- Winter Preview----Chicago White Sox:
The White Sox are set for another title run (contingent on health concerns).
What they need: A power outfield bat; a power DH bat; a backup catcher; a decision on their closer.
Free agents: C Ramon Castro; RHP Octavio Dotel; OF Jermaine Dye; OF Scott Podsednik
Castro should get a job somewhere as a #1 or 1A catcher, so he won't be back.
Dotel is an in-demand journeyman who will get a better offer elsewhere to what the White Sox would offer. He's gone.
Dye and the White Sox have already agreed to part ways. He'll likely wait out the Jason Bay/Matt Holliday/Miguel Cabrera situations and sign with whichever team loses out on their initial targets and settles for a still solid player and always solid man in Dye.
Podsednik only seems to play well for the White Sox; when he left the last time, he fell flat on his face. I'd expect him to stay.
Players available via trade: 1B Paul Konerko; RHP Bobby Jenks; who knows?
Konerko was rumored to be part of a three-way trade that would've sent Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres to the White Sox; Konerko to the Angels; and a package of prospects to the Padres. I think Konerko's going to be moved. The Mets and Giants could both use him as fallback options for first base.
I'd tread carefully with Jenks if I were White Sox GM Kenny Williams.
Yes, he had a rotten year; yes, he's arbitration-eligible and due a big raise from his $5.6 million salary in 2009; yes, there are a lot of closers available in a saturated market; and from in-house, Matt Thornton could handle the job very well in replacing Jenks. But Jenks has one thing going for him that can't be said for most, if not all the closers they'd be using in his place----he's gotten the big outs in the post-season.
This is not something to dismiss based on numbers, salary and whatever. Unless Williams plans to make a move on Jonathan Papelbon (and don't discount that possibility), would the White Sox be comfortable with the Billy Wagners, Jose Valverdes and whoevers of the world in a similar situation?
I know I wouldn't.
I literally don't put anything past Kenny Williams. Who else would've thought Carlos Quentin would stay healthy two years ago when he was acquired from the Diamondbacks? That Gavin Floyd had the ace-quality stuff to be a 17-game winner? That anyone would've had the balls to claim Alex Rios and his contract from the Blue Jays? Or to aggressively pursue and nab Jake Peavy from the Padres?
I could go on and on.
Williams is one of the best GMs in baseball because he's smart, unpredictable and a keen judge of talent. He could do anything at anytime. Don't be stunned if he pulls something befitting an evil genius from a James Bond film in the coming weeks.
Non-tender candidates: RHP Tony Pena
Pena's the only guy I can see that could be non-tendered based on his arbitration-eligibility, but he's got a great arm, won't win a big award and is lightning in a bottle. He's not going anywhere.
Players to pursue:
Via free agency: LHP Mike Gonzalez (Braves); OF Garret Anderson (Braves); 1B Adam LaRoche (Braves); OF Jason Bay (Red Sox); LHP Billy Wagner (Red Sox); RHP Rafael Betancourt (Rockies); DH/1B Aubrey Huff (Tigers); RHP Kiko Calero (Marlins); 1B Nick Johnson (Marlins); RHP Jose Valverde (Astros); INF/OF Chone Figgins (Angels); DH Vladimir Guerrero (Angels); C Brad Ausmus (Dodgers); DH Jim Thome (Dodgers); RHP Jon Garland (Dodgers); CF Mike Cameron (Brewers); RHP Braden Looper (Brewers); C Mike Redmond (Twins); 1B/DH Carlos Delgado (Mets); DH Gary Sheffield (Mets); OF Johnny Damon (Yankees); DH Hideki Matsui (Yankees); RHP Brett Myers (Phillies); OF Randy Winn (Giants); INF/OF Mark DeRosa (Cardinals); C Gregg Zaun (Rays); 3B/1B/DH Hank Blalock (Rangers)
There are the larger and in-demand names for bullpen help (Gonzalez) and the bats (Bay; Damon; Matsui); but given Williams's history and belief in veterans who've once know greatness or near-greatness (his infatuation and eventual acquisition of Ken Griffey Jr exemplifies this), he might want to bring in the fading vets such as Vladimir Guerrero and Carlos Delgado to try to squeeze the very last bit of talent from them in the twilight of their careers.
It's possible that former White Sox like Garland and Thome might want to return. He'll find a back-up catcher from the rabble; and sift through the free agent casualties and non-tenders to get back-of-the-rotation help with the likes of Looper.
Via trade: RHP Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox); LF Carl Crawford (Rays); RHP Roy Halladay (Blue Jays); OF/DH Luke Scott (Orioles); 1B/3B/DH Miguel Cabrera (Tigers); 1B Kendry Morales (Angels); OF Nelson Cruz (Rangers); RHP Brandon Morrow (Mariners); DH Jack Cust (Athletics); OF Cody Ross (Marlins); RHP Josh Johnson (Marlins); 2B Dan Uggla (Marlins); RHP Francisco Cordero (Reds); RHP Bronson Arroyo (Reds); 1B Adrian Gonzalez (Padres)
Only giant names need apply for the most part.
If Williams is going to continue to do what it is Williams does and act aggressively before the fact, there's no reason to believe that he wouldn't make an aggressive move on Papelbon if the Red Sox toss his name out there.
I think the Rays will make a perfunctory effort to keep Crawford by offering him an extension. Said offer will be nowhere close to what it's going to take to keep a five-tool star in his prime who's going to be in such heavy demand and they'll put him on the market.
Halladay has as good a chance of winding up with the White Sox as he has of winding up anywhere.
Uggla would fill the bill as a power DH/first baseman. Young pitchers like Morrow and Johnson are very much negotiable commodities; and Gonzalez has been pursued by the White Sox as mentioned earlier.
Suffice it to say that Williams is going to go after what he wants. And he just might get it. Whatever "it" is. While not making sense on paper, questioning the judgment of Kenny Williams has never been wise.
- Um, Miguel Cabrera for AL MVP?
Had the writer covering the Mariners (Keizo Konishi of The Kyodo News) voted for Derek Jeter or Mark Teixeira first in the AL MVP balloting, it still would've been wrong, but it would've been more understandable than voting for Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera put up great numbers, but he was nowhere close to winner Joe Mauer.
I had Cabrera fifth behind Mauer, Jeter, Teixeira and Jason Bay. That pick was a farce; as if Konishi just filled his ballot like it was a rushed, last minute lottery ticket.
- Viewer Mail 11.24.2009:
Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Joe Mauer:
"He'll get locked up and be a Twin for life."
Some would say being a Twin for life is sorta like being locked up. But you're right in that they have about as good a chance to win as anyone else... and they play the game the right way all around. I'm curious to see them play outside in Minnesota in April and September though. That'll be fun.
I honestly can't picture Mauer in a different uniform than that of the Twins. He grew up there and was a football star as well as a baseball star, so the cold weather won't affect him. He won't leave and they won't trade him. Plus don't discount that his agent. Ron Shapiro isn't and never was a Scott Boras "gimme all the money" type. His first question to his players is "where do you want to play?" Mauer wants to be in Minnesota and that's where he'll be.
Jeff, prepare to take the reins for a few weeks in or about mid-December. More information will be forthcoming. You'll be my voice. And my fist. I'll be counting on you.
Issac writes RE Joe Mauer:
I doubt Mauer would have as good a chance to win in Minnesota as he would have in a team like the Red Sox. I think he's likely to stay because of the reasons you mention, but if the Twins give him his money, they will have less flexibility than they have now, and they don't have a lot right now. I think he'll have a good chance at a WS, but he would have a better chance on a team that goes to the playoffs every year.
I don't agree with the idea of a lesser opportunity to win with the Twins. Five playoff appearances in eight years is no joke. The Twins have a template they follow and are always finding production from their bats and young pitching. They've gotten beat in the playoffs over-and-over again, but they've shown that no matter what, they're there at the end and spend when necessary to try and win. He'll stay and the club will be competitive even if they don't win a title. All a player can ask for is a reasonable commitment to win and Mauer gets that and everything else with his hometown club.