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Around the Winter Meetings: Putz, Matsui, Crisp and More

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Jason Gage

Accountant By Day, Sports Analyst By Night

The tone of the White Sox front-office changed from patient to aggressive during day two of the winter meetings.  The club signed Mark Teahan and was involved in nuemrous rumors involving Hideki Matsui, JJ Putz, Coco Crisp and more.   

SoxNet has been reporting the Sox news and rumors out of the Winter Meetings as they happen, but below is an update of some of the latest blurbs coming out of Indianapolis:

Sox Interested in Putz

Matt Thornton informed the Chicago SunTimes that the White Sox are hot on the trail of former All Star Closer JJ Putz.

SN Take: Putz, 32, is coming off back-to-back disappointing seasons with the Mariners and Mets and spent the majority of the 2009 campaign on the disabled list after feeling soreness in his throwing elbow and eventually underwent surgery to remove bone-chips in his throwing elbow. Doctors expect Putz to be 100% by spring training and Putz is scheduled to throw off the mound on Wednesday for 11 teams and will throw again on Friday. The Sox are believed to be one of the 11 teams planning on attending his session. A healthy Putz would provide the Sox with flexibility in the pen. If the club keeps Jenks, Putz and Thornton would provide the Sox with, on paper, one of the best set-up "duo's" in baseball. If the club opts to trade Jenks, Putz would serve as a tremendous insurance option in the instance that Thornton could not handle the pressure of closer. While the market for Putz is large, his contract is expected to be modest. He can expect an incentive laden deal, with limited guarantees, and if the Sox are interested, they will be near the top of his list.

Coco Crisp Interested in Sox

The 30 year old outfielder, while talking Tribune report Mark Gonzales, publicly talked about how much he enjoyed playing in Chicago and alluded to the fact that he would love to play in the city and is at the point where he's waiting on the Sox to make a move.

SN Take: Crisp probably shouldn't be a starting outfielder on a contending team, but given the limited resources the Sox have, Crisp might be the clubs best option. Crisp starting for the Sox would sit nicer if the club is able to agree to a contract with DH/LF Hideki Matsui. Matsui would fill a major void at the top of the order and allow the Sox to get away with a little less in the outfield (ie, Crisp). And while Crisp hasn't produced at an acceptable level for a leadoff hitter over the past couple season, he possesses the skill-set to be a near league average lead-off hitter. He would also provide the Sox with improved outfield defense and base-running. Would I be excited about Crisp leading off for the Sox, No, but with the rotation the club possesses, the addition of a legitimate DH (see Matsui), and a quality reliever (see Putz), the Sox would emerge from the winter-meetings as the run-away favorite in the AL Central.

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28 Comments

Jason Gage said:

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I'd be real excited if the Sox could land Putz, Crisp and Matsui. All should be financially affordable and Putz/Matsui have pretty big upside where-as Crisp, if health, should be okay and has the ability to be solid (although he hasn't been the past couple seasons).

I'd love someone other than Crisp, but the Sox clearly don't have the money so barring any significant trades, this might be the Sox best options and with those three guys on the roster, the Club is clearly the favorites in the Central.

JimH. said:

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This is pretty much what I've been saying. Crisp and the White Sox are a good match and both sides know it. Is he perfect as a leadoff guy? No. But no one out there is. I don't expect a signing to happen quickly but I do expect it.

Also the Minneapolis Star Tribune beat reporter tweeted Ozzie Guillen wants Mike Redmond to back up AJ. No surprise to me.

Jason Gage said:

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Quite interesting. Sounds like Kenny is about to talk to reporters and there are reports swirling that the interest in Matsui is matual.

Matsui would prefer to stay in New York, but that doesn't seem to be an option, and it is being reported that the Sox are Matsuis preferred destination outside of the Bronx.

PawsOut said:

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I'd bat Beckham lead off in order to give one of our best hitters the most at bats. I wouldn't hate Crisp on the team if he batted ninth and played awesome defense. Beyond that, yuck. I don't care how good a fit the guy is. I will say he's a better option than Pods because at least he's a competent defender.

Jason Gage said:

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Pods has a better history of putting up a quality on base percentage, but outside of that, Crisp is a superior defender and baserunner.

I would never be excited about having him, but in combination with other quality moves the Sox could win it all with Crisp in our line-up.

Whether he'd leadoff or bat 9th is a good debate to have though. I see the logic in going with Crisp and I also see the logic in using Beckham their.

Personally I'd love to see Gordon develop into a #2 or #3 hitter and I'd like him their a lot more, but you could definitely go Gordon/Ramirez #1/#2 with Crisp at #9.

Jeff Buchanan said:

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I don't see the logic in using Crisp at leadoff. Giving the most PA's to your worst hitter isn't logical.

JimH. said:

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Ok, so assuming they sign him who would you bat leadoff?

You don't want to waste a good RBI guy in the leadoff spot because except for once a game they'll be following the 8 and 9 hitters.

Beckham for example looks to be a budding RBI machine. Ramirez is getting better at being selective but he's not there yet. Teahan? Konerko? AJ? Quentin? All no's. Maybe Rios but he's an RBi guy too.

Crisp would be the best choice to bat leadoff, he's not horrible by any stretch at OBP and his speed is a plus.

Let's face it, they don't have an ideal leadoff hitter, even if they sign Crisp. They have to play the hand they're dealt.

webegeek said:

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I don't know, that Jeter guy in NY does okay batting leadoff. Beckham is similar to a young Jeter.

JimH. said:

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See, it's ok you don't care if he's a good fit or not. The player does and so do the White Sox and no slight intended but that's all that matters.

Further, if he's here he'll bat leadoff.

JimH. said:

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Suppose they bring in both Matsui and Crisp and Redmond.

Not a big deal but that fills up the roster and leaves them only one IF backup (Vizquel). Might be a little risky. Since they'll carry 12 pitchers there won't be room for another utility guy.

They can always stash a utility type at AAA but the fact remains they'd be a little thin in the IF.

Jason Gage said:

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I'm assuming Flowers isn't on the major league roster?

JimH. said:

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Not sure what you mean? He's on the 40 man but if they sign Redmond as I expect will happen then Tyler Flowers will be the AAA catcher.

What I was saying is they'd only have one guy to back up 3B, SS, and 2B (Vizquel).

PawsOut said:

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Nix doesn't make the team?

JimH. said:

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There wouldn't be room if they bring on Matsui and another OF, say Crisp. They'd have 13 guys and they always carry 12 pitchers.

Let's assume Redmond is the backup catcher and also the scenario I outline above, i.e. they sign Crisp and Matsui. Then you have:

Catcher: AJ and Redmond
1B: Konerko and Kotsay
2B: Beckham
SS: Ramirez
3B: Teahan
IF Backup: Vizquel
OF/OF Backups/DH Slot: Quentin, Rios, Crisp, Jones, Matsui

That's 13 guys. No room for another utility guy. They always carry 12 pitchers.

Jason Gage said:

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I think the club would have to consider opening up the year with 11 pitchers. I realize they always carry 12 but the team would really lack any sort of flexibility in the infield.

This problem would exist regardless of the club signing Redmond since Flowers would be the back-up if the team doesn't sign a catcher.

It'll be interesting to see.

JimH. said:

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Personally I think the White Sox are taking things slowly because they expect some interesting names on the non tender list. Bringing a non tender aboard might allow them to move someone else. It's always more complicated than things seem on the surface and most fans, including me, just aren't aware of all the intracacies involved with signings and trades.

Jason Gage said:

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The Non-Tender list has been one of the big reasons that its been such a quiet off-season in MLB thus far. The only exception is the Granderson deal.

JimH. said:

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I don't think they'd consider going with 11 pitchers, even for a short time. But yes, this is what I've been saying all along ... if they bring in a DH type guy it eliminates much flexibility in the IF because there's just one backup for 2B, SS, 3B.

So it's a call they'd have to make. While one backup IF is less than ideal, it's doable. Especially if the trade off is having another impact bat on your team, which the White Sox really need.

All that said, it's still very early in the offseason and lots can happen, including trades.

Jason Gage said:

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I agree its doable, especially since that back-up is Vizquel and he can play above average defense at all 3 positions. If an injury were to happen, you'd call up one of Nix/Getz as I'd assume at least one of them would be able to be stashed in Charlotte. And if not them, you always have Morel or Retherford.

I will throw this out there and I know you'll disagree with me Jim, but I think its an option. Jones is only signed at 500K, which is nothing, so if push came to shove and Jones showed up out of shape and didnt' play, the club could easily part ways with him, be fine on outfield depth (especially with Danks in the minors), and be able to carry an extra infielder.

JimH. said:

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Actually Jason I agree completely, they could eat Jones' contract very easily if he's out of shape. But I will say this, Jones wanted (wants) to turn his career around this year in Chicago. He basically told Boras to get the deal done and he didn't care for how much. Jones knows Ozzie and he knows KW has always liked him, so this is the perfect spot for Andruw to experience a renaissance to a degree.

Even if Jones shows well in spring training, it's quite possible another team might want him. But I really do think the White Sox have every intention of giving Andruw some level of opportunity as a bench guy, pinch hitter, and sporadic DH.

Plus I will also say this. They are not building up OF depth for no reason. Quentin's injury history concerns them. He hasn't had an injury free year yet and in large measure it's because he's so freaking intense. The Sox want to win and so they are building depth with guys who have at least a chance to be good if they're called upon to step in.

It's complicated but bottom line it's clear to me that both KW and Ozzie see the bench as being a critical factor in a successful year.

JimH. said:

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The other side to this whole backup infield equation is this - which guys would they foresee pinch hitting for? I doubt they'd pinch hit for Beckham or Alexei Ramirez, but a tough lefthander vs. Teahan, they might pinch hit for Teahan. So in that case you need Vizquel to come in and play 3rd.

So really the key is having a guy who can play 3rd in an absolute emergency. LOL and Mike Redmond has played 2 whole innings there in his career, not that Ozzie would use a backup catcher elsewhere on the diamond.

Jason Gage said:

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Just don't put him at 1st base in a spring training game, haha.

JimH. said:

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Yeah, you-know-who at SoxTalk would post about how stupid Ozzie is for the rest of the season, in between the "I won't post at SoxTalk ever again if ..." posts!

JimH. said:

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And here is the other thing to this whole Matsui situation.

Ozzie is concerned, very concerned actually, about not having any speed on the bench. However if they get Crisp, Ozzie will be ok with it because Crisp has speed. It is also interesting to note that Crisp changed his game in the brief time he was in KC. He hit leadoff and changed his game to draw more walks. He had a poor average, below .230 as I recall, but his OBP was close to .330. The shoulder problems didn't allow him to hit, and if he is healthy there is no way Coco Crisp will hit .230 .

So again and it's as we've been saying, everything needs to fit. There needs to be a balance of speed, good baserunning, power, youth, experience, clubhouse fits, defense, and more. And it all has to fit the budget and the players must be accepting of their roles. Not an easy task for a GM and a manager.

Jason Gage said:

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Especially since they really don't have a lot of money. The interesting thing about Matsui is, he should allow the Sox to obtain some new Japanese sponsors and those sponsors might be the reason the club could get Matsui/Putz/Crisp.

I have to at least imagine that is what Kenny and Boyer are trying to sell Jerry on because right now it is clear that it will be hard to fill all of the clubs holes and stay within budget (unfortunately).

The good news is the team has a lot of young players and more on the way that should help off-set the costs in time and allow the club to have a bit more financial wiggle room in the future.

Bobby Mac said:

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Is vlad anywhere on the rumor list. I know some say he is over the hill, but how good are godzilla's knees

Jason Gage said:

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Vladdy is also pretty banged up. Matsui was health last year and should be even better after being a full year removed from his injury.

Regardless neither player (Vladdy or Matsui) is going to be anything other than a below average defensive outfielder, it is the offense that the SOx are looking for and the option to use him in the field (in a pinch due to injury and to rest other guys).

Vladdy could very well turn into an option and it is most likely that the team will wait a while since there are a ton of DH's available and very few contenders looking for a DH.

On top of that, clubs are going to non-tender some good bats soon so the Sox will have a lot of options for a quality DH and should not have to overpay.

Matsui is one of the best options and he's probably one of the only ones that could happen earlier and even than Cowley has reported it might drag out a while.

mo said:

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Id love Matusi.. Tons better then his fellow country man on the cubs.. Why everbody talking Crisp.. he is NOT any better than Rios.. Dont we have rios's
big contract for a few years and he played CF .Am I wrong here ? While Ididnt like what Rios did last year is Crisp any better.. GO after the Cradinals left fielder Holiday ? Sing matusi first .. Use him as cleanup .. Sign pods to a 1 year contract.. He did good last year.. Anyone can lean to run the bases right ???

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