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When the Sox traded for Mark Teahen before the World Series was cold, it seemed to me like they accomplished two things.
They turned a couple of guys with little value for a guy who could realistically be average. And while they tacked on $2 million to their payroll (even with $1.5 million coming from Kansas City), it gave them flexibility to acquire the best available player in the end-of-season bargain bin. If a decent corner outfielder or third baseman became available, the Sox could shift Teahen accordingly.
In the end, I overthought it. The Sox just seem to genuinely like Mark Teahen. Really, really, really like him.
Like, $14-million-for-three-years like him.
Granted, he seems like a nice enough guy. He recently earned the Hutch Award, and has enough of a sense of humor to tweet from his dog’s perspective.
I’m just not seeing a need to commit. The only way it truly pays off is if Teahen rediscovers — or at least heads toward — his 2006 form, when he hit .290/.357/.517 with 18 homers, 21 doubles and seven triples over 439 at-bats.
Problem is, he hasn’t been in the neighborhood since. For the last two years, he’s languished with OPSes in the low-.700s, with both his strikeout and walk totals going in the wrong direction.
Maybe the Sox think that Teahen will be rejuvenated by playing on a contending team and at his natural position. People seemed to think playing center helped screw up Nick Swisher — what about a 6-foot-3-inch guy trying to learn the pivot on the fly at second base? I remember that the White Sox could’ve done some serious damage to his knees in the opening series last year with the way he stayed rooted in the ground while making the turn.
On the other hand, when you see that he strikes out three times as often as he walks… well, if you tilt your head and squint, you could see a collapse on the horizon just as easily. Toss in all the defensive reports that equal out to slightly below-average defense at third, and there’s a non-zero chance that he could have zero value by the third year.
Of course, the greatest probability is that he is what is is — a 90-100 OPS+ guy who doesn’t embarrass himself at third base, keeps the Sox from being righty-heavy and can run the bases well (if you remove his eight baserunning outs last season, which seems to be both a personal outlier and completely indicative of the Royals’ issues on the whole). That’s not much above replacement value, but at least it’s not a hole in the lineup. And let’s not understate that value, considering the number of craters Ozzie Guillen has tried to spackle over.
Like I said, I just don’t need to see the need to lock him up, Kenny Williams’ desire for cost certainty be damned. I don’t think it’s always a bad idea — think how much Matt Thornton would cost if he reached free agency this year like he was supposed to — but not for a guy who probably would’ve been non-tendered if the Sox waited a while.
In the meantime, Brent Morel should start to get used to the idea of playing for a new organization.
The White Sox have shown enough interest in J.J. Putz to enlist the services of former teammate Matt Thornton for recruitment:
“There’s no doubt that Kenny has interest in him,’’ Thornton said on Tuesday. “[Putz] has been asking me what I think about it, what I think about the Sox. I told him we expect to win. I tell that to anyone that asks me, we expect to win. We prepare to win and if we don’t win, well, we’re pissed. I told [Putz] that if you’re a free agent you want to go to a winner.’’
Thornton also described his relationship with Putz as a “bromance.” I woudn’t flinch at a $1-2 million base salary would be fine. Anything more, and cutting him becomes too expensive to ignore. Considering he’s had only two great seasons out of six along with his injury history, treading lightly seems to be the smart way to go.
*The New York Daily News say the Sox are kicking the tires on Hideki Matsui.
Chuck Garfien followed up, and Williams issued a little more beyond the standard “no comment.”
Asked about Matsui, Williams said, “He’s a good player. But I don’t know if we’re there just yet.”
*Joe Cowley reported that the Sox and Rays may have talked about a Carlos Quentin-Carl Crawford deal, and the Rays weren’t thrilled by the asking price for Bobby Jenks.