Over the weekend at SoxFest, Rick Hahn had some interesting commentary in regards to the White Sox payroll. Hahn declared at the morning seminar at SoxFest that if the White Sox were in contention, fans could expect the team to add to payroll if necessary. “the money has always been there,” said Hahn. So that is the good news. Now stop drooling White Sox fans, the fact that Hahn said he would raise payroll does not mean the Sox will be splurging, but it does mean that if the White Sox are an impact player away from being a force to be reckoned with come July, Hahn will have the flexibility to swing a deal.
The undeniable bad news though is the biggest question mark in Hahn’s comments. If the money has always been there, then why not re-sign fan favorite A.J. Pierzynski? A man who had just come off of a career year at the plate. When asked about the departure of Pierzynski, Hahn said that the money that would have gone into a Pierzynski extension was instead reassigned to the contracts of starting pitcher Jake Peavy, utility man Jeff Keppinger, and reliever Matt Lindstrom.
Assuming Hahn would have re-signed Pierzynski on a one-year contract, Hahn was apparently about to dish out about $20 million on the thirty-six year old catcher. Now, I am being facetious, but if the White Sox are willing to spend on an impact bat later in the season, why wouldn’t they spend on a proven bat like Pierzynski’s now? There could be several reasons as to why the Sox passed on Pierzynski, but I am assuming Pierzynski wouldn’t have commanded as much as the $7 million dollar price tag he signed for in Texas from the White Sox.
Overall, I am pleased that the Sox see themselves in a win-now mode, despite the bleak outlook on the division. The Tigers are still an offensive juggernaut with a great complementary starting rotation. The Kansas City Royals have improved their weak rotation, which should combine with a solid bullpen and young, exciting lineup to be somewhat relevant in 2013, but yet Hahn and the Sox front office can still see themselves having a shot at this thing. Only time will tell.
Yesterday news was broke by Jon Paul Morosi that former Rockies and Orioles reliever Matt Lindstrom had signed a one year deal with the White Sox. Lindstrom, 32, split time last year with the Orioles and Diamondbacks, he compiled a 2.68 ERA, with a walk ratio of 2.7 and a strikeout ratio of 7.7.
Lindstrom could very well be the reliever the Sox have been talking about acquiring all off-season as he is a 6 year veteran, and throws pure gas. In addition the Pale Hose only had one more remaining roster spot, and it was for a reliever. I do like the surface numbers Lindstrom has put up over his career, however I do have some major concerns when it comes to this type of pitcher.
My number one concern when it comes to pitchers is league changing. When pitchers go from the National League to the American League they are notorious for getting completely shelled in the beginning of their stint. Example 1 being Ryan Dempster. Last year, Ryan Dempster was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the Texas Rangers. Dempster had been lights out for the Cubs but with their rebuilding effort going on Dempster was more worth what he could bring in than what he put in. Before the trade, Dempster had a 2.25 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and a 2.3 walk ratio. After he was dealt to the Rangers, Dempster regressed heavily. In 12 starts Dempster had a 5.09 ERA, 1.435 WHIP, and his walk ratio jumped up a whole point. The competition in the AL West, with teams like the A’s and Angels combined with the designated hitter rule, was just too much for Dempster to handle. So now I begin to wonder.
Lindstrom pitched in the National League exclusively for 5 years with the Marlins and Astros. The beginning of 2012 was the first time he had been on an American League club. Even worse, it was an American League club in the best division in baseball. During Lindstrom’s time with the O’s, he didn’t fare too badly. But the fact that his walk rate with the O’s compared to the Diamondbacks was alomst 1.5 points higher is a little concerning.
I’m not saying this was a bad signing, because I do like the fact that the White Sox went after a veteran reliever with some pop. But what I am saying is that the switching of leagues is something to watch out for , as it may not be a smooth transition. Fortunately, Lindstrom is coming into a pretty weak division even despite all the improvements the clubs have made this offseason. If there is any American League division that most resembles a National League division it’s the AL Central.
Thank you for reading another edition of the Next White Sox GM. If you have any comments on the signing of Matt Lindstrom, or have any ideas of your own please comment below and have your voice heard! Spring Training opening day is only 34 days away, and pitchers and catchers report on February 10th!
The AL West just got a little tougher today when general manager Jack Zduriencik of the Seattle Mariners pulled the trigger on a three team deal that saw former Nationals outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse head to the Emerald City, also involved in the deal was Mariners catcher John Jaso who went to Oakland. Oakland then sent minor league pitchers AJ Cole and Blake Treinen to Washington, who will also receive a player to be named later from Oakland. Morse was being shopped after Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo re-signed first baseman Adam LaRoache to a two-year deal. With Morse’s first base position filled, and Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, and the newly-acquired Denard Span patrolling the oufield Morse was out of options. Though he could have played second base and been part of a stacked lineup, Rizzo saw more value in the talent that Morse could bring in than having the extra offense lying around in the lineup.
Michael Morse brought back former Nationals prospect AJ Cole, who was traded away in the Gio Gonzalez deal last year. The year he was traded to the A’s the Nats sold on him high with Cole being the fifty-seventh ranked prospect according to Baseball America. In 2011 at Single-A Hagerstown Cole pitched to a four win and seven loss record, a 4.04 ERA, and a WHIP around 1.2. Solid stats, but they could have been better. What most likely attracted the eye of A’s GM Billy Beane was Cole’s outstanding walk rate which was a relatively cool 2.4 and his high strikeout rate which was at 10.9. In comparison David Price’s career walk rate is 3.0 and his career strikeout rate is an 8.3.
Now more on Michael Morse, who will head to a smaller Safeco field, and be placed in the middle of a now formidable Mariners lineup. Before this offseason the Mariners need to address their offensive needs, and badly. Their best hitters were designated hitter Jesus Montero and third baseman Kyle Seager. However, GM Jack Zduriencik has vastly improved their anemic offense by adding former Angel Kendrys Morales and signing former Mariner great Raul Ibanez. Morse just seems to be the cherry on top. Yet there still lies a problem. As noted by MLB insider Jon Paul Morosi: Jesus Montero, though not the subject of the deal is the key player to making this trade work.
But why is Montero so key? Well that’s because Montero, though listed as a catcher, does not actually catch. Of the 135 games Montero played last year, he was the starting catcher for 55 of them, catching 40% of Seattle’s games. With the DH spot now being occupied by a revolving door of Morse, Morales, and Ibanez; Montero will have to find at-bats elsewhere. But the problem is, the elsewhere might not be catcher for the Mariners, it might be designated hitter elsewhere.
Montero’s fielding numbers at the catching position are not promising. Last year he let up 7 passed balls, in addition to not really being a brick wall behind the plate, Montero also only threw out 25% of base runners attempting to steal on him. In comparison, 35 year old catcher AJ Pierzynski only let up 8 passed balls in about 71 more games than Montero, and Pierzynski also threw out about the same percentage of base runners. Now don’t go saying “well, Pierzynski is one of the best catchers in the game and got by.” That is not the right logic here, Pierzynski is about 14 years older than Montero and had one more passed ball allowed than Montero, while being the backstop for 71 more games than the younger Montero. In order to get the same kind of at-bats a young power hitter like Montero will need, Jack Zduriencik will most likely need to look elsewhere. The good thing is that a player like Montero still holds significant value considering he won’t be arbitration eligable until 2015, and isn’t a free agent until 2018, which still gives the team receiving him about 5 years of cheap control on Montero.
Now we move on to the Moneyball A’s, who essentially gave up prospects AJ Cole, Blake Treinen, and a player to be named later for catcher John Jaso. Yes, the A’s did a three-for-one trade for John Jaso, That’s what I said when I first heard about the deal, and thought Billy Beane had gone mad. But upon further investigation I started to warm up to why Beane did this deal. Though Cole was an elite prospect upon coming to Oakland, he left under much worse circumstances.
Upon his arrival Cole was placed in Single-A ball with Oakland’s Burlington affiliate. Nothing had changed, Cole improved his whip to a 1.0, dropped his walk rate to a 1.8, and had a dazzling 9.6 strikeout rating, all while maintaining a 2.07 ERA. But then Stockton happened. Cole was promoted to A+ ball, and just fell apart. He was not the same pitcher that left Burlington. Though maintaining a 2.4 walk rate, Cole’s strikeout rate decreased to a 7.3 and his home run rate increased a full point to 1.7. Cole’s ERA also ballooned to a near an 8, and he lost all but one of his starts which was a no decision. Now this by no means indicates that Cole is done, considering his size of good work versus bad work is still about 38 starts to 7, but if Cole did continue to tank then Beane would have been SOL (so out of luck). Thus, it pained Beane to part with a promising prospect of Cole’s caliber, but he got someone who could help the big league club in Jaso.
Going into the 2013 season Beane had planned to have Derek Norris and George Kottaras battle it out for the starting catcher job. Norris who came over with Cole in the Gonzalez trade had had a decent year at AAA Sacremento, grinding out a slash line of .271/.329/.477 (avg./obp.%/slg% for those who aren’t familiar), Norris also tacked on 9 home runs and 38 RBI’s. Oh, and not to mention this was all done in less than 250 plate appearances.
Kottaras, the other man battling for the job, came over in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers. Though Kottaras doesn’t hit for a high average, he is known for getting on base, something that sources tell me Billy Beane really likes a lot. With Beane ready to let the two duke it out for the job, the opportunity to acquire Jaso came up. Beane had been chasing Jaso for months, and would only let Cole go for Jaso. Jaso was Beane’s man. Jaso is probably thought of so highly by Beane because of his insanely high on-base percentage, which flirted with .400 last year (.394). Having Jaso, who is staying in the same division he played in with the M’s is probably all the more insurance for Beane, as the adjustment period won’t be as long as if he had switched divisions or leagues. Not to mention that 2013 is the first year Jaso is arbitration eligible, and he won’t be a free agent until 2016 which gives Beane so time to think of a creative way to keep Jaso on the cheap.
All in all, I like the deal for all parties involved as the M’s improve their lineup, the A’s get their starting pitcher, and the Nationals stock their system after losing a draft pick from signing reliever Rafael Soriano. This trade was truly a masterpiece, and kudos to Beane, Rizzo, and Zduriencik for making the trade work and make sense for all parties involved.
White Sox News:
- In White Sox related news, second baseman Gordon Beckham and center fielder Alejandro De Aza filed for arbitration. mlbtraderumors.com anticipates a $3.1 million salary for Beckham and $1.7 million for De Aza.
- Javier Vazquez is also still on the market, the White Sox, Nationals, and Red Sox are considered front runners, with the Nats showing the most interest.
Thanks for reading another installment of the Next White Sox GM, if you have any thoughts on the trade or a question anything else in general please leave a comment.
This is not actually according to a rival GM, but I needed a witty title for what I would make headlines of posts that don’t involve the White Sox, considering they are not always making news, and some moves that other teams make are great to write about from a GM’s perspective. So here goes the first in the series of “According to a Rival GM.”
With the stove heating up for Shawn Marcum, and the Tigers receiving offers from multiple teams for Rick Porcello, Scott Boras and client Kyle Lohse are relegated to the sidelines. As of right now it is January 14, 2013, and Lohse has still not found a place to play next year. But Lohse should not be worried, he wil pitch somewhere next year, as demand for a a pitcher who can get batters out and keep runners off the base paths. The problem that Lohse faces however is that signing him means that the team that does so must yield a draft pick to do so. And for the double whammy, Lohse’s agent, Scott Boras, is one of the most ruthless negotiators in the business; Boras will not rest until he has squeezed every dollar out of the team that he can. Despite all the factors working against Lohse, I believe that the Baltimore Orioles and the Philadelphia Phillies have both the financial flexibility and the willingness to forfeit a draft pick necessary to sign Kyle Lohse.
The Baltimore Orioles need pitching and badly. They have been linked to several free-agent pitchers this off-season, and the trade market for pitching has always included the Orioles. Lohse could very well be their last chance to upgrade their pitching staff, and make another run at what looks to be another very strong AL East. If Lohse can be the missing piece to the Orioles making a deep playoff run there is no doubt in my mind that they would forfeit the cash & the pick to sign Lohse, however, I could only see them signing him for no more than three years as Lohse is thirty-four, and can start to lose his stuff at any point.
Contract Prediction for Lohse-to-Baltimore: 2 years/$24 million with a club option in 2015 worth $13 million.
The Phillies are also a team I could see attempt a run at Lohse. The Phillies are an aging team, whose championship window is closing with premier players like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Cliff Lee getting up there in years. In the past the Phillies have shown a willingness to part with prospects and draft picks, see the Roy Halladay trade, and Cliff Lee signing. With the signing of a pitcher like Lohse the Phillies could push Kyle Kendrick to the fifth spot in the rotation, knocking out John Lannan, and have a rotation of Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Kyle Lohse, and Kyle Kendrick. However, to get a rotation that stacked will cost money which is something that the Phillies have, especially playing in a big market and having a very supportive fan base. Because of this flexibility the Phillies can more effectively eat bad contracts and move on, so I think they would have more guaranteed years but slightly less cash.
My contract prediction for Lohse-to-Philadelphia: 3 years/$30 million with the contract being front loaded so that Lohse would be easily dealt in his later years of the deal.
Thanks reading my non-White Sox related post, the Sox have been very quiet lately and I hope they can make a splash soon considering we still have trade chip Gavin Floyd and holes at third base and in the bullpen. Not to mention we still have not acquired the left-handed bat we have been searching for all off-season.
Today the White Sox announced that they have signed seven players to minor league contracts. Catcher Bryan Anderson, third baseman Josh Bell, RHP’s Jeff Gray & Ramon Troncoso, LHP David Purcey, and outfielders Steve Tolleson and Stefan Gatrell are all expected to report to White Sox training camp at Camelback Ranch in one month.
The thinking behind these signings is to buy low on players who still have the potential to do above average, but have performed below average thus far in their career. Troncoso, a former Dodgers reliever had one decent year in his four years with the Dodgers, but never really seemed to settle in at the major league level. Josh Bell, a former Baltimore top prospect, is another player who was expected to be the future of his organization, but instead fizzled out once he reached the major league level.
While most of these players the Sox have signed have never seen big-league action, they were not signed for that purpose. Yes, bring on the rants, and calls for Rick Hahn’s head, but Hahn is building depth throughout the organization to leave margin for injury or underproduction by a current big-league player, and also giving himself the depth to be able to swing a potential trade. One thing that you learn in the big leagues is that you can never have enough arms and the signing of Gray, Purcey, and Troncoso, who despite not having much experience at the major league level, still have it, and can fill gaps in the Sox bullpen if necessary.
My favorite signing of the bunch is that of Josh Bell. The twenty-six year old was last seen with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2012. In his time with the Snakes Bell was able to get fifty-two at-bats but only managed to get nine hits and collect four walks. Bell’s years in Baltimore were not much prettier; you can check them out here. Despite this lack of production, Bell still provides competition for the third base job, which it seems, will go back to Brent Morel, a player who was absolutely miserable for the Sox at third base in 2012. A little competition never hurt anyone, and you never know this competition may bring out the best in one or the other.
Hopefully some of these signings can contribute to the big league roster in 2013. If not, they didn’t cost much anyway. At least not as much as some other players who didn’t pan out in their contracts.
Gavin Floyd is set to make $9.5 million dollars this upcoming season when the Rich Hahn and the Sox decided to exercise his club option for the 2013 season. Thing is, most speculate that the Sox did not exercise this option for the sake of using Floyd on their 2013 rotation, but instead to trade him. This claim has only been strengthened with the departure of long-time White Sox backstop AJ Pierzynski, and Robin Ventura’s need of a left-handed bat to balance out a right-handed heavy lineup. In this article I will explore trade options that would make since to both the White Sox and their trade partners involved.
One of the teams that has been linked to Floyd before has been the Boston Red Sox. With their ability to absorb unheard of amounts of salary they could deal any one of their players no matter how uneven the cash flow may be and still be sound financially. That being said the Red Sox are in sore need of starting pitching. Coming off of a second-to-last place finish in the AL East, the Red Sox will want to come back in 2013 with vengeance. With a vicious media and fan base in Boston calling for new players and massive improvement from the year before, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, needs to make a move. He could acquire Floyd from the White Sox by dipping into the Red Sox surplus of left-handed bats. Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is one option as the White Sox current starter Tyler Flowers has proven himself an inconsistent hitter in the limited action he has seen. Saltalamacchia would earn less money than Floyd in 2013, and with Saltalamacchia, as opposed to Flowers, you know what kind of production you are going to get; which is about twenty-five plus home runs, about seventy runs batted in, and around .300 on-base percentage. Unloading Saltalamacchia would clear up the current logjam the Red Sox have at catcher with new addition David Ross and prospect Ryan Lavarnway coming into the mix in 2013.
Assuming that manager Robin Ventura and current left-fielder Dayan Viciedo would be comfortable with a move to third base, Hahn and the White Sox could also take chance on soon-to-be thirty year old outfielder Daniel Nava. Nava, is a late bloomer who was able to get ample playing time last year when the Red Sox outfield was littered with injuries. Nava did well collecting walks in about 13% of his at-bats, compiling a .351 on-base percentage, and was a doubles machine. And though Nava is older, he is not free-agency eligible until age thirty-six which I presume is when he would start to decline, and would no longer be of use to the White Sox. Again, Nava would come at a cheaper cost than Floyd but would also provide a left-handed balance to the White Sox lineup.
Moving on from the boys from Beantown, we still find ourselves in the AL East and move on the Baltimore Orioles, who seemed like they would be the suitor for Gavin Floyd. Well time has gone and Floyd is still a member of the Pale Hose and the Orioles are still searching for depth at starting pitcher. Knowing that Gavin Floyd would probably not be able to bring back a top ten prospect, and not seeing any lefty bats at a position of need in the Orioles top twenty prospects I looked to their major-league outfield, and saw a very intriguing piece. Nate McLouth. McLouth is a reclamation project who came through down the stretch and into the playoffs for the O’s. McClouth can also hit for decent power, and moving into a potent lineup like the White Sox would also give him more chances for RBIs. I like this trade for the Sox as it would be an under the radar acquisition that could payoff big-time, and would allow them to have a more balance offense because McClouth isn’t the same type of hitter as Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, and Dayan Viciedo which is home run first, other hits later.
Heading over to the opposite league, and opposite coast, the Rockies are also a surprise contender to facilitate a trade for Floyd. The Rox are in dire need of veteran pitching with the likes of Drew Pomeranz, Christian Friedrich, and Juan Nicasio most likely taking starting spots in their rotation next year. Luckily for the Rox they also have a surplus of young, controllable lefty bats to offer Rick Hahn and the Sox. The desirable target of any trade involving Floyd would be former Cubs prospect Tyler Colvin who raked in Colorado last year, dropping eighteen bombs, driving in seventy-two runs, and maintaining a .327 on-base percentage. Quite the impressive showing by the for the twenty-seven year old who won’t be free agency eligible until 2017. The only downside would the transition period that almost every hitter going from the National League to the American League goes through. Colvin, according to trends will have a down year, and would need to make major adjustments to his new park which will not carry baseballs as well, and Colvin would need adjust to the tougher pitching and competition of the AL. There is no guarantee Colvin could duplicate those numbers in the AL, but the potential that he could would make this trade worth it.
However there is a chance that Colvin would be too steep of a price for Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd to pay, in that case I would hope the White Sox would ask for budding prospect Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon has seen very limited time in the major leagues, but his initial numbers are very promising as last year he accumulated a .283 batting average and also maintained a .325 on-base percentage in just a little over 100 at-bats. In addition, he showed power hitting two home runs and smashing 8 doubles. With some seasoning Blackmon could be a very good two-hole hitter for the Sox, who desperately need someone who can move current lead-off man Alejandro De Aza around the base paths.
General manager Rick Hahn has options to deal Gavin Floyd. Though he wants to be patient and wait until John Danks is for 100% healthy, the time is now to trade Floyd before he potentially hurts his value anymore. The above options are just a few of the many options that I thought of, others being Floyd for Kubel of the Diamondbacks and Floyd for the Blue Jays’ Maicer Izturis. The key to this season will be how well the White Sox bats can keep up with the juggernauts in Motown, so the Sox must try to make a trade for an impact bat or else this might be another heartbreaking season for our South Siders.
Rumors broke last yesterday evening that the White Sox have been in discussions with the Diamondbacks regarding one of their outfielders. The reason being the D-Backs now have a surplus of outfielders in the wake of their signing of former NLCS MVP Cody Ross. Initial discussions between the two sides apparently involved a swap of some sort involving Alexei Ramirez going to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Justin Upton. However, as talks progressed the Diamondbacks felt more comfortable dealing Kubel rather than Upton, so now the White Sox are presumably in talks with D-Backs GM Kevin Towers regarding Kubel.
Kubel will make $7.5 million dollars in 2013, and the team that possesses him would have a $7.5 million club option for him in 2014. Kubel ranked 4th last year among qualifying left fielders in bases on balls last season with 57; only Martin Prado, Ryan Braun, and Matt Holliday had better eyes than Kubel. Kubel was also a doubles machine last year with 30 two-baggers. In addition Kubel also pelted 30 home runs with 90 RBIs, while sustaining a .327 on-base percentage, which would have been the 7th highest on-base percentage had he been with the Sox, just behind slugger Adam Dunn. Kubel will also turn 31 this upcoming season, and would be 32 by the end of the life of the contract, just leaving his prime production years.
Kubel would most definitely be an upgrade for the Sox, and I belive they should pursue him as he would be essentially replacing recently signed former White Sox AJ Pierzynski’s numbers. But there lies an issue, the Sox already have their outfield set with Dayan Viciedo manning left, De Aza running center field, and Alex Rios patrolling right; there is also no room in the designated hitter role as Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko will be sharing time there this season. Assuming the Sox do not need to trade any major league talent for Kubel, which they shouldn’t, the Sox will probably resume the Viciedo experiment at third base and insert Kubel into left field. If the Sox do require major league talent to land Kubel I will assume that Viciedo would be the talent heading to Arizona, but Arizona would need to include prospects of their own or include money in the deal to offset the loss of a controllable young talent the Sox would giving up for an aging, already free-agent eligable outfielder.
The White Sox need to make a move, especially with the division around them getting better. As I type this article the Indians are finalizing a four year, $56 million contract with Nick Swisher. The Royals have a significantly better starting rotation, and assuming their young core of talent, including Butler, Moustakas, and Hosmer continue to progress, they will be scary. The Tigers signed Torii Hunter, and re-signed starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez. Both moves improved the team as Hunter is a consistent hitter and gold-glove winning outfielder, and Sanchez reinforces the back-end of an already very strong rotation that includes former MVP Justin Verlander, power pitcher Max Scherzer, and the lights-out Doug Fister. If the White Sox can add Kubel they can improve the middle of the order and hide their weaknesses more effectively (Tyler Flowers). The addition of Kubel would create a lineup that looks a lot like this:
1. CF De Aza
2. 2B Keppinger
3. DH/1B Dunn
4. 1B/DH Konerko
5. LF Kubel
6. RF Rios
7. 3B Viciedo
8. SS Ramirez
9. C Flowers
This type of lineup would put a lot less pressure on Flowers to produce considering he has a very talented Ramirez in front of him and a clutch Alejandro De Aza hitting behind him. Flowers could essentially just work on his hitting, and not worry about producing all the time.
Thanks for reading another report from the front office! Please leave feedback and other comments below! Happy Holidays readers!