There. That's the White Sox news for the week.
But the White Sox--contrary to appearance--do not operate in a bizarre baseball vacuum by themselves. They exist in the AL Central, where the amount of money they have tied up in doomed players is still comparable with Minnesota, where their draft spending is only a bit more minuscule than that of Detroit, and their fan base is no more permanently disenchanted than Cleveland's. This is their rightful home, and it would be a shame if they were ever made to leave.
So then, the news around the AL Central Palace:
It was nearly a week ago, but the Twins nabbed up on-the-mend reliever Joel Zumaya for a 1-year deal for $800K guaranteed and up to $1.7 million with performance incentives. I had hopes that the White Sox might take a flier on Zumaya to fill out the back of their pen, similar to how they grabbed J.J. Putz on the rebound in 2010. Zumaya has a lower ceiling than Putz, and is a lot more injury prone (he once missed two and a half months because a box fell on him), but clearly was much, much cheaper as well.
Justin Morneau hasn't had concussion symptoms in more than a month. Good for him. Good for him. His antipathy for all things White Sox is well-known, and the Twins are so much closer to being a viable threat with him 100%, but it's great to see him coming back to his old self. It's not even just an issue of him getting his career back, it's an issue of him being able to return to normal activity.
The Indians rotation took an interesting hit last Thursday. Roberto Hernandez-Heredia was arrested in the Dominican Republic for using a false identity. The identity he was using was "Fausto Carmona". You know, the guy who's been pitching for the Indians the past 6 years. Apparently things went south for him when the real Fausto Carmona asked for more money in exchange for using his identity. It's always the money that's fouling up these otherwise well-plotted illegal schemes, isn't it?
Roberto Hernandez-Heredia is apparently actually 31 years-old, three years more than his reported age. It's a wacky story, but it also illustrates the lengths to which some players are driven to go to escape their home situation. The Indians memorably paid for Carmona's dental work after fearing that his teeth were too bad for him to eat properly; it's hard to criticize the scheme he concocted to raise himself out of poverty.
Baseball-wise, it's pretty unclear how the Indians will go forward. Carmona wasn't particularly good in 188.2 IP last season, so picking up his $7 million option for 2012 wasn't an automatic move. Now he just got 3 years older and it's unclear what his legal status will be for the start of the season.
So they traded for Kevin Slowey! Slowey's proven himself to be your standard-issue Twins #4 starter type. He has a below-average strikeout rate, never walks anyone, and man, he can really get tagged. His extreme fly-ball ways already lent themselves to a lot of dingers in Minnesota (1.42 HR/9 for his career), and figured to be a disaster in Colorado, but should be a bit better in Cleveland. Still, this probably isn't what they were going for. Carmona's got more top-level potential than Slowey, and wouldn't have cost them Zach Putnam.
They also acquired Julio Lugo and Ryan Spillbourghs on minor league deals; two veterans who haven't hit like major leaguers in a bit. I don't know, Ryan Spillbourghs, but if you're posting a .095 ISO in Coors Field, something's wrong.
The Tigers still haven't picked a course of action in the wake of the Victor Martinez injury, and perhaps they won't before they see where they fall in the Yoenis Cespedes bidding. GM Dave Dombrowski has ruled out a Prince Fielder signing, which always seemed a bit too rich and crazy for their blood. Well, as far "too crazy" goes...
@JimBowdenESPNxm JIM BOWDEN
Tigers considering Johnny Damon & Juan Pierre with thinking of adding table setters and letting Boesch and Young make up for VMarts RBI's
Jan 22 via web
Damon's a possibility, and hell, maybe the interest in Pierre is real as well, but I respect the Tigers just a little too much to think that they'd regard swapping in past-his-prime Juan Pierre as a reasonable substitution for Victor Martinez. Nor would they regard him as a viable leadoff option.
Now, Victor Martinez is not God's Gift to hitting, he's seen troubling decline in his power and walk rates, and has more name recognition than value now that he's unlikely to catch again, but you do not just replace Victor Martinez with "Oh, well, Juan Pierre can just set the table for Delmon Young," and Dave Dombrowski knows that.
GMs are too well-informed these days; the age of your closest competitors shooting themselves in the face while twirling a gun around is over.
The Royals signed 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff to a minor league deal, presumably so he can slide into one of those relationships with promising youngster Mike Moustakas where he's brought on to be a mentor, and then winds up sapping away his playing time. The Kooz isn't much of a hitter, but fields his position well. He also hasn't had the pleasure of playing in a ballpark that isn't woefully bad for hitting since that one time he player 16 games in Cleveland five years ago. Kansas City isn't that much better though, and chances are his career 4.6 BB%, 18.4 K% .284 BABIP isn't going to produce boffo on-base rates anywhere.
Yeah, he's totally going to gobble up a chunk of Moustakas' playing time.
So there you have it, besides for the false identity scandal, things are as dead in the rest of the AL Central as they are around here. Maybe the Sox can get their own identity fraud/lying about age scandal of their own, I would really love to hear that Eduardo Escobar is secretly 14 years-old. His hitting would be so much more impressive.
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Tags: Adam Dunn, AL Central, baseball, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, dave dombrowski, Delmon Young, Detroit Tigers, fausto carmona, joel zumaya, johnny damon, Juan Pierre, justin morneau, Kansas City Royals, kevin kouzmanoff, kevin slowey, mike moustakas, Minnesota Twins, Ozzie Guillen, Prince Fielder, victor martinez, White Sox, zach putnam