I was waiting a while to post my thoughts on what the off-season may have in store for the White Sox, partly because I couldn't get over how quickly White Sox GM Kenny Williams tried to promote Chris Getz as a starting second baseman next season. Within a day after the ALDS-concluding Game 4 loss, the papers speculated on the Sox' plans for 2009, and Williams strategically mentioned the injured and somewhat forgotten Getz as a possible key figure next year.
That's assuming everyone's favorite new player, Alexei Ramirez, moves to shortstop with the departure of free agent Orlando Cabrera. This is the one change for next year that everyone seems to agree will happen.
The other news of the past week that had me re-thinking various scenarios was Junior Griffey's knee surgery and the likelihood that he will play another year somewhere. Would the Sox consider picking up his option and operating a power/speed platoon of Junior and B.A. or Jerry Owens (remember him?) in center field? I'm probably the only one who feels this way, but I still kinda like the idea of a healthier Junior hitting in The Cell. But, with the reality of the rest of the line-up, it's not going to happen.
Since I lasted posted, my friend The Commish weighed in with potential conservative and aggressive designs on the 2009 Sox. I like his idea of pursuing Willy Taveras a lot, and that's just the kind of speedy CF and lead-off man the Sox need to play Ozzie Ball. He had a bad year hitting in Colorado (.251) but still stole 68 bases. Take a few more pitches and bunt a little more, and he could end up with 80 SBs. I agree the Sox would need to ship Dirty 30 to make it happen, which would be fine, though the Rockies could want one of our young pitchers and a speedy outfielder (B.A., Dewayne Wise, Owens?) instead. Dirty 30 will have a better 2009 than his horrible 2009, but I would still rather see the first deal than the second.
However, trading 1B/OF Swisher would make it harder to do another attractive deal--moving Paulie to the Angels, as The Commish suggests in his more aggressive scenario, for crafty, speedy, useful lead-off man Chone Figgins. I think it would be a coup, and would give the Sox their 2B replacement for the Missile.
There's also a possibility, however, that the Sox may re-commit to Paulie the way that he has promised to re-commit to getting in better shape for next year. If they did somehow trade both Swisher and Paulie, it would be imperative for them to sign a 1B free agent like Kevin Millar or Tony Clark (forget Texeira). Thome is no longer a full-season option at 1B.
That's a lot of different pieces falling into place. If Paulie-for-Figgy doesn't happen, you still need to fill that 2B spot, if only because there are proven second baseman better than Getz on the free agent market:
Ray Durham (!)
Then, there's the issue of 3B--re-sign Joe Crede or take a shot with Josh Fields or Juan Uribe who somehow manages to keep providing enough value to hang around? Could the Sox do the above deals AND sign a free-agent second baseman, which would move Figgins to 3B? Wow... I don't see all this falling into place at all. Here's my three different scenarios:
Your 2009 Chicago White Sox starting line-up
3B Fields or Uribe
1B Millar or Clark
3B Fields or Uribe
Totally radical version:
2B Hudson or Loretta
1B Millar or Clark
In my likely version, I want to be clear that I think Kenny is sticking to this idea of Getz starting at 2B despite the other possibilities. If he then pushes hard for Taveras and gets him, he'll call the off-season a success and watch his own free agents go bye-bye. That would be a step in the right direction, but not what the Sox will need to win it all next year. Move Paulie while you can and pack the line-up with speed.
One last thing: Jake Peavy apparently is available. Trading young pitchers and position players for him sounds like a Kenny Williams move, but Peavy I think would not do as well in The Cell or in the A.L. Could the Sox, as The Commish says, trade Gavin Floyd, maybe Clayton Richard and others for Peavy? If not, I predict the sox will have three southpaws--Buehrle, Danks and Richard--in the starting rotation next year.
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