By: Mauricio Rubio Jr.
The Houston Astros are the masters of the meaningless late surge to mediocrity. If you remember last year the Astros were fooled into thinking that they could contend for a wild card berth and staved off the much needed overhaul that roster badly needs.
For all the talent that he has Lance Berkman will not be on the next great Astros team.
The Chicago White Sox should be careful to not fall into a similar trap. There is a lot of money that should come off the books over the next two years, about 45 million, and that’s big-time money that they can use to compliment a young roster that they should start building this year.
They are in a mediocre division that many fans believe can still be had. Fans should hope that management does not share in their belief. The Chicago White Sox as contenders is a myth. The worst thing that could happen to this team is that they are falsely led to believe that this roster can contend for a championship now.
This Sox team is not built to contend for said championship. It was built to dump payroll. The struggles of John Danks and Gavin Floyd coupled with the overall all or nothing approach the offense has shows that the Sox just aren’t good enough to make noise in a weak division.
They are, however, good enough to add the pieces to build a dynasty. The young kids can play this time around: Aaron Poreda, Gordon Beckham, Danks, and to a certain extent, Floyd. Carlos Quentin will be the center piece around which an offense should be built on the South Side, but Scott Podsednik, Jim Thome, and not even Paul Konerko should be around to see it.
The Cell is a home run park and the next great Sox team should be built with this in mind. Opponents will certainly hit homers there, the Sox need to be able to as well. The Sox need to sell some parts and get talent in return as a part of The White Flag trade revisited.
The first time around the only players they got of value were Keith Foulke and Bob Howry. The next time around they will need to add a first basemen and an actual center fielder.
The pieces are in place with Tyler Flowers, Beckham and a young pitching staff. The Sox need to add depth and get some bullpen help.
Who’s for sale?
Again, most White Sox fans will not like the trades that should be coming, but I think that Bobby Jenks, Paul Konerko, and if you can find an AL buyer Jim Thome should be gone. They do not fit into the plans to build a contender that can not just compete once every few years, but be a force for years in that division.
It can be had not just this year and the next; rather, if the Sox are smart and make the proper moves, they can put a choke hold on the Central for years to come. It’s going to take patience though, and the gate sales are always a concern on the South Side.
The Cubs and the Sox have finally met in the middle after an odd couple of years. Neither teams stock is particularly great at the moment, although the Cubs sit just 3.5 games out of the lead, but I’d have more optimism if I was a Sox fan than if I was a Cubs fan. The Cubs are built to win in a window that, at the start of the 2007 season, was about 4 years long. The Sox can extend their window for quite some time.
If the Cubs were smart they would make a move for Bobby Jenks, as it seems clear that the Sox will be selling off parts to make positive moves for the future. Ownership issues will hamper them however, and while certain pipe dreams are entertaining to think about—trading for Adrian Gonzalez, getting bullpen help—the help will have to come from within the organization.
In a perfect world Jake Fox would go to the Sox and be their DH of the future and Bobby Jenks would come here and help the Cubs contend, but such trades when you don’t have an owner will never happen.
As currently constructed, both teams are doomed to fail this year, but help can come for both, if they’d both meet in the middle on it. All in all this is an odd year in Chicago sports, with the team that is actually closer to the playoffs having a worse outlook than the team that is selling off its parts.
But this is the hand both teams dealt themselves. Both can be fixed, but it will take a lot of work.
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