Kenny Williams is a direct reflection of his team – enigmatic. He’s made some brilliant moves and he’s made some…less than brilliant moves. But he’s always making moves, he rarely stands pat. Well, unless it’s this winter regarding his DH situation, but that is a horse that has already been whipped by our own Matt Klaasen. Right now we’re looking at the present talent Williams has assembled.
The White Sox are a mixed bag of aging veterans and up-and-coming youngsters, sprinkled in with a couple of players with (what have been deemed) toxic contracts that Williams took on. I’ll start with the starting rotation, which has a player with a less than flexible contract in Jake Peavy. Peavy is making the switch from one extremely friendly ballpark to the less than friendly confines of “The Cell”. He has a bit of an injury history (202 total days on the DL), but the Pale Hose have been one of the best clubs at treating and preventing injuries. They’re paying him like an ace for the next three, possibly four years, but I wouldn’t bank on him being one. Peavy leads the charge of what is a very strong pitching rotation, behind him is the dependable Mark Buehrle, who is under contract for this season and the next. Following those two are two very good, cost-effective starters in John Danks and Gavin Floyd. Lastly, we have Freddy Garcia keeping Daniel Hudson‘s seat warm. Few teams boast of such a rotation. This is a fantastic rotation that will need to hold together, because the offense could be pretty wretched.
Backing up that rotation is a strong, yet expensive bullpen. Matt Thornton has been worth on average 1.6 WAR per season since coming for to the Sox. Those are elite totals for a set-up man, and because of his presence I’m surprised the White Sox have not been more aggressive about trading Bobby Jenks, who they just paid $7 million in his second season of arbitration eligibility. This is also the team that is paying Scott Linebrink $11 million more over the next two seasons. The team also is gambling $3 million on J.J. Putz. They also have the hard-throwing Tony Pena, who they traded Brandon Allen go the Diamondbacks to get. Allen was supposed to be the future for the Sox at first base.
The lineup is headlined by Gordon Beckham, who played extremely well in his rookie debut and should provide the team all-star caliber contributions for years to come. His double-play partner Alexei Ramirez should also be in a White Sox uniform for years to come, but he’s proving to be a tough nut to crack. His offense slipped last year, but his defense at shortstop improved. The season before his defense was terrible but he hit well. The Sox would like to get him firing on all cylinders. Carlos Quentin has two more seasons of arbitration eligibility left, and if he can hit like he did in 2008, the White Sox may think about extending him. But his defense has been abysmal in the outfield and he’s had trouble staying on the field, dealing with foot and wrist injuries.
From there, Williams has an odd collection players who used to be great earlier in this millennium that he’s brought in in recent times – Alex Rios, Juan Pierre, Mark Kotsay, Andruw Jones, Omar Vizquel and I suppose even Mark Teahen fits that bill. (Remember that 2006!) There are also longtime Sox Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski, who are in their last season of their contract and have seen better days. Rios has over $61 million remaining on his contract that will take him into 2014. He was a 5 WAR player in 2007 and 2008, but was replacement level last season, and the move to the Windy City didn’t help as many expected.
For the present, this looks very much like a .500 team. Williams hamstrung himself by taking on the Peavy and Rios contracts, and will have to rely on his prospects to carry the White Sox forward.
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