Omar Vizquel to the South Side

If multiple reports from Friday come to fruition, the Chicago White Sox will make the first major league signing of the free agency period by adding infielder Omar Vizquel. Terms are unavailable; however, given Vizquel’s modest one-year for $1M contract last season, it seems unlikely that Kenny Williams is breaking the bank on the 42-year-old who turns 43 in late April.

In limited action as Elvis Andrus’ mentor, Vizquel actually hit fairly well by his standards. In 195 plate appearances he batted .266/.316/.345 and possessed a .301 wOBA. That’s an accomplishment considering he hadn’t topped .300 for a full season since 2006. Clearly Vizquel isn’t in baseball because of his lackluster bat, but instead because of his well-earned reputation as a defensive virtuoso.

Vizquel’s UZR/150 the last three years at shortstop rate as “fantastic”, “great”, and “historical”, which is probably a bit optimistic and scrambled by small sample sizes in the previous two seasons. The Fans Scouting Report showed that 15 voters thought highly of him, though, and Dewan’s +/- says he’s saved about 25 runs the past three years at short. It’s hard to get a good read on just how much another year will affect Vizquel’s range and other defensive capabilities. It seems completely plausible that with enough playing time he could be a well-above average defender but, at the same time, completely ludicrous. I’ll stay conservative and say above average, albeit to a lesser degree than +10. Maybe in the 5 < x < 10 range.

The White Sox’s infield situation was already intriguing, with Gordon Beckham changing positions and Alexei Ramirez sitting around. Throw in probably the best defensive shortstop over the last decade and it would seem tempting to either shift Ramirez to second base and leave Beckham at third, or put Ramirez at third with Vizquel and Beckham up the middle. There’s also the possibility of having Vizquel simply play third base as he did with the Rangers last season. Of course there’s also Mark Teahen and … well, Ozzie Guillen can’t complain about a lack of infield options next year, now can he?




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5 Responses to “Omar Vizquel to the South Side”

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  1. Padman Jones says:

    I don’t entirely mean to pimp my own site, but I wrote about this a couple days ago and came up with rather the opposite conclusion. Vizquel’s a good defender, sure, but he doesn’t seem particularly better than Adam Everett – and he’s 10 years older. And also I think that the options to which you refer are more a function of poor roster management on the Sox’ part – they’re leaving a guy at short who can’t handle the position defensively, and shifting a guy who can (Beckham) to second. They’re going to be stuck with subpar bats on the entire left side of the field, and are hamstringing their defense there as well. They need more depth, since they don’t have any plus options except for Beckham.

    http://mlbnotebook.com/2009-articles/november/what-are-the-white-sox-thinking.html for a more in-depth look.

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    • sunn0))) says:

      1) Alexei is a plus SS per UZR and Dewan.
      2) Vizquel is obviously no longer a starter (especially in the AL). His role
      will be defensive replacement and teacher/mentor for Beckham and
      Ramirez.
      3) It’s idiotic to speculate whether Beckham is better at 2B or SS when he has
      player zero inning at either position at the ML level.
      4) Teahen may well end up playing in the OF or 1B (is, say Konerko is moved)
      5) Vizquel is a pretty decent value for $1.3M.

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    • Terry says:

      Yes please don’t pimp your site because you are obviously clueless.

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  2. Choo says:

    I agree on all accounts. Padman, where on earth did you find UZR figures that illustrate Alexei’s defense at SS being 2 runs worse than 2B?

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  3. lazlo_toth says:

    I don’t think anyone’s questioning Omar’s best days are behind him. I’m a longtime Tribe fan and I think as soon as he retires, the Indians need to hang #13 up in Progressive Field (somebody from those World Series teams in the 90s should go up there, and I can’t see them doing it for Belle, Manny or Thome). I love Omar. But I’m tempted to chalk this up as another questionable roster move by the White Sox, just like I thought acquiring Griffey was. But Vizquel is not the defensive liability that Griffey’s become, and he’s probably still got better game at 43 than a lot of guys in MLB who are 10 or 15 years younger. As a part-time player/defensive replacement, he’s still got value.

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