Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thome, can you hear me?

The White Sox today traded Aaron Rowand and two minor leaguers to the Phillies for Jim Thome and enough money to re-stock Fort Knox. The two minor leaguers are apparently Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Haigwood, who are lefthanded pitchers and top-ten prospects. What this means for the Konerko re-signing effort, I don't know; rumor has it the Orioles have entered the bidding with a really stupid gesture.

Internet analysts have mostly gone ballistic on the Thome trade. They quite properly focus on Thome's health history, and also on the insanity of parting with two highly regarded prospects.

On the last one, well, give me a break.

In acquiring Freddy Garcia, Carl Everett, Royce Clayton, Bartolo Colon, and Roberto Alomar, the White Sox parted with:
  • Jeremy Reed, who started in center for the Mariners last year and played poorly,
  • Miguel Olivo, who played his way off the Mariners and is now in San Diego,
  • Michael Morse, who was busted for steroids and is a marginal player with Seattle,
  • Frank Francisco, who threw a chair at a fan in Oakland, narrowly avoided prosecution, and is currently rehabbing an injury that cost him a season
  • Josh Rupe, who is a borderline middle relief prospect with the Rangers,
  • Anthony Webster, who can't get out of A ball
  • Gary Majewski, a decent setup pitcher with Washington
  • Jon Rauch, who can't stay healthy with Washington
  • Edwin Almonte, who spilled his cup of coffee and is back in AA ball
  • Royce Ring, who is a marginal reliever with the Mets,
  • Andrew Salvo, who is in the independent leagues now,
  • Brad Murray, who is out of baseball,
  • Rocky Biddle, who didn't pitch last year, and
  • Jeff Liefer, who got stuck in a bathroom in AAA ball.
Is it just me, or was this outflux of "talent" considered a disaster for each and every trade?

Why is it that we should believe that Gio Gonzalez and Daniel Haigwood will come back to haunt Kenny?

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sounds of Silence

While there has been some player movement in the past week, very little of it has been all that interesting. The big questions for the White Sox are no more answered than they were at the start of the month.

Comings (and stayings):
  • Chris Widge has been resigned, and so has Pablo Ozuna, to modest contracts, to reprise their bit player roles.
  • Chris Stewart effectively replaces Raul Casanova and Jamie Burke (now with the Rangers system) as the third string catcher option. Stewart was added to the 40-man roster.
  • OF Chris Young was added to the roster. Young is fresh off a good AA campaign. He seems to be fast, have prodigious power,walks a lot, but does strike out a lot and "only" hit .277.
  • Charles Haeger was added to the roster. Young pitcher with a knuckleball. Don't hold your breath waiting for him.
  • Daniel Haigwood was added to the roster. Young power pitcher with Brandon McCarthy like number so far.
  • Jerry Owens was added to the roster. Owens is a speed-oriented project player. Get on base, no power, gets caught stealing a lot.
  • Geoff Blum has taken a modest contract offer from the Padres to go home to southern California. Blum obviously will be remembered by White Sox fans for his miraculous Tito-F-Landrum-esque solo homer in the 14th inning of Game Three, but, beyond that, he did little last year except provide insurance against Joe Crede's finger injury becoming a crisis.
  • Carl Everett was bought out and is definitely gone.
  • Kevin Walker is mercifully gone.
Wait and sees:
  • Paul Konerko hasn't signed anywhere. The news is pretty dead, which makes me think his agent isn't seeing the offers he expected. The White Sox have left one spot on the 40-man roster open, which is presumably a slot for Paulie if he resigns before the Rule 5 draft.
  • Frank Thomas the free agent is rehabbing. There is no telling what happens with him.
  • The White Sox avoided a trap when the Cubs inexplicable overpaid Scott Eyre to be their LOOGY. Three years, $11MM? What?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Elvis are you out there somewhere, looking like a happy man?

The key offseason questions for the White Sox seem to be:

  1. Obviously, what happens to Paul Konerko. Right now it seems to me (and I could be wrong) that the market for Konerko isn't what it was cracked up to be.
  2. Where will the payroll end up? Ticket price increases and better buzz would have seemed to pre-figure a rise, and Reinsdorf said payroll would go up... but rumors say a starting pitcher is on the block.
  3. Who will be the DH? Carl didn't really get it done, and there are plenty of possibilities... but what will happen? I think I might be able to predict what the White Sox will do, but the rest of baseball is populated by people with strange ideas.
  4. Can Bobby Jenks stay healthy for an entire season? What do they have there?

Obviously, the key question is who will be in the 3-4 spots in the order, and will getting him (them) involve breaking up the Big Four?

The wind is whistling... the wind is whistling through the house.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

At the One Lane Bridge...

So today the papers say that Paul Konerko's agent didn't actually get an offer from the White Sox during their "exclusive negotiating window", and that they prefer to let him collect offers from other teams first. The 4/54 offer much bandied about was fiction. Konerko's agent says that's just the way the White Sox prefer to do it.

Yesterday the Orange County newspaper said that the Angels would offer Konerko "at least four seasons and something more than $40 million", but that the Angels tend "not to deviate much from [the] initial offer". Konerko's agent said publicly that it would be in the Angels' "best interest to make a serious offer right away".

What this looks like is that the market is starting to wake up and back away from Paul Konerko. While Paulie was undeniably a great contributor to the 2005 White Sox, his career numbers and reputation do not say "superstar":
  • He hits a lot of home runs, yes, but his lifetime road numbers (.266/.333/.448) suggest strongly that he is in great part a creature of The Cell. His 774 OPS in Anaheim has to be a real burr for Stoneman's saddle.
  • While he is an adequate defender, he's just that -- an adequate first baseman. Those aren't really in short supply.
  • He's only two seasons removed from a disastrous, multi-month slump.
  • Baseball is suffering from a huge epidemic of hangovers from ill-advised contracts to, well, first baseman/DH types.
Perhaps Kenny Williams is being more shrewd than any of us suspect. Let Konerko test the market. He may find it more tepid than he thinks -- or his agent or the press think, for that matter. He may find out that the White Sox at 4/45 are the class of the field. It be better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, but in Chicago, Paul Konerko will be a hero. If the White Sox are the high bidders, he will be a happy, but wiser, one.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Angels, you don't want to go, down to Konerko

Speculation seems to have settled on Angels, Red Sox, D-Backs, and Mets as possible suitors for Paul Konerko.

For the Angels, all I can ask is, "Why?"

I somehow don't think the Angels' interest is genuine. I wonder if they are asking pro forma because they would like to drive up the White Sox' price out of pure spite over recent events.

Look at it this way... The Angels have lots of talent available to play 1B/DH over the next four of five years and not all of it has to succeed for them to be overstaffed. (That, and California's personal income tax is, what, seven percent higher than Illinois? That's worth three million there.) Casey Kotchman comes to mind, a good-to-great young lefthanded hitter. Baseball Prospectus forecasted Kotchman before the year with a WARP from 3.9 to 5.3 over the next few years, solidly better than Konerko.

Over the last few years, the Angels spent money on Guerrero, Colon, and Cabrera to fill holes in their roster they couldn't fill from within. When they felt that third baseman Dallas McPherson was ready, they let Glaus walk. By any reasonable estimation, 1B/DH isn't really a hole for them, not in the long term.

The Angels have the money to do almost anything, no matter how stupid, but they don't strike me as inclined to pay Paul Konerko as much or more than they are paying Vladimir Guerrero.

Mike Piazza is out there looking for a DH job, remember, and the Angels still have that Dodger inferiority complex to service, and Piazza's ability to be an emergency catcher (and his SoCal connection to that blue team) would be a plus for the Angels.

I think their interest isn't sincere. It doesn't make a lot of sense -- unless the idea is to keep Kenny busy, that is.