Item: The White Sox traded John Garland to the Angels for Orlando Cabrera and, apparently, $1.5 million. Both Garland and Cabrera will be eligible for free agency after 2008. Garland is owed $12 million next year, and Cabrera, $9 million.
After careful consiration, I come down in favor.
First, the White Sox aren't really going to contend in 2008, or 2009 for that matter, unless Miracles Occur. So one question really is, are you more comfortable hoping for miracles with Gio, Egbert, Broadway, and Danks, or with Sweeney, Anderson, Owens, and Richar? I know what I think. The ONLY real assets the White Sox have in the minors worth talking about (at least above A ball, that is) are a handful of starting pitchers. They have few position player prospects ready that I trust. They simply have to trade pitching for position players because otherwise they'll be PLAYING pitchers at positions.
Second, there is the matter of public perception. The White Sox can get away with hoping for Gio et al because, at least two to three times a week, they will still put a veteran major league pitcher on the mound, and more if Contreras can bounce back. But the everyday lineup is there EVERY DAY, and putting Andy Gonzalez and Richar and Owens and Cintron on the field is just brutal. Those guys shouldn't be in the majors, let alone occupying a significant chunk of your roster. In these days of four-man benches, these guys will play a lot. So you, the fan, can't even pick and choose which games to watch because they are *all* bad. The White Sox can't afford to risk that financially.
Third, there is the "message" with the free agent CFs the White Sox are allegedly courting. (I'll believe it when I see a signing.) "We're going to put a veteran defense behind young pitching" is a selling point. "We're going with D-list position player prospects but keeping JG for an extra year" isn't. Everybody in baseball knows Garland is gone after 2008. Whether OC won't be re-signed is open to doubt.
Finally, Cabrera is 33 but otherwise he is the kind of player I think you should be glad to see Kenny picking up. He's a defensive plus. He's smart. He stays healthy. Yeah, he's 33, but he's not Omar Vizquel, and he's tied down for one and only one year, and the problem with old players isn't the next year, it's the next four. Even if he turns into a giant crater, the pain will be over in 10 months anyway.
Garland will be missed, sure. But the relief of not being blinded by the uglier alternatives is probably worth it.
By the way, John... thanks for 2005.