Mark Buehrle, Ramon Castro, Juan Pierre, and Omar Vizquel all filed for free agency Sunday, meaning another season will go by where no player with an expiring contract neglects to file any paperwork, continues to show up to the ballpark on a daily basis, mills about in the lobby of the executive offices, uses the bathrooms, and generally acts like a complete weirdo until someone officially asks him to leave.
Whether or not Buehrle is re-signed will probably tell us a lot of what we need to know about the direction of the franchise, this off-season, and how close Kenny Williams thinks this team is to contending. Or it will just reveal how much Jerry Reinsdorf loves Mark Buehrle.
Either way, it appears that Buehrle will be gauging the market for his services extensively, so there won't be much news on him right away. If I were a betting man, I'd put my entire life's savings on Buehrle getting through the exclusive 5-day negotiating period, because if I were a betting man, I would be extraordinarily reckless.
As it currently stands, Ramon Castro would appear to be the odd man out of the White Sox catchers. Ramon breaking his hand in July opened the door for Tyler Flowers to prove that, yes, he is capable of competent back-up catching.
If that's the case, best of luck to Blastro finding a job somewhere. By all accounts he's a gregarious clubhouse presence, does a great impression of the cookie monster, and was really good at his role: filling in once a week and abusing the opposing the left-handed starter. It'd be a shame for his career to end due to a freak injury.
If the White Sox were to go really gonzo with their youth movement, trade A.J. Pierzynski, and make Tyler Flowers the starter, they could have use for a back-up catcher who crushes every ball he touches, will be 36 by Opening Day, and runs with a speed that mirrors the pace at which most legislation passes through congress. Perhaps they'd want someone more capable of filling in full-time if/when Flowers flames out, but Castro would warrant consideration.
Juan Pierre would appear to be on the way out due to the sub-par season, the obvious superior replacement, and his advancing age on a team that has pledged to play the kids and being of a player-type that ages horribly.
It's hard to really regard Pierre's tenures as a disappointment, as expecting a speed-player to hold off the forces of regression into his mid-30's would be a tad unreasonable.
He never lost his contact skills, and put together gaudy stolen base totals when handed a constant green light in 2010. This year his speed cratered hard, he had a bad streak of tentative play in the outfield, and his legendary work ethic wasn't enough to overcome it. To seal the deal, his biggest advocate just skipped town, as Guillen was probably both the only man willing to give Pierre 700 plate appearances, and the only man capable of making a player as likable and dedicated as Juan resentable.
Omar Vizquel's situation mirrors that of Pierre's, except that it's even less justifiable to keep him around. Omar saved the Sox' keyster in 2010 by playing half-decent 3rd base when Mark Teahen broke his finger, but was pretty much terrible in every aspect in 2011 besides pinch-running. He's a fun story, because 44 year-old middle infielders are absurd. On the downside, 44 year-old middle infielders are absurd.
Vizquel wasn't happy with his playing time in 2011, and wants to play again next season. This kind of makes it seem like he's oblivious to his struggles, or level of play in general, but more likely it's just that Omar is the type of guy who will want to suit up and take the field until he's forcibly restrained from doing so. In retrospect, that should have been obvious.
It's a lot easier to wax poetic about Pierre and Vizquel now that they're not out there playing poorly on a regular basis.
If any of these players do re-sign, they'll likely be negotiating with a crestfallen Assistant GM Rick Hahn, who missed out out on the Angels GM job to Jerry DiPoto. For at least one more season, Hahn should remain at 35th and Shields to provide whatever benefits his presence actually brings.
Tags: A.J. Pierzynski, Alejandro De Aza, baseball, free agency, Juan Pierre, Kenny Williams, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Mark Buehrle, Omar Vizquel, Ozzie Guillen, Ramon Castro, rick hahn, Tyler Flowers, White Sox