As July 31 fast approaches, trade buzz is rife across Major League Baseball. It's a hugely exciting and nerve-racking time for players and fans alike.
The Chicago White Sox, no stranger to last minute deals, have several questions that Kenny Williams needs to answer if the team are to continue their charge towards the Detroit Tigers and a successful defence of their AL Central title. Let’s take a look at the key issues to face:
Over the last several years, the Sox bullpen has been very erratic and after a strong start to this year’s campaign, they have begun to shake in recent weeks. Closer Bobby Jenks blew his third save of the season on Tuesday and almost did the same the night before. With an ERA of 4.24, he raises the nerves of all Sox fans when he takes the mound.
Orioles closer George Sherrill is rumoured to be on the block and as a proven closer and because he's performing well this year, he could be just the boost the team needs. Even if he is not inserted in as closer, the competition could give Jenks the boost he needs to get his game back and Sherrill would compliment Thornton and Linebrink well.
Jermaine Dye has been the subject of several trade conversations throughout the course of this season. JD is the cornerstone of the Sox line-up and a gold glove fielder. While making this push towards the playoffs, Kenny Williams would be insane to trade the team MVP. He needs to stay where he is.
Mark Buehrle is solid as ever. John Danks and Gavin Floyd have rebounded from uneven starts and both look like solid winners in the run up to the break. Jose Contreras is a new man after his stint in the minor leagues and looks like a serious force. Overall, the top four spots are in good shape.
However, the No. 5 spot is still in question as it has been since day one. Clayton Richard turned in a superb performance on Tuesday against Tampa, but his outings have been far too erratic and solidifying up this spot could give the team a huge advantage down the stretch.
Erik Bedard would be an excellent choice. It’s no secret that the Mariners will listen to offers for him. They are in the playoff hunt too, so it's not certain they would trade him, but it's worth the look. He would warrant a high price, perhaps a reliever and a prospect, but could provide a huge pitching boost for far less cost than say Roy Halladay.
Paul Konerko is the face of the team and is having a superb year. Alexei Ramirez hasn’t been quite as productive as hoped, but is solid at shortstop. Gordon Beckham after a slow start really has turned it on, batting .300 and showing everyone why he was a first round choice. The possible problem lies at second.
Chris Getz has not been half as productive as hoped, batting just .262. Although he is a long term prospect and will most probably remain as the everyday man, it couldn’t hurt to take a look around. Brewers shortstop J.J Hardy has been mentioned as possible trade bait, and although his average is down this year, he is a proven .280 to .290 hitter and could add an extra element of power that Getz lacks. A switch to second wouldn’t be too hard a move for the experienced shortstop. Ramirez could also make the switch to second.
White Sox coach Ozzie Guillen recently told the Chicago Tribune that there were no trade talks in progress and that he expected a quiet end to the month. However, GM Kenny Williams reported stated, “It's July, it’s never quiet."
Overall, the team's in good shape, especially with the return of Carlos Quentin so nothing is vital, but a move for a solid fifth starter would be a smart move for the team.