The White Sox have had a busy offseason, piecing together a bullpen and nabbing a lefty bat in Adam Dunn. They have, as most would agree, gotten stronger since last season.
With the new mantra of “All In” leading the Sox into the new season, it raises the question of what could have or should have been done this offseason. Here are five moves the White Sox missed that would have helped them going into this season.
At the conclusion of the 2010 season, it seemed all but official that Brent Morel had the starting job at third base for the 2011 season. With this in mind, it displaced Mark Teahen to the bench. Until Paul Konerko was resigned, the idea of Teahen sliding over to first was put in place.
With Konerko now returning, that shifted Teahen and his $5 million dollar contract to the bench. With costs being cut all over the league, $5 million is too much to have sitting on the bench. This is especially true for someone unproven in a reserve role.
His contract should clearly have been moved to a team in need of an utility man. Teahen’s versatility makes him a fit for teams like the Atlanta Braves, Toronto Blue Jays or even the Seattle Mariners.
With one solid season in the South Side, fans and coaches are hoping Carlos Quentin returns to form.
The simple answer is: it does not matter.
The White Sox have young slugger Dayan Viciedo waiting in the wings. With Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko at first and designated hitter for the next three seasons, the only positions open for the 22-year-old are third and corner outfield.
Brent Morel has third for the most part locked up, largely in part to his solid defense this spring. Juan Pierre is solidly entrenched in left field this season. This leaves the question of Quentin vs. Viciedo. Viciedo’s potential is similar to Quentin’s.
At best, the two sluggers could clobber thirty to forty home runs with a .290 average. At worst, they may see 20 home runs with a .250 average. Why spend $5 million on a player when you see the same production out of one for $400,000?
During the offseason, interest was expressed in Quentin by a few teams. The fact is that Quentin should have been dealt for some prospects. The White Sox pitching farm system is in need of a boost, and this could have been that answer.
With $5 million off the books from Teahen being dealt and $5 million from Quentin, the White Sox could have saved the $3 million from Jesse Crain and signed Rafael Soriano.
Crain is not a horrible pitcher, but the basic fact is that Soriano is better.
Soriano would have assumed the closer role and allowed Matt Thornton to stay a set up man where he has shown his ability and success. A bullpen of Sergio Santos, Chris Sale, Thornton and Soriano is much better than Santos, Sale, Crain and Thornton.
At 44, Omar Vizquel poses a strong risk of injury, even at a reserve position. His abilities are limited with the bat also.
Last season, the signing of Vizquel was considered a genius move. He provided a young middle infield with defensive advice from one of the best shortstops of the past two decades. Within a season of tutelage from the 22-year veteran, improvements in Alexei Ramirez’s defense are evident.
The question stands, how much more can he teach Ramirez or Gordon Beckham? 2010 was a fantastic one for Vizquel, but at age 44, it could have been his last hurrah. The $1.75 million spent on Vizquel could have been divided into two minor league signings.
Through his struggles, Gordon Beckham has been deemed untouchable. Kenny Williams has stuck with his young second baseman. The organization has looked towards Beckham as the future face of the franchise.
It only makes sense to engage him in talks for a club friendly deal for his arbitration years after the 2011 season. This would help the club establish stability at second base and in the payroll. If the Sox are as committed to Beckham as they act, then they need to lock him up now.