Saturday, December 10, 2005


Near the end of the winter meetings, the White Sox traded Damaso Marte back to the Pirates for lefthanded-hitting supersub Rob Mackowiak. A good deal, as long as the White Sox aren't forced to over-use Mackowiak.

Marte had worn out his welcome over the last two years, both with marginal pitching (all those walks) and, reportedly, off-the-field hissy fits. As a second lefthanded reliever (I hesistate to use the words "setup man" with the White Sox, whose bullpen use is more creative than that), Marte was likely to see 40-60 innings again, making him a brutally expensive player. Trading him back to the organization the White Sox obtained him from brought an interesting, unique player.

Mackowiak is nominally a third baseman, but has seen 232 games in right, 167 at third, 110 in center, 59 at second, 46 in left, and even 5 at first base. His defensive statistics look below-average but acceptable in center and at second, and average at the other positions. This makes him acceptably versatile (being suitable for six positions in the lineup), and therefore one heck of a bench player.

As a hitter, he's also one heck of a bench player, and could fill in as an interim regular without crippling the team, but he's basically a lefthanded Joe Crede. This makes him an upgrade in terms of both versatility and effectiveness over the past Sox bench players, and provides effective insurance that the White Sox lacked in 2005.

One comment often made about the 2005 Series champs was how lucky they'd been, but the real luck was that the serious injuries they did suffer to key players (Frank Thomas, El Duque) were covered adequately in places the team had some depth. Injuries to Podsednik and Crede, neither offensive dynamos, weren't adequately covered, contributing to the late-August, early-September doldrums, because the 2005 bench simply wasn't all that hot. The 2006 bench is already looking better, as Mackowiak is a better ballplayer than any of the 2005 crew.

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