My Plan for the 2008 White Sox
This has been a truly disgusting season for my Pale Hose. But, we were due. We won 90 games last year and if not for a very tough division, would have been in the playoffs. 2005 was the best season of my sport fan life. 2000 through 2004 the Sox either won the division (2000) or were in contention until September. The White Sox were one of the four winningest teams in the 90s, and the decade produced one division title and another team which was arguably baseball’s best before a strike ended the 1994 campaign. So again, we were due for a stinker like we got in 2007.
The good thing about having a team this atrocious is that you can get a gander at a few young players and see if certain pieces should remain in place. As for the 2008 season, I am only certain of the following:
- Mark Buehrle, Javier Vazquez, Jon Danks and probably Jon Garland will make up four-fifths of the starting rotation. (There are rumblings of possible Garland and Vazquez deals, but I would keep them both.)
- Bobby Jenks will be the closer. (Its really too bad the Sox are wasting such a fantastic season by Bobby. In March I was worried that his velocity was down and there were reports he was out of shape. By September, I never have any doubts that when he gets into the game, the Sox are getting those final three outs.)
- Josh Fields can fucking hit (I don’t care if he plays an awful third base or an awful left field, he’s already got 17 homers and over 50 RBI. At his current pace, he’s looking at a 35-HR, 100-RBI season if he had played the whole season.)
- The following players should never play another game in a White Sox uniform: Jose Contreras, Juan Uribe, Scott Podsednik. (Now, unloading Contreras’ contract will be a problem, but Uribe and Scotty Pods should be on the first train out of town on October 1. Thanks for the great 2005 fellas; now hit the road).
Outside of those things, there aren’t many certainties with this team. Dye will probably be the rightfielder considering he just signed an extension. And that’s fine. Sure, he’s average defensively and not getting any younger, but despite his slow start this year he’s been one of the best power hitters in the American League over the last three years. Paulie K might be back at first, but a trade is a possibility. The White Sox are going to need to fill a few bullpen slots, a spot in the rotation, possibly centerfield and shortstop. Trading Konerko might get you the most in return. But I don’t want to do that.
Kenny doesn’t need my help, but here’s what I would do with the 2008 ChiSox. I’d unload Thome. He’s a great guy, and what he did in the first half of 2006 was amazing. But I truly think he’s done. He might have a few more 30 home run seasons, but he’s more likely to miss 60-120 games, so counting on him is risky, at best. If you can get a decent bullpen arm or 5th starter for him, then do that.
I am assuming, since Fields will be playing left field for the remainder of the season, that Joe Crede will be back at the hot corner next year. Hopefully he can come back to close the player he was at the end of 2005 and through 2006, because he’s one of the most underrated players in the major leagues. I’m penciling in AJ and Toby Hall behind the plate, Paulie at first, Danny Richar at second, and Crede at third. I know Richar hasn’t shown much with the bat yet, but I think he’s a talented player in the mold of Joey Cora. He’s solid defensively and has a little pop. Dye will be in right and Fields will be somewhere. We have four-fifths of the rotation sewn up, and Jenks as the closer and Contreras in a long relief role. (I’m not counting on someone being stupid enough to take him off our hands.) So that leaves centerfield, shortstop, and DH for position players.
Centerfield will be the biggest decision Kenny makes in the offseason. I really like Jerry Owens, but I like him a lot more as the fourth outfielder or in left. (If you put Owens in left, Fields can DH.) So who, among the free agent centerfielders, will Kenny go after? Unlike the majority of my Sox fan brothers, I am not in the Aaron Rowand camp. Listen, I’d be happy with Rowand back on the south side. He’s a terrific player. But you know who’s better?
Thats who I want, fellas. How many times has this guy absolutely murdered us? Him and his Twins fuck us right in the ear EVERY SINGLE YEAR, it seems, and with Hunter in center it improves our club offensively, defensively, and really hurts Minnesota. Then, go conservative at shortstop. This team is going to have enough offense, we don’t need Miguel Tejada. How about the ancient Omar Vizquel? He’s a free agent, but you know what you get with Vizquel–an average around .250 or so, some stolen bases, good to great defense and someone to teach Richar a lot about the middle infield. And how much better is our up the middle defense now? Vizquel at short and Hunter in center? Come on.
Luis Terrerro showed me a lot of power and he runs the bases hard. I like him as the team’s fourth outfielder. Alex Cintron has had a horrible and trying season, and he’s never good defensively. But he is usually a good bat, and I think he does a lot of solid little things, so he’s good as a backup shortstop and third baseman. Also, I hope Pablo Ozuna can come back from a terrible injury and be a utility man. If Pablo is healthy, I give him a roster spot, for sure. Also, Ryan Sweeney should be ready as an outfielder/first baseman and the main left handed bat off the bench.
Outside of Buehrle, Garland, Vazquez, and Danks, we need a fifth starter. Gavin Floyd? Steve Stone loves Nick Masset as a starter. Will Charlie Haeger make a move? I say ‘no’ to all three. I want Floyd and Haeger in the minors again, unless they show a lot in Spring Training. And I like Masset’s arm, but in relief. I say that Thome trade should bring you a decent starter. There are guys who’s contract expires in 2008, like Horatio Ramirez of Seattle (Mariners need some power at DH–Thome for Ramirez and a minor leaguer?) or Steve Trachsel (the Orioles always love acquiring power hitters). So one of those guys will round out the rotation.
We have Jenks, Contreras, Masset, Matt Thornton, Ryan Bukvich and Boone Logan in the pen. (Throw in Ehran Wasserman if you want a 12th pitcher, and take either Cintron or Ozuna off the team.) So, after a lot of work, here is your 2008 White Sox lineup (not in actual lineup order):
- LF: Jerry Owens
- CF: Torii Hunter
- RF: Jermaine Dye
- 1B: Paul Konerko
- 2B: Danny Richar
- 3B: Joe Crede
- SS: Omar Vizquel
- C: AJ Pierzynski
- DH: Josh Fields
- Bench: Luis Terrerro, Alex Cintron, Pablo Ozuna, Toby Hall, Ryan Sweeney
- Rotation: Buehrle, Vazquez, Garland, Danks, Ramirez (why not)
- Bullpen: Jenks, Bukvich, Logan, Thornton, Masset, Contreras
There’s your 25-man roster. If healthy, this team could easily win 88-94 games and make the playoffs.