The Chicago White Sox are officially ready for fall after they waved a flag with a color that’s a fashion taboo to after labor day: white. The actual “fall” of the team occurred when they failed to dominate their easiest home stand of the year two weeks ago.
So, Jim Thome is traded to the Dodgers for a player that doesn’t even rank among the Dodgers top prospects.
For all of the excitement that Mr. Incredible Jim Thome gave to the Sox in his four seasons on the southside, Kenny Williams said thanks by giving him a chance to achieve a milestone that has thus far eluded him in his Hall of Fame career: a World Series ring.
Less we never forget
-His 500th career home run, which also happened to be a walk-off winner in an otherwise miserable 2007 season
-His multitude of mammoth dingers, the largest of which made us 2008 Central Division Champions.
To a lesser extent, Jose Contreras was also given a similar gift for his 2005 play-off pitching heroics, a trade to the wild card seeking Colorado Rockies
When the flag was waved it was waved loudly. Through a personal memo sent to contending teams, Williams announced his “everything must go” sale of aging inventory.
Among the items “for sale” were Paul Konerko, Jermaine Dye, Scott Linebrink, Octavio Dotel and Scott Podsednik.
With the exception of Konerko and Linebrink, who are under contract for at least one more season beyond 2009, player rentals could be had to a bidder willing to pay just pennies on the dollar.
So what does this mean to the 2010 and beyond Chicago White Sox?
Here are four quick points:
1. The Jim Thome trade identifies a need for a left handed hitter.
As Kenny Williams often has multiple plans, and has a history of bringing players back for multiple tours:
-Jim Thome could return at a reduced price.
– A free agent option that could make sense is Nick Johnson. He has a career on-base percentage of .400 with good contact capability. His injury history could bring him in at a reduced price and the allure of the DH spot could save miles on his body. The launching pad of U.S. Cellular field could also help his power numbers. He could rotate the DH spot with Paul Konerko reducing breakdown risk to Paulie as well.
2) Absent from the “For Sale” List was Freddy Garcia.
Is this a hint that he could be a firm part of the Sox plans in 2010? Your rotation would be set:
Assuming all players remain healthy, this would be a better than average rotation, surely among the strongest in the AL Central.
3) Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko might not return in 2010
See point one. Depending on which of Kenny’s plans are activated, both could return. Given Konerko’s contract and no trade clause, he’s the most likely of the two to be on the 2010 roster. Along with Mark Buehrle, he’s the face of the organization, which is an intangible Kenny Williams values.
In the spirit of re-building and going with a youth movement:
Tyler Flowers, hitting a combined .297 with 15 homers between Double-A and Triple-A this season is one option, who we will see in the month of September. While I hope they do not give up on him at catcher, an indicator could be whether or not he plays any first base in the Arizona Fall League.
Dayan Viciedo could be another.
Savings from letting Dye go could be used to add Chone Figgins, a versatile player with speed that Williams has coveted for years. His style of play is conducive to “Ozzie Ball” as well.
4) Alexei Ramirez might not be the long-term answer at shortstop.
Sure the white flag trades have no nexus to this statement, but I had to make it anyway. Alexei has the second lowest fielding percentage among White Sox regulars. He could move back to second base where he was serviceable, or return to the outfield.
He’s only owed $2 million over the next two seasons and his offensive capability makes him a bargain, so he is not likely to be traded.
Gordon Beckham makes more sense at shortstop as a player to build around in the infield.
There are a host of possibilities in the off-season including bringing back Scott Podsednik, who could act as a speedy super-sub.
Here’s ONE possible line-up for 2009 if some of these moves were made.
Chone Figgins- 3B
Gordon Beckham- SS
Carlos Quentin- LF
Paul Konerko- 1B
Nick Johnson- DH
Alex Rios- RF
A.J. Pierzynski- C
Alexei Ramirez- CF
Chris Getz- 2B
Remember there are always options.
More posts as the off-season approaches.