Some opening tidbits.
-I've started about 20 entries and never finished them since my last. I need to just go with the flow and forget about polish for now. I'll just publish what's on my mind and then put together special posts when I get around to it.
-The 2009 Sox turned around in my head about 2 weeks ago. At that point, I realized that for the first time I considered the Sox to have a very serious shot at this division. I mean, I considered them to be in the race before that, but I also thought 2009 needed to be a rebuilding year. Especially during the offseason. The rebirth of Scott Podsednik has been an amazing boost, and I definitely did not expect Beckham to be capable of this yet. He's starting to really hit, and he might just enter the ROY race. Inconceivable!
The 2010 White Sox. I feel like I've gone over the possibilities a million times in my head, so here goes for right now.
The current stimulus is a post on MLBTradeRumors that the Blue Jays would like to trade Vernon Wells and/or Alex Rios to save money for re-signing Halladay. And I realized how much I would love to see Rios in a White Sox uniform. I'm sure we won't acquire him (at least not soon), but it's a fun thought. Imagine this lineup:
Not too shabby for another should-be-rebuilding year. With our pitching, such a team would compete. If Pods and Quentin are healthy. And if Ramirez is good. But even so, there are so many variations.
The Thome Question.
Everyone has assumed that Thome wouldn't be coming back to the White Sox in 2010. The problem with that is that he is still a very productive hitter (.245/.399/.500, .392 wOBA). Fangraphs has him at +1.2 wins so far this year. As an aging DH that needs days off and will probably need more over time, and considering his slow starts the last few years have caused scares, I can easily see Thome being an overlooked free agent this offseason. Which could mean a 1-year, $4 million contract or so. For that price, he'd be a nice pickup. I could see the Rays considering the opportunity, and maybe the Blue Jays or the Orioles (if they're ready to go for it). Most everyone else will have only limited interest unless things shift.
However, the biggest reason not to bring back Thome has nothing to do with his production. The White Sox have Brandon Allen coming up, with several other hitters behind him (Flowers, Viciedo), not to mention the fact that they might want to give Fields some playing time at 1B/DH and Konerko will still be under contract. In addition to all of this, if Quentin continues to get hurt, he may become a permanent DH. So having that DH spot open can be quite valuable to a young, developing White Sox squad.
Similar picture. Dye is slowly becoming a DH himself, and the White Sox desperately need to find a good, young outfield. I'm not sure how long it will be until Jordan Danks and John Shelby reach the majors, but holding on to Dye will make things tricky. If we hold on to both Quentin and Podsednik, that's a lot of injury risk in the outfield. That could mean a season of watching Wise, Anderson, and Norris Hopper manning the grass. Ugh.
Paulie seems to be doing a great job this year, and his defense at 1B is really terrific. Alexei Ramirez has made sure to give us ample time to appreciate the captain's glove. With the questionable defense of Allen, Fields, Viciedo, maybe Flowers, etc., plus Quentin's DH potential, I think it makes sense to keep Paulie on the field at first. He has trade protection, but he could also be a valuable trade piece. Maybe the Rangers want him next year if Davis continues to disappoint. The Giants probably will still be looking for a bat as well.
Especially if he has a stellar second half, will he have a place on next year's team? I figure they want to move Poreda into the rotation, and Richard's spot is probably secure. What will the market for Jose look like? I imagine we'd at least offer him a low-salary bullpen role, but it's tough to say where he ends up.
Can he solidify his SS defense? Can he hit with consistency? He might be Ozzie's SS, but is he Kenny's? Considering that Beckham probably belongs in the middle infield and that Getz is not embarassing himself, and I can see Alexei being traded for something, maybe an outfielder or bullpen depth (or a catching prospect that can actually catch..). He's probably too good of a hitter to serve as a utility player, although he'd be very valuable in that role. Sort of a Mark DeRosa, adequate D all over and a pretty good bat to boot. I can see his trade value being high, but it's hard to tell. If Jose's gone, the Missile might follow.
I've mentioned Flowers several times, although I'm not sure if he'll be ready to catch at the big league level any time soon. Then there's Cole Armstrong, of whom I haven't heard much since spring training. Pierzynski is good and a lot of cities hate him, but he could be traded in the offseason. Depends on Flowers's development and whether Kenny can stomach a rebuilding season. And the market. I would love to see A. J. stick around, but I imagine he won't be here all that much longer.
He's somewhere between fourth outfielder and starter or platoon CF on a weaker team. I'm not sure how much trade value he has, and certainly he can serve the White Sox well, but I think he'd be best served by a fresh start somewhere else.
I say keep him around and see what he can do. Try him in LF, in CF, and let him bat leadoff while he can. He probably won't be a part of the next great Sox team, but if he does his magic they'll be in the race even with a younger, weaker lineup.
Do you bother to re-sign him. Kenny very likely will, because he won't want to rebuild. But perhaps it's worth letting him go and keeping an eye out for bullpen upgrades before 2011...
Do whatever seems best. If his trade value is high enough, use him that way, or keep him around as the franchise closer. Either way works.
Those are a few thoughts. We'll see what happens. More later.