What the Chicago White Sox Should Do


The Chicago White Sox have a .500 record at the moment, which by itself would seem to leave them in an ambiguous spot regarding the immediate future. Sure, their run differential indicates they “should” only be 32-36, but we aren’t here to talk about the past. The standings are a bit less ambiguous, with the White Sox five-and-a-half games behind the first place Twins, and three back of the second place Tigers.

Buy or Sell?

Although in principle the White Sox are close enough that “anything could happen,” it seems pretty clear to me that the White Sox should be selling (and recent comments by General Manager Kenny Williams seem to indicate that he thinks so, too). Yes, they have some good players, but, well, the 2010 Astros didn’t happen overnight. This isn’t to say that the 2011 White Sox are going to be the worst team in baseball if something isn’t done, but it’s a possibility. Some painful choices need to be made, and the sooner that happens, the sooner the White Sox can be back in the mix, and the odds of them making them playoffs this season are too slim to take the chance.

The White Sox do have some dead weight on their roster. Juan Pierre wouldn’t bring much of anything in a trade even if the White Sox paid what they owe on his salary (only part of it, since the Dodgers are picking up the rest). Even if Mark Teahen were healthy at the moment, he’s owed the prorated remainder of $14 million dollars through 2012, and is working on his third season in a row of replacement-level performance.

If the White Sox act on their more valuable veterans now, they don’t necessarily have to move their good young pitchers. Gavin Floyd might have some decent value on the trade market, and John Danks certainly would, but although the White Sox should listen on all of their players, they don’t necessarily have to move these two valuable pieces if they start getting good value for the older players.

The key to getting value back for many of their veterans will be a willingness for the White Sox to send along money, since these players do not have much surplus value beyond their contracts. I am surprised that A.J. Pierzynski is still on the team, given that his no trade rights only recently vested. He’s had a terrible season so far, but his projected performance indicates a player who could help many teams. Paul Konerko is having an excellent season in the last year of his contract — again, the White Sox would probably have to send along a large chunk of money to get some value back, but he should certainly be on the block. Mark Buehrle is signed through 2011 at $14 million dollars, and although he’s slowing down, the Sox could probably get something back for him if they sent along a chunk of his salary.

There are various good bullpen pitchers on the Sox roster that could be discussed: Bobby Jenks and Matt Thornton come to mind, but in the space I have hear, it’s worth going over two harder cases. First, Jake Peavy is still a good pitcher, and the White Sox paid a lot to get him. But he’s been struggling a bit with injury concerns, and they might want to wait and see how he plays a bit more and find out whether he might be part of their future or to show other teams he’s worth looking into. Alex Rios is a different case: as I’ve discussed before, he’s proving to be worth every bit of the money he’s owed through 2014. The problem is that he probably won’t be worth much more than that, and other teams may be hesitant to take on enough salary for his trade value to be worth it to the White Sox. In any case, if they do things right with the other players, he might be part of a future contender anyway. They should keep their ears open, though.

Andruw Jones has come back to earth and probably wouldn’t bring back more than a trinket, but Alexei Ramirez has flown under the radar so far this season. No, he hasn’t hit well so far this season, but ZiPS RoS sees it as a temporary condition, and he fields well at shortstop. He’s signed for only $1.1 million dollars through 2011, a great value for the Sox, but if they don’t think they’ll contend in 2011, a league-average shortstop making $1.1 million dollars could bring back a very good return from the right team.

On the Farm

The White Sox’ farm system was 26th in Beyond the Box Score’s aggregate farm system rankings, having been depleted through trades and less-than-inspired drafting. There is some talent there that could help soon: Daniel Hudson is a good pitcher, Tyler Flowers a promising offensive catcher, and between Dayan Viciedo and Brent Morel a third baseman should be in there somewhere. There are other helpful players, but not enough in either upside or depth. That is why the older players on the major league roster need to be traded — in order for these few good prospects to potentially have some company on a White Sox team that has a chance to contend.


According to Cot’s, the White Sox Opening Day payroll this season was $103 million dollars. They aren’t shy about spending, but as I’ve written above, that willingness to pay should, for now, go into willingness to pay sizable chunks of the salaries for veterans that they trade away in order to get back a decent return.

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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.

26 Responses to “What the Chicago White Sox Should Do”

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  1. Giorgio says:

    Trade Danks? I’ve heard everything now.

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  2. Sean says:

    No mention of JJ Putz?

    I can’t picture any contender not wanting to throw him into the mix.

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  3. BaconSlayer09 says:

    Danks for Jose Lopez and Mark Lowe!

    In all seriousness, I think this would have been an appropriate article a week ago.

    In one week,the White Sox have made themselves a semi-buyer, or at least not a seller.

    This next week is very important. Depending on how they do on this homestand against the Cubs and Braves, it could make or break this season.

    If the Sox were to become buyers, they should definitely look at somebody like Adam LaRoche.

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    • Giorgio says:

      i just don’t see the White sox getting anything more in return, than what they currently have on the roster regardless of how much salary they’re willing to pick up with 3 months left in the season. Guys like Konkero, Teahen, Putz, Jenks, Ramirez, Jones, Garcia, Pierzynski will net you close to nothing. And you won’t get equal value for Floyd, Thornton, Beckham. So there really is no point to buy or sell. Just let these contracts come off the books and see through this year if Flowers, Viciedo, Morel, Sale, and Hudson can play, and fill the rest with some free agents. They’ll have money available. The White Sox don’t rebuild, they retool.

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    • MikeS says:

      Unless the White Sox manage to schedule an extra 60 games against the NL central they’re going nowhere.

      I can’t really see them competing for at least a couple of years. Too many things need to go right. Maybe Morel is a 3B, but Viciedo is a 1B or DH. Bekham needs to revert to last years form. Flowers and Hudson both need to be good. Quentin needs to revert to 2008. Some of those things will happen, more probably won’t – it’s the way of the world and teams that fail to recognize that fact and assume all their players will develop turn into Houston. Then they still need another corner outfielder and a 1B/DH. Those two spots are the easiest ones to fill but it’s still too much. They just have too many holes right now. Konerko and Pierzynski are 34 and are unlikely to be productive members of the team when they are next competitive. Might as well see if you can get some value for them down the stretch beyond draft choices.

      Right now they are farther from a WS than they have been since 2002 or 2003 and with the 26th ranked farm system they are heading in the wrong direction. Sometimes I fear the front office was burned by the backlash from the White Flag trade in 1997 and they think if they actively try to rebuild they won’t be able to sell tickets so they grasp at straws. I’d rather see them build a solid farm system that would allow them to be consistently good with some great years rather than consistently mediocre with occasional good and rare great years which is what they have been since the mid 1990s. Sadly, they haven’t shown the drafting ability to sustain that.

      Even the trades that have “depleted” the farm system haven’t really hurt. How many of the guys they have traded away would they desperately like to have back? If they don’t find a way to draft better they are doomed to being perennial also-rans who perpetually have to retool and occasionally have a playoff year or better.

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      • DL80 says:

        “How many of the guys they have traded away would they desperately like to have back?”

        Chris Carter is the only one I would want back, and I’m not sure whether it’d be worth not acquiring Quentin.

        John Ely, I guess. Maybe Gio.

        Not any of the others, especially not considering what the White Sox got in return (Thome, Danks, Floyd, etc.).

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      • KG says:

        I could use Nick Swisher, actually. He’d look good in this lineup. Alas, the curse of Ozzie.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      From what I gather, where they are at after the interleague games conclude will likely dictate what they do.

      The poblem, as Isee, it is that they aren’t going to get any great value for what they’d be trading.

      They would likely have to pay teams to trade for some of their guys (i.e., eat a bunch of their salary).

      The problem the White Sox have experienced is being just competitive enough to keep from rebuilding.

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  4. dickey simpkins says:

    What they should do is go back in time and punch themselves in the nuts before handing out a 3 year contract to Mark Teahen. Oh, and write “I will not sell low on Nick Swisher because he had one bad season after we broke the farm acquiring him because Paul Konerko doesn’t approve of people who don’t share his Eeyore demeanor” five thousand times.

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    • Zack says:

      Nick Swisher (and Kanekoa Texeira) for Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez, and Jhonny Nunez.
      That’s always funny to look at.

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  5. Terry says:

    “Although in principle the White Sox are close enough that “anything could happen,” it seems pretty clear to me that the White Sox should be selling (and recent comments by General Manager Kenny Williams seem to indicate that he thinks so, too).”

    These type of articles always amaze me. Its totally ignorant of the White Sox fan base.

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    • larry says:

      …or the article is about what the white sox should do, not what they will do.

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    • MikeS says:

      Yeah, that’s sort of my point above. I think if theWhite Sox dumped Konerko, Pierzynski and others fans would scream “White Flag 2!”. They think their team is more talented than the Twins (they’re not) and if they make the playoffs anything can happen (it won’t) and management is to afraid of backlash to truly rebuild. Don’t get me wrong, I go to 10-14 games/year and 2005 was the best year of my baseball life but a little perspective is needed. This year I’m going more for the hot dogs with grilled onions and Blue Moon, Stella Artois or Pilsner Urquell on draft then I am for the baseball. To misquote the chairman, anybody who thinks they can catch Minnesota is crazy.

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  6. madvillain says:

    The Sox are in a tantalizing position, just 5.5 games out, sitting squarely at .500, with an eclectic mix of veterans and youth.

    I have to agree with Bulls legend Dickey “don’t call me Richard” Simpkins: don’t make that stupid Nick Swisher trade and don’t aquire Mark Teahan when your shitty farm system might actually produce a solid starter at 3B in the next few years.

    That said, they need to sell. I would really like them to try and move Peavy if possible. AJ and Kong and big Bobby should be on their way out as well.

    I’m impressed they actually made it back to .500, even if they were beating up on the junior league.

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  7. BB says:

    I feel like they should be over .500 at this point… going 4-8 against Cleveland so far this year. Switching that around would make them tied with Detroit for 2nd. But you can’t “what-if” in baseball without wanting to shoot yourself.

    They should ride this wave of playing well, getting their trade bait to up their worth (however tiny it may be) and work some deals at the start of the 2nd half… because there is no way they have enough gas to outlast Minnesota, or even Detroit.

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    • Terry says:

      I’ll just have to continue to be the lone ranger here. I don’t see the benefit in selling if you really are close. First of all I think this team is better than Detroit. Secondly why do anything right now? Just wait. If they continue pitching well, maybe you can add a bat (the Chairman verified that)

      I still think the schedule stacks up favorably for the team over the next month or so. Are some of you seriously suggesting that around the trade deadline if the team is a couple games back they should sell? That’s just goofy. The White Sox are not in a situation to rebuild. Retool yes. If they fine themselves out for real (not based off projections) then fine, sell. But it will be for an eye towards 2011, not 2012 or 2013.

      For as “dire” as some of you protray the situation I’m sure most teams would love to start with a rotation of Buerhle, Dank, Floyd, Peavy and Hudson for the next 2 years.

      Just make better decisions in the off season. Especially since the Sox payroll ties in some closely with attendance. This is not Oakland and they shouldn’t operate like it is.

      2 weeks ago, everyone had them buried and dead. Let’s see what 2 more weeks yields.

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      • BB says:

        If they can add a young, lefty bat, I’d consider them in running for the division.

        As it stands right now, after the Braves series, they have 3 @ Texas and then come back home for 4 vs the Halos with 6 against KC and 3 against the Cubs mixed in there. It’s plausible to come out of that with an above .500 record going into the break. And the 2nd half isn’t too bad, now that I’m looking at it; a couple series with Baltimore/Seattle should give them a good shot to make a run.

        They shouldn’t mess with their pitching unless they get floored with an offer for Putz or Thornton. Either some left handed power or prospects would make me feel comfortable.

        With the Rockies in 2007 and last year, it’s really tough to count the Sox out since they’re on the cusp of being a playoff caliber team; but it just feels like if nothing happens this year… they’re kinda boned going forward.

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