As we creep ever closer to the September 1st waiver trade deadline, the Chicago White Sox have some tough decisions to make. They sit 4.5 games in back of the Twins, with arguably a tougher schedule remaining: ten games alone against the Yankees and Red Sox and another west coast road trip that historically has poor results. With the offense sputtering, is it time for GM Kenny Williams to take a chance on an offensive spark? If so, is there any spark bigger than Manny Ramirez?
Yes, Chicago White Sox fans, our team is currently in a state of limbo. Conventional wisdom and mathematical probability would say that at 4.5 games back, facing teams with which we have losing records this season, there is no way we can win the A.L. Central. So as he did last year, Kenny Williams should send his “open for business” memo to contending teams attempting to get some value for pending free agents or aging veterans like Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski, or Andru Jones.
However, Sox fans and Kenny Williams have also been known to fight until the very end, regardless of what mathematical probability says. That being said, Williams has made no secret that he actively tried to add another slugger to the line-up before the July 31st trade deadline, but was unsuccessful. Well, opportunity knocks once again as the Dodgers are expected to place Manny Ramirez on waivers today, with the intention of trading him. The question remains: should the White Sox pursue him?
As was the case with Ken Griffey Jr. in 2008, the White Sox would not be getting the Manny Ramirez who was once one of the most feared sluggers in baseball. But at this point, what do they have to lose?
Since the glory days of “Manny being Manny,” he was suspended for testing positive for a drug often associated with performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), his power has dropped dramatically the last two years (especially after his drug suspension), and he’s become rather fragile as well (three trips to the disabled list this season).
Still, the upside is intriguing. He’s hitting: .312, 8 HR, 39 RBI, .912 OPS in 189 ABs. U.S. Cellular Field can also be better than PEDs in helping sluggers regain their power stroke. Also, would DHing reduce his injury risk?
Disrupting team chemistry? After this weekends embarrassing series loss to the Royals, arguments revolving around disrupting team chemistry are hard to make. Sox fans want a winner.
Additionally, the deal can be made creatively without disrupting the team roster as expansion takes place on September 1st. If Ramirez went on waivers today, was claimed by the White Sox and both teams waited 48 hours to make the deal, a member of the Sox active roster could be optioned to the minors for less than 4 days. This would keep the team intact, while giving the team a month to gauge what Manny Ramirez has left in the tank. Meanwhile, the White Sox either win or lose the division. The cost? It could be as low as eating salary and a lower level prospect as the Dodgers already have a starting outfield.
In the end, it comes down to a simple question. In a division race, with the game on the line, who would you rather see at bat? Mark Kotsay? Andru Jones? Or, Manny Ramirez? With risk comes reward and at 4.5 games back, I’d be in a gambling mood if I were the White Sox brass.