By Soxman and Paul M. Banks
It’s election day! And the Soxman-Banks ticket is here to give you the final Sox Exchange of the year…until spring training that is. We’ve come to the end of campaign season, but remember the next election cycle is right around the corner. Last time out, we discussed a plan to fix the lineup. Today we banter about the strong leadership required to lead the United Sox Nation (blue-states and red-states alike) into the next Golden Age.
(PMB) At the time, I thought that Jose Contreras was a great long term investment because of his durability. I based this on the fact that he is one of the few who can vary his delivery between overhand and three-quarters sidearm. I had an email chat with pitching injury expert Will Carroll on this topic in May and he agreed. However, as Boyz II Men once sang, “we’ve come to the end of the road” with his age and latest injury making him damaged goods, agree or disagree?
(SM) Well the first thing about Jose Contreras, as with any Cuban defector, he could be anywhere in age from 36 (his listed age) to 40+ as Cuban players frequently doctor their birth records, to assist them in contract negotiations.Â Regardless of his age, the best-case projection wonâ€™t have him seeing major league action until August 2009.Â Damaged goods or not, he cannot be a â€œcabinetâ€ member of the 2009 White Sox.Â Interesting side note- since 2003, Contreras has only topped 200 innings pitched once.Â That is hardly the mark of a durable pitcher.Â No one will ever forget his contribution to the 2005 World Championship, but we cannot live in the past.
(PMB) To quote the latest single from The Game and Kanye West â€œyou wouldnâ€™t get farâ€ in the pennant race without us finding a replacement for his spot in the rotation. What pitching candidates are realistically on your radar in the free agent market?Â Who we might be able to trade for?
(SM)Â You never know what Kenny Williams is going to do.Â My guess is that Clayton Richard and hot prospect Aaron Poreda could get a crack at the rotation.Â The 6-foot-6 left-hander, who turned 22 on Oct. 1, finished the 2008 season at Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham with a combined 8-9 record and 3.13 ERA over 27 total starts. He fanned 118, walked 40 and yielded just 148 hits over 161 innings.
Kenny is known for liking the familiar, so it is possible but not likely he could make a call to Jon Garlandâ€™s agent.Â Anyone could come back in a trade as well, but my gut says if Williams is fairly confident in his young arms, you will see him sign a scrap heap free agent like Carl Pavano, Kris Benson, Freddy Garcia, Mark Mulder, or Matt Clement.Â Or he could go the Japanese route and try to sign Koji Uehara or Kenshin Kawakami.
Williams has a history of taking a gamble or two every year, so it would not surprise me if he played that card here.
(PMB) You addressed another topic on everyone’s minds in your latest MySpace blog: the bloated salary of Javier Vazquez and how trading him is high on the off-season priority agenda. What other “party” would be served by having Vazquez as a member? Despite him having electric stuff sometimes, he’s never lived up to his previous All-Star billing here in Chicago. I can live with the idea of him as our #5, albeit a very expensive one. The idea of Javy as our #4 though is not change we can believe in.
(SM) Yeah but if you are in the trade market, you have to convince others that the â€œJavy Dollarâ€ is strong.Â I think the Sox would be foolish not to get some bounty in return.Â The bottom line is- heâ€™s owed $23 million over two seasons.Â $11.5 million for a starting pitcher with a career ERA of 4.23, has topped 200 innings pitched every year, but one since 2000 (in 2004 he had 198 IP for the Yankees), and averages almost 8 Ks per nine innings pitched was a bargain last year.
Forget the fact that he tanked pretty much the entire last month of the season.Â You need to sell on track record and history.Â In two years he would be at least a type B free agent, yielding solid draft picks.
I think the Angels or the Mets would be his top suitors right now.Â Iâ€™m not sure what he would yield in return from either team, but if it were Chone Figgins, Iâ€™d say â€œmake it so.â€
(PMB) During the course of covering the team last season, I saw pretty much every member of the rotation handle the media following a loss or bad outing. He’s the only one who stuck out to me as not having a ton of “passion and swagger.” Not saying he’s a Manny Ramirez or anything, but you know what I’m talking about?
(SM) Some folks just donâ€™t handle the media well.Â Iâ€™d never admit this if I were the GM trying to trade him, but since becoming a free agent in 2003, heâ€™s been with three different teams.Â Something is not right with a guy who has â€œelectricâ€ stuff.
(SM) Richard is favored because of the way he rose to the challenge in the play-offs after Javy imploded.Â Ozzie likes his competitive nature.Â Strangely, Broadway is not even being mentioned as an option right now likely because he struggled in his short stint in the majors (7.07 ERA), but he will be a competitor either for both a rotation or bullpen spot.
Pitching prospects are pretty thin aside from Poreda, who I mentioned above.
In the field, Gordon Beckham is being conditioned to play third and possibly second in addition to his natural shortstop position.Â Iâ€™d be surprised if he tastes the majors before 2010 however.
Scouts are also salivating over Jordan Danks, John Danksâ€™ younger brother, who could be better than Brian Anderson in time.Â Heâ€™s another player not likely to be in the running for the 2009 campaign though.
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