Chicago White Sox: Ditching Big Salaries Pays off Huge as Replacements Flourish

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IAugust 4, 2012

Chicago White Sox: Ditching Big Salaries Pays off Huge as Replacements Flourish

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    The Chicago White Sox let a lot of salary walk away in the offseason. Despite losing some key pieces of their 2011 club, the White Sox are much better off.

    A quick look at the standings is all it should take. At this point in 2011, Chicago was sitting at 52-53, three games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. After 105 games in 2012, the White Sox are 58-47 and 2.5 games ahead of Detroit.

    Following the 2011 season, four key starters were allowed to walk away. Juan Pierre and Mark Buehrle left for free agency, while Carlos Quentin and Sergio Santos were traded.

    Rebound seasons from Alex Rios and Adam Dunn are a big part of the improvement. However, equally as important is the way Chicago has replaced the departed players in the lineup. Here is how the White Sox plugged the holes of the four departing players and how it has worked out.

1. Alejandro De Aza for Juan Pierre

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    Player Games Runs Average HR RBI OB% Steals
    Pierre-2011 ($8.5 million) 158 80 .279 1 50 .329 27-44
    De Aza-2012 ($495,000) 101 67 .291 6 43 .353 20-28
    Pierre-2012 (Phillies) 87 38 .312 1 19 .350 27-31

    One thing you have to say about Pierre is that at $800,000 he has been a bargain for Philadelphia this season. The Dodgers paid $3.5 million of his 2011 salary, but even so, his replacement is making less than 10 percent of what the White Sox paid Pierre.

    Not only is De Aza producing at the top of the lineup, he is a quantum leap over Pierre defensively. He has filled the leadoff position and has strengthened the team up the middle of the field.

2. Dayan Viciedo for Carlos Quentin

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    Player Games Average HR
    Quentin-2011 ($5.05 million)
    118 .254 24 77 .340 .500 .838
    Viciedo-2012 ($2.5 million)
    97 .252
    51 .292
    Quentin-2012 (Padres)
    50 .264

    This may surprise you, but Quentin missed most of the first two months this season.

    A healthy Quentin probably has the edge over a full season, but that has yet to happen. The fact that Viciedo is in the lineup consistently and playing a better brand of defense than Quentin for half the dough makes this move a winner as well.

3. Chris Sale for Mark Buehrle

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    Starts IP Record ERA
    Buehrle-2011 ($14 million) 31 205.1 13-9 3.59
    Sale-2012 ($500,000) 18 124 12-3 2.61
    Buehrle-2012 (Marlins) 21 135 9-10 3.60

    Buehrle is having a typical season. Pitching for $6 million on a back-loaded four-year deal, he appears headed for similar numbers as his last three or four seasons.

    Sale is not going to match Buehrle in innings or even outings. On the other hand, his next win will match Buehrle's win total in each of the past three years.

    Each of Buehrle's 13 wins cost just over $1 million. Sale's dozen wins come at a price tag of just over $41,000.

    Number 56 would be a welcome addition to the current staff. However, his production has been matched for a fraction of the cost.

4. Addison Reed and the Bullpen Gang for Sergio Santos

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    Games IP Record ERA Saves Blown Saves
    Santos-2011 ($435,00) 63 63.1 4-5 3.55 30 6
    Reed-2012 ($480,000) 42 38 2-1 4.03 18 3
    Santos-2012 (Blue Jays) 6 5 0-1 9.00 2 2

    It's hard to make an accurate player-to-player comparison, as Reed did not become the closer as soon as Santos did. The addition of Brett Myers carries the possibility that Reed may not finish the season at the back of the bullpen. Regardless, the production is similar.

    What swings this move favorably to the White Sox side is the fact that Santos has not pitched since April 20. Last month we learned that Santos will undergo surgery and miss the rest of the season. Say what you want about Reed's recent walks of the tightrope, but he's still reporting for work.

    It's not a stretch to say that Chicago has survived the offseason trade of Santos.