2009 White Sox Smell of 2007 Sox
Before the season most experts pegged the White Sox to finish fourth in the AL Central and some even said last place, and after the first month-and-a-half of the '09 season it looks like they will be correct.
During the offseason, Kenny Williams realized the Sox had to get younger and he had to cut some payroll, as most teams did with the struggling economy.
Williams dealt headache Javy Vazquez for powerful catching prospect Tyler Flowers and career pinch runner Brent Lillibridge. Williams also dealt Nick Swisher for Jeffrey Marquez and utility man Wilson Betemit.
The moves made perfect sense and the Sox ended up getting good value in each deal, but dealing them essentially ended any hope for the 2009 season.
Javy Vazquez ended the 2008 season in a complete tailspin going 2-4 with an ERA of 6.25 in September and was shelled in the Playoffs against the Rays, giving up six runs in four-and-one-third innings. Vazquez essentially drove manager Ozzie Guillen nuts. Guillen even challenged Vazquez to pitch well in a big game and Javy was shelled.
The thing about Vazquez is that he has a lot of value. Vazquez has pitched at least 200 innings every year since 2000 (except 2004 in which he pitched 198) and made at least 32 starts. Replacing essentially 200 guaranteed innings of league average pitching is easier said than done.
The next thing to take a big hit this offseason was the defense. The left side of the infield was covered by Orlando Cabrera, Joe Crede and Juan Uribe. All three were above average defenders, but were replaced by very subpar fielders in Josh Fields and Alexei Ramirez. Fields has always had the reputation as a subpar fielder and Alexei Ramirez played a terrible second base according to the numbers despite several spectacular plays last season.
The fact is this season could be a blessing in disguise, much like the 2007 season which landed them Gordon Beckham. If Williams can land a few prospects by dealing the expiring contracts of Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome and land a Gordon Beckham type prospect in the 2010 draft, this season could benefit the White Sox greatly in the future.
The fact is the Sox have their best farm system since Carlos Lee and Magglio Ordonez came up. If Williams can build it more this season, the 2010 and 2011 White Sox could be an exciting young team as opposed to the aging bad team they have right now.
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