Hot Stove Daily: Chicago White Sox
By Tim Brown, Yahoo Sports
November 11, 2007
Editor's note: Yahoo! Sports will examine the offseason plans of every MLB team before the Dec. 3-6 winter meetings. Our series continues with the Chicago White Sox.
2007 record: 72-90
Finish: Fourth place in American League Central.
2007 Opening-day payroll: $102 million
Pretty simple for the White Sox and GM Kenny Williams: If they are to stay with the reborn Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers, along with the Minnesota Twins (who expect to have a healthy Francisco Liriano in the rotation), they need upgrades in the outfield, middle infield, bullpen and at the top of their lineup. Decisions also await them at third base and in their starting rotation.
To that end, Williams met Sunday with free agent center fielder Torii Hunter, and they'll likely be in close contact with Aaron Rowand, who manned center field in their World Series season. Williams traded Rowand after the '05 season and spent the past two seasons wondering where his team's fire went. Philadelphia, it turned out. They could also sniff around on Carl Crawford, who can be had.
After considering the likes of free agent David Eckstein, and kicking around trade possibilities for Khalil Greene, Bill Hall and Jack Wilson, the White Sox re-signed Juan Uribe at shortstop. If Danny Richar isn't their second baseman, then Tad Iguchi, Marcus Giles or Kaz Matsui could be.
Third baseman Joe Crede is coming off back surgery and should be at full go come spring training, but he can be a free agent after the season and his agent is Scott Boras, so the likelihood of an extension is low. They could move Crede and hand third base to Josh Fields, or could move them both, Fields as part of a deal for Florida's Miguel Cabrera.
Ultimately, their pitching has killed them. Since that world championship season, when their team ERA ranked second in the AL, they were 10th in 2006 and 12th in 2007. The bullpen ERA last season was an atrocious 5.47, worse than all but the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Scarily, the bullpen was Williams' emphasis last winter.
Even after watching most of the league scramble for starting pitching last season, the White Sox believe they've got a glut of arms, so they could trade Jose Contreras, Jon Garland, Lance Broadway or Gio Gonzalez, maybe for that bullpen help. Young outfielders Brian Anderson and Ryan Sweeney could also go in trades.
Despite the appearance of a reasonable fit on the South Siders' left side (Joe Crede's ailing back and expiring contract, Juan Uribe's erratic plate approach), Alex Rodriguez's free agency won't lead him to the White Sox, who have little patience for Scott Boras or his payroll-skewing ideals.
Tim Brown is a national baseball writer for Yahoo! Sports. He co-authored with Jim Abbott the memoir “Imperfect: an Improbable Life”. Follow him on Twitter. Send Tim a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Monday, Nov 12, 2007 12:02 am, EST