Between the Penn State debacle of moral failings, Wilson Ramos getting friggin’ kidnapped, and the inanity of the NBA lockout, it’s become clear that while there are White Sox outrages, they don’t resonate with the top outrages of the sports world at large. Perhaps the White Sox are a lot more competent than anyone realized. Think of the most horrible thing you can imagine…..The Chicago White Sox have not done that thing.
They probably won’t even do it tomorrow.
Still, while it’s perfectly legal to set money on fire then complain about what happened to all the money; no one really likes to see it, and people get really snarky when you ask for more money afterward.
On that note, ESPN Chicago’s Doug Padilla wrote a piece on the White Sox free agency needs that, oh man, I just did not particularly care for.
Doug’s yeoman beat reporting working is a trusted resource, but between his criticism that Alejandro De Aza “isn’t a prototypical leadoff man” and while campaigning to sign Nick Punto to fill this mysterious utility infielder void, I’m going to need a glass of water, and then I’m going to need to gargle it. And yes, then I will be spitting it out with much violence.
De Aza looks to be about capable of striking out and walking at approximately league-average rates, so I suppose his only traditional leadoffy-sparkpluggy-get-things-started quality is his plus speed that allows him to sustain an above-average BABIP. No one seems to ever care too much about the slappy-grindy-leadoff-man process provided the guy can hit .300, but uh, point conceded, I guess. Except, you know, not really.
The reason De Aza is expected to stick at leading off–other than getting approval for the spot from the Ultimate Grinder–and other than having an utterly ballistic 187 plate appearances in 2011, is that he was too close to being suitable for the “job” to justify the expense of seeking out another high-OBP outfielder during an off-season where the Sox figure to be sparing every expense they can.
It was a disappointing rationale, but certainly an understandable one given the circumstances. It was also a rationale that got a lot harder to follow when Jason Frasor had his $3.5 million option picked up.
The White Sox don’t have the funds to be big-time players in free agency, or apparently make much headway on doling out extensions to regulars entering the final years of their deals, but they are capable of some nickel-and-diming their way through a not completely irrelevant amount of cash.
Indeed, throwing a few million around to make sure the Sox have the best 5th reliever and best utility infielder in baseball might be the only way to get Kenny Williams’ fingerprints on the season, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the same waste of time and funds that it would be in a normal year.
Last year, Omar Vizquel, Mark Teahen, Eduardo Escobar, and Dallas McPherson contributed 334 plate appearances. Brent Lillibridge had 10 plate appearances as a 2nd basemen, so let’s give a round number of 345 utility infielder plate appearances to be had, and figure that the number could go down to the 200-level when factoring likely increased playing time for Brent Morel, and siphoning from Lillibridge, a man who some human beings might actually be interested in seeing hit.
That’s a third of a season. And while Eduardo Escobar and Osvaldo Martinez are both different variations of unseasoned, low-ceiling terrible, that’s a pretty irrelevant stretch of time to merit buying high on 34 year-old Nick Punto (career wRC+ 78) or 38 years-old-by-Opening-Day Jamey Carroll (career wRC+ 90) like Padilla suggests, who aren’t really good enough to assuage concerns of what would happen if a regular got injured anyway. Not to mention that between Frasor and signing a veteran back-up, you’ve paid most of Quentin or Danks’ salary for 2012.
The White Sox off-season was always going to be limited to the margins, but paying for experience in the irrelevant portions of the roster makes less sense than ever.