It's odd to realize that Buehrle is a first-time free agent. The stress-athon of will-he-or-won't-he be traded in 2007, where a couple starts in a row had the potential to be Mark's last with the franchise far out-rivaled Tuesday's news that Buehrle was meeting with the Miami Marlins as far as a source of anxiety.
And Buehrle is a source of anxiety. Whatever attempt that could be made to separate the sentimental attachment to one of the greatest and longest-tenured players in team history is thwarted by the lack of coherent direction to explain his possible departure. The White Sox can neither commit to a youth movement (and Jason Frasor's option insists that they haven't given it much thought), and are hard-pressed to explain how they can compete without their most reliable starter.
The fan urge is to bring back Buehrle and have him retire as a team, and the rational baseball response to combat that urge is currently lacking, at least until something definitive concerning Danks and Floyd takes hold.
For now, Buehrle is on the market with debatable levels of earnestness. His agent has repeatedly asserted how wide-open Buehrle's search is, with deep-pocketed teams like the Rangers, Red Sox, and the Marlins allegedly interested. Also allegedly, the Marlins have deep pockets now.
As Tom Fornelli posited, there's no real reason to believe that the priorities Buehrle trumpeted mid-season (proximity to home, loyalty to a few select franchises), have changed beyond the fact that he's a free agent now, and would cost himself money by uttering a market-squeezing statement such as that. Romantic notions like "The White Sox will have their shot to match any offer" or "Buehrle only walks if the Sox refuse to be competitive" can still be clung to. Even as the offers pile up.
Meanwhile the White Sox are holding their first organizational meetings since 2007, which apparently was the last time the need to frantically re-evaluate what the hell is going on with the franchise's player development struck everyone. Apparently it still is, because these meetings "will be used more to get new staff members familiar with each other."
You'd think that the lines of communication with the recent coaching hires would be open to start, but to hear Don Cooper tell it, Kenny Williams' detachment from the White Sox has been very real, and apparently needs to be assuaged.
Now, If the guys want to discuss the long-term future and approach to developing talent, that's cool too. I'm sure there's something they could strike up a conversation about.
Perhaps the occasion could simply be to toast the triumphant returns of Dallas McPherson and Brian Bruney to the fold.
On May 17th, McPherson singled Gordon Beckham over to 3rd in the bottom of the 8th, from where he would later score what proved to be the game-winning run in a 4-3 triumph over Texas. That's pretty much the pinnacle of McPherson's 2011. Partly because it was one of two hits he had in 15 plate appearances, and partly because he spent the rest of the season being organizational filler in Triple-A, for a farm system with way too much organizational filler."
If the White Sox have to resorting to stock their minor league system full of cast-offs, at least it's good that they're big-name cast-offs. It's fun to look at Triple-A and think "Is that the Dallas McPherson laying in wait in Triple-A? The former Angels' 3rd basemen of the future? The former #12 rated prospect in 2005 by Baseball America??!" before looking at his stat line, and seeing that at 30 years old, McPherson is still striking out 30% of the time against Triple-A pitching and thinking "Yeah, it's that Dallas McPherson."
Brian Bruney is returning after spending the last month and a half of 2011 essentially out of baseball. His DFA in August was perfectly deserved, but outright release was puzzling, as he had been a worthwhile contributor before the last 3 IP of his time in Chicago included 11 ER and 0 K. Bruney's peripherals always kinda stunk, and his beard is the only thing about him above replacement level, but you don't often see guys go from pitching out of bases loaded jams in the 8th inning to the bread line in a month and a half.
If I had to pick a definitive Bruney moment from 2011, it would have to be his being inexplicably brought into a 0-0 game in the 8th inning on June 24th against the Nationals, and immediately yielding a 2-run to the right-handed Mike Morse, a batter he supposedly was better-equipped than Chris Sale to face. It tipped off the scoring of what grew into a 9-5 fan-murdering 14-inning loss. What a year!
Welcome back guys, here's to never seeing you again.
Tags: baseball, boston red sox, brian bruney, Chris Sale, dallas mcpherson, Don Cooper, Gordon Beckham, Kenny Williams, Mark Buehrle, miami marlins, mike more, Ozzie Guillen, Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, White Sox