Friday, November 10, 2006

White Sox Blogger Roundtable: Part 2

A week or so ago, the administrator of the best White Sox blog around, Cheat from SouthSideSox.com, invited a few dedicated bloggers (and CWSKeith) to participate in a White Sox roundtable discussion. Due to my stint at Jeeves' ChiSox Blog, I (along with Jeeves) was one of the lucky few invited. (All of these bloggers are linked in my sidebar. Vince and his Exile in Wrigleyville have recently joined Jim's Sox Machine.) What follows is Part 2 of a Q & A about the White Sox hot stove issues. Fornelli and his Foul Balls and Criminal Appeal of Ron Karkovice Fan Club are here too. Cheat, of course, is the host...

Cheat: Part 2 of 64......

My input in MLBTradeRumors top 50 free agents list resulted in the Sox being shut out in their predictions. I couldn't see the Sox being the top bidder for anyone on that list. Is there anyone on that list who you think the Sox will be pursuing heavily?

Criminal Appeal: I could see, and would definately like to see, the Sox take a serious run at Dave Roberts. He can play an adequate CF, or above average LF, gets on base, and should come cheaper than some other options. I think he'd be a great fit.

Jeeves: I could definitely see us going after Dave Roberts. He'll be affordable (a plus in KW's eyes) and he's speedy and can steal bases (a plus in Ozzie's eye). He won't be the solution for the foreseeable future, but he's an upgrade over our current situation.

Keith: Dave Roberts: I don't think Kenny Williams really wants Pierre or Matthews, but I'd also bet that Ozzie is pressuring him to get some type of "speedster" in here to leadoff. Roberts is acceptable in that he won't get the money that Pierre or Matthews will get, but he can be a nice one or two year stop gap. Then again, it goes against Kenny's MO to just go for the stop-gap and not necessarily the best solution out there, which is why I have absolutely no idea who will be the White Sox' starting left-fielder in 2007.

Who I think the Sox will pursue differs heavily from who I want the Sox to pursue: Moises Alou. The guy will be 40 next season, but he can still rake. The reason I really want Alou is because of his numbers vs lefties. Over his career, his OPS against lefties (.952) is almost 100 points higher than his OPS vs righties. Albeit in a fairly small sample size (~175 ABs), his OPS the past two seasons vs lefties is north of 1.100. I also like Alou because I think you can get him at a pretty good price for one year, allowing Sweeney to develop and take over in 2008. I know that signing Alou wouldn't solve the leadoff hitter problem, but frankly, I don't really care. I'll take the 35+ homers that a healthy Alou could provide over the 40 stolen bases from the typical leadoff hitter.

(To check out the rest of this post, click the "Read More" link below.)

Vince: I think a good reason not to sign Alou is defense. He was pretty poor playing right field last year (-12 runs/150 games according to Chris Dial's version of Zone Rating). Another good reason is that he adds another old player to the roster, and old players bring injury risks.

James:Unfortunately, Alou is the kinda guy KW just might pursue if his first, second and third choices are unavailable especially cuz he'll essentially be a rental player for one season until Sweeney is ready.

This will mean more leadoff for Iguchi and possibly BA, and those are ideas I can't live with. Don't be surprised to see Pods back for one more season if KW can't get his man to replace him.

Cheat: Iguchi leading off: I think that was Keith's point. He has a skill set better equipped for the lead off spot than any other player on the Sox 40-man roster. He works deep counts, is fast enough, and gets on base at a reasonable clip. I also don't understand the rush to get a sub-20 HR guy into an "rbi slot" in the lineup.

Jeeves: I think we'll make a run at Gary Matthews Jr, but ultimately he'll be priced out of the range we're willing to pay.

Personally, I think this is a good thing. I'm really unsure as to whether or not he'll put up such good numbers again next year. His numbers, across the board, are significantly better, and I don't know if it's a one year aberration or a sign of things to come. Plus, he's somehow parlayed his leaping, wall scaling catch into a reputation as a great fielder. He's decent, but not earth-shatteringly good. Zone rating actually has ranked him pretty low; he's ranked as one of the lowest of regular center fielders. And as Keith said, we need to keep a good D behind our pitchers to give them the best possible shot at rebounding.

James: I, too, think Matthews will price himself out of the White Sox price range which means Soriano will be somewhere near Mars when it comes to the Sox and money. And that's too bad; Soriano has an offensive skill set every team would die for. I'm not really that sold on Matthews, anyways. He's in his 30's already, and he's just had his career year. Regression will happen, and while left field would seem a better fit for his defensive skill set, I'm not sure he'd be willing to move.

Lets remember that Kenny Williams likes to pick up under the radar FA's with less value and more upside, so I can see him pursing a David Dellucci (I can't believe he's 32 already). I have a feeling that Dave Roberts may be a Pods-clone in the making with the weak arm and an uncertain CFer (will BA be okay?) Would you want Roberts patrolling CF?

I don't think there'll be much FA hunting from KW, instead I expect him to more actively pursue trades to fix his position holes.

Tom: I think Juan Pierre and Dave Roberts are two very distinct possibilities.

Jim: This looks to be a trade year for KW, though you could say that about every year. Given the shape and state of the market, I don't think the "big" names like Carlos Lee are going to get what they're looking for, but I think the mid-level guys are going to get a nice boost.

If David Dellucci were right-handed, he'd be ideal. Same with Frank Catalanotto. I think Dave Roberts is pushing harder for the Sox than the other way around -- it's a team that'd make him look good, even if he declines.

If only the Sox could commit to the idea of Ross Gload as a left fielder and give him playing time there in winter and spring, Craig Wilson would be a hell of an idea. He plays a decent first, a bad outfield (like Carl Everett, from what I've seen), and can crush lefties.

It'd be a great move in MVP 2005, anyway.

I probably should have asked this prior to the Free Agent question... KW and the local Sox beat reporters have been very quiet on the Sox budget for '07. I know one national online columnists keeps writing that the Sox are looking to drop payroll, which I think we all can agree is bunk. But the question is Where does the 2007 budget wind up? Is Kenny being quiet because they're ready to really step to the next level of spending thanks to a boatload of sellouts, creative marketing deals, and a new section of high price seating, or is Jerry looking to line the pockets of the investors with their newfound revenue streams? I guess what I'm really asking is Kenny going to surprise us with a big free agent signing or blockbuster trade?

Jeeves: I don't see the Sox making a big splash in the free agency markert. Zito, Soriano, CLee, and Matsuzaka are all going to cost far too much money. Outside of them, there aren't really any desireable, young free agents for us to pick up, and Kenny isn't the type to spend money just for the sake of spending money.

It's conceivable that KW would pick someone up via trade but I can't think of anyone with such a large salary that it would be an issue. We've all heard the A-Rod rumors, but I think it's doubtful that we'll get him.

Keith: I think that Kenny will be allowed to spend a number right around $105 million. I would like to think that the "cap" is a little closer to $110, but $105 is plenty. Whether or not Kenny decides to use that or not is the obvious question, and honestly, I have no idea what to expect this winter.

My strongest convictions this winter are that Freddy Garcia will be traded, and that Juan Uribe will be our starting SS.

James: I really don't see a change in organizational philosophy, i.e., spending low for FA's, splash big with trades, coming anytime soon. KW's recent big spending has been more to retain his own FA's, not sign new ones.

That being said, in order to remain even at the status quo in on-the-field performance the payroll will almost certainly increase, and if Cashman were to ask the right price, KW would take A-Rod in a heartbeat.

The White Sox revenue pool will continue to grow next season so expect the Sox to remain in the thick of things. (If the Sox are competitive next season, expect a much more active KW around the trade deadline.)

So, yes, expect the salary budget to increase this season but mostly thru trades and resigning our own (Joe Crede extension after arbitration, maybe Mark Buehrle?) FA's.

Tom: I don't think we'll increase the payroll too much, if at all.

I don't expect any kind of big name free agent signing, but I'm fully expecting KW to make some kind of trade. Whether it's a blockbuster or not, I don't know. I assume it would be large, cuz if KW has showed us anything it's that he likes to make the big move in the offseason rather than in July.

Criminal Appeal: Anyone have a copy of Baseball Between the Numbers lying around? My recollection is that the financial windfall from a World Series win lingers for five years or so, which would indicate that the Sox should be able to keep spending among the upper tier of teams. This organization has always been willing to use a fair portion of its resources to put the best possible product on the field. The decisions aren't always perfect, but the commitment has been there.

Jim: I don't see what Kenny or the Sox have to gain by disclosing the budget this year, no matter what happens. Last year, given that the Sox were going to re-sign Paul Konerko for a big deal and had arbitration for Jon Garland, it was a given that payroll was going to shoot up. I don't think they were hurting negotiation leverage any.

Crede's the only incumbent question mark in terms of this year's payroll, so they're better off saying less. Still, with the amount of roster spots up for grabs in 2008, they have to be really careful about what they do this year, for a team not needing any real face lift. I don't see any drastic changes with regards to money, maybe $105-110M.

Vince: I think the budget will go up a bit more. I think that the 2006 budget, effectively, was about $95 million or so, counting the money the Sox received as part of the Thome and Vázquez trades. I haven't heard anything to suggest that season-ticket renewals fell off. I agree with the point above that the Reinsdorf ownership group has generally been willing to use revenue increases to boost payroll. I think $105 million, if the Sox find players worth spending it on, is about right.

Cheat: I was really trying to get somebody to drop the name Mark Mulder.

  • He's a local boy, grew up a Sox fan.
  • His reduced effectiveness the last two seasons can be traced directly to the injury in his throwing shoulder for which he underwent surgery in September. The injury altered his throwing motion and resulted in a decrease in velocity.
  • He's expressed interest in working with "a great pitching coach," though he was referring to Leo Mazzone when he said that.
  • Mulder fits Kenny's recent acquisitions of (possibly) undervalued above-average starters. (see: Garcia, Contreras, Vazquez, and even Hernandez)
  • Most importantly, he's not represented by Scott Boras.
I haven't seen the Sox connected to Mulder, but I think they're in the mix. The only question is will one of the other 8 teams who've expressed early interest go crazy with a long-term guaranteed deal.

Jim: After Javier Vazquez, could the Sox afford to take another so-so NL pitcher as a reclamation project?

I like Mulder -- he and Buehrle were awesome in 2003, when they pitched three sub-two-hour games. If this were 2004 or '05, he'd be great. 2007? Pass.

Cheat: I don't have a good handle on what Mulder will command in this market given his current status. I'd offer him 2/$15M guaranteed (structured $5M in '07, 10M in '08), with a $15M third-year option. That'd be the Sox standard 3/$30M deal, though a little more creative because of the circumstances. But will there be a team out there willing to top that offer? Probably.

Only 17 more parts remaining. Stay tuned for the exciting discussion of the Detrimental Perez Theory....

Still more to come when Cheat decides to dole out the rest of our thoughts piecemail.

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