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.
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!
As fans we all have trades that we look back on and say: “damn, we robbed them,” or we have trades that we look back on and wonder, “what in the world were we thinking?” I have decided, in lieu of lack of White Sox discussion topics, to start a series where I analyze past White Sox trades and free agent signings. I will look at the reactions to the trade then, actual performance by all players involved, and then I will grade the trade on the A-F scale with an explanation for my grade. The A-F grade is more based on well the players did only with the teams that were involved, if they moved on after a year it doesn’t count, this will be the trade’s legacy with a team’s fan base. We’ll start with this little gem. On this date in 2005, only two months removed from a World Series championship, aggressive general manager, Kenny Williams, made a trade in an attempt to improve our starting rotation and gear up the White Sox for a defense of their title. Williams would see RHP Javier Vazquez come to the South Side in exchange for ALDS hero Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez, RHP Luis Vizcaino, and prospect outfielder Chris Young.
The Reaction: The World Champion White Sox had already begun retooling for another World Series run before this deal went down, resigning Captain Paul Konerko and acquring slugger Jim Thome and utility man Rob Mackowiak in seperate deals, However, Vazquez had just demanded a trade and seemed like he could be a very good middle of the rotation pitcher who ate a lot of innings for the Diamondbacks. Vazquez was a fit for the White Sox because of the depth we already had at starting pitcher allowed us to use him in whatever slot we chose considering we had All-stars Jon Garland and Mark Buehrle at the one and two spots, World Series hero Jose Contreras in the middle, and big game Freddy Garcia holding down a back end job. For the Diamondbacks, they were acquiring a pitcher who would be making about $5 million dollars less even if he hit all of his performance based incentives, and who just came off a very good season for his age. The Diamondbacks also acquired Luis VIzcaino a man with a repectable reputation in the bullpen, and coming off a year seeing him have a solid 3.73 ERA and a less mentionable 1.47 WHIP. He would provide then manager, Bob Melvin, with another arm to run out to the mound in an always competitive NL West. Last, but not least the Diamondbacks acquired outfield prospect Chris Young, who was ranked number six in the White Sox list of top prospects in 2005.
Performance: Vazquez would spend the next three seasons with the Palehose, with his best performance coming in 2007 when the team was at its worst, he went 15-8 with 3.74 ERA and an outstanding 1.14 WHIP. However, 2007 would be the only year Vazquez would post a sub-four ERA, and also the only year he would have a winning record for the South Siders. Fortunately, he did eat a lot of innings, more than 200 each year and provided relief for the White Sox bullpen. Transitioning to the fruits of the D-Backs acquisitions, Orlando Hernandez was only on the team for half a season, and an atrocious half it was. Hernandez did not return to 2005 form with a bloated 6.11 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, and allowing 31 earned runs in only 45.1 innings of work. Hernandez would be dealt to the New York Mets later that season. Vizcaino would remain with the Diamondbacks for the duration of the 2006 season, and did well. Vizcaino had a 3.58 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP in 65.1 innings of work, going 4-6 in his decisions. After the season, Vizcaino was traded to the Yankees with three prospects for future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson. Chris Young would make his debut in 2006 for the Diamondbacks in center field, but his first full year in the majors was in 2007, which saw him have a monster year, hitting 32 home runs, driving in 68 runs, and scoring 85 runs. As the Diamondbacks starting center fielder for the next five years, Young would continue to “do work.” After a long and successful run in Arizona, Young was traded on October 21st of this year to the Oakland A’s. Having all players involved off of the teams involved in the deals we can now look back and analyze the Winners and the Losers of the trade.
Legacy: For the Chicago White Sox this trade was all about gathering depth for the starting rotation, and preparing to defend their division title in what would be a very difficult AL Central. For the Diamondbacks this trade was about unloading some salary and beginning to retool and rebuild. The Diamondbacks would have another losing season in 2006, and then return to competing in 2007. Some of you fellow White Sox fans may remember that year because that is the first year the Cubs made their series of one and done playoff appearances. This still makes me laugh.
The Diamondbacks would then proceed to have a roller coaster decade, seeing them finish 2nd in 2008, last in 2009 and 2010, winning the NL West in 2011, and now in 2012 finishing third. By this season, Orlando Hernandez and Luis Vizcaino have been long gone, but one consistency has remained. Chris Young has been patrolling center field for the snakes through the good, the bad, and the ugly. Young is more than what the Diamondbacks could have hoped for when they dealt Vazquez and the move definitely paid off for them. For the Sox however, we have a different story. The Sox paid steep price for a guy who never seemed to regain the all-star form he achieved while with the Yankees. Though he had an impressive 2007 season, his performance was lost in the disaster that would unfold that season seeing the White Sox finish in fourth with only the Royals buffering our fall to the cellar. Though I would normally say Vazquez did what we acquired him to do, but Vazquez’s price tag of $11.5 million in 2006 and 2008, and increased price tag of $12.5 million in 2007. Being paid that kind of money, I would have expected a better performance. That being said, it is now grading time. And the grade Kenny Williams receives on this trade is a: D+ Although he got rid of Orlando Hernandez before his tumultuous 2006 season, he also lost what seemed to be our center fielder of the future. If I recall correctly, we expected stud Brian Anderson to be able to fill that role, but could not, and then we spent subsequent years experimenting with prospects Jerry Owens and Luis Terrero in center field before eventually platooning Alex Rios and DeWayne Wise together in 2009. This center field dilemna could have easily been solved by the bat that Young developed, and the work Vazquez did as a member of the White Sox could have been done by a cheaper free agent signing.