Wednesday, December 15, 2004

RJ a White Sox.....Its a Possibility Again

Todays USA Today had a new article on Randy Johnson and it talked about the White Sox as a potential front-runner. The new found interest comes from reports that "Johnson's agents privately told the White Sox last week that he would accept a trade to the White Sox, sources close to the negotiations told Sports Weekly."

The article went on to list the Dbacks demands (according to a high ranking executive) as Jon Garland, a starting outfielder, minor league outfield prospect Ryan Sweeney, reliever Damaso Marte and perhaps another prospect.

To me this deal comes down to who the starting outfielder is. If its Carl Everett, you make this trade. If its Aaron Rowand, you do not make the deal and instead direct your attention to Matt Clement or Odalis Perez.

However, if this deal were to happen, the time would be now. Kenny has roughly 9-10 million avaiable to spend this offseason, if the budget is 75 million, and he's going to spend some of it on a starting pitcher. Right now it appears RJ is Target Number 1 with Perez and Clement as the fall back plans. In fact I think Williams quotes on the interest of Clement, may of been a move to gain leverage with the Dbacks (it tells the Dbacks that they do have other options).

This leverage will be gone pretty quick though, so the timetable is narrow. If they wait till Christmas time, Perez and Clement will be gone and the starting pitching market will be rather barron, barring some good starters being non-tendered. This means Kenny is backed into a corner and the Dbacks would know it.

No doubt I do the deal if the Outfielder is Everett, although I would prefer to see the Sox give Anderson as the prospect in the deal, but I'd do it regardless and I'd even give up Diaz or Munoz as the extra prospect. However, the loss of Marte hurts, but the Sox would still have a net gain in the pen because they have Hermanson and Vizcaino this year, but It makes resigning Scho more important. I have my opinion that Scho, while not as good as Marte, is one of the best left handed relievers in all of baseball (assuming he's healthy).

The Sox will be left with payroll after the deal is made too, because they would be giving up approximately 9 million in payroll and adding 16.5 million (10.5 mill base; 6 deferred..but likely becomes guaranteed with a trade). But with them adding a net 7.5 on the deal, the Sox whom have 10 mill to blow would still have 2.5 million left over. My belief is an acquisition of the magnitude of RJ will lead chairman Jerry Reinsdorf to set the teams budget to 80 mill, giving the Sox roughly 7.5 million to sure up the remaining holes (signing Scho, picking up a cheaper 5th starter - Elo, Meche, etc), and hopefully a catcher (AJ Pyrz) or middle infielder (Alex Cora).

JR wouldn't have to up the teams budget at all if the money stayed deferred and the Sox handled it as if it didn't count on this years budget. In this case the Sox would have 8.5 million under the current 75 million budget following the deal.

Folks, this could be the ace pitcher that not only pushes the Sox over the Twins for the Division, but also leads the Sox to their first World Series in nearly a century.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Sox Busy...Pick up Spod and Vizcaino

I'm a little late on this entry, but yesterday the White Sox acquired Scott Podsednik, Luis Vizcaino and a PTBNL (believed to be Mitch Stetter) for left fielder Carlos Lee. This deal was made for multiple reasons and talent wise its a deal the Brewers win.

However, its a deal that is good for both teams. The Brewers get a run producer that they vastly needed in Lee, 28, who should only get better. However, Lee's numbers should take a drop now that he's being removed from one of the better offenses in baseball and one of the better hitting parks in baseball. But talent wise Lee has room to grow and is due to make 8 million this year and has a team option worth 8.5 mill in 2006.

The White Sox on the other hand don't get a player as talented as Lee, but they get what Ozzie has wanted for quite a while, a leadoff hitter. Statistically we will have to see what Podsednik the Sox get, whether its the one who hit .314 with a .379 OBP in 2003 or the one that hit .244 with a .313 OBP and 70 stolen bases in 2004.

Regardless we know one thing about Spod, if he's healthy he will steal 50 plus stolen bases and Ozzie will give him the green light on the paths. In fact, his average should go up from last season soley by moving from more of a pitchers park to a hitters park and it should only help that he'll find himself in a better offense, even without Carlos Lee.

One encouraging stat was last seasons road split, where he hit .274 with a .330 OBP and very respectable (especially for a leadoff hitter) .741 OPS. You should expect to see these type of numbers at a minimal from Pod with the Sox next season. However, he could see his numbers jump more if the Sox can get him to shorten his swing.

Regardless, his addition gives the Sox a better looking defensive lineup, one that will have good range between Pod, Rowand, and Dye. Power wise the Sox lineup takes a bit of a hit, but that doesn't mean the Sox lineup lacks power. Paul Konerko (30), Frank Thomas (20), Aaron Rowand (20), Juan Uribe (20), Joe Crede (20), and Jermaine Dye (25) all should hit 20 plus homers. In fact with conservative estimates (seen in parantheses in the previous sentence) those six would combine for 135 homers.

But we all know Konerko is capable of 40, a healthy Frank 40, a healthy Dye 30, Uribe 25, Crede 25, and Rowand 25. That would give the Sox 185 homers between those six with Everett, Pod, Gload and Davis easily adding 20 homers. Now its unlikely Thomas will hit 40 Hr's, considering he's on the rehab path right now, but even if his average isn't where he'd like it to be, with at bats, Frank is going to hit the ball out of the park. For those curious, the 205 homers I mentioned would place the Sox 8th in the majors this past year, just behind St. Louis and ahead of Los Angeles.

The little talked about portion of this deal is reliever Luis Vizcaino. His addition will be huge for the Sox. With Hermanson already on board in the back of the bullpen, joining closer Shingo Takatsu and stud set up guy Damaso Marte, the Sox now have what looks to be one of the better bullpens in baseball. Its also a serious step up to the pen they ran out last season. Vizcaino is a hard throwing righty who throws a mid 90's fastball, a slider, and a newly added split-change (no thats not a typo).

And the most talked about part of the deal is that the Sox will save roughly 6-7 million in payroll. This means Kenny is now roughly 10 million under budget to add a starting pitcher and then potentially a catcher and infielder.

The key to this deal is the Sox picking up a good pitcher. Ken Williams has already said they are interested in Matt Clement, but this isn't Kenny's style (at least not of late) which leads me to believe this is a ploy and that he's actually targeting someone else. Free Agent Odalis Perez doesn't seem to be getting the interest of Clement and is just as good of a pitcher and younger and would be a stabilizing factor in the rotation. Of course there is also the possibility that the Sox look at Vazquez, AJ Burnett, Randy Johnson or Tim Hudson but at this point those options seem to be dwindling.

One thing for sure, this team has a deeper bullpen, a better starting rotation, more speed, and is better defensively then the club that the Sox trotted out opening day 2004. And thats before considering what the Sox do with the 10 mill they have left. My suggestion is Odalis Perez, AJ Pyrzinksi and Alex Cora, although that would put the Sox roughly 2-3 million over budget.

Expect another press conference on the South Side prior the the weeks end.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Sox Ink Dye to a 2yr contract

The moves started on Wednesday and continued into Thursday as Ken Williams and the White Sox announced it had come to terms with free agent RF Jermaine Dye. Dye signed a 2 year deal worth a guaranteed 10.15 million. The deal calls for 4 million in 2005, 5 million in 2006, and a team option in 2007 worth 6 million. There is a 1.15 million buyout.

Dye played the past three seasons in Oakland where early in his A's career he looked as one of the more promising right fielders in baseball after tours in Kansas City and Atlanta. But Dye's A's days were marked with injuries, the most notorious being a broken leg which was suffered in a playoff series versus the New York Yankees, yet another series the A's would blow in the postseason.

However, this past season Dye proved to be relatively healthy, at least his legs, minus a thumb injury that cost him much of August. In the first half of the season Dye hit over .280 while putting up good slugging numbers.

Moving from an extreme pitchers park to a hitters park should only benefit Dye. Plus Dye should find himself in a better offense. This is a guy who averaged 117 RBI over a 3 season period prior to his injuries.

At 30 he's still in the prime of his career and is a major signing when you consider Jeff Kent received 17 million over the next two years. Dye also plays a very good right field and has a strong arm. His only major flaw is a semi lack of a walks mixed with an affinity for strikeouts.

However, a .280, 30 HR, 100 RBI season isn't something to look past. More importantly this signing means the Sox outfield is filled and Ken Williams can now turn his attention on finding the starting pitcher this team needs at the Winter Meetings (start on Friday).

The move also will likely put an end to the Sox splash into the free agent market. However, the Sox should still have roughly 4-6 million to sign a utility infielder as well as a potential replacement for Paul Konerko (if dealt).

Two options that immediately come to my mind are Alex Cora and Jay Gibbons. Gibbons would provide a left handed stick and power in the middle to back of the lineup as well as a good glove at first base. While Cora is a good defensive middle infielder who had a .360 + OBP last season's. He's also White Sox 3rd base coach Joey Cora's little bro. The Dodgers are expected to trade him, but if they can't get a deal done they will likely non-tender him.

Thats my take, check back tomorrow for my thoughts on the news coming from the Winter Meetings.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Sox Sign.....Dustin Hermanson

Well, Kenny Williams flew under the radar just fine and the Sox inked the best closer on the market Dustin Hermanson to a 2yr 5+ million dollar deal. The move will bolster a bullpen that needs help.

Hermanson was converted to closer late last season with the Giants and saved 18 games in 21 opportunities. Many teams looked at him as a closer this offseason, but the Sox pulled off the deal. General Manager Ken Williams said on the radio today that he will serve as a setup man to Shingo Takatsu along with Damaso Marte.

Hermanson was long a starter in his career, one with loads of potential, who never panned out, but his upside is high in the bullpen and this could turn into a fantastic deal for the Sox who know have depth if Takatsu falters.

The Sox could still use another reliever but Scho could fit that bill nicely. Scho would be a very versatile reliever out of the pen.

Now the Sox figure to turn their attention to starting pitching, right field, and the middle infield. However, lets take note that Hermanson's and the White Sox were never mentioned by any news organization up until the signing, which could mean were in for another shocker!!!

Note: The Giants did not offer Dustin Hermanson arbitration.

A Realm Of Possibilities

Well, its been a rather dissapointing 24 hour window. It also has been like 3 weeks since my bold prediction of Randy Johnson pitching on the South Side of Chicago.

It appears that I was wrong on that prediction, just like experts Bruce Levine and Peter Gammons were wrong on Omar Vizquel and Jaret Wright joining the White Sox.

Now, in the aftermath of those three non-moves, it seems like the dust is settling and White Sox fans are getting bitter. But I ask why? Is it because we got our hopes up based on rumors, of course, but at the same time I think most are willing to admit that not getting RJ had nothing to do with management while not getting Vizquel and Wright came down to the Sox not willing to saddle themselves with a risky contract.

In fact, I am pleasantly surprised to see that KW recognized he would of been overpaying and backed away, especially since their are still plenty of options out there. Whether those additions come via trade or free agency, I don't know, but as far as pitching goes the two most likely possibilities for ace potential come in the form of trades for either Tim Hudson or Javier Vazquez.

If a deal is done quickly, you'd have to think it would be Vazquez coming to the South Side. The Yanks are doing all they can to pick up Randy Johnson to go along with the signing of Jaret Wright and the soon to be announced signing of Eric Milton.

Vazquez will be headed Arizona's way, unless a 3rd team, ie the White Sox, get involved and snag Vazquez for a package believed to be Paul Konerko and Jon Garland. The only flaw to this mess is their is a strong rumor that Troy Glaus may end up in Arizona which would leave them with Chad Tracy and Shea Hillebrand under contract, plus the potential of Richie Sexson accepting their arbitration offer.

If the Sox look out to free agency, they can snag Matt Clement with a 3yr 21 mill contract, but thus far it appears that the Sox have had minimal discussions with Clement's people. However, Clement has made it no secret that he would like to remain in Chicago, even if it meant joining the hated SouthSiders.

The Sox also appear to be looking at right field as Phil Rogers reported today that the Sox may have a 3yr offer on the table to Jermaine Dye. Some believe the offer to be around the 5 mill a year figure, however, my inkling tells me it will be somewhere in the range of 3-4 million a season. Dye is a good right fielder whose just starting to recover from his gruesome injury. He had a very positive 2004 and should put up even better numbers playing in half his games at the Cell.

Look back later today for more of my reading between the lines.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Prediction: RJ will be a White Sox

Thats it, I've made a verdict and Randy Johnson is going to be pitching for the SouthSiders this season. Sure, I may be going out on a limb here, but the Sox have the best offer on the table and I can't see any team matching it.

I don't give a rats butt about the rumors that Johnson would or has turned down a deal to the White Sox. The White Sox train in Arizona, in fact, they share the same facility that his Dbacks use, which is a big plus (its not quite being in Scottsdale, but it will do).

Because of this Randy should be familiar with some of the Sox and the players. No, they may not be grand friends, but a familiarity is definately a nice thing to have. On top of all this, RJ is neighbors with JR. Just call it a hunch, but Johnson is coming out to Chicago this Saturday, don't be shocked if the Sox maybe talk to Johnson over the weekend.

Johnson is also meeting with the Dbacks GM this week to discuss some things. One of the rumors is they will discuss a contract extension that will keep him a Diamondback.

To be honest, the big potential holdup I see over a deal with the Diamondbacks is whether the White Sox would extend his contract another year at 16 million. Considering RJ has been willing to go deferred in the past, this should act as at least an aid in the possible extension. Johnson may be on the otherside of 40, but he was the best pitcher in the NL last year and the second best in baseball (Johan being the best).

I expect Randy Johnson to be a White Sox by the end of the Winter Meetings in December. I also expect the Sox to be rather quiet after that. They will pick up a free agent reliever, probably one that is non-tendered. Keep an eye out of Shawn Chacon whose name keeps coming up in rumors with the White Sox (he'll likely be non-tendered). Then the Sox will look to possibly pick up a cheaper RF since Everett will be Dh'ing the first month of the season.

If Jay Gibbons is non-tendered don't be shocked if Hawk himself goes down and talks to Kenny and says to sign the guy. Hawk always seemed to like Gibbons, based on the comments he's made during broadcasts against the Orioles. Jermaine Dye, Richard Hildalgo, and Jeremy Burnitz are other options.

You know who isn't an option: Joe Borchard. Borchard will likely be competing with Escobar for the final outfield spot. Both can play every position in the outfield, which helps, but if Escobar can just make contact, he should get the nod over Borchard. For those unaware, Borchard was released by his Mexican League Team for sucking ass.

Anyway, we'll see if my predictions come true, but I got a feeling this is the direction the Sox head and I think it will work out. I could give a damn if RJ ends up failing. He's the best pitcher (arguably) in baseball and makes this rotation awesome and gives the Sox a rotation that should be devasting in the playoffs. Konerko and Garland are both good, but were talking world series and Randy Johnson can help get the Sox there.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

More Writing on the Wall In Regards to Maggs; Kevin Millwood

Magglio Ordonez was among 65 players who filed for free agency today (first player available) . This is pretty much the final step, minus him signing a contract to another team, to his depature from the SouthSide.

It seems like so long ago when Magglio and Kenny were joking out on the Fan Deck and when both sides were actually optimistic a deal would get done. But 5 yrs and 70 million wasn't enough for Magglio.

Now Magglio has hired a new agent (Boras), has yet to inform Kenny Williams of the switch (or so he says). An article went on to make these statements:

White Sox general manager Ken Williams said he is not optimistic about being able to re-sign Ordonez.

"Hearing everything second- and third- and in some cases fourth-hand, I think I have to wait until there is direct dialogue," Williams said. "From what I've heard, it doesn't give me any reason to have any optimism."

I think we all know my stance on Magglio, good riddance. Maggs, I loved you when you were on the field and playing baseball, but quite frankly, you had some bad baseball people giving you advice because you dont' deserve Vladdy money, you ended up getting Vladdy money offered to you and you turned it down and now you and Boras will be scrambling to get you anything near that 5 yr 70 million offer.

Now onto a new name, that of Kevin Millwood. Millwood also filed for free agency today, as did Beltran, Beltre, and Brad Radke, just to name a few. However, Kevin's name hasn't come up yet and I figured I'd go out and throw it out there.

While I think were all aware of Millwoods slide since the 2nd half of the 2003 season, you can't help but look past some of the good numbers he's put up. And it appears that part of the reason for his down-turn were health related.

Now he would have to take a substantial pay-cut and potentially a shorter term deal (its unclear whether he would do that) but at the right price he would be a good option for the White Sox. You can't look past his career numbers: 98-64, 3.89 ERA, 1367.1 INN, 1283 H (1.24 WHIP), 1134 K (7.46 K/9). He has also done a relatively good job limiting the long ball in his career.

Assuming he checks out physically, he's definately an option worth looking at, especially if teams look past him in the early part of free agency.

Carl, Frank, and Shingo All Coming Back

Today Carl Everett and Frank Thomas both announced that they will be accepting their player options for the upcoming 2005 season. This came as no surprise as both players had already given every indictation that they would be accepting this options.

Everett' option calls for him to be paid $4 million, but he also has a $500,000 buy-out next season that will come into play, so he's going to get 4.5 million guaranteed.

Frank Thomas, who has a much more complicated contract, will be paid 8 million in 2005, which could potentially be his final season with the White Sox. In 2006 Thomas will have a player option at $10 million, while the White Sox hold a $12 million option. However, the Sox also hold a $3.5 million buyout in 2006, so Thomas is guaranteed $11.5 million. Thomas will also have plenty of motivation, because he has a 2 million bonus coming his way if he finishes in the top 10 of MVP voting.

Some papers are reporting that Cliff Politte's option was accepted, but a couple weeks back Politte signed a new contract extension with a club option for 2006. The White Sox also accepted Shingo Takatsu's $2.5 million option. However, the Sox declined a $1 million option on Sandy Alomar Jr.

Its not secret that the White Sox would like Alomar to stay with the organization in some form, but at this point Sandy doesn't appear ready to hang up the spikes, although that could change as spring training gets nearer.

It appears that Sandy Alomar, Roberto Alomar, and Jose Valentin are the three players most likely to be out of Chicago. Timo Perez may also be gone, although for some reason both Ozzie and Kenny look past his awful splits (just check Cheat's blog, he sums up Timo's performance or lack-there-of quite well).

Monday, October 25, 2004

Sox Targeting Randy Johnson

This weekend the Daily Southown reported that White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams plans on contacting the Arizona Diamondbacks about the possibility of a deal that would send the Dbacks ace, Randy Johnson, to the South Side of Chicago.

At this point this rumor has to be taken as pure speculation, although it was widely reported that the White Sox were very interested in him at the trade deadline. At the time of the deadline reports were that the Sox package would have to start at Aaron Rowand, Jon Garland, and a prospect.

With one year and 16.5 million remaining on his contract, it is evident in my mind that a package along those lines would be damaging to the White Sox. There is no doubt that Randy Johnson at the top of the rotation would make the Sox pitching staff vastly superior to anyone else in the division, but at the same time, they would be creating numerous long term holes for a one year solution.

If the Sox are able and capable of adding payroll, they could target one of the A’s big three as it appears that one of Hudson, Zito, and Mulder will be on the block. The most likely to be dealt is Barry Zito, who had a down year in Oakland but has proven himself as an ace.

A package to acquire Zito should also be less costly (in terms of everyday players and quality of prospects) and is also a better long term solution. The Southtown article also went on to speculate that if the price was too steep for Johnson or if he wasn’t willing to accept a trade to the South Side, that Williams would target another ace, possibly via free agency.

However, like I’ve made mention on multiple occasions, at this point, while the FA market for starting pitching is strong, there are no sure-fire aces on the market. However, there are a few players with the potential to turn into aces (Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, Odalis Perez, etc) and one aging ace (Pedro Martinez).

Could this off-season have a similar fate to the 1996/1997 off-season. An off-season in which the White Sox thought long and hard about Roger Clemens, the Red Sox ace, but in the end felt he was past his prime, as did numerous other teams, when Clemens eventually landed in Toronto. Instead the Sox opted to get a “developing” ace in Jamie Navarro and offered him what was then the fattest contract ever offered to a pitcher (in White Sox history).

We all know what happened from their. Navarro literally got fat from his contract and reported to camp out of shape. Unlike one of his predecessors, Bartolo Colon, Navarro proved he was unable to pitch at that weight and turned into one of the biggest busts in the modern era of the White Sox. It ranks right their with the Todd Ritchie deal in my mind.

The only bright side in Jamie Navarro was the eventual trade out of Chicago, when he and RHP John Snyder were sent to Milwaukee for Jose Valentin and Carl Eldred. Those two pieces, along with a young nucleus of hitters, and James Baldwin, helped catapult the White Sox to the 2000 division title.

Could Pedro be the next Boston ace that appears to be on the downside of his career, but instead, an ace on the brink of re-inventing himself someplace else? Who knows, but is it a risk worth taking, considering the “Bosses” need for a few more able starters in New York?