Come September, when the Sox look back on these moves, July 1 will be the day where you can pinpoint when the Sox went from pretenders to contenders.
Yes, the Sox were my pre-season pick to win the series, but that had changed after months of frustration and disappointment. June started with that same disappointment but came to an end with a glimmer of hope. Ken Williams changed that glimmer of hope to an expectation that anything less then the playoffs will be a huge letdown.
Alomar was brought on to be a table-setter, something D’Angelo Jimenez started the season as. Jimenez began to struggle as the months wore on and the Sox grew tired of his numerous mistakes. His replacement, Alomar, is a veteran, a 12-time all star, and possibly the greatest second baseman ever. At 35, he may be on the downside of his career, but he is still one of the best defensive second baseman in the game, and has the same bat speed and knowledge he had in 2001 when he hit .336 with 20 homers, 100 RBIs, 113 runs and 30 stolen bases. Whether he can revert back to those numbers is unknown, but many feel confident that a move to the American League, to a team that is in contention and also features his brother Sandy Alomar, is his best shot at reviving his once Hall-of-Fame-bound career.
The question is, what does Alomar do that Jimenez doesn’t? When you look at their numbers this season, you see that both have similar averages, on base percentages and few stolen bases. But looking beyond the numbers, Sox fans know the mistakes that Jimenez, 25, made. Whether they were defensive blunders or boneless baserunning mistakes, the Sox were sick of his act. While much older, Alomar is the exact opposite. One of his strengths is his ability to do the “little things”. Alomar is a 10-time gold glove winner and will greatly improve the Sox “up the middle” defense. Alomar also excels at bunting and brings above average speed. While his stolen base numbers are way down since going to the Mets (6 this year), it isn’t because he’s lost speed, but because of manager Art Howe, who isn’t a big believer in the running game.
For this trade to work out for the Sox, Alomar will have to revert back to his “Indians” numbers. At the current rate, Alomar is just a minor upgrade over Jimenez, which isn't worth losing a 25-year-old second baseman (designated for assignment; most likely to be traded, or waived, unless he clears options) and one of the best relief prospects in baseball, Royce Ring, for. The loss of the other two prospects, Edwin Almonte and Andrew Salvo, is trivial as Almonte is a fringe prospect while Salvo is a reserve minor-leaguer best known for his ability to get on base.
After filling the Sox hole at the top of the order, Williams went on to fix their lack of left-handed bats by adding Carl Everett. Not much is known about this trade other then the Rangers will get two lower-level minor leaguers and a conditional player, all to be named later. The Rangers have to choose from a list of eight players, which is said to be a mix of position players and pitchers. Since it is hard to gauge what the Sox gave up, you can’t say whether they won this trade or not, but the Sox making the World Series would be an automatic indication that it was worth it.
Everett started the season hot, but has cooled off in June, causing many to worry. Rest assured, as long as Everett is healthy, this is a simple slump. Everett will instantly become the team's leading home run hitter (18 HRs ties him with Frank Thomas) and also has an OPS (OBP + Slugging Percentage) over .900 .
Many have also questioned his attitude, but those are of the past. Since joining the Rangers there haven’t been any negative reports on Everett. The only bad story Everett has been involved in this season was when he was hit in the head with a cell phone. Ironically enough, he will now be playing in a stadium named after a cell phone company.
Everett’s teammates in Texas have all said good things about him; most notably, the 200% effort he puts in once the game starts. Those are the exact type of players that you want on a team. Whether wild or not, he plays with heart on the field and has one goal: to win. Those are the kind of guys the Sox need.
The only real concern I have with Everett is whether he can be an adequate centerfielder. I do think he’s a great addition, but defensively Everett has lost a step. Of course it isn’t like the Sox had a gold-glover in the outfield, and I’d say at the very worse, Everett would be comparable to the way Harris and Rowand play, although I happen to think Rowand plays good defense. Most likely Everett will play a lot of centerfield, but I think the Sox are going to really mix things up a lot, playing Everett in left or DH on certain days with Daubach, Harris and Rowand getting time in the field. The biggest stat with Everett is his .356 on base percentage, a considerable upgrade over Aaron Rowand's .279 OBP, Willie Harris' .224 OBP and Armando Rios' .257 OBP. As you can see, this is a huge upgrade from what the Sox had and should be a big reason the offense only gets stronger.
The other big benefit of these moves is that it gives the White Sox a very strong bench as they now have two solid defensive replacements in the outfield with Rowand and Harris; two good backups in the infield with Graffanino and Harris; a good backup catcher in Sandy Alomar; and a strong hitter, whether it is Konerko or Daubach. Plus, if Paul Konerko ever got back into form, they’d have a whicked power hitter off the bench or as an everyday player.
Ken Williams is making a name for himself with these moves and could turn into the front-runner for the Executive of the Year award. But that is all an after-thought. The important part is the Sox have filled two major holes (centerfield and the leadoff slot) without giving up anyone on the major league roster and thus far only one solid prospect, a reliever.
If you have any comments, questions or feedback, email me at Jason@soxnet.net