By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) The White Sox are a first place team, but is it really smart for them to go for it all this season? That’s a major question we ponder in this week’s mailbag.
As always, all questions are left unedited:
I know the White Sox are in the race this year, but will they honestly win the World Series? Winning the division this year but falling short in the playoffs could actually hurt the team in the future so should they be going the route of the Cubs with a total re-build?? – Andrew
I would never concede a World Series for any playoff team, especially now that there is an extra wild card spot available. We have seen over and over again in baseball that any team in the playoffs can win it all. Get there and you have a chance.
That said, I would feel more confident about the White Sox’s chances if they had a better starting rotation. It’s still too early to get a good feel on this team, but I would compare them more to the ’08 squad than the ’05 team. Going back to 2008, it seemed like making the playoffs was the real victory and that the White Sox never had a chance against the Rays. At this point, that’s sort of the feeling I get with this team, although it’s still only mid-June.
The next couple of months could have a huge impact on the future of the White Sox though. It’s hard to ignore what Jake Peavy, A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain could bring back in trades — in addition to the payroll they would shed. All four have good value to competing teams and all four would save the White Sox a lot of money together.
Peavy has a $22 million club option for next season, but even his $4 million buyout is expensive. Thornton is due $5.5 million next season with a $6 million club option or a $1 million buyout in 2014. Crain is owed $4.5 million in 2013, the last year of his deal. Pierzynski is a free agent after this season and is making $6 million.
If the White Sox keep all four players for next year, it would cost somewhere around $36 million (that’s assuming a $4 million deal with Pierzynski which is just a low guess on my part). If the White Sox parted with all four players at the trade deadline, it would save them at least the $15 million committed for the next two seasons, plus what they are owed the rest of this season (approximately $11 million). That’s a difference of $62 million and you are getting a number of prospects in return.
We also have to keep in mind that Chris Sale and Dayan Viciedo are going to be looking for long-term deals soon and that money has to come from somewhere.
It’s hard to think that selling is the right move for a first place ballclub, but 14 years after Ron Schueler’s famous/infamous “White Flag Trade” could Kenny Williams make a similar move? If you think such a move is also not in is nature, you might be wrong. Williams was the White Sox’s vice president of player development in 1997 and was actually involved in making the trade.
“I won’t remove myself from the hook on that one,” Williams told the Chicago Tribune in 2001. “We all sat down together to determine the course of action. I was part of that decision-making process. That’s where we were then, what we felt we had to do to get us to the point where we are now.”
The White Sox could be in a similar place now. Of course, the other option is to find help for the rotation, a task that is likely harder…
The Cubs are looking to dump a number of players… could any of them help the White Sox – marty, chicago
Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster would both help the starting rotation, but I’m not sure the White Sox have enough to offer the Cubs. The top pitching prospects are already on the team and the ones in the minors aren’t exactly coveted by other teams. Simon Castro and Nestor Molina aren’t having great years in Double-A and while Dylan Axelrod is having a decent year in Triple-A, the Cubs are looking for more.
This brings us back to the buying or selling question. The White Sox don’t have a lot to work with in terms of acquiring players (plus they can’t afford to add a lot of payroll as the fans continue to stay away from the ballpark), but they do have a number of pieces that could bring back a number of good prospects in return.
can we get something for Floyd and/or Humber, and insert Quintana into the rotation permenantly? – @wes_larson
The White Sox are certainly getting to the point where they need to come up with some sort of solution in the rotation. Gavin Floyd, Philip Humber and John Danks aren’t cutting it right now. It’s quite frankly doubtful the White Sox will be able to win the AL Central with the lack of production they are getting from the majority of the rotation.
Is Quintana really the answer, though? He’s pitched well, but let’s not forget that he hasn’t gone more than six innings in any start so far. He’ll continue to get starts if Humber is taken out of the rotation, but I’m not convinced yet that the rookie can be a reliable starter for the rest of the season. The body of work just isn’t large enough to make a bold move and trade away depth.
Floyd and Humber still have some value (Floyd more than Humber), mainly because both pitchers still display a coveted breaking ball. But that value isn’t enough to bring back a high-ceiling prospect or another pitcher that can help this season. With Danks already on the DL and Sale and Peavy as fragile as can be, I don’t think the White Sox can afford to give up any depth in their rotation.
The more likely scenario is that Don Cooper works his ass off with Floyd, Humber and Danks in the hopes that they can put together a couple good months and help the team make the playoffs. Remember, you only need four starters in October.
Submit your mailbag questions by tweeting them to @AdamHogeCBS or e-mailing them to ahoge(at)cbs.com.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.