Breaking the ice on 2011 offseason plans

The first of your hot stove strategies involves dancing with the ones Kenny Williams brought, and a healthy amount of pessimism.

The first of your 2011 White Sox offseason plans comes courtesy of talkendo (follow him on Twitter). Going first is always the toughest, so a tip of the cap is in order.
I have two more in the queue, and if you’re interested in adding your own, the details are here.

Talkendo’s 2011 White Sox offseason plan

PREAMBLE
I’m starting from the assumption that Kenny isn’t ready to blow this team up and wants to take another good run at winning the division. This team gave it a good run through the middle of the season and, except for the Peavy injury and the black hole that was DH, COULD have been the one swept in the first round by the Yankees. This has been five years since the title, it’s time to start questioning KW’s methodology and whether the remnants of that core can get us back to the promised land. I tend to think we’ve reached the end for A.J., PK and Buehrle. But, as the original post doesn’t include the “Nuclear Option”, Kenny has left it so there aren’t too many options for restructuring (unless he can fleece someone in a trade).
So, here’s my off-season plan, also known as “Shuffling Deck Chairs on the Titanic.”
IMMEDIATE DECISIONS (explain if warranted)

1) Would you offer arbitration to:

I’m offering Paulie and J.J. arbitration; offering A.J. arb is a good way to get stuck with him. The door can hit Bobby Jenks on the way out. It was nice Manny, have fun in KC.
2) Would you pick up Ramon Castro’s $1.2 million option for 2011, or buy him out for $200,000?
Picking up Castro’s option. That, or try to sign Gerald Laird or Josh Bard at less than $1.2 million. It’s gotta be Flowers’ job to lose.
CLUB CONTROL (explain if warranted)

3) One-year contract for John Danks? If not, what would you pay to extend him?
Danks, three years, $22 million, $5M-$7M-$10M. Same numbers as Floyd for first two; third year assumes progression.
4) Would you tender a contract to Bobby Jenks?
NO, for the love of all that’s holy, NO.
5) Would you tender a contract to Carlos Quentin?
I’m torn here, this decision has to be made before the free agents hit the market. I have to go with yes, penciling him at DH; I would RATHER have Thome there, but Q is better than the DHydra we started the year with. I’m assuming he’ll lose and we’ll come in at around $4M.
6) Would you tender a contract to Tony Pena?
Yes. I’m assuming an figure at 1.5
FREE AGENCY: WHITE SOX
7) Which of the following impending White Sox free agents would you attempt to re-sign, and at what price:

*PK: Four years, $28 million, $10M-$8M-$6M-$4M. Assuming declining production and he retires as CWS or tradeable to contender at end.
*JJ: One year, $4 millon. Relievers, a dime a dozen.
*Andruw: One year, $1.5 million. If he balks and signs elsewhere, I’ll give this to OV.
*Sadly, I let Omar go. Professional, surprising, but a) don’t think he can hold up, b) Morel needs to go everyday (or prove he can’t) and c) I’m squeezing blood from a stone to keep payroll from going up too much (I’m thinking $110 million and I’m at $111.425).
*Bye-bye to Freddy and Kotsay. I brought Pena back, he can have first crack at that job. Sale will be up after the All-Star break as fifth starter (or traded with Edwin Jackson for a bag of balls, ugh) and Lillibridge can be Kotsay.
FREE AGENCY: OUTSIDE HELP
8) Which positions are in the most dire need of an upgrade?
Q needs to NOT be playing defense; we need a REAL DH (No, Manny; see, part of the title is HITTER, you didn’t; neither did Q, but at least he’ll be cheaper).
9) Name three (or more) free agents you’d consider, and at what price.
This is not a time to chase big names (we’re either making a run with what we’ve got or blow up and start over). So, an even half-dozen relievers as cheap as you can get ’em (any reliever not named Mariano Rivera is inherently unprojectable; the moment you give them money the wheels fall off; see Jenks, Bobby). Keep some, toss the rest. Thome, if he’s out there. Take a CHEAP flyer on Ian Snell or Dontrelle Willis as non-roster invitees for fifth starter/swingman?
TRADES
10) Name a couple (or more) realistic trades that could improve the Sox.
*Edwin Jackson for Corey Hart. Salary relief this year, opens rotation spot for Sale/scrapheap fifth. Solidifies the Brewers’ rotation in 2011 and the Sox outfield through 2013, as Rios moves over when Mitchell is ready. Might need a castoff third OF at some point, but eh. Alejandro de Aza, anyone?
*Q for for some underperforming mid 20’s starter that we think we can rehabilitate (Paul Maholm? James Shields? Jeff Francis?).
SUMMARY
11) Sum it all up in a paragraph or nine, and give a ballpark estimate of the total payroll.
This is a really crummy situation.
Best Case: With some regression to the mean, we could be right back here again. Nobody had a career year other than Paulie and a bunch people outright stunk. I’m rewarding PK for being PK, but I don’t expect this again. If Beckham becomes Beckham again, Che stays Che, we get a decent DH, Peavy comes back and pitches like 80%-90% of Jake Peavy and everybody else does what we know they can do, while we (try to) upgrade the bullpen and find a way to not put Teahen in the lineup, ever, this team can do 88 wins again. Will it win the AL Central? No. Second place.
Worst case: Rocks fall, everyone dies. Beckham’s year wasn’t a mirage, Paulie’s 2010 was the last gasp of a dying slugger, Rios reverts to 2008-2009 vintage, Peavy can’t come back, Jackson really IS the pitcher people keep trading. And only Che, Andruw Jones, Danks and Floyd bother to remember there’s baseball to be played. The team gets torn apart between the break and the deadline and Ozzie gets fired and Kenny kicked upstairs. Last place, two games behind the Royals. We all drink VERY heavily and get caught up in the Blackhawks’ ongoing salary cap woes after their second consecutive Stanley Cup victory (yes, I said it).
.
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Arizona Fall League:

  • Surprise 11, Peoria 4
    • Eduardo Escobar went 2-for-5 with an RBI.
    • Jared Mitchell went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. He also committed an error, but made up for it by throwing out a runner at third.
    • Anthony Carter pitches another perfect inning with two strikeouts. He’s retired all nine hitters he’s faced, seven by the K.
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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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danks50

I won’t cover that Konerko contract as Jim already touched on that one. As for the Jackson/Hart swap, despite Milwaukee desperately needing some quality pitching it looks like their unloading next season and trying to build that team back up. One year or Jackson for a player they just signed to a 3 year deal doesn’t seem to fit that M.O.
On top of that a starting offensive combo of Morel/Flowers is pretty frightening to me especially when you consider that left field is already devoid of any type of slugging not to mention one of the RF/DH positions + 1st base is still in flux.
Anyways I agree with the basic premise of finding a RFer to move Carlos away from the outfield and dumping some of the remaining pieces from 05. I’m not sure 2nd place in set in stone as we have to see what Minny does with all their free agents and how Detroit uses all their freed up cash, but Kenny defiantly has his work cut out for him.

paul

Haven’t posted in ages (but read every day)…here’s my thoughts:
1. They won’t offer arbitration to Konerko because it would likely mean a decent raise to 14+ million, whereas a 10-10-10 might be feasible (exactly what I was thinking even though Jim beat me to it).
3. Danks will probably get 6+ million in arbitration. 6-9-11 might be more realistic, for 3 years, 26 million.
5 & 8: Agree DH is the biggest hole. Reasign Quentin. Sign or trade for a power hitting right-fielder/DH and have Quentin split or spend most of his time at DH.
I’ll leave it at those points.

knoxfire30

As a gambler I sometime wager too much, but when I see something I think is certain im not scared to go all in. Paul Konerko is being offered arbitration I would bet everything I own on this earth on that!

knoxfire30

Konerko is likely to get 2 or 3 years at 10 mil, so I see no chance of a decling 4 year 28 mil deal.
Quentin produced the 48th best ops in baseball that has to be worth one more run with him at 4 mil, especially if you can dh him
I would pass on Pena he just isnt worth 1.5 mil, if Carrasco wasnt worth 1 why is he worth 1.5?
Hart for Jackson makes some sense just with Hart batted left handed, it seems like two teams selling high on guys to fill bigger needs and those are good trades.
The rest I pretty much agree with! Well done

alwayssox

I don’t think what happened in the past with Carrasco would have any bearing on what would happen today with Pena. Depends on what other options they have, etc. Pena did throw 100 innings; that is pretty valuable.
Isn’t Ozzie dead set against using Quentin as a regular DH? People keep proposing it, but I don’t know that it is in the cards.

talkendo

My thinking on Konerko was that KW could pitch this as his last contract. And the savings on the later years could help pay for Beckham, Alexei, et al to keep the Sox contending through the life of the contract. A sort of Last, Best Chance deal. I think Kenny will pay him more than I would, but I hate overpaying and getting burned (see Huet, Cristobal).
And I’m not PLEASED with Morel/Flowers, but if they are what they’ve been touted to be, it’s time to run them out there and see what they do. My original thought for catcher was to go sign David Ross and platoon him with Flowers, but ATL extended him.
I still think blowing it up and re-tooling/rebuilding is a better option. Maybe I’ll whip up something later in the day on how best to do THAT.

sars

i agree with most everything on here. i’ve been a proponent of launching AJ for years, and wanted CQ in the DH spot this time last year. there are few things i’m not so sure about; hart was downright awful in the 2nd half of last year. the last thing the sox need is a low-obp outfielder.
dontrelle and ian snell? how many times will a team need to kick the tires on those suckholes before someone realizes their worthless? i’d rather have freddy garcia back over those two.

bigfun

Great plan Talkendo – you’re thinking a lot of the same things as I am.
To me, blowing it up just doesn’t make sense because there’s only two or three players who really have trade value. Most of the players on this team are either guys you want to keep around regardless (Ramirez, Beckham, Floyd, etc.) or guys who you couldn’t move if you wanted to (Peavy, Teahen, Linebrink).

knoxfire30

very true

striker

Nice plan. I agree with what most others have posted plus I’ll add:
1) It lacks left handed production bat.
2) Omar would come back as a backup not a starter, which proved to be very valuable in 2010.
3) If Sale is going to the minors to start, Putz declines arbitration and Jenks and Pena walk, that leaves you with Thornton and Santos in the bullpen.
4) I think Flowers + Morel in the lineup is risky but you have all season to make a move if either faulter. You just have to make sure we have a solid 1-7 in our lineup.

alwayssox

I have a feeling they will look for a 1 yr option for third and give Morel more time in the minors. I know he got a lot of playing time at the end of the season but that was partly because Beckham was out.

noneck

They will re-sign A.J. Tyler Flowers is a joke. He would be a complete disaster as the 2011 starting catcher. No way will they do that. Atleast one more year of A.J.

sars

see, that’s funny, because i view AJ as a joke and a complete disaster.

dudeman

At least Flowers would be a cheap disaster, with some projectable improvement.
AJ… neither.

LS_SoX_FN

Im thinking both AJ and Castro should come back. If Tyler gets his act together before the trade deadline, you move the one you can, and bring up Flowers

mr3000

3/$26M for Danks puts him in the same category as Lester which is what I presume Danks is looking to compare himself to.
I think AJ has played his last days in a Sox uniform and the Sox can ill afford to trust Flowers as their start at this point. This will mean that KW will entertain a trade with the Dodgers for Russell Martin. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a trade with the Dodgers that was expanded to accompany a Loney or Kemp return either.
The other area to look at is a possible connection to bringing Colby Rasmus to the South Side.

bigfun

Russell Martin is an interesting idea but who would the Sox give up to get him, much less Kemp?
I like the Rasmus idea but I think the Cardinals know they would be foolish to let a spat between him and LaRussa dictate personnel decisions.

alwayssox

Martin could also be non-tendered.

dudeman

Who would we give up for Martin?
Uhhh… Russell Martin isn’t that good at baseball. If he is non-tendered, I’d take a look, but I wouldn’t trade for him.

ricksch

1) Try to sign Konerko for 2yrs. I rather give him more money for less years than vice versa.
2) Let go of Quentin. Can’t field and Konerko should be slotted in as the righty DH for 40 games next year AND going forward.
3) Pick up a real RF who can hit some. Don’t know who’s available, but the guy can’t be too much more than what Quentin was getting.
4) Current DH needs to be lefty acqusition, i.e. Luke Scott or Adam Dunn. Default position here is Teahen, which the only place to use this clod.
4) Re-sign Castro and consider signing another Castro-level guy out there in case Flowers don’t hunt — which is a strong possibility in my view.
5) If we’re rolling the dice with Morel, keep Omar as insurance and for what he brings as a player/coach. This is money well spent.
6) Say goodbye to Jenks, AJ, Kotsay and Pena — and maybe Andruw too if he wants more than a nominal raise.
7) Consider re-signing Freddy if he takes “6th starter/long relief role. For some reason, Freddy does ok with the Sox. He should want to sign and contribute any way he can. If he wants a big raise and still believes he’s a starter, let him walk.
8) I’m torn on Putz. It depends on the other two bullpen arms we need to acquire through a deal or free agency. I’m looking for TWO RH relievers who can be had for 2-2.5 million each. With Thornton and Putz and Sale, you have three guys who can close. Spread the Jenks’ money around on the rest of the pen.
9) I want to keep Sale in the bullpen. Maybe there will be a time for him to take a step back and return a starter, but right now I think we need him on the current roster.
If Teahen is just seen as our overpaid utility player, then we should have a better group of position players overall.
12) Take Danks for the one-year if that’s possible. I’m worried this kid has peaked. But I still like him in the rotation.
13) Peavy has to return at 80% of better of Peavy or else the house of cards begins to tumble. At least with Freddy there, we’d have a warm body.
I’m saving about $19m between Quentin, Jenks, AJ, Pena, Kotsay,
We need to add a cheap catcher, an upper middle class right fiedler and a lefty DH at least as good as Luke Scott. That should be gettable for less than $19m.
Sox have extra payroll with Jackson and a few raises so it’s going to be tough to reduce payroll next year and if they do, we’re in trouble.

LS_SoX_FN

oh lord i hope danks hasnt peaked…the kid is barely 25…

bigfun

Hahn no longer a GM candidate for the Mets, per Tribune.

As Cirensica

Good job Talkendo…some nice views although you got one that in my opinion is totally wrong. Giving 1.5 Mil to a Triple AAA pitcher, that is super overrated Tony Pena, is too much….I rather give that money to Mark Prior, who in the worst scenario, won’t pitch 1 inning and it won’t hurt you. Pena, unfortunately, would pitch, and hurt us more often than not. When is people going to be convinced that Tony Pena is a terrible pitcher? About Quentin being DH’ed…I believe that Guillen has reiterated that having Quentin sitting in the dugout for 9 innings is a hard and will drive him crazy as Quentin is very hyper. I would say, we should trade Quentin. If all he can do is DH, we are better off with Konerko / Jones platoon, and use the money for something else. Quentin’s departure is addition by subtraction. I think Vizquel should be resigned. He would be relatively cheap and adds a lot. J.J. Putz could be resigned…he is a great reliever (unlike Pena) that pitches very well more often than not. The perspective of having Morel/Flowers in the line up is terrifying. We are talking of TWO guys that are likely to hit 230 AVE with no power. I can be wrong, but I wouldn’t be too much on the opposite of that statement.
I see the following big holes in the WhiteSox right now:
1) 3rd baseman: Vizquel, Teahen, Morel. I am not too impressed with the offensive numbers here when your best bet for higher slugging goes with Vizquel.
2) Closer: Thornton? Sale? I don’t think so.
3) 5th starter: Can Freddy give us the same pitching quality he gave us this year? If yes, I’ll take him. I wouldn’t count too much from Peavy next year.
4) Catcher: hhhmmm this could be a nightmare, but it has a solution. Just resign AJ. A decent catcher….a decent hitter…a reasonable price. Durable. Reliable. Experience. I’ll take that and give Flowers various shots. Castro can do good with another team.
5) Right field: We have none unless Teahen and Jones are in the radar. This is a free agent grabbing.

bigfun

Closer isn’t a hole, but if it was, Thornton has more than proven he can handle it by being one of the best relievers in baseball over the past few years.

brettdavis

I’m not sure that blowing it up is a worthwhile sentiment. This team has loads of talent that underperformed this year. But with that said, they still have enough pieces to make some kind of run in 2011.

lorenzobandini

>>offering A.J. arb is a good way to get stuck with him. The door can hit Bobby Jenks on the way out.<>5) Would you tender a contract to Carlos Quentin? I’m torn here<<
Are you kidding me? The biggest problem with 2010 isn't that they didn't sign a DH but they let CQ play in the field. I believe he was, statistically speaking, the WORST OUTFIELDER IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL. At least we got a big bat with that…. oops….. we didn't get that either.
I hated Mandrew Jones until I looked at the numbers. Mandrew needed to be on the field and CQ needed to be on the bench. There is no reason to replay that in 2011.