The Final Push


Posted Jul 24, 2003


Baseball is roughly a week away from the trade-deadline, which leaves the teams in contention looking to add while the teams that are flopping look to dump. In the middle there are those teams that could add or sell. Right now that’s where White Sox General Manger Ken Williams stands.

My answer to Ken Williams is to not only buy, but to go all out. Coming into Thursday, the White Sox are one game over .500 and five games back. They are currently on a six-game winning streak and are playing in a division that is still up for grabs. With 13 games left against the division leading Royals, the current team could definitely make a push without a trade. But would this team be capable of winning the series if the push does in fact happen? Any team with three ace pitchers (Loiaza, Buehrle, and Colon) can definitely compete, but I ask this, why just compete, lets become the front-runners.

Tuesday night the Chicago Cubs took advantage of the Pirates fire-sale by acquiring Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton for Jose Hernandez, Matt Bruback and a player to be named later. Bruback is a fringe prospect while Hernandez is a nobody. Now it should be the Sox turn to take advantage of the Pirates. After all, it would only be fair since the Pirates burned the Sox in the Todd Ritchie deal.

So, with all this in mind, I ask Mr. Williams to trade for Brian Giles and Jason Kendall. Its been no secret that the White Sox have coveted Giles since last off-season, when they tried to land him, along with Todd Ritchie. However, Giles wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause, and the Sox simply got Ritchie. Peter Gammons reported last night that the Pirates would be more then willing to accept mid-level talent if Jason Kendall was packaged with Brian Giles.

The flaw is Kendall is owed $42 million over the next four seasons, which equates to $10.5 million a year. In return for the two players the Sox would offer Carlos Lee, Jon Rauch and a mid-level prospect. If the Pirates weren’t interested in Carlos Lee, you could guarantee that Aaron Rowand or Willie Harris would be part of the package as well as an additional mid-level prospect (ie, Matt Ginter, Jon Adkins, Gary Majewski).

For once the key to this steal, oh wait, I mean deal, isn’t on the Pirates accepting the trade but on White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf approving the deal, which would add $70.8 million in contracts. While there is no way Reinsdorf would accept a deal of that magnitude, it is possible that he’d be willing if the Sox get the Pirates to pay half of Kendall’s salary. The Pirates would still be saving $50 million in contracts ($46 million if they take Carlos Lee).

Why the Sox do it in the short-run? The Sox offense has been improving as of late, but there are still questions as to whether Everett can play center field, and while Giles isn’t a typical centerfielder, he gets it done. Giles is also a much better offensive player then Carlos Lee (the bat he replaces). Giles is hitting .304 with a .438 on base percentage. He also has 10 homers and 50 RBIs. Giles hit 35 homeruns or more in each of his past for seasons. This season Giles has only struck out 34 times while walking 61 times. Giles’ average is .039 points higher then Carlos Lee while his OBP is .125 points higher. Lee has seven additional homers and 14 RBIs, but Giles has 30 fewer strikeouts.

Giles would fit into the five hole while Jason Kendall would take over the number two slot in the lineup. Miguel Olivo is a very talented young catcher, but some time in Charlotte could do wonders for him. Kendall is hitting .310 with a .388 OBP (.119 higher then Olivo) and has struck out just 30 times. Despite his horrible ankle injury, Kendall still has good speed and can handle the bat. With him in the two-hole, the White Sox could effectively run some hit-and-runs and manufacture quite a few more runs.

The Sox would also have an incredibly balanced lineup with five right-handed hitters, one left-handed hitter and three switch hitters.

Why the Sox do it in the long-run? Two-thirds of the Sox outfield could leave via free agency this offseason (Lee can be kept if the Sox want him here, while Everett is a free agent). Giles would be a long-term solution and could potentially replace Ordonez if he leaves after 2004. The Sox would then move Jason Kendall to LF while Olivo comes back up and becomes the starting catcher. This gives the Sox a very complete lineup for next year, with the only holes at shortstop and second base (will Valentin and Alomar stay?).

What if Reinsdorf doesn’t add the salary? If Reinsdorf isn’t willing to add the salary, Ken Williams could still make the deal, but he just has to get a little more creative. The Giants have showed interest in Bartolo Colon for a while and they have the young pitching to make a deal with the Giants worthwhile. A package of Jesse Foppert, Kurt Ainsworth and Jerome Williams or another prospect should be do-able. The Sox would dump payroll while they would be able to still field a five-man rotation, and a really talented one at that. While Ainsworth is injured, Williams and Foppert would become the Sox 4 & 5 with Porzio or Wright moving to the pen.

So Kenny, if your reading this, lets try to win it all this year. And Jerry, winning it all means the Sox will get to sell playoff tickets, and if things go right, you should see 30,000 a game the next few seasons.



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