Cuba Libre Sox Exchange

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 By Paul M. Banks and Soxman

(PMB) If Che Guevara were alive today, his favorite Major League infield might very well be the White Sox because it could boast 2 Cuban nationals in 2008 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up Alexei Ramirez and recently signed 3B prospect Dayan Viciedo. (And yes I know that Che was originally Argentinian, but history and pop culture has rewritten him as Cuban) The Sox starting second baseman batted .290 with 21 homers and 77 RBI and was considered one of the best bargains in baseball.

Did the Sox just massively overpay in signing Viciedo? Or will he be another bargain like Alexei? Soxman and I are here to tell you whether you should raise your rum glass and celebrate the signing or if we’re about to embark on a Cuban Baseball Crisis. Viva la Revolucion!
 

(PMB) So tell us about the tools that make Viciedo such an excellent young phenom. Hopefully, they will offset all the negative things I’ve heard about his attitude problems and weight issues…
 
(SM) How’s this for hype: “the Cuban Babe Ruth?”  Without ever even seeing a major league at bat, comparing him to one of the greatest hitters to ever wear a major league uniform will surely bring high expectations.
 
The key factor to remember is that this guy is only 19 years old, and that’s not in “El Duque” years either.  He appears to be a legitimate 19, meaning it is very likely he will spend time in the minors before seeing any major league action.
 
Should you be excited?  How about “curbed enthusiasm?”
 
Scouts believe his power is for real.  He slugged over .500 in two of the past three seasons in Cuba.  He was an All-Star in Cuba’s top league at age 16.  But Viciedo comes with as much criticism as he does hype.
 
He has been described as an underachiever with a poor work ethic.

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(PMB) I have read about him as having “light tower power.” Viciedo’s agent is Jaime Torres who also represents left-hander Noel Arguellez and shortstop Jose Iglesias, who defected at the World Junior Championships in Edmonton last summer. What can you tell me about these Cuban prospects? And if you feel the Sox should be looking to close the deal on these guys too?
 
(SM) Well, despite the fact that Iglesias appears to be a talented shortstop, I don’t see the Sox making a play at him unless Alexei has a severe sophomore slump.  Arguellez, I believe is a right-hander, and was the ace of the 2008 Cuban World Junior Team.  I have not heard anything about either player since they defected in July.  You can bet the White Sox would have the inside track to sign them if the scouting reports favor it.  Perhaps we could call The Cell “Little Havana?”
 
 
(PMB) Sure, as long as we get to light up “victory cigars” in October. Josh Fields doesn’t exactly inspire comparisons to Brooks Robinson with his fielding, but I know the Sox expect that to improve given the success of his recent knee surgery. I’ve heard Viciedo might be a Dr. Strangeglove himself. Yet some pundits also say that the Cuban defector has the inside track to start, have they been drinking too many mojitos? 
 
(SM) At this point, I’d say anyone who thinks Viciedo is going to win the starting third base job outright, likely has left their plantains in the fryer too long.  He’s raw and far less refined than Alexei was coming into spring training.
 
Some critics indicate that he fails to exhibit any passion for the game or motivation to reach his potential. Being groomed under Ozzie, a fiery Latin manager who motivated a portly Miguel Cabrera and fellow Cubans Jose Contreras and Ramirez should provide a lot of opportunity for development.

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Viciedo plays third base and shortstop. He’s also an outfielder who had an occasional pitching role with Cuba’s junior national team.  His weight management, conditioning and the success of Josh Fields will ultimately determine where he is groomed to play at the major league level.  He is scouted as having a cannon arm, so it is possible he could be groomed to be Jermaine Dye’s heir in RF.
 
Sox fans can be intrigued, but don’t give Viciedo the Rookie of the Year award or crown him the 2009 HR champ just yet.  As a matter of fact, Ramirez is the only Cuban position player (non-pitchers) in the last 30 years to immediately jump to the majors without minor league seasoning and have success.

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(PMB) Also, last week one TSB commenter asked where Jon Garland might end up. There’s always a market for starting pitching and Garland has the service record to command big market money, so I have a feeling his final destination won’t be with the Kansas Citys and Pittsburghs of the world. The two biggest front-runners I’ve read about are Cleveland and the New York Metropolitans (although with the money that team spends, they should rename themselves the New York Metrosexuals).
 
(SM) I’m ABSOLUTELY LOVING the fact that owners are saying Scott Boras clients are too pricey so they turn their attention elsewhere.
 
The Mets are reported to have renewed their interest in Javier Vazquez, Jon Garland, and Edwin Jackson due to the Boras’ sky-high price tags on Oliver Perez and Derek Lowe.
 
Also, a number of pitcher’s agents are waiting to see whether C.C. Sabathia accepts the Yankees six-year, $140M offer, as they believe it will set the tone for the market.
 
I’ve heard Garland prefers to stay on the west coast, but has been linked to mostly eastern teams thus far.  I’ve heard the Braves have expressed interest.  Also, do not rule out the Houston Astros getting into the mix.  They almost acquired him at the start of the 2006 season along with Brian Anderson for Hunter Pence, Willy Taveras and two pitching prospects.
 

 
 
 
(PMB) Finally, you knew I had to go here, the last time we had two Cubans on the roster it was Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez and Jose Contreras in 2005, and you of course remember the salsa dance party the city had that fall. Heard any more about what will come of Contreras? Any more rumors and innuendo revolving around Sox or popular ex-Sox you feel we should talk about before we close shop to prepare for our Holiday festivities? 

And please have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving people of Soxman Nation! 
 
(SM)   In response to your statement, don’t put the Journey record on just yet.  Contreras completely ruptured his Achilles tendon, which is 100 times worse than a tear.  It is pretty much an explosion leaving little to “stitch together.”  It will be the All-Star break at the earliest before he returns.  Also, I’m betting right now Viciedo does not make the team out of spring training. 
 
There have been scattered rumors involving former Sox players returning but nothing significant.  My guess is that if Kenny Williams isn’t the secret GM bidding on Furcal and not actively involved in discussions for Willy Taveras, he will play his vintage waiting game and see what pieces fall his way at a reduced price, like he did with Iguchi, AJ, and El Duque in 2005.
 
There was a rumor involving Aaron Rowand but those seem to arise every off-season since he was traded.
 
I second Paul’s expression on everyone having a safe Thanksgiving holiday.  Mr. Banks will be the guest of Bruce Parker at his Thanksgiving Dinner.  Yes, the man behind the mask cooks.

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Comments

  1. You know I’m going to snatch up one of those Alexei shirts…in black and red and rock that at The Cell next spring

  2. Sox gal holla says

    Soxman, you are the cutest ever. Paul what is his secret? How does he always know so much about the players?

  3. Soxtober Kid says

    My guess is we get 1-2 good years out of him for the price.

  4. Ko’d Konerko says

    I think Soxman’s view is spot on. I think the earliest this kid will be in the majors is 2010. Happy holidays guys. Soxman really cooks?

  5. Billy Blast says

    Great work guys. I can never get enough of your stuff.

  6. Happy thanksgiving guys. soxman I bet you cook because i get hot every time I see you.

  7. What does one have to do to get an invite to get a thanksgivng invite to the Sox Cave? LUCKY!!!!!!!

  8. YOOOOOOOOO Happy gobble day guys. Good insight as always. I see us finishing no better than 3rd next season in the central depending on what pick-ups the Twins make.

  9. Thanks for giving us a Sox fix in the off-season guys.

  10. Soxman- if I break the wishbone and win, does that mean I’d get a date with the man behind the mask?

  11. Thanks for remembering your fans in the off-season. Any luck on where to write on the Red Eye snub? They need to bring you back. Love you babe.

  12. The Little Flirt says

    Is it just me or has it been a very quiet off season thus far? No real big signings yet whatsoever for any team.

  13. I continue to agree with your sports insight. Good stuff all the way around.

  14. Have not visited you guys in a while but i must say your creativty knows no boundaries. Soxman it does not amaze me that you cook at all. You appear to be the perfect person! If I wasn’t married…

  15. Tommy Tutone says

    What players do you think might ‘fall into Kenny’s laps?”

  16. Mullet Kelly says

    I second that Disney mom!!! I’m going to miss Crede. I think it is more a Scott Boras thing.

  17. I love you Soxman.

  18. Myspace mike says

    Dude, going home for the holiday weekend, just wanted to say my dad thinks you are hilarious. “Black Friday?” I think the sox sohuld do some promotion with it.

  19. Way off the subject but I read that the Pirates signed the first players to come from India today. Any hope of this being an untapped market in baseball?

  20. Well cricket is the national game of India. and its not that far off from baseball, so anything can happen

    wow I had no idea that being invited to the Sox cave would inspire such envy!

    As for the Red Eye, Bruce Parker and I will talk Thu and figure something out. then we’ll let you know here who to try and contatc

  21. I have a feeling the offseason transactions are just getting started, things will warm up soon, I;m sure of it

  22. I’d be jealous if you were female Paul. Alas, it is the equivelent of Robin or commish Gordon going to dinner with Bruce Wayne.

  23. Monica All night Long says

    Yeah I think it is BS the Red Eye is not using him and the sox never used him in a commercial. Whatever happened to the Dye rumors? Is he gone? I love you too Soxman. Tell Batboy I said hello.

  24. I thought Paul was the rich solcialite. Why is Soxman hosting the gig? Have a good one guys.

  25. I cry for all Turkeys slaughtered for tradition. I love you soxman despite your carnivorous tendencies.

  26. EIU Cheerleader/SICA Chick says

    Yeah, I thought Paul was the benefit attending gentleman too. ha ha. Why doesnt he host the party and invite his famous friends…LOL!

    but sure I guess Commissioner Gordon should be invited to the Soxcave. I hope you two come up with some new ideas to help save Gotham

  27. EIU Cheerleader/SICA Chick says

    Oh and SOxman can baste me like a turkey anytime baby. I don’t really know what that means…if anything

  28. Thanks guys, although I’m probably a lot more boring in person than I appear to be here :)

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