Tuesday, November 14, 2006

White Sox Roundtable Part 3

The final episode of our Trilogy: Kenny's quest for more rings


I linked to the Elias Sports Bureau's Free Agent Compensation Ratings last week, but I didn't even think to look at where Alomar and Riske ranked. I just assumed that they were worthless and wouldn't be offered arbitration. That's not the case, however, as Keith pointed out in the comments section, Riske is a Type A free agent. My question to you: What should the Sox do with Riske?

Tom: You can find a pitcher just like Riske for less than $2.5 million. Sure, it's not much, but it's $2.5 million that can go towards Joe Crede's salary.

Keith: I'd offer him arbitration. Afterall, Wayne Krivsky could always use another reliever, right? He'll willingly throw 2 years, $4 million at Riske...

But seriously, I think that offering Riske arbitration is a pretty small risk (no pun intended). If he accepts, it'd be easy to trade him as he'd be making what, $2.5 million? And, you might get lucky and have a team sign him. The Sox could always use an extra high draft pick.

Jeeves: I agree. Worst case scenario we get stuck with an OK arm in the 'pen. Unless we make some extravagant move, we shouldn't have the need to pinch pennies, so paying him $2.5 mil won't be that big of a deal.

James: But $2.5 million for a non-closer/ non-setup guy? Yeah, my budget screams for that. Then again, I think his salary will decline if he accepts the arbitration, and how often does that happen? (I read that note at MLB Trade Rumors that a lot of teams are offering two and three year deals to relievers not titled closer more often, and in the fickle and fragile world of middle relief -- anyone that's not a closer -- I'm not sure why that's a smart thing.)

Do you play russian roulette here hoping that another team signs him and take the salary hit if they don't? I didn't realize the MLB was governed by NASDAQ and CBOE rules of trade? Or maybe I'm just naive.

Criminal Appeal: I agree that it makes no sense to spend big money on relievers, especially one's who pitch limited innings in generally low-leverage situations. Having said that, if the Sox could turn Riske into a draft pick I'd just about wet myself with excitement. I guess it's a risk/reqrd analysis. Is the market for middle relievers strong enough that you trust someone else to pay to take Riske off our hands in this scenario? It may be with all the talk about the Jamie Walkers and Justin Speiers of the world.

Jim: I'm amazed that David F. Riske has produced the toughest question so far. Everybody has good points.

If the way he ended the season was any indication (only three of his last 10 outings were scoreless), I wouldn't offer it to him, unless the Sox had a strong feeling he'd reject it.

$2.5 million doesn't mean a lot for position players, but it can make a difference in a bullpen. A difference-maker Riske ain't. I'd keep that money stored away for the deadline next year, when the Sox are only buying half a season of relief if they're in need of bullpen help.

Cheat: I'm glad you guys came up with the $2.5M number on your own. When I originally wrote the question, I sort of answered it myself using $2.5M as my guesstimated arbitration award. Either we're all really smart, or well, let's not talk about the alternative.

As for what I would do: I'd offer him arbitration. If for no other reason than some team will be willing to guarantee him multiple years on the free agent market. He's not going to get that here. So from Riske's point of view, he'd be deciding between 2.5 for a year on the southside or something like 4-5M over two years somewhere else. Most players will take the latter.

Trades: Name your three biggest targets, and try to come up with three trades you can see the Sox making. (those don't necessarily have to be for your three top targets.)


Criminal Appeal: As has been mentioned, Kenny Williams tends to come at the trade block from unforeseen directions. Plus, there is always far more smoke than fire in trade rumors. Still, the Sox need to add a left fielder, and probably a short stop or center fielder, so that they're not lugging around dead weight at more than one position next season. My guess is that they'll shop for value on the free agent market at one position, trade to fill one position, and let the kids battle it out at one position (or let Uribe sit tight if the remaining position is SS). So, where might that trade fit in? I think three of the most intriguing names are Michael Young, Carl Crawford and Coco Crisp (I'm considering A-Rod a pipe dream and hoping to be shocked at this point).

Young is coming off a season in which his on-base percentage was over .350, he hit 14 homeruns, and he played an outstanding defensive shortstop. The defense is an improvement for him, but the other numbers were right around Baseball Prospectus's projection for him. Plus, he's 29 years old. So, he seems like a safe bet to repeat his established production for the next few years.

Crawford hit 18 homeruns this season and posted an on-base percentage just under .350. He plays a below average defense in left field. He outperformed his mean projection in somewhere in the range of the 75th to 90th percentile. Right now Young is the better player, but Crawford is 24 and getting better.

Crisp is the most interesting case because of his injury problems this year. He was limited to about 100 games and his on-base percentage dipped to .317. Offensively, Crisp under-performed his 10th percentile projection this year. He's an average CF, and played excellent defense in LF in 2005, when he was out there regularly. In all likelihood, he is both undervalued, and going to bounce back if healthy. He's 26, which means he's probably full developed and will never be much better than he was in 2005. But a .350 on-base percentage, 15 home runs and great LF defense would be a welcome addition.

I guess that of these three guys, my first preference would be Young. However, if the Sox can get Crisp at a discount because of his struggles in 2006, then that's an opportunity that I wouldn't pass on. Whoever the Sox acquire, we know the bargaining chips: a starting pitcher (Garcia or Buehrle) plus a prospect (hopefully not Fields). I'd give up those two assets for any of the above.

Jim:

  1. Coco Crisp. I think the Sox really admire his game, and he's the typical Sox target. Very good defensive left fielder, likes to run -- and while his OBP dropped as he battled nagging injuries, he stole 22 of 26 bases, by far the best percentage of his career.
    Who they'd give up: Freddy Garcia. Though I'd hope to get some sort of prospect back as well, given the situation Boston's in.
  2. Chone Figgins. He seems like he's going to be pushed out eventually with this new wave of players coming in. He has the speed Ozzie likes, and can play a few positions decently.
    Who they'd give up: I have no clue. The Angels could use some high-OBP guys, and the Sox don't have a wealth of those in the minors.
  3. Jeff DaVanon: My thinking is: If Brady Clark, why not DaVanon? DaVanon's cheaper, younger, more versatile, and just as likely to be pushed out of the AZ outfield picture. I'm not sure how much he'll cost -- from what I can tell, he'll be in the $900,000 - $1,000,000 range. He's coming off ankle surgery, which could depress his value. AZ may not want to part with him since Eric Byrnes needs to get out first, but I'd try for DaVanon before thinking about Clark.
    Who they'd give up: Arizona could use pitching. Heath Phillips-caliber plus another body?
Vince: I don't know if this is the least bit likely, but I want to throw the idea out if we're talking about huge, smack-your-forehead trades that Kenny Williams could make. Vernon Wells. The Jays are interested in moving him because he doesn't want to stay in Toronto beyond the end of his contract, which ends in 2007. Wells will be eligible for free agency after the upcoming season.
The upsides are that Wells is a tremendous player on both sides of the ball, a replacement for Podsednik (albeit, one who would play center field) and a huge addition to the offense that offsets regression from players such as Dye and Crede or, in the case of Crede, if he gets traded. Another upside is that it allows the Sox to let Brian Anderson and Ryan Sweeney split left field.
The risks are that the Sox would have to give up a lot of talent to get Wells with the uncertainty of whether they would have him for more than one year, and another potential long-term contract if the Sox were able to re-sign him.
I agree that the Sox are targeting Michael Young. I think they will be better off without Young, unless they somehow convinced him to play second base. I worry about Young's defense, although I think he scored better on Chris Dial's Zone Rating-related metric this year.
A third big trade target? I highly, highly doubt it, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like the deal, but I'll say ... Dontrelle Willis.

Keith: I'm sorry to Vince, but I'm going to have to snatch his idea in my trade thoughts.
The first trade I see is the obvious move of a starting pitcher. With Contreras' no trade clause, moving Garcia makes the most sense. I've been preaching it for the past two months, so why stop now? Garcia + Cintron (completing the Mets' secondbase platoon) for Aaron Heilman + Lastings Milledge.
The Sox then send a package centered around Milledge to Toronto for Vernon Wells. Since question six seems geared towards these hypothetical trades, I'll say Milledge + Fields + Broadway for Wells. The Sox would empty out the farm system, but, as in most cases (/aside: damn Vazquez/Young trade), Williams gets back the best player. Wells is in his prime, and if he comes close to matching his production from last season, is a top twenty player in all of baseball.
It doesn't solve the "problem" of not having a leadoff hitter, but you could easily slip Wells into the two spot and slide Iguchi to leadoff.
BTW -- I think Terrero will end up as the 4th OFer, for better or for worse.

James: Will the Sox try the Milwaukee well again and pursue a very cheap Brady Clark? Or how about former trading partner Arizona and Gold Glover Orlando Hudson? Would KW try and justify the pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow, A-Rod? Or will Michael Young be shipped our way for the enigma that is Freddy Garcia?
Let me ask this: was Jim Thome on any of our radars last off-season? Well, he wasn't on mine; that trade was a complete shock. But the Javy Vazquez trade wasn't as much of a shock cuz KW had made no secret of his desire for him. The point is...expect something from KW. He's never been shy about trading youth for talent or potential for experience. And yet we all heard about him casing Mark Prior last year. What is certain is that KW has an eye for underappreciated and undervalued talent, and he will bring someone in.
This question, though, was about specific trades, and I have to pose at least one serious scenario, so here it is...
The big trade, if it happens, will be trading from a position of strength (starting pitching). Either Garcia, McCarthy or Vazquez will be traded (Buehrle is the only lefty starter the Sox will count on) along with either Sweeney, Fields, Broadway or Owens for Ichiro (doubtful but intriguing), Mike Cameron (a decent fit) or Coco Crisp (if healthy). I really think KW's focus is lead-off hitter/left fielder with OBP and defense in mind.

Tom: Of the names I've heard thrown around the one that really makes my mouth water is easily Michael Young. I would LOVE to see that guy in a White Sox uniform. He can field, he can hit, and he's as clutch as anybody in the Majors in big situations.
Carl Crawford is another guy who I like, my only question is how much we would have to give up for him. The price would be high to get him, and how much we would have to pay him to get him to stay here would be large so I fear it may cost us somebody else.
I don't really like Coco Crisp that much. He tends to kill the White Sox, and suck against everybody else. So if he was on the Sox he would suck full time.
I will make it clear that I do NOT want A-Rod. It's nothing against his ability as a baseball player, I just hate the guy, and would feel horrible if I had to root for him.
I wouldn't mind seeing Mike Cameron back in a White Sox uniform either.

Jeeves: Most of the trades I've heard about and mulled over have been said already, so there's no point in me repeating them, but I did come across a trade proposal by some blogger (I can't remember from where)as I was surfing the net a couple weeks ago... Freddy Garcia to the Padres for Scott Linebrink and Mike Cameron. I'm not quite familiar enough with the Padres to comment on whether or not they would be likely to make such a trade, but it would plug up two holes for us.

Cheat: Elsewhere I had proposed a swap of Scott Podsednik for Yorvit Torrealba based on the rumors that the Rockies were interested in Dave Roberts and Sarge Jr. But just now after looking through the '06 Rockies roster, I discovered that they've already got a bunch of crappy light-hitting speed guys who play CF poorly. They don't need Podsednik when they've got Cory Sullivan, Choo Freeman, and Ryan Spilborghs. They've probably got a Nook Logan in there somewhere too.
Come to think of it, didn't Logan end the year with the Nationals, who are about to lose one outfielder to free agency? The Nationals don't have much of anything in their minor league system, and Bowden's not the sharpest tool in the shed; maybe he'll part with Ryan Church, whose respectability has been wasted by spending far too much time in New Orleans. Church would fit perfectly into the role that Rob Mackowiak was forced into last season. That doesn't fix our problem hitting lefties, and probably means Rob is our full-time LFer or on his way out of town via trade.
Before even reading Keith's response, I had the same idea with the exception of targeting Carl Crawford instead of Wells. I have bad memories of trading for Blue Jays named Wells, even if we did "win" that trade.
I think the conundrum then becomes which would you prefer; Garcia for Crisp, or the package for Garcia plus some of our top prospects flipped for Wells/Crawford?
I wasn't really able to find a fit for Podsednik, who I think we all acknowledge will be gone, but I suspect he's coveted by a few teams supposedly in the market for a leadoff hitter. Can you guys come up with anything that will work for both sides?
This concludes the White Sox Bloggers of the Roundtable. I'd like to thank the other Sox bloggers -- and Keith -- for their participation and the Cheat for arranging all this. Maybe we'll get something like this together for spring training, or to analyze the off-season, who knows?

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