It seems like not that long ago that the White Sox (it was 6 years) didn't have a 5th starter so much as an infantry of farmhands they shoved out like a suicide wave. On the way to using 13 different schlubs to start, the White Sox gave starts to Neal Cotts (never started again), Arnie Munoz (never started again), Jon Rauch (started 3 more times in career, now a pretty good closer), Josh Stewart (never in majors again), Dan Wright (never in majors again), Felix Diaz (never in majors again), Jason Grilli, and 19 starts to Scott Schoeneweis (hadn't been given any starts in two years, and never started again). And that team had a winning record! (I guess 83 wins from a team that hits 242 HRs and averages 5.34 runs a game is a disappointment)
Maybe horrid, horrid memories of that season started pricking in the back of Kenny Williams' mind when he watched Dan Hudson struggle through 4 innings last weekend. In the midst of all the completely nuts wheeling and dealing that took place that year, Kenny acquired Freddy Garcia (by trading the farm), and Jose Contreras (in exchange for Esteban Loaiza, who had recently transformed into a hobo), two men who uh...had some impact on the next season, and surely justified in Kenny's mind his 'trade-until-dead' MO. Kenny also traded for Roberto Alomar for the 2nd straight year in '04, with poor results for the 2nd straight season, but hey, you've probably done something really stupid two years in a row too.
Point being, the White Sox will pay--nay, they will overpay to fill the 5th starter slot.
But what talented yet damaged available starters will the team look to pry with the young, spry, and nubile bodies in their possession? (Matt Thornton, Alex Rios, A.J. Pierzynski, J.J. Putz, countless others;
c'mon, TYD's are the White Sox' specialty)
Some candidates, in no order:
Ricky Nolasco - Florida Marlins - 9-6, 4.55 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.65 K/9 IP
Would they? - Eternally cheap and 10 games out of contention, the Marlins might want to avoid two more arbitration years of Nolasco with their actual ace Josh Johnson's raise kicking in next season. Then again, Nate Robertson's $10 million salary comes off the books next year. So would they do it? Of course they would! They're the Marlins! They do things. A better question is this; who in bloody hell gave Nate Robertson a $10M/season contract?!?!?!
Would we? - We're now a year and a half removed from Nolasco's last great season, but he's only 27, and we just lllllllove big-talented right-handers with good K-rates who haven't put it all together yet. If Nolasco comes to Chicago, Gavin Floyd officially has a new soulmate. While $3.8 million isn't too much to take on, Ricky has already allowed 20 dingers in one of the best pitcher's parks in the league....yikes.
Roy Oswalt - Houston Astros - 6-10, 3.08 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 8.40 K/9 IP
Would they? - The Astros are really terrible, have a payroll that rivals the Sox, and Oswalt is making Jake Peavy money. They need to dump him and rebuild. The real question is 'would he?' Roy has a no-trade clause, has firmly stated that he doesn't want to play for the White Sox, and a chance to spark a Southern bromance with Jake Peavy probably isn't enough to entice him to reconsider. The first time I read a feature on Oswalt in ESPN the magazine that featured no less than 4 pictures of him posing with hunting rifles in full camouflage, I had an inkling that 35th & Wentworth wasn't his ideal locale.
Would we? - Well, I guess. Reinsdorf didn't land LeBron, so maybe he's willing to absorb $30 million for two years of over-30 Oswalt but....he would probably just as soon pass so long as there are other decent options. That's an awfully high price to pay just to see if Roy can adjust to the AL. Would Peavy and him even get along? What are two dudes from the deep South going to do at 3 am on a Saturday night, when there isn't a Waffle House in sight?
Dan Haren - Arizona Diamondbacks - 7-7, 4.36 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 8.65 K/9 IP
Would they? - Doesn't seem like the greatest idea to ship off a 29-year old who has two more complete years on a deal that while costly, certainly isn't extravagant for a player of his ability. Then again, Haren's salary jumps into the $12 million range next year, he's not having a particularly good season, and the Diamondbacks are terrrr-er-er-hi-ble. All sorts of things seem like good ideas when you're 34-55.
Would we? - The Diamondbacks have few assets and even less hope; so as much as they might be desperate to deal, they'd be morons to not get the full value for Haren, who will be more than a loaner for whoever picks him up. He'll be a rotation member for at least the next two (or possibly three) seasons. While Haren is having his worst season since at least '06, he's rebounding after a terrible May, and maybe seeing actually competitive baseball will perk him up. As I said, Haren would be on contract through 2012, making the Sox a lot less dependent on the Peavy-muscle-reattachment process working out.
Ted Lilly - Chicago Cubs - 3-8, 4.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 6.03 K/9 IP
Would they? - Hhhhhhheeeellllllll yyy---well, actually, maybe just 'most likely'. Lilly is an expiring contract on what seems to not be a playoff team that really needs to start building from the ground up, but it's not like the Cubs desperately need to shed salary to remain solvent. Lilly's performance seems to be dipping though, so the North-Siders should probably jump on the opportunity to fleece that special team that wants to compete, but doesn't want to deal too many prospects
Would we? - I certainly friggin hope not. Lilly is 34, has had 5 starts since his no-hit bid against the Sox, and 3 of them have been utterly disastrous. Always a fly ball pitcher, Lilly is allowing a boatload of HRs of recent. At the same time, the Cubs probably wouldn't demand more than one quality prospe--Ahhh! Snap out of it!
If you're going to pull a deadline deal, try not to pick the most utterly weaksauce of all the options
Jake Westbrook - Cleveland Indians - 5-5, 4.75, 1.43 WHIP, 5.17 K/9 IP
Would they? - Would the Cleveland Indians trade a 32-year old pitcher with an expiring contract?
I would say yes.
Would we? - Did I say that Ted Lilly was the weakest option? I was wrong; this certainly is. Westbrook missed all of 2009, has never struck out over 6 batters per 9 innings in any season, and the highest compliment that can be paid to him is " he's an innings-eater." That said, Westbrook could be acquired pretty easily. This would be a fine time for Kenny to deal the highest-rated prospect that he doesn't actually think is any good (someone in the Joe Borchard mold). The White Sox should make absolutely sure that Daniel Hudson can't fill the rotation spot before they put any value on the table for a guy who is almost literally a replacement player (0.8 WAR).
Fausto Carmona - Cleveland Indians - 8-7, 3.64 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 4.72 K/9 IP
Would they? - Apparently! Despite only being 26 years old, being signed through next year, and for only around $6 million, the guy who finished 4th in the Cy Young voting when he was 23 is rumored to be on the block. Jake Westbrook being available would be the case for any team with the Indians' record; trading Carmona shifts a lot closer to "why the Cleveland Indians have been terrible since 2007 ended" territory. Then again, this is the team that dealt Cy Young winners in back-to-back seasons recently. We're approaching the point where the Browns need to make the playoffs before the city implodes on itself.
Would we?- With Freddy a free-agent after this year, Buehrle's age, and Jake Peavy's injury, I get the feeling that Kenny Williams would much rather add someone who will be a part of the rotation for years to come than pay for a rental. In fact, if there's one reason why Williams' policy of dealing prospects for veterans hasn't hit the wall yet, it's because he's avoided expensive rentals, and sought long-term additions. Carmona is healthy, he's cheap (contract-wise, not for what we'll pay in a trade), and his sinker-ball is ideal for U.S. Cellular.
That said, if Cleveland deals him to us for anything less than "Alex Rios' head, decapitated, and on a silver platter", they're dumber than paste.
But I guarantee you, the Cleveland reaction to that possibility is not "That would never happen!", it's "That would almost probably never happen--Good God! I hope Mark Shapiro isn't that dumb!"
A huge factor is that the White Sox have little to give. Hudson is a good bet to be a part of any trade, along with some other offensive player it'd be inordinately hard to part with; like Dayan Viciedo. Sadly, we're probably the only team that is in love with Mark Teahen. It'd be positively delightful if some team was willing to be satisfied with something like Brent Morel, Tyler Flowers, or Jordan Danks, but it's more likely teams will demand Gordon Beckham, and be talked into something only slightly less. Florida; for all their willingness to sell, has been to the dance before (the trade good players for young players dance), and aren't in a position to get screwed. The Diamondbacks aren't a particularly brilliant organization, having built their lineup around strikeout-aholics, but also won't give up someone like Dan Haren for our middling prospects. Yet, as we established, Kenny Williams will not let something like overpaying keep him away from his big prize, so don't expect him to settle for middling options (Westbrook and Lilly) just to be thrifty.
As always, in terms of their decision-making (certainly not their end-of-the-year finish), the Cleveland Indians are wild-cards.
Not all the pitchers you expected to see? That's because I forgot some. Read about them here.