Two months into the off-season, Chicago White Sox brass offered no clue as to the direction they were taking the team in 2011. This week, they not only revealed their plan, but made roster moves with the passion and vigor of a Black Friday shopper seeking a $300, 40-inch TV.
Bobby Jenks? He gone! Scott Linebrink? Traded to Atlanta. J.J. Putz, declines arbitration and seeks big free agent dollars. Welcome back A.J. Pierzynski, at a reduced cost. And oh yeah, we also added a slugger who has hit at least 38 homers every season since 2004 in Adam Dunn. And as this story is written, the White Sox are also believed to be the frontrunners of all MLB for slugger Paul Konerko.
So what does it all mean? What does it say about the direction GM Kenny Williams and owner Jerry Reinsdorf are taking the White Sox in 2011? How about World Series contenders? Too ambitious? Well would you settle for AL Central champs? They are at least that good right now.
The Adam Dunn signing proves once again that Kenny Williams ALWAYS gets his man. Coveting Dunn’s left-handed bat for most of 2009, he’s added a slugger who is the eighth player in major-league history to record five straight 40-home run seasons, (Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr., Ralph Kiner, Alex Rodriguez, Babe Ruth, Duke Snider and Sammy Sosa are the others). While keeping Konerko and Pierzynski will clog up the base paths somewhat, Dunn’s career .902 OPS, (including a .381 on-base and .521 slugging percentage) should actually produce more runs in addition to driving them in.
If the White Sox indeed do resign Paul Konerko, they would likely have to fill obvious roster voids via trades or on the cheap. But lets face it; they have been successful in this area before and can do it again. As great a closer as Bobby Jenks was, his durability the past two seasons was on the decline, as was his fastball and overall numbers.
If the season started today, your starting line-up would likely be:
Juan Pierre- LF
Gordon Beckham- 2B
Alex Rios- CF
Paul Konerko- 1B
Carlos Quentin- RF
A.J. Pierzynski- C
Alexei Ramirez- SS
Brent Morel\Mark Teahen- 3B
Your rotation would be:
Jake Peavy\Chris Sale
Matt Thornton would close with Sergio Santos and Tony Pena being the only other locks to hold bullpen slots. My head starts to spin at the number of ways they could fine tune the roster, but for now let’s quickly highlight a few options:
Chris Sale posted a 1.93 ERA out of the bullpen, also saving four games as well. While he’s too immense a talent to stick in the bullpen, he could stay there for one season if needed, possibly even closing if Matt Thornton isn’t up to the task.
Lucas Harrell could keep the fifth spot in the rotation warm if Jake Peavy needs more time for his shoulder to heal, or they could re-sign Freddy Garcia at a bargain price to do the same thing.
Internally, there are a number of candidates to fill the bullpen voids, the most intriguing of which could be Kyle Cofield, who was acquired Friday when the Sox shipped Scott Linebrink to the Atlanta Braves. After being moved to the bullpen at Double A, Cofield posted a 1.84 ERA over eight games in relief. He’s had control problems which appear mechanical, a resolution specialty of Don Cooper.
Externally, bargain free agent closers and bullpen arms could include: Brian Fuentes, Kerry Wood, Chris Ray and Takashi Saito.
Finally, if the prospect of Brent Morel or Mark Teahen at 3B doesn’t thrill you, the rumor of Gavin Floyd (4.08 ERA on 2010) to the Rockies for 3B Ian Stewart (.256, 18 HR, 61 RBI, 5 SB) and OF Dexter Fowler (.260, 6 HR, 36 RBI, 13 SB) has not gone away.
Keep checking back for all the latest White Sox rumors, roster analysis, and signings all winter long at the Sportsbank.net!Follow paulmbanks