Monday, October 4, 2010
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Well, another White Sox season is in the books. You can call 2010 whatever you want- disappointing, frustrating, a success, a failure, but there's one thing you can't deny: it was interesting the whole way, from the reality TV drama of in-fighting to the July surge to the September collapse. With the games over, now comes the analysis, and soon the juicy hot stove talk about composing the 2011 team.
The first thing I want to do is take a look at the Sox DH decision for September. After the foolish decision not to have a major league starter caliber player at DH to start the season, it was immediately obvious that an upgrade would be sought just about right out of the gate. The team was unable to add a quality bat in July or early August, when they were in first place. When Ken Williams boldly claimed Manny Ramirez off waivers from the Dodgers at the end of August, the Sox had slipped but were still competing for the AL Central crown.
Did Manny boost the Sox chances when he came over? Well, no. Aside from his magical "on deck presence" that empowered AJ Pierzynski and Paul Konerko to hit late inning, game-turning homers in Cleveland, Ramirez did disappointing little with an actual baseball bat in his hands while standing in the batter's box. Even a pessimistic fan would have expected at least one RBI from the guy before the Sox were eliminated.
It's unclear whether his acquisition could have made up enough ground to catch the Twins at all, but due to his lack of game readiness and alarming decline in bat speed, the Manny move was unequivocally a failure.
Would anybody else have fared better? I put together this chart of the other options available to the Sox at the time they picked up Manny:
|SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010 SPLITS|
|C. Delgado||BOS||DNP |
This is obviously an imperfect system because several players weren't easily obtainable (Dunn, LaRoche), it only covers a small sample size, and it doesn't factor in LaRoche's monster month of August, in which he put up a 1.046 OPS. Also, you see I threw Jim Thome in there at the end. But, aside from bringing back Thome in February (has that ever been discussed anywhere? hmmm) it doesn't look like any of the big sluggers would have made a big impact with the Sox.
After nixing a deal to the Sox, Berkman had a horrible month of August with the Yankees before rebounding with a so-so September. If you were disappointed in Manny because of his (lack of) power numbers, Berkman would not have represented much of an upgrade. However, I wouldn't be shocked to see the Sox pursue Berkman, who is a free agent this winter, as a DH option for 2011. The fact that he turned down the Sox once will only make Ken Williams want him more.
You'll remember me stumping continually for a Carlos Beltran trade back in August, and it turns out he did indeed have an all-around solid last month of the 2010 season. Of all the guys here, his production surely would have been the best fit with the Sox, and I think he might still be a fit in right field for 2011.
What happened to you, Brad Hawpe? He was a bust, as was Carlos Delgado, who couldn't even stay on the field in Triple-A because of injuries. Dunn and LaRoche would have been nice back in July, but neither was an option after the trade deadline (although, if Paul Konerko doesn't return, both could be options for 2011 in free agency). Then there's Jim Thome who, in he second-least amount of at bats, had the highest AVG, OBP, SLG, OPS, wOBA and the most HR for the month. Sigh.
As I've alluded to throughout, this list is important not only to look back on 2010, but because each player on there is available again for 2011, and Sox have surely learned their lesson about waiting until midseason to bring in a DH. Outside of Delgado, who should probably hang 'em up, you can make cases of varying strength about any of the seven other players joining the Sox for next season.
When asked about the Sox biggest need going into the offseason, this was Williams' response in today's Tribune:
"As I've always said going way back now, we need some balance from the left side. So whether that's A.J. (Pierzynski) coming back, whether that's going out on the free-agent market or making a trade, we have to have some balance in the middle of our lineup or at least around the fifth or sixth spot."
I'm going to go ahead and hope he is joking about Pierzynski representing some kind of impact left handed bat (seriously, if AJ comes back and hits anywhere higher than 7th or 8th, the Sox are in big, big trouble), so that means it's going to come from outside the organization.
Considering the Sox financial situation, I don't expect a flurry of player movement and a ton of big acquisitions (especially top tier free agents like Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth) this winter. But you know the DH situation will be addressed, and it might involve some of the names above.