White Sox Center Field: Not An In-House Solution

Angelo CerilliCorrespondent IMay 4, 2009

CHICAGO - APRIL 05:  Scott Podsednik #22 of the Chicago White Sox drives in a run with a single against the Cleveland Indians on April 5, 2007 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Indians 4-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

As Chicago continually lines up Carlos Quentin (LF) and Jermaine Dye (RF) in the outfield, there is something missing, the position between them, center field. In fact, if you were to look at the White Sox depth chart right now, their spot for center field would be empty.

The question has stumbled White Sox management and fans for a few years now: Who do we play in center field to ensure a quality team is on the field? The White Sox have tried many different things recently, because center field is not the only thing they are lacking.

After watching Ian Kinsler start off a game the Rangers would eventually win 5-1 with a home run, White Sox management must have been pondering how do they get a quality lead-off hitter, such as Kinsler. But to answer such a question is not that simple, because the White Sox have continually tried in-house center fielders Brian Anderson and DeWayne Wise, to name a couple.

Both are defensively sound and can make the late game-saving plays for the White Sox, but neither of them will likely lead off extra-innings with a single or double and have the speed to steal second, such as players like Kinsler and Grady Sizemore. So now, it's a dilemma for the White Sox: Do they value defense over offense?

As another year is passing by, it is becoming obvious to me that the White Sox don't have an in-house prospect who can come in right now and be a good lead-off hitter and center fielder. However, that doesn't mean they don't have prospects waiting. In fact, their Double-A team is stacked with outfield talent, but they are two years away. It would be front-office suicide to give these kids a full year exposure to Major League pitching at such a young age.

As the year goes on, the question crosses my mind why the White Sox don't try out-of-house products to fill their center field role. Look at Quentin and Dye, they were from the Diamondbacks and Athletics. So, if out-of-house products are good for the rest of the outfield, how come it isn't good enough for center field?

The days of Magglio Ordonez, Aaron Rowand, and Carlos Lee-type players in that system have been over for a few years, and anyone who could transform into a player like the ones I listed are two years away.

With more teams wanting prospects this year, I can see the White Sox getting a decent CF for a mid-level prospect, because as the demand for prospects is increasing, the demand for big-contract players is shrinking. So, in a sense, the White Sox could definitely get more for less at this year's trade deadline.

Here is a list of a few center fielders whom I think would make a good fit for the White Sox.

Vernon Wells

Considering the Blue Jays are willing to either eat up most of that contract or are willing to accept a very low-level prospect.

Melky Cabrera

Wouldn't be a long-term fix but would be a decent stop gate between the White Sox' AA and what the White Sox have now. He is an improvement to what options the White Sox have for now.

Andruw Jones/Marlon Byrd

The Rangers will be looking to get rid of one of them at the deadline for sure, and I would probably prefer Byrd because he is more of a lead-off hitter. If Jones is the only available option from Texas, I would most likely pass.

Michael Bourn

Very, very fast, but his average is somewhat of a concern. If the White Sox could get him from Houston for cheap, I could see this being a good move. He has the potential to be a young Scott Podsednik, with a better BA and OBS.

Reed Johnson

With Fukudome already in CF, the Cubs could be willing to let go of Reed Johnson, who can provide solid defense with a good bat for contact.

All these players could possibly be options for the White Sox in the future, but if current management wants to continue with the in-house-first thinking, the White Sox probably won't have a good lead-off hitter or center fielder for the next two to four years. So, eventually, something has got to give in this situation.