His name is Rios and he cost just 20 grand

Hey, who knew Kenny Williams had the ability to make a $56 ticket for jaywalking look like a bottle deposit?
If you take the cost of that citation and multiply it by a million or so, that’s roughly what Williams spent on his ballclub Monday.  J.P. Ricciardi dropped a right fielder in the water, Williams bit, and Ricciardi cut the line.
The result: Alex Rios is a White Sox, and Jerry Reinsdorf is now on the hook for the remainder of Rios’ six-year, $69 million contract.
Plus $20,000 for the waiver claim.  Again, chump change.
As a fan, I’m thrilled. It’s not like ticket/parking/concession prices are going to come down if he doesn’t make this move (why do you think I’m watching minor-league games all week?).
As someone who tries to guess along with Williams, I’m nervous.  And that makes this like almost every other Williams move. When somebody flies in the face of the industry’s status quo, it’s always going to feel weird.
The sticking point is simple: Tilt your head and squint, and there isn’t a lot separating this deal from the Scott Linebrink signing.  Much like when Williams made the industry shake its head by putting the “ink” in “Linebrink” to the tune of four years and $19 million, the Sox are throwing convention wisdom a curve by signing Rios to this six-year deal while he’s in the midst of a sizable three-year decline:

2006: .302/.349/.516
2007: .297/.354/.498
2008: .291/.337/.461
2009: .264/.317/.427

You can’t extend the comparison much further, thankfully.  On the other hand, you can string together the positives to great length:
*At 28, Rios is still in his theoretical prime. He still has his tools, and, unlike Linebrink, he plays a premium position.  Two years ago, Darin Erstad was thrown out in center field as a viable solution. This is Williams’ official stamp on the position since trading Aaron Rowand.
*It basically makes up for the Nick Swisher trade. While Jeff Marquez and Wilson Betemit are virtually lost causes, at least Williams and Reinsdorf are reallocating money to a player who better suits their needs (although it’d be nice if Rios walked a little more).  Hopefully he’s more tolerable in the clubhouse.
*Reading the reaction from the Canadian news outlets, it might be easy to understate how much Toronto’s management situation is affecting the on-field product. It certainly sounds like a quagmire, and it resulted in the Jays dumping their much more tolerable outfield contract. Vernon Wells remains in center for the Blue Jays with no takers.
In the end, this move eliminates excuses in all directions. Nobody will take White Sox ownership seriously the next time Williams pulls the “50 cents” line. The Sox offense has just one significant hole now (and what offense doesn’t?), and Williams made a big step to start shoring up the D. Rios can’t hide from the criticism behind mundane Maple Leafs news anymore.
Of course, the lack of excuses amplifies emotions on the other side of the equation, too.  If Rios doesn’t reverse course enough … if the tools and defensive metrics can’t make up for the drop in the chief offensive numbers … if he’s another Linebrink … then what?
Williams will cross that bridge when he gets to it. That’s probably smart, because nobody has the map he’s using, anyway.

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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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jeff

Procurement of premium talent without trade or loss of draft pick is worth the risk
the sox have a bonefied CF with 1st to 3rd speed
I would be interested in his charts to see the number of line drives hit at opponents and shifting out of the AL east should improve his numbers

iowaoaks

Do you think this shows us a little of the future too?
Farmer and DJ were discussing Sunday what could happen in the off season with Dye, Konerko and Thome. Farmer’s opinion was one of the three come back, maybe two.
Does this Rios deal change that?
And… Seattle is a weird place. Who the hell writes jay walking tickets, come on. I’ve read of fascist like tactics towards fans in Safeco when they are not all huggable and family friendly during games.

eddystankysghost

There are a few cities somewhat known for jaywalk tickets. Who cares?
On the other hand, the home of latte etc, where the sun never shines? Yeah, it’s pretty different from the Sout’ Side all right. Weird place will do as a description.

fundman

My spending spree comment from the other day still holds. This may not make sense to others in the marketplace, from their financial perspectives. But one wonders if too much “Moneyball” thinking has taken over baseball? Gammons said that Rios would probably be making something like 60-70% of what he is on the open market for fewer years. If the Sox are set-up (which they seem to be) $ wise and they had a need without giving up picks or players, it’s hard to see a downside at all unless you are thinking about money. If money appears to be a non-issue, I don’t see any problems for 2-3 years.

knoxfire30

Rios has a 290 BABIP that is rediculously low and makes his 260 average have to be taken with a grain of salt. He should more likely be hitting in the 280’s atleast right now.
As for last nights garbage outing, here is my why the whitesox are the hardest team to cheer for in baseball-
Completely gettting dominated by a lefty who tops out at 90, check
Inability to get a runner in from third with 1 out, (alexei) check
Inability to hold a lead after gaining it (floyd) check
Inability for a middle reliever to come into an inning and get out of it, check
Poor defense, (still in shock a high hopper to beckham was someway somehow ruled a hit IT WASNT), check
Dye, Thome, Konerko pulling a hudini and disapearing, check
Horrendous late inning at bats vs relief pitchers, (Konerko’s at bat in the 8th was far and away the worst I have seen this year, if you LITERALLY gave him a tennis racket he wouldnt have made contact), check
Dropping to I think hawk said 0-40 when trailing after 8 innings, Check, (Is that stat right it seems awful)

knoxfire30

Oh sorry, forgot letting the other team run at will on you, CHECK

knoxfire30

Also forgot my biggest problem last night. Russell Branyan has 1 viable pitch he can hit as a major leaguer, he was a 4A player and has had one good year (granted its this year) because occasioanally teams are forced to throw him a fastball and sometimes that fastball is low enough for Branyan to catch up with it. Well shocker Floyd gets ahead of branyan 0 and 2 on fastballs up, and what pitch does he go with next the dumb ass low fastball that Branyan launched 400 plus feet in about 1.2 seconds.
There are 2 HUGE problems with this stupid ass pitch. 1. What happened to the scouting report did you light it on fire and just forget about it, branyan would swing at anythign you throw up thier that stays in the state of Washington when he is down 0 and 2, let alone the fact you go fastball as oppose to curve, slider, change, or anything out of the zone. 2. Why is randy williams up in the pen, then when a lefty comes up who doesnt hit lefties you stick with floyd? Either dont get williams up, dont have him on this roster or you go to him. DUMB DUMB DUMB
There im done ranting for the day.

striker

I hope this pickup means a change in philosophy. We need defense, hitters and speed. I would love to see Randy Winn or Abreu picked up this offseason and we say goodbye to Dye and Thome. They are great players and they’ve contributed alot but we are a .500 with them.

RWShow

Dye’s in a slump, no doubt. But Abreu is not significantly more productive than he is, if at all. And for as piss-poor as Dye’s range is, Abreu is a butcher in the OF. So unless you’re bringing in Abreu to DH, I see no reason to drop Dye in favor of him.

soxfan1

I’m torn on the Rios deal. It’s great that we didn’t give up any players or picks but $60 mil for a slightly above average OF is a lot to pay. We couldn’t afford Rowand & Hunter in better economic times but now we can afford Peavy AND Rios???? And what about all the grief we had to hear about giving Buehrle a 4 year deal?? It was going to tie the hands of the frachise!!! Oh well, I shouldn’t worry about Sox economics untill my season ticket invoice for 2010 arrives in Oct!!

striker

I was thinking more of DHing Abreu with the occasional plug in the outfield. His average, OBP and SB are all an upgrade over Dye, plus he give us that left handed bat we’ll need if Thome departs. I wonder if Winn is an upgrade in RF defensively.

knoxfire30

I think Winn is a really good defensive RF’er but I may have to double check that.
I like the idea of letting Thome walk and trying to Sign back Dye and then pickup Abreu, we could rotate 4 OFs, with the DH spot, and with rios and abreu thats about 50 steals in the lineup that we could really use.

paul

I don’t think the Sox will be very active in the free agent market after adding Peavy and Rios. If Pods holds up, I think it likely you’ll see an outfield next year of Pods in left, Rios in Center, and Quentin in right, assuming Pods isn’t unreasonable in his contract demands.
I’m not going to rule out bringing one of Thome or Dye back, but if so, I don’t think it would be for any more than 6 mil. And even then, that’s still a lot of money in this economy after just committing something like ~27 mil to Peavy and Rios. This also depends on if the Sox think they have a viable internal option for DH next year. Flowers is probably closer than Viciedo, but both are completely unproven.
A few more comments on Rios: I agree with knoxfire regarding Rios and the 290 BABIP this year. Rios’s career BABIP is 328, so he should progress back to the 320 range next year, putting his BA and OBP back to ~290 and ~330+, respectively. Hitting in the Cell, with a better lineup and increased protection should help and may yield even better numbers. I’ve also read a few statistical projections that would place him in the upper half of AL center fielders. So I don’t think we’re out of line expecting a line of 280/330/780 with at least slightly + defense in center. And he can steal some bags, too…
There’s a lot of money coming off the books at the end of the year, KW did his Christmas shopping early, and I’m feeling pretty optimistic at this point.

paul

Hmm. Can’t edit my comment! the 280/330/780 line should have been 280/330/450, yielding a 780 OPS.