The fans’ chief complaint about Chicago White Sox ownership is officially being retired. Those who love to criticize White Sox moves, or lack thereof by saying “Jerry Reinsdorf is to cheap to spend money on what we need to win,” need to get a new soapbox.
For those who disagree I have two words for you: Rios and Peavy.
Jake Peavy, who was acquired at the 2009 MLB trade deadline is owed $48 million between 2010 and 2012 and Alex Rios, acquired via waivers Tuesday, is owed nearly $60 million between 2010 and 2014. So what does this spending spree mean to the White Sox future? Well, those who think they will be seeing the last games of Jermaine Dye in a White Sox uniform should not carve his goodbye card in stone yet. Those who believe these moves ensure Mark Buehrle will be pitching for his hometown St. Louis Cardinals after 2012 might want to hold off on ordering a #56 Cardinal jersey.
Why? Kenny Williams has a plan. Develop a core group of talent from within, while staying competitive for years to come. He’s doing it. Besides DeWayne Wise, who will likely get his walking papers from this move, there aren’t many in Sox Nation who dislike this move. With that, I offer 11 reasons why the Alex Rios acquisition is good for the White Sox in both the short and long-term. Why 11? Well let’s break it down:
11- Represents the number of players who have patrolled CF since Aaron Rowand was traded to the Phillies: Brian Anderson, Jerry Owens, Rob Mackowiak, Ryan Sweeney, Luis Terrero, Darin Erstad, Alexei Ramirez, Nick Swisher, DeWayne Wise, Ken Griffey Jr., and Scott Podsednik. Rios is a natural CF with exceptional range, an above-average arm, and a solid .285 career batting average.
10- The future is not compromised. We gave up nothing in the process and at age 28, Rios should be entering his prime, bridging the outfield to the next generation of sluggers like Dayan Viciedo, Tyler Flowers and Jordan Danks.
9- It is like an early free-agent signing. Picture it as the White Sox signing Alex Rios to a 5-year, $60 million contract. No other CF free agents available this winter are of Rio’s caliber or age: Rick Ankiel (30), Rocco Baldelli (28) Marlon Byrd (32), Mike Cameron (37) Reed Johnson (33), Andruw Jones (33).
8- While the move undoubtedly means we say goodbye to one fan favorite after the 2009 season, we still should have flexibility to add more pieces. Theoretically, Rios can take the salary slot of designated hitter Jim Thome, who is earning $13 million. Peavy can take the slots of right-handers Jose Contreras and Octavio Dotel, who are earning a combined $16 million and are both free agents after this season. If the fit is right, Dye could return as a DH.
7- Note to Ozzie: BREAK UP THE DOUBLE PLAY and hit him between base plodders Thome, Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski. Rios stole 30 bases last season and already has 19 in 2009.
6- Sure it’s a headache for Ozzie to juggle egos, but the Sox have a great insurance policy for the lingering foot injury of Carlos Quentin, and to rest aging stars. Jermaine Dye is hitting .151 over his last 19 games and could use some rest.
5- He’s better than Brian Anderson!
4- Lets Go Go Go White Sox can now be sung with meaning. Assuming Rios plays everyday, only three players in any given line-up will not be a base-stealing threat.
3- Rios comes with some risk. His batting average has dropped in each of the last two seasons. However, U.S. Cellular’s launching pad should offer him every chance to realize the 30-30 potential he’s had since entering the league in 2004.
2- Rios offers flexibility; he’s capable of playing any OF position. If Dye, Pods, and Thome do depart after the 2009 season, Williams could make a serious run at signing his last remaining obsession in speedster Chone Figgins, who is a free agent after this season. He has is capable of playing any position besides catcher and first base and has stolen at least 33 bases a year since 2004. Ozzie ball could return.
1- Last verse is same as the first. 11 different players have patrolled CF since the start of the 2006 season. When in doubt, go with fantasy baseball. Rios was ranked the 6th best outfielder in most leagues going into the 2009 season.
So for now we will ignore the negatives: the .317 OBP in 2009, the likely 100+ Ks per season, and bask in the fact that our search for a true CF has finally come to an end.
The push to October just got a little more interesting.