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By Paul M. Banks & Soxman 

It’s gotten pretty chilly in the Chi this past week, so Soxman and I are here to get you fired up (He certainly seems to get the ladies quite fired up most of the time) with some talk about the baseball winter meetings and the high transaction activity period.
 
 
(PMB) So with Griffey and Swisher gone, who’s going to play CF? Wise? or have the Sox now become really strong buyers in the market for Chone Figgins and/or Willy Taveras?
 
(SM) Going into the 2009 season, CF will likely be a platoon between Jerry Owens and Brian Anderson.  In theory, Owens would get all starts against right handed pitchers and Anderson would start against lefties with Dewayne Wise being the “4th” outfielder spelling Dye and Quentin.  While Owens will bring badly needed speed to the line-up, he is far from a proven player.  Over three seasons, he has 381 Abs and his on-base percentage of .321 is less than ideal for a leadoff hitter.  Still, over 500 Abs, he projects to steal between 40-50 bases.
 
Anderson appears destined to be a 230’s hitter with an awful on-base percentage, yet he brings a little bit of speed and fantastic defense off the bench.  It will be interesting to see if he can mature as a hitter as he settles into his role.
 
CF is one of the places the Sox can improve, but if Williams is serious about going with youth, you might not see any moves.
 
If Chone Figgins were acquired, I believe you would see him playing either second or third base.  The CF name that has been bantered a lot this off-season is the Rockies’ Willy Taveras.  Taveras has awesome speed and horrible on-base skills.  The Sox almost acquired him in a swap involving Jon Garland at the start of the 2006 season.  Lance Broadway’s name has been linked to Taveras on numerous occasions this hot stove season. 
 
(PMB) The official story about Swisher was that he was a pouter down the stretch and didn’t take his benching well…and that’s why he’s gone now, do you buy the company line on him? I thought he was too much of a competitor to act like a baby, especially considering that his father’s reputation as a player was the opposite of that.
 
(SM) Here’s the bottom line on the Nick Swisher trade: one of the slower hitters (Konerko, Thome, Swisher) had to be moved and it was difficult to move Konerko or Thome due to their no-trade clauses, age, and interest from other teams.
 
With the trade the Sox replaced Juan Uribe and freed up about $8 million in payroll.
 
I will reserve judgment until I see if the Sox actually do anything with that money.  Otherwise the Yankees got a steal from the White Sox as the prospects we received in return are “projects” at best.
 
Just last year, the White Sox traded away three of their top prospects and paid cash to the A’s to land Swisher, which left their farm system barren.  Two of those three players will be part of the 2009 A’s (Sweeney will be the starting CF and Gonzales will likely be the #5 starter).  There is a chance the third player could be the A’s closer next season.  After one season, they move Swisher for a role player and two pitchers that profile as middle relievers.  Get my point?  It is completely perplexing in my mind on the surface.
 
I’m also completely perplexed by the timing.  Williams essentially gave away one of his best bargaining chips on the market as Nick Swisher would be an extremely attractive (and cheaper) alternative to whoever lost out on the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes.  In any event, I’m 100% confident Swisher should have brought back a bigger bounty.  
 
Betemit can play all over the infield with respectable defense, better range, and less arm strength than Uribe.  He’s only 27 and may be due for a career spike.   Betemit and Uribe both share a free-swinging approach at the plate.  He owns a 29% strikeout rate in his career. 

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(PMB) Yeah, both times we got screwed worse than the way Dick Cheney treats the American taxpayer. Mets GM Omar Minaya is usually one of the biggest spenders in baseball during the holiday season, any chance he’s looking at some of our bloated contracts to purchase?
 
(SM) Early in the off-season, Minaya was believed to be interested in Javier Vasquez, Jermaine Dye, and Bobby Jenks but all of those rumors have fizzled as of late.
 
Williams wanted too much for Vasquez and Dye and indicated a similar sentiment on Jenks. This combined with concern over the drop in Jenks’ velocity last season made him less than easy to move.
 
Mets fans need not worry, I’m sure Minaya will open up the checkbook before all is said and done.  He will be focused on pitching, trying first to address the gaping hole at closer.  K-Rod and Brian Fuentes are believed to be the biggest targets.  Kerry Wood could also draw interest.
 
He will then dive into the starting pitching market, likely reaching out to Derek Lowe and possibly Jon Garland.
 
(PMB) I was a bit upset to see Cubs closer Kerry Wood go, the charity bowling event “Strike Zone,” hosted by his wife Sarah Wood is usually a good time and given all the health issues he’s had, his re-defining himself as an All-Star is a heartwarming story…well, maybe I wouldn’t go quite that far, but it certainly wasn’t a boring story. What teams are looking for a closer? And will the Cubs go with Carlos Marmol as the stopper this spring with possibly newly acquired Kevin Gregg as option 2? 
 
(SM) I liked Kerry Wood as well.  He wanted to remain a Cub for his entire career.  Despite rumors to the contrary, Wood “would” have accepted a one-year deal to stay with the Cubs.  I think the move was made to free up salary to go after another left-handed bat.  Otherwise, what could the harm have been in having Wood, Marmol, and Gregg available from the 7th inning on?
 
I believe Lou Pinella will allow Marmol and Gregg to compete for the closer’s spot, but Gregg will be the leading candidate based on experience in the position.
 
The A’s, Angels, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Indians, Mets, Tigers, Rangers and Rays could all be in the market for a closer, so I’d say Wood should have no shortage of options.
 
I would personally love to see Wood sign with the Brewers so he would have the maximum number of opportunities to make the Cubs pay for letting him go.
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(PMB) The dollar figures possibly being thrown at Manny Ramirez…are these teams serious? Obviously he’s a great VORP (value over replacement player) guy when he wants to be, but I think he needs to be seriously devalued worse than the dollar in foreign trading markets because of his solipsism and track record for not giving 100% all the time. Yes, Bill Simmons has written a few columns about Manny being manipulated and I know that ESPN Sports Guy is almost never wrong, but I still think a team spending wicked pissah amounts of money to obtain him would be a wicked bad investment. Then again, his agent Scott Boras is practically the 31st MLB franchise, so if anyone can get extract money like that from a team, he can.
 
(SM) I agree with you 100%.  When he wants to play, Manny is one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game.  However, who wants to invest millions of dollars into someone who literally refuses to play if he is not happy?
 
Manipulated?  C’mon.  He’s a professional and an adult.  It’s like saying “the devil made me do it” when claiming innocence on a murder charge.  Though in Manny’s case, Scott Boras is about as close to the devil as you can get.
 
Don’t place too much value in the record payday Boras in “banking” on.  I think your concerns are the exact reason he hasn’t signed with a team as of yet.  There is likely some disparity between the Scott Boras definition of value and the common person’s notion of the word.   

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(PMB) They say “It’s better the devil you know,” but when discussing Scott Boras, I disagree. Next time we have a witch hunt, we can start by burning him at the stake. And someday I’ll tell you what I really think about him. I agree that Manny being Manny is no excuse for his ridiculous behavior patterns and price tag.

Moving on, Carlston Charles Sabathia and the Yankees: should they just stop playing hard to get with each other and just hook up already? Six years, $140 million- sounds like the money they deal on Wall St. Can any non-New York team afford him?

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(SM) For some players is not always about the money.  Sabathia really enjoyed his time in Milwaukee (and it was rumored he liked hitting), so he is likely taking the time to weigh (pun unintended) his options.
 
While the money the Yankees offer is very attractive, New York is a very different city to play for with a pressure unlike any that Sabathia has ever seen.
 
The Angels and Dodgers are also believed to be interested in Sabathia so he will also have to weigh the option of playing close to his home.
 
How about the report that the MLB Player’s Association was pressuring Sabathia to take the Yankee’s offer as it would raise the salary bar for all of the other free-agent pitchers?  So much for freedom of choice among your peers eh?
 
(PMB) Right. Apparently the dealing of baseball free-agents is not a “free-market” after all. It doesn’t sound very laissez-faire or deregulated to me! And finally what about Jake Peavy to Altanta? Who might Peavy’s other prospective suitors be?
 
Even with the Cubs re-signing Ryan Dempster, do not count them out of the Peavy sweepstakes.  Kevin Towers is doing EXACTLY what he should be doing, negotiating the best possible price in a seller’s market.  Peavy would become immediately attractive to any team who loses out on Sabathia.
 
While the Braves said last week they were no longer interested in Jake Peavy, how could anyone in need of a starting pitcher NOT entertain the idea of landing him?  He has a career 3.25 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.
 
Towers feels that the Cubs may turn their attention away from pitching after re-signing Ryan Dempster today, but I don’t believe that to be the case.  Assuming they could move Jason Marquis in another deal, a rotation of Zambrano, Peavy, Dempster, Lilly, and Harden would without a doubt make the Cubbies the National League favorite to make the world Series in 2009.
 
The Mets could try to jump into the mix along with the Angels and Red Sox.  The Yankees could also sneak in there. 
  
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Comments

  1. We listented to the people who voted no on proposition off-season on election day…sorry this isnt on a tuesday like usual, but you’ll notice that we went all out on this one because discussing baseball signings can be a tricky endeavor

  2. EIU Cheerleader/SICA Chick says

    Is Soxman a SICA Boy? seems like it…

  3. I would just like to say…AWESOME exchange. Creative writing, and very valuable information as always. Soxman we miss you. I do plan on writing the Red Eye to find out why they never publish you anymore.

  4. It is about time. I love you Soxman and get get enough of your insight. My Christmas wish? For you to post more on your site or anywhere for that matter.

  5. Ko’d Konerko says

    I think the Swisher move was stupid, plain and simple. Williams got lucky in 2005 and has not really ever built a team exactly as he intended. Then they have the nerve to make season ticket payments due an entire month earlier than in previous years.

  6. Great stuff and fantastic updates. I’m not feeling vey confident in the sox opening day line-up right now.

  7. Sox it 2 Me says

    I second the whole Red Eye thing. Why have they not been using you?

    I’m not at all sure about the 2009 Sox. To many free swingers and rookies that are far from top prospects.

  8. Fantastic. I love you guys. Soxman we miss you.

  9. Soxman do you think any more Sox players will be traded before opening day?

  10. I really enjoy reading your articles Soxman. You and Paul have a good chemisrty compared to other exchanges I have read on this site in the past. Any insight as to why your team efforts appear to flow so naturally???

  11. Thanks guys. I think Soxman raises the game of everyone around him. PLease contact the Red Eye and voice your disgust that he is not being featured there anymore.

    Part of the reason Soxman and I have such a good professional chemistry is 1.) our shared obsession with the White Sox 2.) “Bruce Wayne-Parker” and Paul M. Banks are good friends in real life outside the site and therefore….3.) Soxman and The Sports Bank understand where the other one is coming from naturally most of the time.

    Remember during the Bulls heyday when Jordan and Pippen could pass the ball to each w/o even looking cuz one guy instinctively knew where the spot where the other was going to be?

  12. Does anyone know where we can write or we we can write to at the Red Eye to ask about featuring soxman more often?

  13. I second that on the Red Eye. You guys to flow well. Perhaps that’s why so many people thought you were Batboy. :)

  14. Awesome!!! You guys really did an “round the horn.” Good take on the Swishee trade. I think you opinion is right on the money.

  15. Heidi Hot Sox says

    Soxman- meeting you this season was one of the highlights of my year. Thanks for always taking the time to be approachable to your fans…

  16. Bleeding Cheese says

    Fantastic stuff as always “Michael and Scotty.” I’d love to see Wood go to the Brewers. I think Milwaukee had their window last year and will not have the pitching this year to go anywhere. Agree?

  17. Sorry I have not commented in a while my “all stars.” It’s Kate. Lots of good points. I think many people share your opinion on Swisher Soxman. How do the sox recover from losing a guy who quickly was becoming the face of the franchise? Brian Anderson? No offense, love the defense, but lets hope he tags all the ladies he chases at a higher success rate than he makes contact with the ball.

  18. Have to agree with everyone’s comments and to the Red Eye…I know it is the off-season but Soxman was hilarious in the fives. God forbid that a Sox symbol become popular in a Cubs dominated (and owned) publication.

  19. Soxman rules. What ever happened to your idea of the sportsbank writers fantasy football league? Were you afraid Soxman would dominate? LOL

  20. Ya Ya Sox Sisterhood says

    We better not show the Sox we like Soxman and Paul Banks too much or they might trade them to the Yankees for nothing like they did Swisher.

    I hope the both of you have a wonderful Turkey Day. Big plans?

  21. Someone had to say it! Bring the soxman back to the Red Eye already!!!!!

  22. I have to say that you guys really do a great job at covering the hot stove landscape. Do you think there would be any chance of Jon Garland coming back to the Sox? Where will he mostly likely sign?

    Soxman thanks for always representing the southside well.

  23. Great stuff as always. I still think it would be cool if you guys were to post a weekly video blog.

  24. Thanks to all for your postive comments week after week. The off-season is always tough for me and with the holidays upon us, my alter ego, Bruce Wayne-Parker becomes very busy.

    Not sure who to write to at the Red Eye, perhaps the great Paul Banks does.

    We will try to address your questions in the next exchange.

    SM

  25. as a P.S., thanks for making our stories the most commented on week in and week out. It is raising the popularity of this site to new levels, which is very positive news for the future.

  26. Katie, long time no talk. whats been up with you? dont be a stranger…

    BC, Sorry your Crew had their chance last year. You may have to wait another 26 years for another playoff appearance…ok, not really. I think firing Yost was a good move for them, and they will get some high compensatory draft picks once their big name pitchers walk. if those picks develop, who knows?

    BB, I put someone else in charge of the TSB fantasy football league…and delegating the authority did not work as it never got put together. “If you want some thing done right….” you know how the rest of that goes. Next year I’ll be more autocratic about it

  27. I’d like to mirror the comments of Soxman and say, yes thank you everybody for your compliments and feedback. and you guys are the main reasons why this site scored so high (93rd %tile ranking) on that web metric ranking the popularity of web sites. thank you all so much!

    re: Soxman and I working together

    I like to compare it to a cop buddy picture. we’re kind of like Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowery in “Bad boys” or Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines in that 80s cop buddy picture shot/set in Chicago…the one where Jimmy Smits was the villain.

    yes, I have analogies for this stuff all day. LOL!

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