We all like a good batch of young, talented players. And I am not one to argue the worth of a prospect. But what if none of the players have ever played together at a big-league level? What if it’s a whole new team of youngsters with absolutely no chemistry?
The Sox are going into the 2009 season with a team full of new ballplayers. Dayan Viciedo, Josh Fields (though he’s played before), Cole Armstrong, Chris Getz and a few other pitchers all have never played — or never played long — at this level. We’ve still maintained a handful of the experienced players, but for the most part we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for an opening day roster.
Spring Training hasn’t started yet, I know, but I can already tell we’re headed for a roller-coaster ride of a season. Sporting News, in their annual preview magazine, see the AL Central as follows:
At first glance I was shocked and appalled at this prediction but now that I have given it time to sink in… I realize the possible truth to their outlook.
Our infield depth has dropped considerably. Orlando Cabrera, Joe Crede and Juan Uribe are all gone. Uribe could play any infield position while O.C. and Crede were limited to only one slot, shortstop and third base, respectively. Alexei Ramirez, our current shortstop, can also play center and can beat the heck out of the second base position. Chris Getz, a promising rookie, is filling the second base role on the current Sox depth chart. In ten games on the South Side squad last year Getz had seven plate appearances with two hits for a .286 average.
Here are two ways the season could turn out based on my above comments.
- We crash and burn as Sporting News predicted.
- We sit in first place for a good portion of the year, then drop off the map
Now give me some time to argue with myself.
Maybe having a bunch of rookies is a good thing! All of these players will be fighting to keep their jobs which, more often than not, results in good statistics. Look at Evan Longoria last year. He was rookie trying to keep the job the Rays had given him at third base and he ends up winning Rookie of the Year. I won’t say that any of our players are in line for winning American League Rookie of the Year as David Price, steering clear of injury, will surely walk away with the award.
Though this has nothing to do with the topic, I am going to throw this into the equation.
Say Carlos Quentin matches or betters his 2008 stats. That will give us roughly 100 RBI and 36 home runs (+/-) from one player alone. Give Thome the same thing and we’re up to 200 RBI and 72 homers. Same for Dye and Konerko and we’re already at 400 runs driven in and 144 round trippers from 4 players alone. All of the above mentioned players are more than capable of producing those kinds of numbers and have in the past.
2008 – Carlos Quentin… you know the story.
2006 – Jermaine Dye drives in 120 runs and hits 44 homers.
2006 – Jim Thome parks 42 jacks with 109 driven in.
2005 – Paul Konerko hits 40 home runs and drives in 100.
There is proof that those players have had Ruthian seasons.
But, like in science, something has to be repeatable to be possible.
I opened up the mlb.com home page, and to my dismay I’m greeted with horrifying news! Our beloved, multi-bearded, switch-hitting outfielder/first baseman has left the South Side and is headed to New York city to play for the Bronx Bombers.
In 153 games, Swisher belted twenty four home runs and drove in 69 runs. Not the stats he was piling up while playing for Oakland; 2006 (34 home runs, 95 RBI, .251 average) comes to mind.
As amazing as he was in the clubhouse and for the overall make up of the team, I have to say that I am not going to miss his on-the-field performance. Whether it be losing his glove over The Baggie in Twinkie Town, or wearing the collar with four punchouts in a game, his lack of consistant play will be better off in New York. That being said I do have to admit that I will miss the hilarity he brought to the table. His differentiating beards always made me chuckle.
Coming our way from the Yankees is Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez. All but Betemit I have never heard of in my life. Nunez and Marquez are both right-handed pitchers, but bot only Marquez is a product of the Yankees’ farm system. Nunez came over at last years deadline from Washington; Marquez was a First-Year Player draft selection in 2004, 41st overall.
Marquez led all Yankee farmhands in wins last year with 15 (shows how bad their minor league pitching staff’s have come to be over the years) and innings pitched, racking up a total of 155.1.
This may possibly open up a gaping hole in our platoon system. Last year if Konerko needed a break, Swisher would step in and play at first while someone like Dewayne Wise would play the vacated outfield slot. How is this going to work now? I’ve heard some rumors over at the mill that we’re interested in trading both Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye if the right trade would come stumbling along. But, here’s the nagging question: what is the right trade? Will the value of these specific players ever be matched? Their play has maintained a productive pace over their time with the Sox, Konerko being the more experienced of the two, and they’re very respected by the Chicago media and in the team’s clubhouse.
The rare commodity of decent prospects was in the White Sox’s favor for this trade. I think that I will grow to appreciate this down the line if these players develop and become major league material. Keeping that in mind, it’s also hard to give up someone who has already proven himself in the majors for three players (one already hovering slightly around “OK”) who are yet to reach that plateu!
With spring training… months away, I suppose one won’t know what the outcome of this deal will provide us with. Swisher could turn out to be a total bust in the Yankees’ system, while Betemit might play a key off-the-bench roll, or even an occasional starting position! The pitchers we obtained will either decay in the minors or play well out of the bullpen, even spot-start for us at some point down the line.