Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mixed Messages: Chicago White Sox 2011-12 Offseason

It's been a very bizarre offseason for the Chicago White Sox but one thing is certain, the 2012 version of the Chicago White Sox will look a little different. So here is a recap of the White Sox offseason moves so far:

**Traded Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays for Minor League Prospect Nestor Molina.**

This moves opens up the closers role for Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain or the hard-throwing youngster Addison Reed. Nestor Molina has been flat out NASTY in the minors and if his skillset can translate to the MLB he has an ACE ceiling.

**Signed John Danks to a 5-year $65 million extension.**

Make no mistake about it, Kenny Williams left no stone unturned in his attempt to trade John Danks this offseason but I believe this was just due-diligence on his part to see if a suitable return was realizable. When a suitor did not surface, the White Sox saw more value in retaining the young lefty to be an anchor in the rotation for many years to come. I think it was a great move.

**Traded Carlos Quentin to the Padres for pitching prospects Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez.**

This is a very interesting trade because on the surface it would appear that the return they recieved may be less than desirable but it's impossible to judge at this point in time. One thing is certain, this trade was a salary dump by the White Sox. Quentin will be replaced by cuban sluggar Dayan Viciedo and the White Sox shouldn't skip a beat. Pitching coach Don Cooper will have a big job turning around a once highly thought of pitching prospect in Simon Castro. I saw castro start in the Futures Games a few years back and he looked phenomenal! In terms of an ML comparison, I would say a young Jose Contreras would be most apt. If Castro can regain his form, this trade will look better than it appears at this time.

**Traded Jason Frasor to the Bluejays for pitching prospects Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb.**

This deal appears to be another minor salary dump by the White Sox. It appeared early on that the White Sox had plans for Frasor in their bullpen as they had exercised his $3.75 million option. Now it appears they were simply looking to deal him and get prospects in return which they successfully achieved. Webb and Jaye will provide depth in the lower levels of the White Sox farm system.

Losses due to free agency: Mark Buehrle and Juan Pierre.

At this point in the offseason I believe the White Sox are sending mixed signals about the direction this club would like to go. Are they in full blown rebuilding mode or are they trying to reestablish a new winning formula?! I believe it's both. When you look at every move they've made so far, suitable replacement MLB players are already on the roster and ready to contribute. Lose Buehrle? Enter Chris Sale/Zach Stewart. Lose Santos? Enter Crain/Thornton/Reed. Lose Quentin? Enter Viciedo. While it's tough to lose familiar faces, it won't take long for new faces to become those familiar faces. It's the circle of baseball life.

Predicting the rest of the offseason. I believe the White Sox will shock the baseball world and sign Cuban super sluggar Yoenis Cespedes to a long term deal. These cost saving moves have freed up a significant amount of money they can use to sign the outfielder. Should they do this, they will continue in their efforts to create the cuban national team on the south side of chicago. An outfield of Cespedes in left, Rios in center and Viciedo in right would be a fearsome trio at the plate should Rios regain his form. If the sox decide to pocket the savings, look for a platoon between Alejandro De Aza and Brent Lillibridge out in right. Gavin Floyd will be a popular trade candidate should they decide to give Zach Stewart a spot in the 2012 rotation. Ultimately, I believe the Sox will retain Floyd and look to deal him at the deadline if necessary. Finally, Matt Thorton could be moved should a suitor surface. At his current role of setup man, his $6+ salary for the next 2 seasons is not considered a value but should Thorton successfully move into a closers roles, he could become one of the biggest bargains in baseball at the position.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the offseason plays out for a team in transition. Are they rebuilding? Yes.  Do they want to win now? Yes.  Is it possible to do both?  What do you think about the White Sox Offseason so far??

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