By: Matt Hoeppner
Welcome to the South Side of Chicago, Mr. Jake Peavy. Kenny Williams introduced the newest member of the White Sox to the media yesterday, and the most exciting Sox player to wear #44 since Chet Lemon said he could be ready to go by late August when the Sox embark on the road trip from hell. In the meantime the Sox will have to get by without their new ace, or a regular fifth starter. So what exactly was Kenny thinking by making this move? How does this help the Sox win the Central Division this year?
What this trade really does is give the Sox a legitimate number one starter.(No offense to Mr. Perfect, Mark Buehrle) Not only a top of the rotation guy, but a power arm the Sox have not had since Black Jack McDowell. Peavy has twice led the National League in strikeouts, and has a career ERA of 3.29. You can say whatever you want to about him moving from pitcher-friendly Petco Park to homer happy US Cellular Field, but the guy has better stuff than anyone on the Sox right now and those guys seem to be able to handle pitching at the Cell.
The biggest problem Sox fans are having with this deal is that Peavy is not going to be able to pitch right away, leaving the Sox treading water until September. That may be the case but this trade puts the Sox in a position to contend for a World Series if they make the playoffs. Now that is a pretty big "if", but I dont see the Tigers or Twins running away with this thing in the next month, so the Sox will at least have a month to make a run. The Sox play 30 games in September and early October. That works out to six starts for Peavy. The Sox play Minnesota and Detroit six times each the last month of the year, so those six starts could make all the difference.
Going forward, be it the playoffs this season or next season, the White Sox will have one of the deepest starting rotations in baseball. Peavy, Buehrle, Floyd and Danks will be as good as any starting four, and at the very least gives you a chance to win each and every night. It also gives you a staff that should eat a lot of innings and take the pressure off of the Sox bullpen. If good pitching beats good hitting, the Sox should be good to go.
The final piece of the puzzle will be what the lineup looks like next year. It is safe to say that with the addition of Peavy the White Sox are playing for championships the next few years, with Jake's contract running through 2012 with an option for 2013. This team has set themselves up with some nice pieces for the future, but will need to fill some holes moving forward.
Obviously Gordon Beckham is going to be a starter on this team for years to come, and it looks like Chris Getz has earned the second base job for the near future. Alexei Ramirez will likely be at shortstop and Carlos Quentin will be patrolling one of the outfield spots assuming he can stay healthy. AJ and Paulie are still under contract and having solid seasons, so they will likely be back next year.
The infield is pretty well set, but there are two outfield spots and a DH hole that will likely need to be filled. Jim Thome is a free agent and Jermaine Dye has a club option for next year. It is possible that both of those players will be gone, which would free up $24.5 million. Jose Contreras also becomes a free agent, taking his $10 million off the books as well. Jake Peavy will make around $12 million which leaves $22.5 million that will be freed up for Kenny Williams to work with. Now obviously some of that will go to players that are due to get a pay raise, like Danks and Quentin, but either way there should be some money to fill some of the holes on the Sox roster.
We wont know whether or not this was a good trade for a few years. If the Sox don't make the playoffs this year many people will say this was a bust. The trade will be judged on if the Sox are able to retool and compete for, or win, a World Series in the next two to three years. I personally think it will pay off, and I still think the Sox have a shot at taking the division. Even if they don't, it will be another exciting September on the South Side, and the forecast for 2010 is even better.
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