Fourth anniversary, fourth plan

Four years ago, the White Sox gave fans the greatest day in the history of their baseball-loving lives.
Therefore, it’s only fitting that we take a look at a fourth plan of attack for the 2009-10 offseason.  This one comes all the way from Singapore courtesy of theghostofmansoolee, whose living entity served as the bullpen catcher for that 2005 team:
MUST-MAKE DECISIONS
1) Octavio Dotel: Arbitration, or not?
No arbitration. He’s supposedly a Type A free agent, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts. But it’s probably not worth the risk of having to pay more than what an aging reliever is worth in the current market.
2) Jermaine Dye: Mutual option, arbitration, or not?
Buy Dye out. Then you can try to see whether he’ll come back for cheaper. I honestly don’t know if there are any significantly better options in the FA market than him, and Dye sounds like he might come back for a lower price tag.
FLEXIBLE DECISIONS
3) One-year contract for John Danks? If not, what would you pay to extend him?
I think you try to lock him up for a long-term contract a la Gavin Floyd. you could do 4 years for $20 million that’s backloaded, but then again I’m not sure how willing Danks would be to do that kind of a deal.
4) One-year contract for Bobby Jenks, extension or trade?
He’s still a good closer, so you sign him to another year. But then I guess you try to deal him – he’s going to cost too much sooner or later, and he could possibly be used as a centerpiece of a package to upgrade in other spots.
FREE AGENCY

5) Which positions are in most dire need of an upgrade?

I think you look at LF/RF and 2B/3B/SS – you can move Beckham to SS or 2B. It’d be good to get a left-handed batter with some pop, but those types of guys aren’t exactly in abundant supply. There isn’t an immediate contender for the DH spot, either, so that can also be utilized.
6) Name three (or more) free agents you’d consider, at a price.
Orlando Hudson for 2 year, $8 million-$12 million deal: He’s solid defensively and can handle the bat. No qualms with Getz or Nix, but I think Hudson’s still the better player. He’s also a switch-hitter, which adds an element of versatility.

Chan Ho Park/Danys Baez/Guillermo Mota
for 1 year, $2 million-$3 million/2 year, $4 million-$6 million: That’s my order of preference. Dotel probably walks, so I think you need to try to supplant. I think Park might be the best; he was very effective out of the bullpen as a 7th-8th inning guy for Philadelphia.
Mark DeRosa for 1 year, $5 million-6 million: I think he’ll get a lot of demand, but he can play a lot of different positions. He’s in his mid 30s, though, so a longer contract doesn’t make much sense. But I imagine someone will offer him a 3-year deal.
Jim Thome for 1 year, $3-5 million: I think he’s got a couple more years of at least 20 home runs left inhim.
Bobby Abreu for 1 year, $6-8 million: He remains productive and patient. Something useful for any lineup.
Rocco Baldelli for 1 year, from MLC to $500K: Why not?
TRADES
7) Name three (or more) realistic trades that could improve the Sox team.
Bobby Jenks/Josh Fields/Chris Getz (or some combination of them) for upgrade at 2B, corner outfield positions or some bullpen help. You could also see if you can swing a deal to move Paul Konerko – this would conceivably open up a less taxing spot for Quentin and/or Tyler Flowers.
The one trade I can think of that would make sense is swinging a deal for Carl Crawford, though I have to admit that this would be a long shot.
The talk is that Rays will need to make a decision about whether they keep him or B.J. Upton. The Sox will need to come up with a decent package to get either (despite Upton’s less-than-rousing performance), but the price tag will/should be steeper for Carl Crawford and will probably involve a guy/guys like Daniel Hudson and Jordan Danks. I think adding Jenks might help, because they have an unproven closer.
Crawford, though, would be a great player to feature on the lineup. And he’s hitting his prime years. If the Sox really think they want to seriously contend, they should at least make an attempt to swing a deal for him. And as we have learned with past prospects, there’s a reason why they are called prospects.
Of course, you’ll need to give Crawford a hefty multiyear deal if you trade for him. But Konerko will be off the books after 2010, so that should free up some cash. I just might break into tears if this actually happens.
SUMMARY
To be honest, I don’t think the Sox will spend much money in the FA market – they might bring back Thome and Kotsay, but that’s about all I would expect. I think the Sox will probably make smaller deals to try to build around the starting staff and the likes of TCQ and Beckham. Peavy-Buerhle-Danks-Floyd is as good a rotation as any other and should keep this team in the contender category.
The question for the front office is how much more money the team’s willing to take on; Crawford’s 2010 option, for example, is $10 million, and he’d command much more if you tried to extend his contract. If you move a Jenks contract and a Konerko contract though, you get a little more flexibility – but then that would also introduces more question marks.
But assuming that I’m the GM and I can make all these moves, my preferences for signing would be Abreu, Hudson, Park and Thome, and I would throw my entire farm and Jenks to pull of a deal for Crawford. For the 2010 payroll calculation, I’ll use the highest I am willing to pay for these free agents:
Base: $68.65 million
+ Orlando Hudson at $6 million
+ Chan Ho Park at $3 million
+ Bobby Abreu at $8 million
+ Jim Thome at $5 million
+ Carl Crawford’s $10 million club option for 2010
Bobby Jenks’ salary at $7 million (spitballing here on what he might get for a 1-year deal)
That takes the payroll to about $93.65 million, then you add on other arbitration figures, a backup catcher and a Mark Kotsay.
If you take the lowest number for all the FAs, then you’re at $86.65 million.
It’s hard to try to guess the salary figure, because I think the FA market may actually be even worse than 2009 (lag effect from the recession and still-uncertain outlook). So it may be that the Sox can be comfortably below the $100 million mark.
*******************************
A couple of AL Central notes:
*The Indians hired Manny Acta to replace Eric Wedge, which I think I’m OK with.  I’m going to miss Eric Wedge’s uncanny ability to have his team ready to go by September, but Acta’s coming off a 158-252 record and a lost clubhouse in Washington, so there may be hope for us just yet.
*Speaking of the Tribe, Let’s Go Tribe had a detailed deconstruction of Mark Shapiro’s resume in Cleveland that I meant to post a while ago.  Worth reading.
*Speaking of downtrodden franchises, Royals Review took Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman to task for stupid quotes. I also meant to post this a while ago. It’s also worth reading.

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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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fundman

Interesting piece on the Indians – and something that perhaps people do not appreciate about Kenny. It might be that the mindset of Sabermetrics, which I like and respect, has obscured the fact that being able to make certain decisions, even those that defy the CW or may not be explainable, can lead us to better outcomes. Does Kenny have that something that Shapiro, a guy who is much more “well-respected” lacks?

fundman

So the real question is what metric you use to measure success. For the John Sickle addicts, it’s simply a matter of how you rank in terms of producing talent and you leave winning a championship to chance. I can accept that as someone who thinks a bit about the game, but as a fan, I’d trade a lot of lousy years for 2005. The question is obviously how much credit a GM deserves for a World Series. Didn’t Shapiro win Exec of the year in ’05?

striker

I’d prefer the higher risk, lower cost Upton over Crawford. He’s still young and can run and field. Rios and Upton in the outfield would be awesome. I’m not sure what kind of haul he would require. I’d think Jenks for Upton straight up should get it done with us covering $2mil of Jenk’s contract. I’m sure others think it would take more but Upton’s value is down alot. Of course TB doesn’t HAVE to move him.
@theghostofmansoolee
What would you do with Getz/Nix if you signed Hudson? What would your lineup look like with your pickups?

theghostofmansoolee

Striker,
I think you keep Nix as a “utility infielder” and deal Getz (though my sentimental preference is for players like Chris). Nix has some pop, which could be useful, though my understanding is that he’s an average/subpar fielder.
Assuming that all those moves pan out (suspend your disbelief here), the lineup card would look like this:
Crawford, LF
Hudson, 2B
Bobby Abreu RF
TCQ/Konerko 1B
Thome/Konerko, DH
Beckham, 3B
AJ, C
Rios, CF
Ramirez, SS
The glaring flaw for my super-magical plan is that you end up with a situation in which you have to juggle Quentin, Konerko, Thome and Abreu between RF, 1B and DH (when Thome and Konerko can’t play RF, while Q and Abreu don’t have much experience playing 1B). Though I suppose it should not be a given that all these guys will stay healthy all year, I think this situation likely means Konerko needs to be shipped unless they all manage to hold hands, sing kumbaya and accept that they will all see reduced playing time.
It may be slightly easier to move Pauly at this point, as he’s in the last year of the contract. But the Sox would have to eat a lot of the $12 million due to him, manage to get him to sign off on a trade and then try to get something decent in return. He probably still holds some value, but I don’t think the return would be exceptional.

jimbo

The glaring flaw in your super-magical plan is you are way over budget. Your proposed starting lineup along with Buehrle and Peavy is around $95M.

theghostofmansoolee

While I don’t know what the financial situation is for the club (I imagine not too good), Reinsdorf has shown a willingness to spend extra in exchange for better quality on the field. With arbitration and other minor deals you probably go somewhere near $100M (probably a tad above), but revenue from making the playoffs would likely offset a spillover. The lineup above, if it materializes, would certainly improve the odds of a postseason appearance.

bigfun

“And as we have learned with past prospects, there’s a reason why they are called prospects.”
“I would throw my entire farm and Jenks to pull of a deal for Crawford.”
I respectfully disagree, but, sadly (from my perspective), there’s a decent chance Kenny Williams doesn’t. Kenny may well prefer to desperately gamble on one season than to try to build a club that could support multi-year contention.
The Sox have made their best recent offseason moves for young (cheap) unproven (upside) players like Floyd, Danks, Quentin, and Ramirez, but it doesn’t seem like Williams has ever embraced that as a good way to build a team. It’s still “how do we make a big splash with a name player who is already a proven commodity?” My only hope is that the acquisitions of the Peavy and Rios contracts has sated Williams’ hunger and that he’ll be forced to hunt for value this winter.
Beyond that, I don’t think they have that much money to work with (most estimates I have seen put them in the 90s post-arbitration, or just below 90 without Jenks). And I don’t think Abreu will have to settle for practically the same contract he got in 2009. He’s probably going to get two or three years and at least $16 million. Most of your other FA ideas are fine, although if Thome’s only good for 20+ HR, he’s not rosterable. A guy who can only DH basically needs to hit 30+ HR per year to be worthwhile.
I don’t think Tampa Bay will want Jenks, they’re too smart to overpay for a closer. But if they do I agree with Striker, better to buy low on Upton than to pay full value for one year of Crawford.

striker

I think people way under value Jenks. I wonder if he gets undervalued because of his wait (not referring to you bigfun directly).
Here are 3 year average comparisons for Jenks, Nathan and Papelbon. Now I don’t necessarily think Jenks is as good as Nathan and Papelbon but he’s no slouch.
Player IP ER H BB K SV ERA WHIP K\9 BB\9
Jenks 60 20 49 15 48 33 3.00 1.08 07.2 2.3
Nathan 70 15 46 20 80 41 1.89 0.95 10.3 2.5
Papelb 65 15 47 16 79 39 2.03 0.97 10.9 2.2
Jenks is just as affective of a closer. Very good WHIP. His ERA just hiked this year. I personally think he will rebound and I wouldn’t trade him without a viable replacement in place first. And I don’t mean another closer I mean another affective bullpen arm.
Some other facts I’d like to point out about closers:
– Highest paid player per inning played
– Lowest margin of error. Jenks averaged 20 ER over the page 3 years.
Jenks pitched in 52 games in 2009:
He gave up 0ER 37 times, 1ER 8 times and 2ER 7 times. He never gave up over 2ER in any game.
ERA is a tough measure for effectiveness for a closer. If they give up 7ER one time and 0ER 6times ther ERA is 9.00 but they were awesome 6 times. If they give up 1ER 7 times their ERA is 9, but they were less affective than the previous example.
All in all I think Jenks is a good closer and is undervalued. The only concern you have with him is health but most of his injurries aren’t arm related (as far as I know).

striker

weight not wait. doy

grinderintraining

bigfun.. how could it be considered a gamble for one year? Almost everyone that matters to this team is under control for multiple years.
TCQ, Beckham, Floyd, Danks, Peavy, Buehrle, Alexei, Rios.
The heart of your order, and one of the best top 4 pitching rotations in baseball is here long term. Any move he makes can’t be considered desperate for one year when everyone we’ve got that makes us competitive will be here for a while.

bigfun

How are those guys “almost everyone that matters”? Those guys couldn’t even get to .500 in 2009.
The White Sox are not a 90-win team that just needs a bit of tinkering to push them over the top. They need more guys who matter, and the most efficient way to get those guys is to develop them in the minors.

timmeh

I fully disagree with your comment that “it doesn’t seem like Williams has ever embraced that as a good way to build a team. It’s still ‘how do we make a big splash with a name player who is already a proven commodity?'”
Peavy and Rios were huge acquisitions because they were so out of the norm. Usually when Kenny doesn’t make a marquee acquisition at the deadline. If you look at the past 3 or 4 offseason’s the Sox have never signed a marquee free agent. The White Sox “success” as of late has been through good trades, scouting and financial management.
If you look at the White Sox young core, it consists of:
Gavin Floyd – Acquired in the Freddy Garcia Trade
John Danks – Acquired in the Brandon McCarthy Trade
Jake Peavy – Acquired in the Clayton Richard Trade
Alexei Rameriez – Signed as an international Free Agent
Gordon Beckham – 2008 White Sox Draft
Chris Getz – Product of the White Sox Farm system.
Alex Rios – Claimed off Waivers because of the expiring contracts of Dye, Thome, and Count
TCQ – Acquired in the Chris Carter Trade.
Those are arguably the key components of the 2010 White Sox, and Peavy is the only big name.

bigfun

I’m talking about cheaply acquired talent, and many of the guys you list are the same ones I mentioned in my first post. Rios, Peavy, and Beckham were acquired at full price (in terms of talent, money, and draft position, respectively). That’s not wholly a bad thing on its own, but the team needs to acquire more underappreciated talent too.

theghostofmansoolee

bigfun,
I don’t think it’s all Kenny Williams’ fault that the Sox haven’t been able to build up the roster through player development. Of the players who were on the roster for the majority of the season, only three players were products of the farm system: Buehrle, Getz and Beckham. And Buehrle is the only one of these players who was drafted before KW got his current job. The Sox’ minor league system has been pretty barren, for the most part (even this is a gross understatement, I think), which has forced the GM’s hand somewhat. Even of the prospects who have been dealt in recent years by KW, I don’t think anyone has really panned out (even Chris Young has been a huge disappointment).
As I admitted in the post above, I don’t think the Sox would make that many moves. The management kept insisting that the 09 squad underperformed, which means they have reasonable confidence in the product they have. Most likely they’ll sign a reliever here and a utility guy there, and then call it a day.
You’re right that Abreu probably gets a longer deal. But in the cases of FAs, I stuck strictly to the guideline of naming the price I’d be willing to pay. I think the FA market might actually see less money than last year’s class, as the economic situation remains weak. Corporates will probably still keep costs low, which will mean bad news for any professional league; MLB’s no exception.
As for Thome, I think 20+ HR is good value at the price. Not ideal, obviously, but there’s really nobody that fits the typical left-handed power hitter profile out there. And it will cost you quite a bit to acquire said asset via a trade. Sometimes you just have to work off of what’s out there.

theghostofmansoolee

Er, should say that Chris Young has been a huge disappointment so far, as he’s only 26 and he may still get it together. My bad.

jimbo

Unfortunately, I don’t think Jenks has much trade value right now. Declining velocity on his fastball, health concerns, declining k rate (although he did rebound this year) and increasing ERA are all red flags to us as well as other teams looking for a closer. There will be other options for teams looking for a closer at his salary or less this year.
He has Kenny in a box right now it seems. Do we keep him at $7M and tie our hands in free agency, or do we sign him and try to get something of value for him? I would not be surprised if he non-tenders him and uses the $$ elsewhere in either free agency or a trade involving other, more marketable players. With the way this season ended, both parties have a bad taste in their mouths and off-season negotiations or arbitration could turn unproductive.

bigfun

Jenks actually threw his fastball about a mile per hour faster on average than lats year, and struck out more guys, but also gave up more and better hits. His pop-outs went down and his line drives went up. And his groundball/flyball ratio is about as bad as it’s ever been for him. That’s why he was actually better last year with a career-worst 5.55 K/9 – he had a great 57.6 GB% in 2008.
I think he could actually improve a bit next year… 17% of his fly balls went for home runs in 2009 and that seems artificially high. I think they have to sign him for about $7 million. I don’t think non-tendering him is an option. He’s not that much of an overpay, and it looks terrible to let one of the team’s more popular players walk for nothing. If he has a good first half in 2010 they could trade him in July. If the Orioles can get Josh Bell for a half season of George Sherrill, the Sox should be able to get something pretty good from a contender desperate to add the extra bullpen piece. All four of the NL teams that went to the postseason this year had bullpen blowups. If none of them are willing to trade for Jenks now, they might be more willing to do so at the trade deadline in the thick of a divisional title race.

jimbo

I agree with your logic on why we should sign him. My only concern would be how we fill the OF/DH slots with his salary on the books or with the short term value he would bring back. I would be in favor of signing him and trading him for a couple of prospects if we could do that, which would also give some payroll flexibility. The gamble of course would be we find out after signing him that there is no market for him at his new salary. I’m sure it’s one of Kenny’s toughest decisions right now.