Middle relief, utility infielders, these are not the holes to throw your money into

Middle relief, utility infielders, these are not the holes to throw your money into
This post doesn't directly address the fact that Nick Punto in a White Sox uniform would open up the hellmouth and plunge all that we know into a fiery dominion of eternal suffering, but know that I'm thinking it // Jim Mone, Associated Press

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.


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  • Fegan -

    I love you like a brother from another mother, you know that. And the Sox have gotten under my skin like a rash that won't go away.

    I'm thinking Kenny makes a bold move to bring Posada to the club, because I can't think of anything more stupid he can do at this point.

    Honestly, in the weakest division in baseball, why not just hire a Japanese girl band and let it go at that? With 23 outfielders, SOMEONE's got to catch the ball.

    We can work on hitting it later.

    The day they fire Williams will be the day they start contending again, even the sprouts know that much. And they might as well just bring up the entire triple A team and turn them loose...except they have no farm system either.


  • In reply to Charlemagne:

    1. My father did have a previous marriage...

    2. I don't Yu Darvish and Norichika Aoki would appreciate such a characterization, but they both would be interesting additions if the posting fee wasn't astronomical

    3. The Triple-A farm system's ace would be Doug Davis, it's cleanup hitter would be Lastings Milledge, and it would probably suck too hard to even qualify as an exploration of what a team made entirely of replacement players would be. I enjoy black comedy though.

    The only comfortable notion for a White Sox fan to have is that Kenny Williams' back is against the wall. Either you love KW, and just want him to return to the cagey bargain-hunting of the past, or you hate him and want to make one of those construction paper ring chains (was this just my goofy montesorri school that did this?) to count down when he's bounced after the trade deadline next August.

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    I hate Kenny. I loathe him. I would even walk into a dark alley with him, giving up several inches of height and lots of pounds, just for the chance to beat him raw.

    This franchise is going nowhere until they get rid of him.

    Once they do, it will be a long and arduous journey back to respectability. But that's the great thing about baseball - unlike the NFL, any given team can actually win a game!

    I think Lillibridge is shrinking daily with the weight of expectations, though. De Aza just ignores it. It could be worse, instead of Flowers we could have Mauer.

  • In reply to Charlemagne:

    I wonder if they'll have that in the DVD on the 2016 WS Champs, with GM Rick Hahn talking about the shocking felony assault that opened the door to his stunning turnover of the Sox roster, alongside the anecdote about the pig roast in the Dominican Republic where he sweet-talked Yoenis Cespedes, followed by 20 minute of him giggling about when Ruben Amaro traded him Dominic Brown straight-up for Carlos Quentin. Man, I gotta stop with this fan-fiction stuff.

    I think there's definitely reason to be skeptical, as the franchise needs to re-build in a way he's never been amenable to doing. Jerry seems committed to letting him fail though, so....pfffft. At least in the NFL the turnover time for overhauling a franchise is a lot shorter. Re-building a roster AND a farm system is the sort of thing that can take half a decade or more.

    And what's wrong with the Lil'est Bridge? Should I be following his Twitter account closer?

  • In reply to Charlemagne:

    I would ask you to tone down the whole 'physical violence' angle in the future, though. Just for me.

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    Totally fair, I was conflating Penn State football and Herman Cain with the Sox. It won't happen again.

    Plus, honestly, you guys know so much more than I do, it's embarrassing.

    I still think the Japanese girl bands have very small strike zones, though. They can just hunker down and draw walks.

    Jerry will do what Jerry does, but the entire franchise needs a reboot. Might as well suck it up and get over it, unless Kenny can find a few more 30-somethings poised to have career years.

  • In reply to Charlemagne:

    I thought we needed a reboot after 2007, and one half-rebuild and a bunch of rebound years made me look stupid. I wonder what kind of disaster is needed to provoke it this time.

    Even your digression cracked me up, so I think we're good.

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