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Friday, September 24, 2004
Rumors Dissected

Ken Rosenthal of the Sporting News has supplied just enough optimism that the Sox will be big players in the FA market, that I'm actually going to spend time on some "what if" scenarios. Here's the passage that piqued my interest.
"The White Sox likely will pursue [Carlos] Beltran if they lose RF Magglio Ordonez as a free agent, but they would need to move LF Carlos Lee or 1B Paul Konerko to create enough flexibility to address other needs."
There's a lot to digest in just that little statement.
  • Maggs is not coming back. -- There has been enough verbal sparring in the paper the last two days to make absolute sure of that. My feeling is that Maggs probably isn't ever going to return to his old form, and certainly isn't worth an $11+MIL gamble to find out. He WILL start the season for some poor team who decides to take a chance on him, but there's no way I can foresee him staying healthy for the year, and certainly not for the life of the contract.

  • Who would have to be moved? -- As stated in the excerpt, one of Carlos Lee or Paul Konerko would have to be moved. Both of them would have significant value; Lee is quietly having his best offensive season despite his RBI numbers being down this year, while Konerko is not so quietly doing the same with the huge RBI totals. Whether or not the deal gets done is riding on what kind of deal KW can get for either of these two.

    Based on their age, salary, positions, and offensive numbers, I feel that KW should be looking to get a deal close to the one Milwaukee got for Richie Sexson. I don't think that anyone is going to be able to pilfer another team's farm system like Milwaukee did to Arizona, but that should be the starting point for KW in negotiations.

  • The question then becomes, who do you move?
    To me the answer has become a simple one. Paul Konerko. His trade value will never be higher, whereas, I think Lee's was actually higher last season with his SB's and RBI totals reaching career highs.

  • There also is the question of who replaces them in the line-up.

  • If Lee was to be shipped out,
    • the sox out field would consist of Aaron Rowand in RF, Carlos Beltran in CF, and the often injured Jurassic Carl in LF. 1B would be occupied by Konerko and occasionally Ross Gload. The 4th and 5th outfield spots would be held by Joe Borchard(I think), Timo Perez(I hope not) and Ross Gload(only in emergencies please).

    If Konerko is shipped out,
    • 1B/DH would likely be covered by the three-headed monster of Thomas/Gload/Jurassic. Jurassic has played exactly zero games at first base in his Major League career, and I don't think that would change much. The outfield would consist of Lee in LF, Beltran in CF, and Rowand in right. I think that is probably the best outfield in all of baseball. Offensively I don't think it can be matched, and defensively it compares favorably with every other outfield I can think of. (Anaheim has some arms) In a reserve role would be Jurassic Carl and Joe Borchard/Alex Escobar with Ross Gload in EXTREME emergencies.

  • I lean heavily in favor of option #2, for a number of reasons
    • I think the Sox can get more value in a trade for Kokerko.
    • I think Ross Gload can be a good major league first baseman.
    • I think the outfield of Lee/Beltran/Rowand is incredible
    • I like having Jurassic as a Super Sub, playing 3 or 4 different positions(DH/LF/RF/1B?).
    • I think the drop off from Konerko to Gload is not near what the current stats would indicate.
    • I think the drop off from Konerko to Gload is far less than the drop off from Lee to Borchard/Perez. And that's what it will be because there's no reason to believe that Carl Everett is going to remain healthy while playing the OF every day.
    • Carlos Lee's Home vs. Away splits are very even. Konerko's Home vs. Away splits vary wildly(1.093OPS @Home vs. .712 Road). He can't hit worth a plug nickel away from USCF. 29 of his 40 HR's have come at the Coors Field of the Midwest

Ok I know that I lost some of you back there when I said I thought Ross Gload could be a good everyday first baseman. But hear me out on this one. A couple of weeks ago I had a post on the subject of the possibility of Gload becoming the starting 1B.

I get the feeling when people think of Gload they think of a 33 year old journeyman who's bounced around from team to team, and that just not the case. To me, I see Gload as the White Sox version of Lew Ford. Gload has hit at every stop he's made in his baseball career. Comparing his Minor League numbers to those of Ford provides an illustration of just how much of a professional hitter Gload is.

Gload -- (3166AB's) -- .304AVG/.495SLG -- (12.29AB/BB)
Ford -- (2063AB's) -- .296AVG/.455SLG -- (11.21AB/BB)

Now I'll be the first to admit that Gload played in some fairly hitter friendly parks in the minors, and USCF will be no different, but he actually hit more often and with more power than the guy who is only missing out on AL rookie of the year because he spent too many days on the roster last season. Gload is only a few months older than Ford, he just has never been given the chance to play every day.

It's going to be a fun off-season. If KW can make a few shrewd trades and sign a couple big free-agents, this team will be right back on top the AL competing once again.