By Soxman and Paul M. Banks
(PMB) The 2008 exceeded the projections of most speculators by winning the 2008 AL Central Division. However, like the stock market itself, they had a very down October. This team has many assets, but there a few liabilities. Which Sox would you keep in your portfolio to increase your ROFI? (Return on Fan investment) Who would you buy, sell and trade if you were Kenny Williams? The Secretary of the Baseball Diamond department and Chairman of the Southside Reserve are here to talk possible transactions and prospectus for 2009â€¦
(PMB) Soxman, I see that Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune seems to agree with a lot of the ideas that you posted in your blog, about trading for Chone Figgins and adding Rafael Furcal. Tell us how you would do it and what your new lineup would be.
(SM) My thoughts for 2009 build from a quote Ozzie made to Kenny Williams after the 2004 season:
â€œI canâ€™t win with a bunch of plow horses.Â I need some stallions.â€
We need to add some speed and defense plain and simple.
While I expect Kenny Williams to be active in the trade market, making trades will not be easy.
Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, and Javier Vazquez have no-trade clauses.Â Konerko is the only player with the power to veto any trade, while Thome and Vasquez have limited veto power.
Jermaine Dye is a very marketable player but also the most talented and fastest runner in the middle of the Sox line-up of the “slow sluggers.”Â While I think he would be the most coveted player, Iâ€™m planning as if we keep him.
Nick Swisher has quickly become a fan favorite and is likely to stay as his trade value would likely not wield the bounty we gave up for him in the 2007 off-season.Â Iâ€™m also hopeful he can improve his on-base percentage.
Orlando Cabrera is gone without a doubt and there is no-way Ken Griffey Jr’s option will be picked up as it is for an estimated $16 million.
The likelihood of Scott Boras accepting an incentive-laden one-year deal for Joe Crede is also slim so we may have seen the last of old #24 as well.
Rafael Furcal is an unrestricted free agent and stole an average of 36 bases per year between 2000-2007.Â He was hurt most of this season, and fizzled a little in the play-offs.Â The Dodgers might try to re-sign him.
Nick Punto (versatile and fits the grinder mold), stole 69 bases in limited play from 2005-2008.
Willy Taveras stole 68 bases in 2008, but his OBP is horrible at .308.Â He would make a great number nine hitter without the pressures of batting leadoff, like Carlos Gomez was on the Twins.Â It could mean more walks for Swisher, as they will pitch around him to get to Taveras.
Chone Figgins could be used to get Konerko or Thome if the Angels canâ€™t re-sign Mark Teixeira.Â The Angels openly coveted Konerko after the 2005 season.Â For planning purposes, weâ€™ll say Konerko gets moved, although I think Kenny might try to avoid trading the team captain.
There is also a possibility the Sox could trade for Juan Pierre, who wants out of LA.Â In just 375 Abs last season he stole 40 bases.Â While I think he is expensive ($28.5 million owed for three years) and the Sox could do better, Ozzie loves him from his days with the Marlins.Â Taveras is likely to be the cheaper option.
If healthy, Furcal and Alexei would make an awesome combination up the middle with Punto serving as an excellent utility reserve (although I have a feeling they may bring Juan Uribe back instead).
Iâ€™ve read reports that the Sox will already have a high payroll next season, but I believe these signings could happen and it would bring GREAT balance of speed and defense to the Sox line-up.Â By trading Konerko or Thome, and letting go Crede and Cabrera, you open up about $24-26 million off your payroll.
With these moves, look at your 2009 Chicago White Sox everyday line-up:
S-Chone Figgins- 3B (.356 career OBP, 34 SB in 2008)
S-Rafael Furcal- SS (.352 career OBP, at least 20 SB each year since 2001)
R-Carlos Quentin- LF (.394 OBP, 36 HR, 100 RBI, in 2008)
L- Jim Thome-DH (.406 career OPB, 34 HR in 2008)
R-Jermaine Dye-RF (34 HR, 96 RBI in 2008)
R-Alexei Ramirez-2B (.290, 20 HR, 77 RBI, 13 SB in 2008)
L- AJ Pierzynski-C (.281, 13 HR, 60 RBI)
S-Nick Swisher-1B (.354 career OBP, 24 HR in 2008)
R-Taveras/Pierre- CF (Taveras stole 68 bases in 2008)
Your bench would consist of Brian Anderson, Nick Punto (speedy utility infielder), Toby Hall, Wise/Owens, and Fields/Getz.
Ozzie loves Wise, who could be back as a 5th outfielder.Â Several players could also play multiple positions adding versatility.
For all of the Ken Griffey Jr. fans out there, one of the spots could be offered to him as a part-time, pinch hitter, but I do not believe it would strengthen the team or that Griffey would accept it.Â Fields could easily play the 1B/3B utility role and earn more playing time like Brian Anderson did.Â He is one season removed from clubbing 23 dingers.
Like Kenny Williams, I’m closing deals on my phone. With one of my four green Sox hats on. Pictured with me is my friend, Time.com’s Ann Binlot.
(PMB) Thatâ€™s quite a lineup youâ€™ve put together. It makes me feel very optimistic. I am also in awe oh how in-depth you went. GREAT JOB! This team needs to study up on their grinder rules again. They’re investing in a market while forgetting what they learned in Business school. The slogan â€œThe Oriole Wayâ€ sounds like kind of a joke right now as the team is finished its 11th straight losing season. Peter Angelos, with Bill Wirtzâ€™s death, now widely regarded to be THE worst owner in all of sports, is currently running this franchise into the ground.
However, the team had some glory days. From 1966 to 1983, the Orioles won three World Series (1966, 1970, and 1983), six American League pennants (1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1979, 1983), and five of the first six American League Eastern Division titles. They played baseball the Oriole Way, an organizational ethic best described by longtime farm hand and coach Cal Ripken, Sr.â€™s phrase â€œperfect practice makes perfect!â€
The Oriole Way was a belief that hard work, professionalism, and a strong understanding of fundamentals were the keys to success at the major league level. It was based on the belief that if every coach, at every level, taught the game the same way, the organization could produce â€œreplacement partsâ€ that could be substituted seamlessly into the big league club with little or no adjustment.
This is why the Orioles became the envy of the league and winningest team during this period. This philosophy sounds a lot like what the White Sox sold to the public in 2005 under the phrase â€œGrinderballâ€ Some referred to the Grinder Rules as â€œOzzie Ball.â€ Of course, this sounds much more like the Minnesota Twins organization has done lately and what the Tampa Bay Rays are starting to do.
(SM) Hopefully, the Sox will learn this lesson as well.Â However, if they want to win now, while developing talent, this is the best way I see to do it.Â The three new pieces you add to the line-up can execute and have made a career out of it.Â Taveras is a little more risk/reward type player, but we must remember the Sox almost acquired him in 2006 in a Jon Garland trade.Â The double play log-jam in the middle is also broken up significantly.