Black Jack

Black Jack as White Sox General Manager

About one month and counting. Time for me to play General Manager.

As a player I always hated the trading deadline for two reasons. The first is, as a player you always feel that you and the guys you have shared the clubhouse all year will have what it takes to get the job done and become champions...no matter how out of reach that goal seems.

Secondly, when we were actually in contention and in the drivers seat, I never felt we were able to land the one guy who would make the difference.

So, now we have the perspective of the player. Stepping away from that perspective into the General Manager's chair, things are quite different. The biggest issue is not whether your team can just make the playoffs but actually win it all (although every fan and players feels if their team can just get there, magic can happen.)

That being said, do I feel the White Sox can win the whole thing this year? As a player yes, but as a General Manager no. That puts me in the mode of seller.  So, who are my best bets to bring back building blocks for the future?
 The obvious choice here is Jermaine Dye. 35 years old, end of his contract and remains as consistent as ever. It hurts me to make this trade because Dye is exactly the type of guy you can build winners around.

He is very consistent at a high level which means you can pencil his numbers in and know what else you need around him to win. But age and a couple of outfield choices both on the roster and in the organization makes this trade viable.

Now many things can happen that can maximize this trade. I'll have to keep my eyes open for a big injury to a contending team that will leave an obvious spot for Dye. And more than likely that will happen before the deadline.

But even if that doesn't happen, any lineup on any contender will improve their squad by adding Dye into the mix, so there will be prospects to be had.

What kind of prospects are we looking for? Pitching! Any team knows there can't be enough young arms in the system. Injury, development and future trades dictate this fact.

If we can get another teams second or third pitching prospect along with a couple of talented longer shots, have at it. Then in future years there will always be arms to trade when we are in the contending drivers seat.

The other name that keeps popping up in the potential trade talk is closer Bobby Jenks. Now anyone who knows me from the former player side knows that I feel the closing role is overrated, overpaid and overemphasized.

But I also know as a general manager, today's game is dictated by 5 or 6 inning starts, middle relief and a closer. So we need one of these closer guys. We will have to look outside our current Major League roster for this and getting an established closer will cost more than it will to sign Jenks again after the season.

So I'll keep him. I think Thornton could close, but I like the role he's in right now bridging the gap.

I'm looking to trade Octavio Dotel. Dotel has more value to a contender than people think. He is a late inning veteran who even at the age of 35 has kept his strikeout total above his innings pitched. Power arms win playoff games and big strikeouts to end rally threats win playoff games.

The White Sox bullpen is set up nicely right now but I'd rather move Dotel than Jenks. I think you'd receive a similar package for either and I'll keep the closer in that situation.

Jose Contreras comes next. Now that Contreras has fully regained his form and is throwing the ball extremely well, his value to a contender has skyrocketed. His stuff is there, which is what advanced scouts will primarily look for.

And the results are icing on the cake. As long as he doesn't run into a streak of three bad games in a row at some point and start throwing doubters into the mix, he could end up being as big a bargaining chip as Dye would.

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29 Comments

MLBfan said:

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Black Jack,
Love your blogs!! I understand the trade value Dye brings to the table, but I see him as the future DH for the Sox. If not Dye, what about Quentin as DH? His rehab doesn't seem to be going very well. What are your thoughts?

Jack McDowell said:

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Okay except the White Sox top prospect is Brandon Allen, who plays first base which leads Konerko into the DH spot eventually. Quentin will come back, play sparingly, go back on the DL and have surgery at the end of the year or whenever the Sox are out of it.

MLBfan said:

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Fair enough!! What can you tell me about Norris Hopper. TCQ, once fully healthy, plays LF, who is playing CF, RF and leading off?

JB98 said:

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When Quentin comes back, he goes to LF. Pods moves to CF and bats leadoff. Dye stays in RF.

MLBfan said:

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I've already written off this season. It appears the WS have a lot of questions in their lineup that need answers by 2010. I'm agreeing with you JB98. I'm not sure TCQ fully recovers from this foot issue even with surgery. That being said, he can't play the field in the future. I see TCQ as the future DH, with Dye remaining in RF. He has played great this season. I can't see Pods keeping up this lucky hitting forever. So, who becomes your leadoff hitter? Someone needs to teach Cuban Missile how to play baseball. You don't slide into 1st base unless it's a tag play. He needs to learn to bunt, as does the entire team. He needs to stop swinging for the fences everytime he is at bat. He has a great arm, so stop the lollipop throws. Cuban needs to learn to communicate with his team mates instead of going for every ball put in play. Cuban was incredible last year at 2nd. This year he is probably in the bottom 5 SS in the league. He looks aweful!!!

Jack McDowell said:

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I agree. Today's game was a great example. After a couple of balls head down the third base line past Beckham, Hawk says, " I wish our thirdbasemen knew an offspeed pitch was coming." Now you can say what you want about Hawk, but he knows what's going on with the team. That was a direct slap at Ramirez not communicating to his teammates. Ozzie used to give a quick "pssst" to Robin for breaking pitches. That's the job for the shortstop. Obviously that's not happening for whatever reason. They also let the outfielders know with whatever sign they come up with. Then later in the game, both Ramirez and Getz cover second on a steal. C'mon guys, this is the big leagues...it's hard enough without the added lack of knowledge!!!!

part-time pariah said:

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still writing off the season?

fail.

Jack McDowell said:

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When I wrote the article on June 26th, the White Sox were 6 games out. Contreras was on fire. The Sox completely lost the possibility of moving Contreras for any value, so I'll stick with that move. I STILL would have traded Dye, provided the package was worth it. As I see things now, we are four prospects short, are overloaded in the outfield, are banking on a pitcher who will have been on the DL for two months, and we still remain 3 games out of first place with no chance of a wild card. Oh yeah and we did all of that while merely adding about 26 million to the payroll. I don't see how anything I said could be construed as a FAIL or even remotely so at this juncture. I'll still wait for the season to end before popping off one way or another. This game ain't won on paper.

MD Kevin said:

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Jack,

I am reading this for the 1st time after reading your post about Salary Dump 101. While I disagree with your terminology in that post, your comment here and your posting here are spot on. Thanks for the insight.

Jack McDowell said:

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Yeah, I guess I meant a salary dump for next year. There was still a lot of speculation that they'd resign Thome. I admit, that is a bit misleading concerning other truer "salary dumps."

Jack McDowell said:

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sounds good, Quentin won't be healthy though.

Jack McDowell said:

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Don't know much about Hopper. Doesn't sound promising though on many levels. We'll see who we have at the end of all this deadline stuff and then we'll make the lineup!

webegeek said:

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Jack,

Couldn't agree more, but I might make one other suggestion. If we are going to rebuild, I would contact the Cardinals and offer them MB and JD. First, MB would love to play for STL, the Cards would love to add a winning lefty to their starters, and they need a bat behind AP which Dye certainly would satisfy. In return, the Sox would probably get three of their top 5 prospects at a minimum. And it would prevent MB from going thru a rebuilding phase.

I too would hold onto Jenks and Thorton.

Jack McDowell said:

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The only bad part is giving up Mark...can't happen. You need that guy who is consistent and you can pencil in every year. There aren't too many starters like that around. Keep him at all costs!

JB98 said:

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I wouldn't trade Dye. I'd pick up his option and make him the DH next season -- unless we're ready to write off 2010 as a rebuilding year for the organization.

I assume Thome will not be back next season. If you trade Dye, that leaves an injury-prone Quentin, Konerko and Pierzynski as your middle of the order. That's not good enough, IMO.

If both Dye and Thome are gone next season, that's a lot of production to replace. The Sox would need some damn good pitching in order to compete with such a weakened and inexperienced lineup.

I hope Kenny Williams doesn't think this 2009 team is good enough to win. It is not. But I don't think he needs to conduct a firesale. I would like to see moves made with an eye toward 2010 -- if there are any such moves out there.

Remember, 2004 was a lost cause, but Kenny acquired Garcia, Everett and Contreras midseason of that year. Adding those three quality pieces got the ball rolling for building the 2005 championship team.

I don't want Kenny dumping veterans for prospects. Look for guys who can help in 2010.

Jack McDowell said:

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You can only make moves when you trade players...who do you have in mind?

JB98 said:

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Jack,

I'm going to through four names out there: Dotel, Contreras, Jenks and Ramirez.

Dotel and Contreras are obvious ones. Those guys are in their walk years, and they aren't in the plans for 2010. Kenny should just get whatever he can with those two.

I think they can get two or maybe even three players for Jenks. Bobby has four years of service time, which means he's still a couple years short of free agency. Whatever team acquires him has him under control for a couple years. That makes him an attractive trading chip. Not to mention, he's a good reliever with postseason experience. I think Thornton can close. I don't know how you feel about Poreda, but I think he has a future in short relief, moreso than starting.

As for Ramirez, I just don't see the White Sox winning anything with this guy as the anchor of the infield defense. As you mentioned, we don't even know who the hell is covering second base on a steal attempt these days.

They already have a shortstop: Gordon Beckham. You look at a guy like Beckham, who was the best player in a good college baseball conference. He's perhaps the best prospect the Sox have had since Thomas. Why are they making him change positions to accommodate an erratic defender like Ramirez?

I've posted on White Sox Interactive on numerous occasions that I wouldn't mind seeing the Sox give Ramirez a look in center field. Whenever I say that, the Brian Anderson fans gather outside my apartment with their pitch forks and torches at the ready. I doubt the Sox will try Ramirez in the outfield, so why not trade him for an outfielder who can hit? Or a true everyday center fielder. The Sox certainly need outfield help. Quentin is hurt all the time. Anderson can't hit. Dye is a DH playing right field, and Wise just can't play in the big leagues. It's not a pretty picture.

Jack McDowell said:

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Jenks IS a good chip but keeping an established closer makes more sense. Dotel is the chip you can afford to move and can get as much juice back as Jenks could. All contending teams already have an established closer for the most part so would they move Jenks back to set-up guy? Then there's that whole drama for them for the following year etc. Dotel knows his place. Alexi is an interesting one. Don't know much about him personally or have much feedback about attitude etc. but he's a talented player if they can get through to him. I agree that Beckham will be back at shortstop. He's more of a leader type guy who can run the field out there. Ramirez in center could be a good option but again I'm not sure how he'd react.

Brian said:

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Black Jack, you played with Jimmy for two years, can the Sox afford not to have his presence in the clubhouse next year? I don’t imagine it costing much to keep him...

Jack McDowell said:

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Jim is as good a guy as it comes...not sure it's a clubhouse presence as much as a lineup presence. I hope they get him back.

webegeek said:

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Jack,

If the rebuild means the Sox won't be playoff bound for a couple of years, then trading Mark to STL would be a class act on the part of the Sox. Why make the guy pitch his heart out for a sub .500 record. Better to reward his service with a ticket to the Cards, where he can compete. If the rebuild is a retune and the plan is to compete next year, then by all means you keep him.

In my humble, never made it past high school baseball, opinion.

Jack McDowell said:

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At what time have the White Sox EVER made a class act move to tip their hat to one of their players????? Good luck with that one! Besides, I'm not talking about dismantling and starting over, just tweaking a bit. This team does not have the all or nothing roster at all. They just need to make the best of what they have as far as bargaining chips. And you kind of make it sound like Mark is two years away from retirement! This guy has many years ahead of him. The Sox will compete for a division title as often as the Cardinals do anyway!

webegeek said:

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Jack said: "At what time have the White Sox EVER made a class act move to tip their hat to one of their players????? Good luck with that one"

okay, you got me with that one. Game goes to BlackJack.

Jimmymac120912 said:

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Jack,
It is hard to beleive as a player you thought the closer was overrated and over paid. I would have like to see you go 8 innings strong with a two run lead heading into the ninth and the manager turning the ball over to Billy Koch. First, no one was more excited than me, when the Sox traded Keith Foulke for Billy Koch. Secondly, no one appreciates the closer role more as a sox fan than me, after watching Koch throw his 88 mph fastball right down the middle. The Sox had a lot of talent in 2002 and 2003, but blown saves cost them the division both years. I just feel not only as a fan, but as a baseball team nothing is more crushing to a teams confidence and swagger than blowing leads late in a game. Maybe Roberto Hernandez made it look so easy, that you took the closer role for granted?

Jack McDowell said:

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The closer role has been overplayed and overpaid. I realize that nowadays closing is a big part of the game because they have directed the game to be that. Maybe it's because I had more saves blown for me than I had victories saved in my career...think about that stat for a moment and realize why I feel like I feel. I didn't take anything for granted...all I know is that if I didn't finish it, more than likely it wasn't a win. The only year I went without a blown save ended with a trophy on my mantle. I realize that we don't ask today's starters to go past six innings which I think is a joke. Just remember...closers are former starters who couldn't cut it as starters. You mention throwing 8 strong innings and turning the ball over...that's my point...why turn the ball over??? Have you ever really looked at the final closer stats. Everyone pretty much saves the great majority of their games and will blow a few each year. Those who get the most opportunities will have more saves on down the stat list! Imagine a hitter who only was allowed to hit when it was runners on second and third with less than two outs. He'd have to completely screw up not to be successful! That's a closer. They aren't in a game unless they can "pad" their stats with a save. And when they give up runs "getting their work in" in a non-save situation everyone says, well it wasn't a pressure situation! What a joke, the truth is, a "save" situation offers a complete distinct advantage to the pitcher!!! The hitters have a do or die situation of having to get it done in that one inning. When they can be a bit more patient things change. Your team beats the other team for 8 innings and a closer gets to come into the game only if he can pad his stats!

Jimmymac120912 said:

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Jack,
Wow!!! I think it's pretty safe to say you feel very strong about this topic. However, I disagree with your example of a hitter coming up with men on 2nd and 3rd and less than two outs. There is just too many situations that hitter can be in depending on the score of the game and the inning it is being played in. I am sure you have watched the Sox a lot this year. How good have they been in with runners on third base and less than two outs? My point is if your a hitter in a one run game and a man on second and third with one out and you know you have to either get a hit, or drive the ball deep into the outfield, not as easy said as done. Thats a lot of pressure that a lot of major league ball players now a days do not succeed in. So personally, I would disagree with your statement that a hitter would have to completley "screw up" not to be successful. To Conclude, my grandfather and father always told me the hardest thing to do in sports, is to hit a round ball with a round bat, especailly in situations like the ones mentioned before. I am pretty sure major league hitters did not think they completely "screwed up" when they failed against you on the mound with a runner on third and less than two outs.

Jack McDowell said:

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The comparison refers to the fact that the hitter would only have to hit when everything is stacked in his favor to succeed. He's in a situation where even if he makes an out on a flyball, he gets an RBI and no at-bat. That is as close to a hitter/closer comparison I can get. Imagine what kind of numbers a hitter would put up if he only had to hit in those situations. His batting average, RBI total, hitting with runners in scoring position etc. would be inflated NOT because of his talent or his success rate, but rather the situation he was placed in. Does that make more sense? Also, let's say that even a mediocre MLB hitter was put ONLY in those spots. The only NON-SUCCESS at bat would be a strikeout. If you take even a 100 strikeout hitter out of a normal 500 at bats, that's a success rate of 80%. Check every closers success rate at the end of the year. That's about dead on.

Jimmymac120912 said:

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I do not want to beat this topic to death, but how can a strikeout be the only non-sucess play? How about a pop up in foul ground, or a sharp line out to the shortstop, or a ground ball to the third baseman playing in on the grass. In fact there is way more possibilites to fail in that situation than just striking out! I understand the success rate you have referenced to being a closer, but the comparsion between a closer and a hitter is just not accurate. A hitter in those situations are facing the pitchers best stuff.

Jack McDowell said:

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Read my reply again. I am not comparing hitters to closers but hitters to hitters. padded stats that don't show anything other than who gets the most opportunities. Maybe I should say, early in the game, infield back giving up a run etc. Nitpicky...and wrong

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