Reporting Dan Bernstein
As baseball’s general managers’ meetings convened in Orlando, Florida, few attendees arrived with more heavy lifting to do than Kenny Williams. His 40-man roster stands at 31, and the everyday lineup looks like this, if the season were to begin today (in some estimation of batting order):
LF Juan Pierre, 2B Omar Vizquel, CF Alex Rios, RF Carlos Quentin, 1B Dayan Viciedo, SS Alexei Ramirez DH Mark Teahen, 3B Brent Morel, and C Ramon Castro.
Thankfully, the season does not start today, since that lineup gets you all of 75 wins.
All indications are that Paul Konerko will move on to a rich, three-year deal elsewhere. Beckham is still recovering from his late-season wrist injury, which complicates his future as the Sox’s second-baseman or as trade bait, which he has been reported to be.
Castro would last maybe a month as full-time catcher. The rotund veteran (he actually resembles a giant, humanoid monkfish more than anything else) can hit a little and spell the starter once or twice a week, but AJ Pierzynski’s value is inflated by thin options at the position. The Marlins had been Pierzynski’s primary suitor, but they signed John Buck last night – a solid sign a return to the Sox is now likely.
Williams must decide if Carlos Quentin’s horrible defense, injury history and moodiness are mitigated by the occasional power binge. They need home runs, but they may be better found elsewhere.
Konerko’s replacement will supply some, whomever it may be. The Sox look at that slot as a place for a lefthanded bat, be it a second-tier player like Adam LaRoche or Luke Scott or another Williams gamble on a fading great in Carlos Delgado. Adam Dunn would be ideal, but the money he’ll command is not.
Any trade of substance would probably involve a starting pitcher, since that’s all they have to deal that anyone would want. They are monitoring the recovery of Jake Peavy from surgery to reattach a torn muscle, but are not counting on him to join a mix that still includes Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Edwin Jackson and Gavin Floyd, and likely will add Chris Sale.
Forget about material trades centered on prospects. The farm system is bare, essentially, with Sale and Morel promoted, Daniel Hudson traded and nothing much else in the pipeline. Eduardo Escobar is the tallest midget, for now.
The good news is that the Sox are pursuing All-Star closer Rafael Soriano, since it still looks like they’re leaning toward cutting ties with Bobby Jenks and his expected new price tag from arbitration eligibility.
Williams has been quick to temper expectations for rapid remodeling, reminding reporters that there’s plenty of time before a pitch is thrown. He seems content to watch the other players at the table before moving, maintaining flexibility.
The off-season may yet prove eventful. Looking at that lineup right now, it may need to be.