Trying not to worry too much about the back of the roster

Trying not to worry too much about the back of the roster
An untrustworthy figure of ill-repute // Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune

The White Sox just traded Carlos Quentin and Jason Frasor away.

That's two holes where major leaguers once lived, and with the Sox minor league system still a dead hamster placed in a functioning terrarium to give the illusion of life, there's a temptation to go find wandering, unemployed ballplaying mercenaries to fulfill the menial duties required of back-of-the-roster players.  This temptation made Omar Vizquel and Will Ohman millions of dollars in 2011.

But the White Sox aren't in "win-now" mode any longer, they're in "I donno, maybe we'll win, we'll see, we really need to do a couple loads of laundry tonight and we're really kinda trying to not spend too much money, so how about we just check in later in the season and see how we feel?" mode.  Tying up millions in hopes of securing some average contributors in relatively small roles isn't a really useful practice for the Sox right now, especially if it gives an embattled first-year manager a go-to method for burying a struggling youngster.  \

It's a bad loophole to create.  Must...resist...temptation...

But ho now!  J.J. points out that with one or both of the Zach Stewart-Dylan Axelrod duo serving as the 6th-starter-in-waiting, it may be more practical to leave one stretched out and starting regularly in Triple-A.  Aw man, that's three spots open then.  That's a little too tempting, isn't it?  What if something enticing walks by the porch?

@ChiTribRogers Phil Rogers

Coco Crisp, rumored to be signing soon, fits w/#whitesox, who spent weekend clearing salary. Does KW trust Alejandro de Aza?

Whoa!  It shouldn't be '32 year-old speed player with hints of declining defense' tempting!  Unless they're super worried about De Aza's .198/.313/.306 line in the Dominican Winter League in less than 130 plate appearances.

What?!?! Does Alejandro not care for year-round play in the DR?!?  Coco Crisp stole 49 bases, preserved a White Sox win by leaping into A.J. Pierzynski's glove last year, drills metal into his neck for fun, and willingly lives in Oakland!  Man's grindiness exceeds the grasp of his declining skillset!

@Buster_ESPN Buster Olney

Coco Crisp is signing with Oakland, for a $6m salary in 2012, a $7m salary in '13, a club option of $7.5m for '14, with a $1 m. buyout.

Phew!  Dodged that bullet/moment of passion.

Just like following Phil down the rabbit hole so that Crisp could eat up 300-400 PAs, signing someone like, say, Yoenis Cespedes, could be stupid.  Fantastically so.  But it's also a high-upside move that could yield a future starter for years to come, which is a lot better reason for an investment than a refusal to trust Brett Lillibridge to be a fourth outfielder, or ignoring that the last three years of De Aza's numbers at Triple-A make him look like a guy who can at least hit well enough to stick with his defense, or only now realizing that Alex Rios is set to be an Opening Day starter and freaking out about it (Hey, Magglio's available!).

You never know who you're stifling by playing it safe with easily projectable veterans.

That goes double for the bullpen, where acquiring a piece "for years to come" is typically couched with "aggressively overpaying".  Everyone remembers the horror of the 2007 pen (one elite 9th inning guy, surrounded by rivers of lava and sandbars made of old car batteries), but unless the Sox have a sudden desire to call Scott Boras about Ryan Madson, or viciously hate themselves, the approach of cobbling together discount options and projects (Hey, Damaso Marte's available!) makes more sense for the current situation.

Even with a solid top 3 of Crain, Thornton, and Reed in place, that's not the safest proposition.  Possibly because it failed in a previous iteration, or because you could look at this list of candidates and think that Brian Bruney's waiting arms seem the most inviting, or because Zach Stewart's minor league history as a reliever might be more promising than all of that gunk.

But with the emphasis on freeing up commitments for future, far more promising runs, and most of the prospect haul of this winter ticketed to the bullpen anyway, small concerns have to be put aside this year.

There are bigger things to worry about.

 

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  • Taking the time to click on the link to the Sox viciously hating themselves is quite worth the payoff.

    By the way, that photo of Cespedes on Hardball Talk--chugging around 2nd, his legs blurry from outpacing the camera shutter speed, his face in full grimace--is exactly what Yoenis looks like running toward me in my dreams. I think it's destiny.

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    Now see, I always thought Cespedes' face looked like his hamstrings were exploding like popcorn, and that the blurriness was a result of the Cuban press being forced to work with one of those pinhole cameras fashioned out of a tub of corn meal that I had to make in 6th grade at my goofy montessori school.

    Just goes to show everyone has their own interpretation! Heh...heh...sigh.

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