Your guide to a White Sox fire sale

According to Ozzie Guillen, Kenny Williams isn’t giving up on the 25-man roster just yet.  Joe Cowley thinks change will first manifest itself in new coaches. A new hitting coach, a new bullpen catcher (Mark Salas has had it too good for too long) … you know the deal — the “somebody’s gotta do something!” move before somebody actually has to do something.
Williams’ vote of confidence/stalling tactic won’t be enough to quiet the masses chanting for more heads to roll.  And we’re starting to see that here.
So, in order to steer the discourse into more fruitful discussion, I put together a first draft of what we can expect from a White Sox fire sale, should they continue their slide out of contention.
I put the 25-man roster and a few extras into seven different categories based on their situations.  The order of the players roughly represents how firmly entrenched they are in that group.  For instance, Mark Teahen and Alex Rios are both in the untradeable group, but Rios has a much better chance of a team kicking his tires over the next two months, so Teahen is listed first, and Rios last.
Feel free to add your own suggestions, ideas and enhancements.  We’re all in this together, gang!

Have to be flipped

No. 1: Andruw Jones. Scott Boras is his agent, so it’s not like there’s any hope of a goodwill re-signing if he managed to be a solid player for six months instead of two this time around.  He’s been a nice story and a crowd-pleaser, but he’s not going to even be a Type B free agent.
No. 2: J.J. Putz. There are signs that he’s close to being the guy he was in Seattle.  If he puts it all together, he could be the kind of reliever you could get a halfway interesting prospect for.
No. 3: A.J. Pierzynski. Everybody seems to be in agreement with this one.  Some salary relief plus the opportunity to let Tyler Flowers get his feet wet in a low-pressure situation seems to be the best way to make lemonade out of 2010’s lemons.
No. 4: Bobby Jenks (theoretically good). Granted, he’s untradeable in his current state.  This is entirely based on an imaginary world in which he can string together 1-2-3 innings once in a while.  The Sox could very well non-tender him next year, so if they can get something for him by the deadline, they should go for it.

Could be moved

No. 1: Freddy Garcia. The Sox have his replacement ready in Daniel Hudson, but Garcia’s situation is more than a guy overachieving on a cheap contract.  He’s related to Ozzie Guillen, and he flopped with three teams in between successful stints with the White Sox.  Teams still might be scared by his track records regarding both health and performance for non-Sox organizations.  Ergo, Garcia and the Sox might be a comfortable combination that won’t break the bank.

The 10-and-5 kids

No. 1: Paul Konerko. He could very well accept a trade to a contender, but he’s not going to Baltimore.  Very limited market, but movable, especially with the way he’s playing now.  I have no strong feelings on this one.
No. 2: Mark Buehrle (on July 6). There would be a limited but credible market for him as well, but trading Buehrle would cause an uprage and outroar among Sox fans, especially among the fickle segment of the fanbase that is responsible for attendance fluctuations.  This one could be filed under the testicle section below for those with derring-do.

Selling too low

No. 1: Carlos Quentin. Since he unwisely turned down the contract Gavin Floyd agreed to, Quentin’s salary trajectory should be fairly low as he enters arbitration.  Holding onto him would be the smart move, in the increasingly unlikely event that he reverts to 2008 form.  And if he doesn’t, he is still a good bet to be worth his 2011 salary.  Further bridges will be crossed when we get to them.
No. 2: Alexei Ramirez. He’s only making $1.1 million, and the Sox need a second guy to play a middle infield position. He’ll probably be perpetually disappointing when thinking about how fun he was to watch his rookie year, but he’s serviceable.
No. 3: Gavin Floyd. I mentioned before that Floyd is apparently a slow starter.  After eight starts:

  • 2009: 44.1 IP, 7.71 ERA, 1.87 WHIP
  • 2010: 45 IP, 7.00 ERA, 1.71 WHIP

On the ninth day start last year, Floyd rose again and shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates over eight innings.  So this excuse will be running out of time shortly, but J.J. thinks he’s going to be fine, too.
No. 4: Gordon Beckham. Just in case anybody’s thinking about it.  Guillen is benching him for the Detroit series; we’ll see if that helps.

Untradeable (without lots of cash or other sacrifices)

No. 1: Mark Teahen. The three-year extension given to Teahen might be known as Williams’ Folly.  Currently rangeless and batless, and on track to make $5.5 million in 2012.
No. 2: Scott Linebrink. Another $5.5 million guy.  The Sox might be able to save themselves a million at next year’s deadline.
No. 3: Juan Pierre. He’s playing respectable, borderline enjoyable baseball right now, but nobody’s going to give up John Ely for him.
No. 4: Bobby Jenks (current state). Too much salary to take on, not enough future gains.
No. 5: Jake Peavy. He’s going to have to last a full year before people buy into him completely.
No. 6: Alex Rios. Remember, taking him off the Blue Jays’ hands for $20,000 was seen as controversial.  He’s been every Sox fan’s dream in center this year, but I don’t think eight awesome weeks are enough to sway most GMs to give up commensurate talent for him.

Your balls are showing

No. 1: John Danks. He’s really, really good.  Unfortunately, he knows he’s really, really good, and hasn’t signed an extension even buying out arbitration years, much less a year of free agency.  Since he hasn’t granted the White Sox front office any cost certainty yet, it’s possible that he could be moved.  And if you want to change the shape of the young, major-league-ready talent pool on the White Sox, this is the guy who could make it happen.  Hey, he’s worth at least Jose Lopez, at least.
No. 2: Matt Thornton. The top left-handed setup man in the league, and very affordable for this year and the next.  The risk is removing the only sure thing out of the Sox bullpen, and exposing fans to torturous turns of events in the late innings, night after night.  The reward is that he’s only a reliever, and could fetch an everyday type player in return.
No. 3: Daniel Hudson. With four starters locked into place through the end of 2011, I could see him being included in a seemingly lateral move, just like Brandon McCarthy was.
No. 4: Tyler Flowers. I’m not sure what this would accomplish, but these things happen, so I’m more or less just sayin’.
No. 5: Sergio Santos. Santos is kind of an odd duck here, but he’s closer material in an organization lacking lights-out relievers.  So it would take serious conviction — or knowledge of a burgeoning injury — in order to move him.

Irrelevant

Ramon Castro
Tony Pena
Omar Vizquel
Mark Kotsay
Jayson Nix
Randy Williams
All these guys would be DFA’d before anything else.  I considered putting Pena under the “selling low” section, but I’m just too apathetic about him to give him even that much credit.

A word about replacements

I’m not a huge fan of calling for promotions out of frustration.  Let’s take Dayan Viciedo, whose name will likely be a popular one going forward.
Right now, he’s hitting .288 with a .511 slugging percentage.  Both of those are great for a guy at his age in Triple-A.  He has an OPS of 1.002 in May, which is even better.
Drill down, however, and there are some huge red flags.
*Walk/strikeout ratio. He’s drawn four walks.  He’s struck out 32 times.  This is untenable.
*Left/right splits. Viciedo is hitting .407/.448/.815 against lefties, and .259/.291/.438 against righties.  Moreover, he’s struck out 29 times while drawing just two walks against righties.  He might be able to help the Sox against lefties a little right now, but it would come at the expense of developing any kind of competence against the majority of pitchers.
*Home/away splits. His numbers are aided by tiny Knights Stadium — his OPS is 400 points higher at home (1.074 to .672).
Viciedo is making great strides after a scary first few weeks at Triple-A, but he still has a lot to learn.  He doesn’t need more on his plate (literally, too).
The same goes for Jordan Danks, who needs to show improvement in his strikeout rate, and Brent Morel, who is getting the job done at Double-A but lacking walks and extra-base hits.  You could put these guys on the Sox, and it might be entertaining for about two weeks before everybody gets itchy again.
There are a lot of toxic hitters on the 25-man roster right now, but there’s no point in contaminating even more position players for no better reason than wanting to watch something different.
It may not be what anybody wants to hear, but we’re just going to have to take this one like men.  That goes for the ladies, too.
*****************************
Minor league roundup:

  • Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5, Charlotte 4
    • Dayan Viciedo went 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBI.
    • Tyler Flowers doubled and struck out over four ABs.
    • Jordan Danks went 1-for-5 with two K’s.
    • C.J. Retherford went 1-for-3.
  • Birmingham 2, Montgomery 1
    • Brent Morel went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts to drop his average to .299.
    • Christian Marrero went 1-for-4 with a K.
    • Jhonny Nunez threw five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out three.
    • Buck Coats went 3-for-3 with two walks.
  • Winston-Salem vs. Myrtle Beach PPD
  • Hickory vs. Kannapolis PPD
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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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chisoxt

I pretty much agree with everything but the Peavy assessment. My hope that if Jake is pitching lights out at the trade deadline, a struggling big market team like the Boston Red Sox come a calling.
Remember there are two goals to a trade deadline fire sale: Restocking the farm system and dumping salary. It just seems to me that in recent years, the only thing that nets anything in the way of prospects at the trade deadline is a number one starting pitcher and Jake fits that bill. Thorton may also bring us something back in return. Getting rid of all of the other older, higher priced guys (Konerkop, AJ Buehrli, Jenks, Linebrink) would simply just allow us to shed salary and not anything else in return.

fundman

I guess whatever deal happens is based on what Kenny thinks about 2011, and if history is any guide, he thinks he can go to a World Series. No matter what he does, he’ll have 5 starters out of the six we now have. Based on that, he’ll move what he thinks he can in order to reload and rebuild. Now if the recent major league talent he’s acquired (Teahen, Peavy, Putz, Linkbrink, Pierre etc.) is any indication we should be worried because he’s made more mistakes than not.
My guess is all of the first four go, but as you correctly point out, for not much. Thornton and Santos stay for one shot at 2011. Paulie is almost certainly gone unless they want to sign him for a two-year deal and wait on Viciedo. The need for a corner outfielder is obvious, but it would take trading some of the younger guys who you don’t think are going to bounce back. I think we’re in for one shocker deal Kenny will try in order to bring in a major league guy, but man, what a mess…………..

knoxfire30

Great article Jim, think you hit a lot of things on the head. I could write a book in response to this but since I agree with most of it I will just hit on one point I dont agree with. Matt thornton might be the best trade chip on this 25 man roster given effectiveness, salary, and well the fact literally every single contending team would want him something that cant be said about position players. If you get back a top prospect who is a starting pitcher or position player you have to move him. This is a fire sale and having a stud setup man for a year and a half is an absolute waste on a team in the midst of a firesale. Certainly not saying give him away,but lets see how crazy a contender would get to have the best setup man in the game.
Future suggestion, this article is awesome, but if things keep going bad how about some speculation on teams that would be interested in our players…

matt

Shoot, an affordable lefty stud reliever? I think every team that even slightly dreams of contending would be interested. Find a desperate GM and dangle away…

Shinons

I definitely agree with the four that need to be moved. I’ve actually got some hope that AJ could yield some value – the first team that openly comes calling is one with the best farm in the league, which might make teams feel like if they want him it’s not going to be for peanuts.
The biggest thing I hope is gained from this season is for Williams to man-up and tell Ozzie that he’s the GM and Ozzie’s the manager.

bigfun

Good stuff, and a good tonic to some of the ridiculous comments in the past few days that advocated either crazy sell-lows or equally crazy buy-highs.
I would take a slightly different tack with Santos, though – if a team is seriously interested, they shouldn’t have too many reservations about moving him. The whole idea that he is closer material seems awfully premature to me, and he may well never be better than he is right now.
But I think clubs will be too skeptical of him anyway, so it’s probably a non-issue.

roman7

Out of the current 25-man roster I would have no problem extractin 15 of the players fo the myriad of reasons that are detailed in the article. I do however tend to agree with knoxfire30 that Thornton is most likely more valuabe then the net return on a trade.
To chisoxt, the Red Sox are going to have to get on their horse to get back into the race in the AL East. They very well could be sellers. Possibly are competition for sending a C to Texas. The BoSox have coveted Saltalamacchia an VMart might be the better option for TEX.
I do suggest starting dialogue with Tampa. A package of Jones and Jenks should net us a prospect from a well stocked minor league system.

soxfan1

Jim – another great rticle by you, very thoughtful!!!!
I agree with your slotting for the most part. I would hold on to AJ, however, and try to sign him to a two year deal for about the same money he gets now. Everything I’ve read about Flowers says he’s not ready to be a #1 catcher, but I’d like to see him behind AJ once or twice a week.
I would send Jenks packing as soon as I could find a taker just to get rid of salary.
Danks is the real ace in the hole. I’d offer him a big 3 year deal now, maybe $12 mil x 3. If he turns it down I’d move him for a hitter.

bigfun

Can you link to what you’re reading about Flowers? His bat is obviously ready, and AJ is at the age where a lot of catchers start to rapidly decline. The Sox have far greater needs than catcher. They’d be much better off letting AJ go and spending that money on a hitter.

blah

I can see how a 33 year old catcher is worth $6.25 mm when he is hitting .200/.253/.291 and is very high maintenance… Oh wait no I can’t.
Sorry that suggestion is just not well thought out.
Thank you come again.

soxfan1

I still disagree with you. AJ will wind up hitting close to his career numbers and does a lot behind the plate like most good catchers. Don’t jump to conclusions based on his six week numbers.

ricksch

Good article. It’s about the only relevant article left in the White Sox season. Your predictions/projections make sense. My problem is I have no longer have any faith in those making these decisions. Enough about ’05. Kenny put this team in a terrible position. It will take years for the team to extricate itself from the awful moves he made this year, starting with Teahen and Pierre. Kenny’s rank inability to evaluate talent or construct a roster that can endure a few dings and knocks should be obvious to everyone.
Further, Williams didn’t have a single contingency planned for the year, aside from Garcia going down in favor of Hudson. Example, if you’re iffy at the second lefty bullpen spot, RANDY WILLIAMS) stuff a Mahay or someone else in the Minors BEFORE THE SEASON starts. Another easy one: say you wan’t to foist some half-assed DH shit on the line-up. Fine. Just make sure that you have a young bat who is actually READY to come up and play when that folly shows itself.
Yes, Kenny has made some good deals over the years, but he’s really sucked for most of the last three.
An even bigger problem than Kenny is that this team has a rotting, stinking culture about it and it all starts with Ozzie’s Crony Clubhouse. Too many old friends, old hacks and smart-mouthed relatives farting around. The smell wafts up to the homer stink that Hawk sells on a daily basis, as he so expertly puts his head so deeply up his own ass. Clean house and start over. Wish Reinsdorf would fire Paxson too, but that’s another board.

blah

I don’t think culture has anything to do with it. More the aging vets who aren’t as good as the back of their baseball cards.

striker

I posted this yesterday and I’ll say it again. It makes no sense to rebuild. This team is good, this team is not doing good. What are the odds that Peavy, Buehrle and Floyd all end the season with ERAs over 5? What are the odds that Teahen, Quentin, Beckham and Pierzynski end the season with avgs below .250? Ramirez and Pierre are starting to turn it around, others will follow.
I still say wait out the storm and if we are 62-100 at the end of the season, Buehrle/Peavy/Floyd have ERAs over 5, and Beckham/Quentin/Pierzynski/Teahen have AVGs under .250, then rebuild.
If we rebuilded right now we’d probably be a sub .500 team for the next 3 years and who says we are good enough to win the division that 4th year.
Also, if we did have a fire sale then we would be relying alot on our ability to scout other teams and we all know that’s not a strength of ours.

striker

We aren’t the Astros who suck on paper and suck on the field. We suck on the field.

blah

At the end of the day, you are what you are. The offense on this team was awful to start. I on’t think they should rebuild, but seriously the lineups that are trotted out there… Kotsay batting 3rd and 5th… Vizquel as the DH… AJ batting 2nd, 4th, 5th…
IMO they were already going to struggle when they replaced Thome’s bat with Kotsay’s and then these lineups are destined to fail. Something has to be done. A firesale is probably not the answer, but a couple firings of DFA’s wouldn’t go astray.

bigfun

It shouldn’t be a total rebuild. As Jim notes, it makes sense to wait and see for many of these guys.
But there’s no strong reason to wait and see for Pierzynski or Jones, at least. They won’t be the difference between winning and losing this year and they don’t do anything for the team in 2011 on. If there’s a good offer on the table, flip ’em.

chisoxt

I think that an intervention needs to take place with Kenny in which he is reminded that we have losing seasons in three of the last four years, a veteran team in decline and a farm system with few legitimate prospects. If he balks at this notion and thinks that we can still contend in 2011 with some of his half-assed acquisitions, I suggest that he be removed from his position and replaced with Rick Hahn. At some point, Hahn will be offered another job elsewhere, so we may as well use this transition period to give a new guy a chance and allow someone else to take a fresh approach to this mess.

ricksch

I think you may be right chisoxt. The dose of reality that is the ’07,’09 and ’10 seasons should open some eyes. But read Hahn’s comments on the Teahen extension before you hand him the reins.
Sox can’t just have a fire sale, but when someone calls with a decent offer, they have to say yes. Further, we have to be realistic about next year. The Twins are so far ahead of us, the likelihood of knocking them off is too remote. NOW is the perfect time to pack up Kenny’s desk and give some new guy a grace year to clean up the $105m mess he made.

noneck

I would trade 9 by July 31st. The 9 are:
Rios,Peavy,Buehrle,Konerko,Jenks,Putz,Jones,A.J. and Floyd.
Then, at the end of the season fire Kenny and Ozzie and all of the scouts, coaches and minor league staff.
Gut this whole thing from top to bottom. Start over.

Shinons

Baseball Tea Party!

hillerichnbragsby

The two weakest members of the team aren’t even mentioned: Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen. Between ineptness and nepotism, these two are primarily responsible for this roster. That said – (aside from Floyd/Konerko/Peavy/ Thornton) the sox would be lucky to get a bag of rosen from anyone else for the remainder of the roster. It was obvious from the start after August of last year, that KW & OG had not a clue between them as to the right moves to make. This has been a steady situation following the ’05 season when they destroyed the talent and chemistry of the roster they had then (ala 1959/1960). Unless and until the organization gets rid of Guillen (first) and Williams (second) this franchise will increasingly become the New Cubs of Baseball. You can put it on the board – Yes! (By the way, lose Harrelson. He’s as embarrassing as the rest of the team.

ricksch

Tonight was the reason why I’ve been crying for Nix to be gone since last year. He’s a toddler who shit the bed. The fact that we’re down to having to give this bum a chance speaks of the lousy and inept roster construction.
And talk about BLOWING another brilliant start by Danks. Another real fan-killing, club-killing loss tonight. Is Andruw out of gas? Hasn’t had a big hit in a while. Alexie continues to disappoint. At least Pierre is looking respectable now.