Shopping For A CF

When the White Sox named Dewayne Wise their center fielder and leadoff hitter, laughter and high-fiving could be heard for miles away in Cleveland and Minnesota. Wise, he of the career .277 wOBA, isn’t exactly the kind of player you want at the top of your line-up if you’re trying to win. And, presumably, the White Sox are trying to win this year.

It didn’t take them long to realize that Wise wasn’t cut out for the job, though. After two games (where Wise went 0 for 8 and struck out four times), they’ve replaced him at the top of the order with rookie second baseman Chris Getz, and are actively shopping for his replacement. Let’s help GM Kenny Williams out and point him in a few directions he might want to look.

Marlon Byrd, Texas

The Rangers have a surplus of outfielders on the roster, and could replace Byrd without taking a significant hit to their team. The 31-year-old is coming off a career best season where he posted a .370 wOBA and was worth 3.6 wins above replacement. He won’t repeat those numbers, but CHONE has him projected as an above average hitter and he’s consistently been rated as average or above defensively in center field. Offering a .340ish wOBA and a defensive upgrade from Wise, adding Byrd to the team could net two to three wins for the White Sox.

Melky Cabrera, New York Yankees

Cabrera is where Byrd was in 2005 – a promising young player coming off a lousy major league season with a questionable future in his current organization. He was essentially a replacement level major leaguer last year, but he’s only 24 and has a strong minor league track record. A switch-hitter and a decent runner to boot, he’s more of a classic leadoff type than Byrd is, and he offers more long term upside. He might only add one or two wins over Wise in 2009, but he’d also be a potential answer in CF in 2010 and beyond.

Ryan Spilborghs, Colorado

The overachieving Spilborghs has gotten the most out of his tools during the last three years, exceeding expectations and earning a right to play regularly for the Rockies. Even adjusting for Coors Field, his offense has been worth +13.7 runs above an average hitter in his 779 major league plate appearances. For a guy with enough range to get by in center, that’s a pretty useful player. However, with Dexter Fowler breathing down his neck, the Rockies already have his replacement in place, and could afford to part with Spilborghs.

The White Sox need a real center fielder, and there are players who should be available and would represent a real upgrade for the team. If Williams is serious about contending this year, he needs to make a move sooner than later.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

37 Responses to “Shopping For A CF”

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  1. Xeifrank says:

    Please let it be Juan Pierre. Sure, the Dodgers would have to eat a good portion of his contract, but why can’t he be one of the options.

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    • tyger says:

      Because Juan Pierre isn’t good at sports?

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      • Matt H. says:

        Neither is Melky Cabrera.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Melky Cabrera does have age and contract on his side, though, two more things working against Pierre.

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      • Matt H. says:

        True but Pierre has been worth a lot more over the last 4 years. I’m not defending Pierre though, just pointing out that Melky is a 4/5th outfielder. Wins of -.5,1.6, .4, and .1

        I’m just not seeing it personally.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Right, but Juan Pierre’s declined two straight years too, down to replacement level. Put it this way, with Melky there’s still a chance that he’s something, and it won’t cost you that much to take that chance. We know that Juan Pierre isn’t anything anymore, and he’s making $9 million per year for the next three years. I don’t really see much with Melky either, and since A-Jax is the future anyway, no reason to keep him around, but he’s better than Pierre.

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      • Matt H. says:

        Sorry it must have accidently looked like I was defending Pierre. I am in no way. I was discounting Melky being good enough to play everyday. I do understand aging and contract. I was simply pointing out that Melky is probably no good as well.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        And my point was only that there is still a chance he might be, and it’s probably better than the chance that Wise or Pierre is.

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      • Matt H. says:

        Certainly his chances are better than those two, I guess he is only 24. I think there is a better chance the 1.6 win year could be an outlier and he is basically a AAAA player.

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  2. Lawrence says:

    As a Yankee fan, the prospects of a team going after Cabrera are extremely intriguing. Cabrera is nice, but not a long term solution for the Yankees so hopefully they can get something they need from him,

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  3. Rich says:

    I don’t think the Yankees can afford to trade Melky (unless they get an offer they can’t refuse, which they won’t), until they’re sure that Gardner is a better option, and/or AJack is ready.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      In an emergency scenario, Swisher and Damon could split center between them. I wonder if Chicago would be willing to trade Lillibridge (sp?) for the Melk-man, and if he’s any upgrade over Ramiro Pena, or if he’s just another utility glove man.

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      • RollingWave says:

        it would be hilarious if Swisher ends up as the CF of the Yankees and Cabrera of the White Sox… whatever the outcome.

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  4. Mike Rizzo says:

    How about Josh Willingham? I’m sure he’d do a stellar job in CF.

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  5. Aaron B. says:

    Aaron Rowand’s available too (please, somebody take him).

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  6. Albert says:

    Also hoping it to be Juan Pierre. It’d fit the smallball stereotype the media loves to use on the ChiSox.

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  7. Victor says:

    Gregor Blanco

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  8. greenback says:

    Edmonds is available.

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  9. drew says:

    Spilborghs can not play centerfield

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  10. Ray says:

    I’d like to throw Jody Gerut’s name in the hat.

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  11. mojowo11 says:

    Ankiel’s contract runs out at the end of the year and Rasmus is hanging around. Could be a nice rental, though the Cards might not want to trade him.

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    • tgreenfield says:

      I agree. As soon as I saw this article, I went to the White Sox organization depth charts to see who we could pry for trading Ankiel. Even though his contract is up at the end of the year, I don’t see that stopping Kenny Williams. He’d be a 30 hr guy in the AL, methinks. Slot nicely into that lineup. But definitely not a leadoff guy

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        How ’bout Peroeda for Ankiel?

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      • tgreenfield says:

        That would be amazing.

        The White Sox had him on the “No way in hell” list last season though. Wait for Williams to get desperate then pull the trigger on that. A big lefty would immediately become our #1 starter prospect.

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  12. brian recca says:

    Why make a trade when Jim Edmonds is still available foe cheap?

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Because Edmonds A) can’t play center anymore and B) probably needs a caddy for lefties. He made a ton of sense for Atlanta, who went with the inferior Anderson, but he isn’t a full-time center fielder anymore.

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      • BrianAndersonIsMediocre says:

        Brian Anderson is allegedly caddying already. Of course a large portion of this city is clamoring for Brian Anderson every damn day. Suit yourselves, peeps.

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  13. Justin says:

    Hey maybe Texas can trade Byrd and Holland to the White Sox for John Danks and maybe they could give back McCarthy that way the guy that hands out cotton candy can have a day off here and there in Chicago.

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  14. JH says:

    Kenny Lofton’s still available, and the most recent available evidence suggests he can still play center field and hit a little bit. For a league minimum contract, does anyone really doubt that Lofton would be a serious upgrade over Wise?

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  15. SteveL says:

    Hey, if the Nats aren’t gonna play Elijah Dukes, then the Sox should go after him.

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  16. Bill says:

    Or Austin Kearns. And, being as they play for the Gnats, they can probably get either one for a handful of magic beans.

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  17. LukeW says:

    Mike Cameron would be a good fit and Melvin already tried to trade him once (for Melky Cabrera). May be more realistic around the All-Star break when Milwaukee is looking for pitching.

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