Chicago White Sox Have to Burn Some Fat: Time to Trade Bobby Jenks

Chris MurphyAnalyst IJuly 22, 2009

CHICAGO - JUNE 17: Bobby Jenks #45 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the ninth inning against the Chicago Cubs on his way to a save on June 17, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Cubs 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Before last season, I felt the White Sox should have kept their eyes open for deals to trade closer Bobby Jenks seeing as GMs love overpaying for closers for some reason.

Teams like the New York Mets, with foolish GM Omar Minaya, would be sure to give the White Sox too much for Jenks, but with the White Sox in contention all last season, GM Kenny Williams never went for the move.

Jenks had a great season in 2008 (conveniently in a contract year) sporting a 2.63 ERA and converting 30 saves while giving up 51 hits, 18 runs, and 17 walks. 

Jenks received a one-year deal worth $5.6 million avoiding arbitration, which was a record for closers in their first year of arbitration until Jonathan Papelbon signed shortly after.

One question mark with Jenks was that his strikeout total had dipped from 80 to 56 to 38 in a three-year span with around the same amount of innings pitched.  However, his best years were when he didn't strike out a lot of batters surprisingly, even though he was known for his booming fastball.

Let's look as far away from the saves stat as possible seeing as that stat is just a circumstantial stat.   

In 2006, he had his highest strikeout year with 80, but also had a 4.00 ERA and 31 walks.  In 2007, Jenks had just 56 strikeouts, but had a 2.77 ERA and 13 walks, while in 2008, Jenks had 35 strikeouts with a 2.63 ERA and 17 walks. 

So far this season, Jenks has struck out 35 in 34 innings while walking 10 and sporting a 4.34 ERA.  Whereas in 2007 and 2008 he gave up 20 and 18 runs respectively, already in 2009 he has given up 18 runs. 

Apparently the strikeout is not a friend to Bobby Jenks, who in turn walks more people and gives up more hits the higher his strikeout total.  It could be because he throws more pitches to get strikeouts which leads to higher fatigue.  Strikeouts are supposed to help pitchers, however, not hurt them.

Regardless, as you can see, Jenks is far too erratic this season just as he's been in his career with the White Sox.  

In Jenks' last five outings he has given up six earned runs, 10 hits, and four walks while striking out seven in four-and-a-third innings, but since he picked up three saves out of four chances, people overlook how bad he's pitched.  

A closer with an ERA above four is completely useless no matter how many saves he has.  

Kenny Williams should definitely look for a contender who has a questionable closer/bullpen situation such as the Phillies, Rays, and Yankees and see if he can bleed them dry for Jenks because Jenks is not worth a long-term extension unless he offers a discount, which players usually don't.  

Around the trade deadline is the perfect time to get GMs with contending teams in vulnerable situations as well, especially when it comes to their closers.     

As for the White Sox closer situation for the rest of the season, closers can be created.  Pitchers in MLB at one time pitched nine innings and is what they were built to do.  If you have a staff of talented pitchers, they should be able to pitch any inning. 

The White Sox had three closers the year they won the World Series: Shingo Takatsu, Dustin Hermanson (who proves any pitcher can become a closer), and Bobby Jenks.

Matt Thornton could easily fill in as a closer.   

As a GM, you have to know when a player is at the top of the hill in their ability and worth, so you are not part of the slippery slope down the hill.  For Bobby Jenks, that was last season.