Chicago White Sox: Who Should Stay and Who Should Go
The Chicago White Sox General Manager has some tough choices in the coming months.
The White Sox, who currently have a payroll of over $105 million, have nine free agents and four arbitration eligible players on whom decisions will have to be made. Some will return to the fold in 2011, while others will be wished the best and sent off to seek different Major League employment (or start exploring that life after baseball thing).
Life is full of tough choices; let's start making some.
John Danks: Arbitration Eligible, Current Salary $3,450,000
Danks went 15-11 with a 3.72 ERA this season. He turned down a four-year contract similar to the one Gavin Floyd signed last year and definitely helped himself. He's a young left-hander whose arrow is pointed up.
Stay Or Go? Danks stays, either through another arbitration session or a long-term deal. It would be nice for the Sox to get his name on a four-year contract in the $20 million range.
Calos Quentin: Arbitration Eligible, Current Salary $3,200,000
Quentin hit just .243 this season, but had 26 homers and is a source of power for whom the Sox don't have to outbid the rest of the league. We all know about his inability to stay in the lineup, but the potential is worth the risk, even if he will likely garner a raise in 2011.
Stay Of Go? Quentin stays, and the tease continues...
Tony Pena: Arbitration Eligible, Current Salary $1,200,000
Pena was all over the White Sox bullpen in 2011, having mixed success as he mopped-up, spot-started, and set up occasionally. His ERA was 5.10, almost a point above his career average.
Stay Or Go? Pena stays at his current price, goes if it climbs much higher.
Bobby Jenks: Arbitration Eligible, Current Salary $7,500,000
Since taking over as the full-time closer in 2006, Jenks has seen his save numbers go down each year. His 4.44 ERA was his highest of his career, and he has continued to suffer nagging injuries that have limited his velocity and his availability in recent campaigns.
At this stage of the game, Jenks is a reliever who can be very effective when his body is right. However, he's never been the fitness type and the White Sox have a host of arms that can fill his role at a cheaper rate.
Stay Or Go? Jenks goes, as much as I hate to wave goodbye to another member of that magical 2005 club.
J.J. Putz: Free Agent, Current Salary $3,000,000
Putz started the year as a question mark and turned in a pretty good season (short of August when the whole bullpen went kablooie). His 2.83 ERA and experience as a closer should garner some interest in his services.
Stay Or Go? Putz stays if we can get him for around five million next season.
Freddy Garcia: Free Agent, Current Salary $1,000,000
Garcia came into the season hoping to establish himself as a major league starter. At 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA, I feel like he did just that. He did what the club asked him to do, which was pitch five or six quality innings and let the bullpen take it from there.
Freddy has a place in professional baseball; it just may not be here. With Jake Peavy coming back (hopefully), the addition of Edwin Jackson and Chris Sale possibly being in the starting mix, there aren't a lot of spots open on the South Side.
Stay Or Go? Garcia goes, unless we move a starter or two.
Mark Kotsay: Free Agent, Current Salary $1,500,000
Kotsay was a bench pickup in 2009 who the Sox somehow thought could fill a bigger role in 2010. He didn't. I saw him hit a lot of hard hit balls right at defenders, but I don't think the law of averages is going to kick in for him anytime soon.
As a bench guy, I have no problem with Kotsay. As a guy who gets 327 at bats and is supposed to help replace Jim Thome as the DH, I don't see it.
All this may be irrelevant, as Kotsay may hang it up anyway.
Stay Or Go? Kotsay goes.
Andruw Jones: Free Agent, Current Salary $500,000
I liked this signing last winter; Kenny Williams threw half a million dollars at a guy whose career had run out of steam. Maybe it would pay off big time.
Well, it did. Kind of.
Jones showed some pop in his bat, despite the .230 average. Sox fans got to see Jones hit his 400 dinger, and he ended up slamming 19 of them in 278 at bats. He played all right in the field and filled in quite a bit for Quentin in right. For the price, he did a hell of a job.
If Jones could hit .270 with 25-30 homers over the course of a full season, and didn't ask for too much, he could fill the DH role and spell the outfielders. The thing is, I don't think he can do that.
Stay Or Go? Jones goes, unless he comes cheap.
Omar Visquel: Free Agent, Current Salary $1,375,000
Short of taking a few shifts at the funnel cake stand at U.S. Cellular Field, I don't know how much more valuable Visquel could have been to the White Sox this year.
He was in great shape. He played great defense wherever you put him. He filled in as the regular third baseman when Mark Teahen couldn't handle it. He held down the second spot in the batting order when Gordon Beckham couldn't handle it. His tenure with the White Sox coincided with Alexei Ramirez becoming the best defensive shortstop in the American League.
If he wants to play at age 44, sign him up. I don't care what he hits; the .276 average was icing on the cake. If Joey Cora ends up leaving via a better opportunity, how bout Visquel as a player/bench coach?
Stay Or Go? Visquel stays as long as he likes; next year he can transform Beckham.
A.J. Pierzynski: Free Agent, Current Salary $6,750,000
Is there another free agent backstop who brings to the table what A.J. does?
He handles the staff capably. Although his arm is not his calling card, he threw out his highest percentage of attempted steals since he's been with the team. He can still be a tough .280 hitter and agitator.
The White Sox also don't seem to have a prospect ready to take over the starter's role. Can you hear me, Tyler Flowers? His stats may be slipping a bit, but Pierzynski is a ballplayer. We need ballplayers on this team.
Stay Or Go? Pierzynski stays; do you really want this guy on the other team?
Paul Konerko: Free Agent, Current Salary $12,000,000
The Konerko conundrum is going to tear at White Sox fans until we know what colors Paulie will be wearing in 2011.
Konerko was the heart of the team's offense and enjoyed one of his finest seasons at age 34. To me, he is the face of the franchise. He gives the team its identity; White Sox fans have long identified with his attitude and approach to the game.
He's an underrated first baseman; remember when Buehrle fipped that ball between his legs Opening Day, Paulie was the one who barehanded it and made it the play of the year instead of a quirky infield hit.
Unfortunately, Konerko gave the White Sox a hometown discount last time around, so Williams may have to outbid several suitors and offer three or four years to keep No. 14 in town.
My heart says to offer him three years and $40 million. My head says to let him take big money somewhere else and start another era at first base.
Stay Or Go? Konerko stays. My heart trumps my head on this one. Although $40 million may not be enough...
Manny Ramirez: Free Agent, Current Salary $18,695,006
Stay Or Go? See above.