Monday, January 21, 2008

Curious Sox

The White Sox have reportedly signed Octavio Dotel to a 2 year, $11 million contract. Earlier in the off season the White Sox also signed Scott Linebrink to a 4 year, $19 million contract, and obtained Nick Swisher in a trade with the Oakland A's. The White Sox generally received good reviews for the Swisher trade, but these reliever signings are curious at best. It is this lack of consistency that makes me wonder if the White Sox have a serious plan for getting back into contention or if Kenny Williams and Ozzie are making player personnel decisions by playing a drunken game of Rock-Paper-Scissors (how else do you explain the Erstad signing last year?).

Let me explain. The White Sox were very bad last year. Gave up up 839 runs. Only scored 693 while finishing 24 games behind Cleveland. They only had a .318 OBP as a team and their best hitter,Thome, will be 38 years old next year. Yes a very bad year. The picture I am trying to paint is that the White Sox appear no where close to competing with the teams ahead of them in their division with out some major changes. As an organization the White Sox really have two choices. Either they need to do a major overhaul this off season to try to catch up to the teams ahead of them, or build for the future. A jump from 72 wins to 75 wins is sort of like kissing your sister don't you think? Since this seasons FA market was relatively weak it didn't appear the Sox would be able to bridge the gap in talent with their division rivals. This is where I agree with the Swisher trade. He is young, gets on base (100 walks, .381 OPB last year) and is cost controlled for the next few years. That move makes sense, for you can see Swisher being part of the solution a few years down the road due to his age and the fact that he addresses a major team weakness. This is where the reliever signings seem to make a little less sense.

I know the bullpen was awful last year, their relievers posted a collective 5.47 ERA. That's ugly. But both the new guys have some red flags. Linebrink's K rate has dropped from 8.89 in 2004 to 6.40 last season. And he is going to the big boy league. Signing him for 4 years is pretty silly. Dotel still seems to have his stuff (41 k's in 30.2 innings) but has only pitched 63.2 innings the last three seasons. I could see taking a chance on him for one year but two years is questionable to me. I actually think these guys will marginally improve the White Sox bullpen next season. But considering how bad the bullpen they had last year, it wouldn't take all that much to actually do that. Back to my broader point of, WHY? The White Sox have a lot of major flaws as a team and are probably a couple season's away from being back in contention unless they quickly bring in a handful of high impact players. These guys just ain't going to make a significant impact short term. And they won't have any impact long term due to age, injuries, or just poor performance. I think this is a classic example of a GM making a move just for the sake of making a move(Sort of like the Royal's signing Tomko yesterday).

I can understand why Kenny Williams and other GM's sometimes feel pressure to make moves like this. The White Sox have a lot of money, and the pen was really bad last year. To the fans, media, and sometimes even the owner, it wouldn't look very acceptable to sit on your hands and do nothing. It's clear something needed to be done and this way he can say he is trying to make the team better. It is a very difficult for the GM to sell the notion that doing nothing may be the best course of action, especially when he has a lot of cash to throw around, as the White Sox do. But it is also the GM's job to have a bit more perspective than the fans, media, and yes even the owner. Considering the current state of the White Sox roster, these two reliever deals are just pointless; not enough to help now or in the future. Maybe Kenny Williams likes to kiss his sister.


johng said...

Actually, a decrease from 73 to 52 wins is like kissing YOUR sister.

Learn how to spell Cleveland, and understand, sometimes a team who won a championship 2 years ago figures it just has to retool to be competitive. Crazy notion, I know.

The White Sox' main problem last year was its bullpen. They've addressed this. The second problem was OPB. They've added 2 crazy OBP guys.

They're third problem was Seattle fans blogging on things they don't know about, like ... WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!

I have a great idea. For airfare, (first class), hotel, $150,000 and meals, I can come to Seattle, and explain how you, too, can learn to be good fans that can root your team onto a World Championship.

It's not hard, just a couple of tricks. Learn special cheers that help your pitchers throw 4 straight complete games in the ALCS. Learn the "wave" killing chant that helps your 1st baseman hit a key grand slam in the WS. What was the embarassing nickname Brad Lidge was called in Midway Airport that haunted him all the way to the mound in game 2?

All this in the comfort of your own Holiday Inn convention center.

call today.

chitownsoxfan said...

I am sorry but I seem to forget the last time you won a WS.

I belive 2005 was the year the White Sox won with a washed up Contreas, Hernadez, Dye, and some fat drunk named Jenks.

If you honestly have the balls to post what you did that you are more of a moron that whoever signed that 12 foot beanpole who strikes out errr I mean plays first for you.

Seattle has done a few things right I can think of Griffy, Ichiro and blowing up the King Dome.

Anytime you want to talk about sports let me know.

We can talk about NBA titles (if you still have a team) or Superbowls, or Stanley Cups. Wait sorry no NHL.

When posting a blog like this you might want to be in a real sports city.

Don Evans said...


I agree with your notion that a team has to retool to be competitive. But do you really thinking signing two relievers that have a fair amount of question marks about them, is a wise move when your team has far worse problems?? To be clear I am a Yankees fan, not a Mariners fan. If you read my blog I am not particularly biased toward any team and in fact I think the Silva signing for the Mariners was really bad. If you think the White Sox best chance to become competitive again is to "learn special cheers" good luck with that ......

Chitownsoxfan: Sure 2005 was a great year. A lot of things went right, they played extremely well. But I don't see how signing any of these relievers is going to help solve there big problems. Yes the bullpen was a HUGE problem. But neither of these guys is a sure thing to greatly improve the pen. I just think a team with as many flaws as the White Sox that money could be better spent else where ......

johng said...

If you don't see how Linebrink and Dotel help replace Aardsma and Mxptlyk, you really have to explain your understanding of baseball. These 2 guys upgrade the bullpen, the end. By all means, detail the problems the White Sox need to address. 1). bullpen. Check. Addressed. Taken care of. Cross it off the list. Next.

johng said...

And do you want to talk about the Yankees? Yeah they won championships when the entire league was whacked out on Extacy or steroided up, or listening to the bat, high on 'shrooms. The league cleaned up in 2005, and the league's model of cleanliness, the White Sox, towered over the competition, thanks to great fans, like me.

In 2006, the league decided to let teams cheat again, as evidenced by the scandal ridden "Black Tigers" who sent Kenny Rogers to the mound in game 1 of the WS coated, head to toe, in pine tar. The team threw the ensuing 4 games in the hope that the Cardinals would smile at them.

Now, the Yanks are a sad husk of ... a sad husk of a team. When the entire league is emaciated from the Great Depression, yeah, the Yankees could send a team out to win 8 championships, fattened up on Hitler's wheat and beef. Enjoy your "tainted" WS championships. I'll enjoy the fact that the 1919 White Sox sacrificed themselves to shed light on the horrible conditions imposed on players by greedy owners.

Don Evans said...

John: The bullpen was a problem yes, but this team has bigger worries than that .... There team OBP was only .318, their starters posted a 4.47 ERA which was 7th in the league for starting pitchers. About middle of pack. I guess what I am trying to say is if you want to get back into contention quickly, you need a lot of high impact players RIGHT NOW, or you need to build for a few years out. and RIGHT NOW the two relievers they signed could make them a bit better in the pen this year. I do think they will be upgrades. But how much will they help? Well I can see Linebrink continue to regress and I can see Dotel pitching like 30 innings again. For the money the Sox paid, that just isn't enough to put them back into contention the next few years, don't you think? And if they aren't going to help to put the team in the position to make the playoffs, aren't those contracts sort of pointless. Might as well spend the money now on retooling but getting some actually impact players, or save the money for later. These guys are not IMPACT relievers. Bad deals no matter how you look at it.

johng said...

I know that Bill James will show up at my house with a hatchet for not quoting some formula of his properly, but in the 1st half, the bullpen lost a good 10 games by being overmatched. I have properly indexed proof, other than to look at the box scores, and I'm too lazy to do that right now.

They acquired 2 crazy OBP guys, along with upgrading at shortstop IMMENSELY. Yes, I know, it's not Derek Jeter, but Cabrera is a huge upgrade over Juan Uribe. Dye, thome, Konerko, Pierzynski, Crede all had down years last year. If they just play average, that would be a huge improvement.

Contreras looked very strong in September, last year. Buerhle and Vazquez were very good 1 and 2 pitchers. They're weak at #5. STop the presses. OHMYGOD!!! How can they even field a team without an ace at #5?!?!?

It's not like they have Clemens on the sidelines, shooting pure iron into his veins, being coy until mid-May. No, they just have two good, young pitchers who may or may not develop.

News flash. The White Sox are not the Yankees. We cannot throw $246 million over 18 months at Jesus Christ, and then have him flop, and then they'll throw $312 million over 16 weeks at Hulk Hogan, and watch him walk to the mound with a bat.

I believe you are wrong. They had a problem with the bullpen, and began to address that. They have adddressed many problems. I understand the disconnect. ESPN writers haven't gushed over us, yet, so we have no cred. The only reason anyone even pays any attention to the happenings in the Bronx is because ESPN opens every newscast with tape of Derek Jeter playing frisbee with his dog. There's more to building a team than Derek Jeter playinig frisbee with his dog.

Gizmo the mogwai said...

Is this Don't give homers too much of your time. Keep up with your analysis Donald. I enjoy reading your posts whether I disagree or not.

Big Foot said...

The White Sox were almost as bad as my Pirates, yes i am a Pirates fan. Go ahead and find a good move they have made in the last 2 decades, besides getting rid of Bonds. White Sox need bullpen help so it was a great move for them in a thin FA list. If a deal is out there make it. Like johng stated not every team can go out and spend a ton of money on a player who used to be good when they were in there 20's. Yankee fan's are very annoying, i don't know if it's because i live in NY and everybody is a Yankee fan living in the late 90's era, or if every Yankee fan in the world including the one in Seattle are just plain dumb. Yes i know this is coming from a Pirate fan but, we do not spend the kind of money they do and get the talent they do. Maybe i sound bitter but i have accepted the fact that my team will not make playoffs for probably another 10 years, Yankee fans accept that fact you will not win a world series until at least Gay-Rod is out of NY.

Travis M. Nelson said...

Don, this may come as a surprise to you, since you're new at this and all, but you can't win an argument with irrational, myopic, home-town fans using rational, objective logic. They're arguing that because the team in your town has never won a championship you have no authority to tell them how to run the team in their town. Three years ago, I could have made the same argument with them (being a Yankee fan) and they'd have told me to screw off because my team just bought up all the talent in the league and won all those titles illegitimately. You can't win a battle of wits with someone who doesn't bring a weapon to the table.

You're right that two relievers won't make that much of a difference, but the fact is that they had one of the worst bullpens in baseball last year, which means that not only did they lose too much, but they often lost ugly. There are always free agent relievers with recognizable names available, so this looks like an "easy fix" to a GM who's trying to keep the fans coming to the ballpark, and by extension, his job.

Even if they both live up to their "potential" maybe they combine for about 120 innings with a 3.50ish ERA, they replace some of the worst innings from last year's bullpen, and they improve the team by, what? 5 wins? Swisher might be worth 4 wins himself over some of the drek that they had out there in the OF last year. All-told, that gives them (generously) 9 more wins than last year, and IF Josh Fields improves and IF their old hitters bounce back and IF their starters continue to eat innings and IF the Cleveland team bus crashes into the Detroit team bus and then they both fall off an overpass and land on the Minnesota team bus, well, they just might have a chance in 2008. For a team with money to burn, maybe it's worth the risk to see if all they needed was some "retooling" or if this team really is sinking into oblivion.

Shyster said...

The impact of the signings can be debated, but starting out with "what do youse know ur team never one no champeenships, dude!!one11one!!" isn't how you start a debate.

In the end, it's never a good idea to feed the trolls.

johng said...

My optimism is as valid as your pessimism. The Tigers have a horrible bullpen. The INdians will experience the postseason lag that hit the White Sox and Tigers last year. The White Sox have seriously upgraded the 5 worst spots on their roster, and expect guys who were injured or slumping last year to at least play to their career averages.

I fully expect you to show up at my house to wash my car the day after the White Sox win the 2008 WS.

And please, just repeating that the White Sox had bigger gaps to fill is not analysis. If you see your car being broken into, do you run outside naked, because you can't put on pants, what with having bigger problems to address? This is idiocy. It is sour grapes fans of other teams griping, poor-mouthing every move the White Sox have made.

If the Tigers signed Linebrink and Dotel, they'd rename Warren and Dearborn after them. And guys like this blog's proprietor would be praising them for their moves.

This was a great move that sealed the 2008 WS for the White Sox. Go ahead. Prove me wrong. You can't. I win.

Mrs. Evans (Donald's Mother) said...

I don't see how you honestly think signing Dotel and Linebrink can amount to anything more than maybe an extra 5 win's, let alone a World Series. The White Sox will lose 2 to the Rockies, get swept by the Pirates, and lose 2 to the Cubs in interleague play. Which will help pave the way to their 4th place finish in the AL Central finishing 4 games above the Royals with a record of 77-85. Go ahead. Prove me wrong. You can't. I win.

P.S. Donald I love and miss you.

OtherNYTeamFan said...

Wow Johng, I didn't realize that Postseason lag lasted two years. You won the WS what in '05 and haven't made the playoffs the previous two seasons. Now because you pick up Dotel (hasn't played in more than 25-games the past three years) and Linebrink you have a reason to believe you will win the World Series.

Let's look at the facts, last in AVG last year, and 28th/27th in runs/RBI's. How many improvements you make on offense? I see Swisher, oh no look out there is huge upgrade.

You need to face the facts, you are no better off than the Yankees over the past 5 years, too many veterans not enough youth, NUFF SAID. Guillen thought he could produce with old guys 3 years in a row, guess what, didn't work out to well did it?

Well I will give you one thing you sure are proud of your Chi Sox and I don't think anyone can deny you that, but I think you really need to re-assess what makes a team a Championship caliber, because what got you there three years ago, won't get you there again this year, GUARANTEED!

Paul said...

Donald likes to kiss his sister. And his mother won the debate.

Jason said...

without diving into this morass too deeply, I will pose this: What if the White Sox do indeed continue to backslide? Wouldn't some of these guys, namely a Dotel, have trade value for a contending team, assuming, of course, that he is healthy and productive? Some NL team might need a closer or set-up guy and a year and a half of Dotel for $8M might be worth something.