Gonzalez and Chris Young.
If Gonzalez gets a third pitch to go with his fastball and great curveball, he could be special.
Even though Young was a 2010 All-Star, he may have been a product of his ballpark:
Home .283/.361/.549/.910
Away .230/.321/.354/.675

David

Frank Francisco
Chris Carter is one to watch…

buford

Francisco has turned out OK.
But Chris Carter couldn’t hit a breaking ball with a broom.

buford

I liked Cunningham also but SD hasn’t been giving him a lot of playing time (266 AB) maybe because of his career numbers:
.249/.301/.377/.678
Petco helps Richard a lot:
Home 3.15 ERA / 1.22 WHIP /.227 BAA
Away 4.41 ERA / 1.61 WHIP /.308 BAA
AZ GM Towers is on record stating that he will go outside the organization for both his 1B and LF which doesn’t say much for Allen.

soxfan1

I like the “pulling a Rizzo” comment. We can use that one!!
Where are the big bucks coming off the payroll after 2011 other than Buehrle??

knoxfire30

Jackson 8.5, Pierre 5.5, Linebrink’s number is now 3.0, so Quentin could easily be non tendered next year which would be about 5.5 or so.
Of course raises will be due to a few guys and of course Thornton has to be re-signed.

sars

bigfun dropping knowledge all over this comment thread, btw.

stopdrop8

Cubs signed Pena. That leaves us with lee and laroche as back up options if we can’t get the konerko deal done.

bigfun

Branyan, Johnson, and Overbay are all potential bargains as well. And of course the Sox do have the option of DHing Quentin and using Dunn mostly as a 1B if they believe he’s better defensively than his career numbers suggest (even if he’s mediocre, this might be a wash for the team since Quentin is so bad in right).