Friday, December 23, 2005

2006 season White Sox Moves - Part 6

The White Sox continue to retool their roster for 2006. GM Kenny Williams has made several moves over the past week or so.

The biggest one, of course, was the trade of El Duque, Luis Vizcaino and Chris Jones to Arizona for Javier Vazquez. With yet another proven starter on board, this may affect both John Garland and Jose Contreras. Both of them will be in their final contract year next year. Ken Williams may have wanted to use Vazquez as leverage/insurance if one or both of them bolt or demand a higher price than the Sox are willing to pay. With both El Duque and Vizcaino gone, Brandon McCarthy is the only pitcher remaining who can do long relief out of the bullpen. This is a curse for McCarthy as he wants to be a starter (and certainly looks like he can handle the role).

The bottom line is that the White Sox now have 6 solid starters, an unbelievable luxury. Does any other team even have 4? How many do the Yankees have? (and no, Johnny Damon doesn’t count) Personally, I’m expecting a move with at least one of these starters in the near future, certainly before Spring Training. I don’t know what chances the Sox have of acquiring Miguel Tejada (who wanted out of Baltimore, but now seems to have recanted), but starting pitching is the major “currency of the realm” and the Sox have it in spades.

The Sox have also signed AJ Pierzynski to a 3-year deal. I’m very happy about this as I think AJ was a true unsung hero this year, even with as much ink as he received in the playoffs. I think he is directly responsible for much of the success that the Sox pitchers enjoyed this year. He’s such a huge step-up from Miguel Olivo and is the best catcher the Sox have had, IMHO, since Carlton Fisk.

And finally, the Sox have non-tendered four players, Willie Harris, Timo Perez, Jon Adkins and Felix Diaz. Though Timo came through several times with clutch hits, and also played a very creditable outfield, the one I’m really going to miss is Willie Harris. As I’ve written before, I think he’s finally figured out how to hit major league pitching. And with his speed, he can bat leadoff, especially important to the Sox if Podsednik goes down. Yes the Sox can still re-sign him, but with his talent, I think he’s going to wind up as a starter somewhere else. I think the kid’s got a lot of talent and someone is going to get the benefit of it.

If the Sox carry 12 pitchers and 13 non-pitchers, they have a couple of holes to fill. Their signed pitchers include Buerhle, Garcia, Hernandez, Garland, Vazquez, and McCarthy ast starters, and Jenks, Hermanson, Cotts and Politte in the bullpen. They also have David Sanders and Jeff Bajeneru on the bullpen depth chart, but only as filler, I think, as they need at least one more lefty there.

For their 13 non-pitchers, they now have Konerko, Iguchi, Uribe, Crede, Dye, Anderson, Podsednik, Pierzynski and Thome as their everyday starters and Widger, Ozuna and Mackowiak on the bench. For that 13th spot, they have either Borchard or Gload. I think Gload has the edge because he bats lefty.

Any way you look at it, the Sox are, on paper at least, stronger than they were when they won the World Series. That’s saying a lot, but I don’t see how you can argue with it.

Only 101 days until April 2nd, Opening Day, 2006 – I can’t wait.


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