Is eight enough?

Before we get to the last offseason plan I have lined up, a couple of quick notes:
*Akinori Iwamura, whose name was brought up a couple times in discussion, is heading to the Pittsburgh Pirates for reliever Jesse Chavez. Nice move for Pittsburgh.
*U-God at South Side Sox has been swept up by the craze and has a plan of his own.
That said, let’s take a look at some ideas from sars:
* * *
MUST-MAKE DECISIONS
1) Octavio Dotel: Arbitration, or not?
In the best year of his life he was barely worth $5mil. If you told me he’d strike out 122 batters like he did that season, I’d sign up for $7mil without question, but he’s just not that good anymore.
2) Jermaine Dye: Mutual option, arbitration, or not?
It’s been pointed out already, but Jermaine Dye is hands-down one of the worst right fielders in all of baseball. It’s kind of hard to believe, but he’s been worth negative dollar value for two years in his five spent on the South Side. Regardless of what Hawk tells you, this is attributed entirely to his inability to field. Turning 36 next year with a Line Drive % reaching a career low of 16.9% screams an even sharper decline is coming.
FLEXIBLE DECISIONS
3) One-year contract for John Danks? If not, what would you pay to extend him?
Given he already turned down the 4yr/$15mil extension that was given to Floyd, I’d guess the White Sox would be hard pressed to go ahead and offer more money and more years (assuming that’s what he’s looking for) to a guy that’s just “underperformed.” He saw declines across the board in some of the most important statistics:
7.34 K/9 in 08 to 6.69 in 09,
2.63 BB/9 in 08 to 3.28 in 09.
0.69 HR/9 (15 HR allowed) in 08 to 1.26 in 09 (28 allowed)
…this all the while with a lower BABIP (.299 in 08 to .273 in 09). While his stats pretty much normalized from 2008 to 2009, he was still worth $13.2 million per FanGraphs value system. The decline might be attributed to his circulation problems and an inability to grip his cutter. If the Sox can sign him to a 4yr/$25mil, they should probably do it since even in an off year he’s been proven to be worth more than that.
4) One-year contract for Bobby Jenks, extension or trade?
Just get it over with and trade him. Rarely is there a reliever that has the shelf life of a Trevor Hoffman or Mariano Rivera. And while those two are obviously the extreme exception, a closers value lies entirely with the façade that he has the magic ability to get outs 25, 26, and 27; their perceived value exceeds their actual value at least two-fold.
4a) If you picked trade, what do you see as a return? Contending teams in dire need of a closer are the most obvious options; Tampa Bay, Chicago, Philadelphia (whoops!), St. Louis, and to a lesser extent Toronto, Arizona, and Houston. Because I see Jenks as one of the key trading chips, I’ll focus on this in the Trades section.
FREE AGENCY
5) Which positions are in most dire need of an upgrade?
The obvious is the positions that simply need a player. For one, the entire OF. This requires mostly shuffling the right player to the right position: Quentin to DH and Rios to CF. Rios’ bat plays much better in center as I highly doubt he’ll ever be hitting 25 HRs again. His defensive play has shown to be spectacular and would help the White Sox that much more in center.
Quentin, on the other hand, is a marginal left fielder and his inability to stay healthy reared its ugly head in 2009. While it may be difficult to swallow, the easiest solution is to simply move him to DH. It’s a touchy situation because convincing a nut-job like Quentin to swallow his athletic-pride and move to DH so early in his career might be a hard sell, but personally I’d rather have the .965 OPS Quentin produced in 480 PAs in ’08 out of the DH spot, rather than the oft-injured, oft-bad left fielder version in ’09.
Also, STOP PLAYING CHRIS GETZ! Bad bad bad. Nix’s defensive abilities (14.3 UZR/150 career) far outweigh his penchant to make less contact. Give Nix 500 PAs and I’d be willing to bet he hits at least .240/.335/.460 with 20 HRs. Throw in some incredible defensive value? Makes it almost pointless to have Getz on the roster.
6) Name three (or more) free agents you’d consider, at a price.
Mike Cameron CF, 2yr/$15mil – This allows you to keep Rios in RF and add another premium defender that has almost always been worth more than his paycheck.
Any one of Erik Bedard/Rich Harden/Ben Sheets/Justin Duchscherer SP/RP at 1-2yrs/$2-$6mil, incentive laden contracts – There’s no reason not to do any of these. I don’t believe Freddy Garcia reaches 80 innings next year at any sort of value, Hudson could use another 100ip at triple A, and you have to account for at least an injury or two. While Bedard and Harden are probably out of the price range/willingness of the Sox to commit, Sheets and Duchscherer are great options that would provide incredibly high upside value. Duchscherer, especially, as he’s shown to have great value out of the bullpen also.
Randy Winn OF, 1yr/$5mil – While he reminds me of Tim Duncan as a player and Paul Konerko as a self-defeatist hitter, he’s valuable at both corner outfield positions, is a switch hitter, and would likely hit more HRs at the cell than the two(!) he hit all of last year.
Mark Prior SP, 6yr/$200mil – Wait…what’s that you say? He’s injured? LOL Cubs.
TRADES
7) Name three (or more) realistic trades that could improve the Sox team.
Given that trades rely on a thorough knowledge of the lower level minor leagues, I’ll simply make the case for a few players worthy of acquiring and players I think the sox can afford to lose;
Players the White Sox should entertain thoughts of trading:
Mark Buehrle – Only getting older. Had one of his worst years in a Sox uniform. Very friendly contract and tons of perceived value.
AJ Pierzynski – Marginal defensive and offensive value. At this point, Flowers should start in the majors and provides a whole lot more upside than AJ. Again, friendly contract and more perceived value than actual value.
Bobby Jenks – See above.
Players the Sox should attempt to acquire:
JJ Hardy, SS & Mat Gamel, 1B/3B/DH – Both are essentially useless to the Brewers because of the players blocking them. Escobar is likely the starting SS going into next year and Gamel is likely a 1B/DH, stretched at either third or the OF.
Carl Crawford OF – I think it’s highly unlikely he gets traded for what the White Sox have to offer, but he’s a hell of a player and one that would make the Sox a much better team.
8) Summary.
As I see it the most important things the Sox need to do going into next year are move Quentin to DH for health purposes, move Rios to CF if they don’t sign Cameron, play Nix full-time at 2B, relegating Getz to PR duties, and make savvy, incentive laden deals on high-upside SPs. It’s really not too much to ask given that most are in-house moves. I’m just not so sure I trust the Sox to make them.
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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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pander

I don’t want to be the guy who looks to intangibles in a numbers debate, but trading both Buerhle and Pierzynski in one off-season seems like a public relations snafu. I don’t see them going anywhere.

sars

Totally agree, don’t think it would ever happen, but you assess where the White Sox have room to deal; Buehrle is on the wrong side of 30 team with a friendly contract. Pierzynski really isn’t all that good and the reason you traded Vazquez was for Flowers.

knoxfire30

In the same breathe you suggest Buerhle was somehow bad last year, you want to trade for JJ Hardy and Matt Gamel both guys who took huge value hits last year.
Jenks actually has been one of the more consistent closers in the game, he certainly isnt rivera or hoffman but I am betting you can squeeze your 7 mil out of him and get some production, plus the way free agent closers and the trade market for closers are shaping up it would be an extreme sell low on jenks to move him now.
The mike cameron idea is really gaining some steam, and I have to admit im starting to jump on that bangwagon if the dollars make sense, it would be a tremendous defensive boost to have him and rios in the outfield and they both may frustrate at the plate but will have descent power no matter what.

sars

In the last three years JJ Hardy has been the best defensive shortstop in the Major Leagues @ 10.0 UZR/150, in nearly 3500 innings. Not only a strong sample size, but he brings the reputation from the minors as well. Even with his offensive ineptitude, he was still worth $6.4mil. For a player that has shown to be more than offensively capable, it’s simply buying low.
Matt Gamel hardly took a value hit because he hardly played. Overmatched by major league pitching, sure, but rarely is the player that arrives and rakes immediately.

jimbo

If we’re going to trade Buehrle and AJ, lets sweeten the pot a little and get Fielder. We’re ok at ss and 3b.

knoxfire30

Gamel took a hit this year, young or not it never helps to fail at the big league level. I like buying low on two guys but why sell on two stables of our team in MB and AJ. They both will be needed if you want to contend in 2010.

sars

The point is that I think the team could contend without them while receiving a lot back to help the future. The AL Central is not a very challenging division to win; a full year from Beckham, hopefully combined with a full year from Quentin, and the subtraction of Dye’s defense/addition of Rios all should improve this team substantially.

ceverettsdinosaurs

I’m not sure that moving Quentin to DH would work. There have been numerous articles written about his tendency to psyche himself out and over-think his approach at the plate. (To the extent that Stanford had him seeing sports psychologists while he was there) Even Ozzie said last year how he didn’t like to DH him because then he’d be sitting in the dugout the whole game over-thinking instead of just letting his abilities take over. At least when he’s in the outfield he has something else to think about. Plus, some of the defensive problems he had last year were undoubtedly due to his foot problems effecting his range. I’m sure if his feet are ok then his range would improve to ’08 levels when he was serviceable in the field.

sars

Which is exactly why I said:
“It’s a touchy situation because convincing a nut-job like Quentin to swallow his athletic-pride and move to DH so early in his career might be a hard sell”
It has very little to do with his abilities in the field; he’s hardly Jermaine Dye out there. Rather, his inability to stay healthy and/or be productive doing both. See: Milton Bradley.

timmeh

I don’t know where you got the information that Mark Buerhle “Had one of his worst years in a Sox uniform.” His numbers were actually very close to his career numbers, so unless you want to claim Mark Buerhle’s career has been horrible you might want to rethink your claim.
For TCQ, you cite a terrible defensive year, which could be easily explained by his foot injury that he had. He also didn’t play a great LF last year either but his career UZR albeit in a somewhat limited sample in RF is actually +12.3.
Justin Duchscherer is a interesting pickup, but I must ask the question, If the Sox get JJ Hardy/Matt Gamel where do they play them?

sars

In nearly 2000 innings in LF, he’s -12 UZR/150.
BP has him at -5 FRAA for his career.
But like I said above, this has way more to do with his inability to stay healthy – a concern that’s lingered throughout his major and minor league career – than it does with his mediocre fielding.
I don’t know where you play them, really. Sox just traded way all their potential future 1B (Carter, Allen) and Alexei seems to cause more headaches than most players on the team.

jimbo

I rarely argue a players defensive ability based on his UZR because, well it’s usually a stupid thing to do. Due to the extremely small sample size and the fact that I watched just about every game Nix and Getz played 2nd base this year, I don’t buy his defense is far superior to that of Getz. I think Nix positions himself better than Getz and plays a couple of steps deeper than Chris, which does help his range. Chris should be able to make this adjustment and the coaches need to help him make it. Also, based on the very small sample of UZR, I don’t think Nix is that bad at short. I think Nix adds much more value to the team staying in a platoon and utility role.

bigfun

otm, beat me by two minutes

sars

What value does Chris Getz have though? What does he do good? Steal bases? He dosen’t get on base enough for it to matter. He’s Juan Pierre at second base.
Nix brought with him a tremendous defensive reputation throughout the minor leagues and has done nothing to disprove that. Not only does UZR have him at +14.3 for his career, BP has him at +15 FRAA over the same time.

bigfun

Scooped for the second time re RHP. Also, their minor league records demonstrate another strength for Getz – he was much better at drawing walks (excellent BB/K ratios at every level) while Nix was mediocre.
It’s possible that Nix may eventually be the better player, but he certainly hasn’t proven that yet. For now these two are ideally suited to a platoon.

sars

I see such little value in Getz; ISO below .100, mediocre on-base skills, OPS+ of 73. On top of that, nothing tells me his defense is going to improve on a team that was one of the worst defensive teams in baseball. I look at how much the Mariners improved with a bunch of out machines in their lineup; Chavez, Wilson, and to a lesser extent FraGu and Beltre. Those four are all literally top 2 or 3 at their respective positions. Is Nix that? I’m not entirely sure, but the numbers seems to suggest he is head-and-shoulders better than Getz.
I concede his ability to make contact is clearly better than Nix’s.

bigfun

Getz’s on-base skills may have been mediocre in his first year in the majors, but he was very good at getting on base throughout the minors (which is more than can be said for Nix, whose OBP was never particularly good).
Maybe sometimes a player doesn’t play to his full potential in his first major league season? Getz probably isn’t a star but he deserves a chance to prove that his entire minor league track record means something. He certainly hasn’t been eclipsed just yet by a free-swinging utilityman who can’t hit righties.

bigfun

Pretty good plan overall, but Nix’s UZR/150 is based on just 72 games. That’s not nearly enough for the numbers to stabilize and reflect real value – it takes roughly three seasons worth of play to get a solid UZR. Given their lefty/righty splits, speed/power focuses, and their still-unclear ceilings as young players, it makes sense to continue to platoon them for the time being.

stopdrop8

If you did trade jenks and let dotel go, our bullpen would need a lot more help than Justin duscherer. We would be looking at a bullpen of Thornton closing, Williams as the only other lefty, and then nunez, linebrink, pena, carrasco, and probably link filling it
out if Hudson started in the minors like you
suggested. That would not be okay.

striker

Cameron is an interesting option. My fear is offense, specifically Carlos Quentin. If you look at our lineup right now (without any moves) it doesn’t look that bad.
2B Getz
3B Beckham
LF Quentin
1B Konerko
CA Pierzynski
CF Rios
SS Ramirez
RF ?
DH ?
But if we lose Quentin, then our offense takes a significant hit. I think we need someone that can produce and decrease the negative affect of losing Quentin. Question is, who is that hitter?

jimbo

I would sign Cameron and try to make a trade with Baltimore for Luke Scott. Scott, Quentin and Konerko can share DH.

jimbo

Yes, with Huff gone Scott was playing 1b or dh. He wouldn’t come cheap but I think he could be had for Hudson and a 3b prospect. They may even throw in Pie if we were to do a Hudson and Viciedo. They need pitching and with Mora gone they will need a 3b replacement in a year or 2. They could pick up the same guys we’d be looking at for dh, such as Johnson, Thome etc. They have a decent future 1b prospect in Brandon Snyder.

bigfun

Wait, Hudson? Scott is neither young nor an exceptional hitter (mid-20 HRs and a good but by no means exceptional slash line). I don’t see any reason why you would trade good prospects for him.
Baltimore has a decent 3B prospect that they got from the Dodgers but I think they would gladly do that deal anyway (they would do it for just Hudson – Scott won’t be around anyway by the time they contend in 2012 or so).

magus711

Why is everyone convinced Dotel would get 7M in arbitration? Arbitration is for giving market value, not necessarily raises. It just so happens most cases involve players wiht less than 6 years who are making near minimum and of course their salary can only go in one direction. The two parties have to base their offers on the allowable criteira, this from the CBA:
“(a) The criteria will be the quality of the Player’s contribution to his Club during the past season (including but not limited to his overall performance, special qualities of leadership and public appeal), the length and consistency of his career contribution, the record of the Player’s past compensation, comparative baseball salaries (see paragraph (13) below for confidential salary data),
the existence of any physical or mental defects on the part of the Player, and the recent performance record of the Club including but not limited to its League standing and attendance as an indication of public acceptance”
I’d say there are some things in there that point to it not being that high, team standings and comparable players salary, etc.
What evidence has been presented that Dotel would even submit a 7M figure and win?

jimbo

If you offered arbitration, what would your offer be if you were Kenny Williams?

magus711

Take a look at this link with arbitration figures submitted from last season. (Note: only 3 players submitted figures at 7M or higher, all with much more market value than Dotel)
http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/01/arbitration-fig.html

magus711

What other full-time reliever in his service class, more than 6 years, that wasn’t a full time closer, made 7 mil last year? None of his compara

magus711

What other full-time reliever in his service class, more than 6 years, that wasn’t a full time closer, made 7 mil last year? None of his comparables really touch near that, Beaz made 5.5M, but everyone else was under 5M. Think of it like buying a house, you’re only worth as much as your neighbors, or in this case, closest peers.
The white sox could make a huge case that although Dotel was good, he was overpaid. Arbitration isn’t necessarily a raise system, it’s just a fair market system. And the fair market says Dotel isn’t a 7M player.
Dotel’s closest comp is Guillermo Mota, most of their numbers are pretty close, save for the K’s, and Mota brought in a whoping 2.35M in 09.
Now I wouldn’t be as brash as to suggest to offer an arb figure of 2.35, but I really don’t see 3.5-4.5 as a unreasonable figure. My opinion, based on the current relief market, is if the sox submitted 4, and Dotel 7, the sox have a better chance at winning.