Off Season Outlook - Pitchers.
- Mark Buehrle -- Signed through 2006, $5.75M in '05, option @ $9.5M in '07
Mark will certainly be a mainstay on the southside for a long time. As long as he can provide 15+ victories and an ERA under 4, which has become nearly impossible in the AL in the most prolific offensive era in baseball history, not to mention pitching in one of the most hitter friendly parks in all of baseball.
- Freddy Garcia -- Signed through 2007, $8M in '05
Signed a brand new fat contract in July after KW gave the prize of the farm system to the Mariners. He is supposed to be the "ace" of the staff for the next three years.
- Jose Contreras -- Signed through 2006, $6M in '05
Imported to the southside in exchange for our own damaged goods in Esteban Loaiza, he and the $13 or 14M(depending on who you believe) the sox owe him are here to stay. There was speculation early in the season that KW was looking to bring Contreras to the Sox to fill the closer's role. Hopefully, Coop can get the count's head on straight, and he can be a productive #3 or #4 pitcher for us, as I don't see him pitching from the pen anytime soon.
- Jon Garland -- No Contract, Arbitration Eligible
Expect Jon Garland back in the rotation next season. Simply put, you know what you're going to get from him. 200 innings and a sub-5 ERA and the chance that he could finally put it together are too much to take a pass on. He could possibly be a trade candidate, but the only trade I could see getting done would be a deal for Jose Guillen, or something like that. I would expect outfield help in return.
- Scott Schoeneweis -- Free Agent
Not going to be brought back. I wouldn't mind him back if he pitched exclusively out of the pen, and specifically to lefties, but Scott has a case of the "Sturtzes"; He thinks he is a starter, despite all indications that he is not.
On the Horizon
- Shingo Takatsu -- Signed through 2005 @ $2.5M
Simultaneously solidified the bullpen and closer's role when he took over the reigns from Billy Koch in June. The front office has indicated that they will be in the market for another top reliever in the off-season, and that Takatsu would have to earn the job again in the spring. I think that's a solid plan because I don't expect him to duplicate the success he had this season.
- Damaso Marte -- Signed through 2006, $1.5M in '05, options @ $3M in '07 and '08
He'll have the same role he has had for the past three seasons. Being groomed to take over closing duties.
- Cliff Politte -- Signed through 2005 @ $900K, 2006 option.
Back in his same role next season. egh. I don't really care either way. Just throw strikes when the game is on the line and the winning run is 90ft. from home, please.
- Jon Adkins -- Renewable at near league Minimum
Pitched great in the beginning of the season. In the second half he allowed an alarming number of longballs. He will be pitching on a Major League team next season, I'm not sure it's on the southside.
- Neal Cotts -- Renewable at near league minimum
In the same boat as Adkins. Despite a good k/9 ratio, Neal seems to hit a lot of bats, but hitters have a hard time putting the ball in play. The result is prolonged AB's where the hitter fouls off numerous pitches, before either striking out, or giving one an express ride to the cheap seats.
As with Adkins I feel that he will be pitching in the majors next season, the question is just, where? I think Neal is slightly more likely to stay just because I think the organization is high on him. That, or maybe because if KW did move him, he would feel that he didn't get anything for Keith Foulke.
- Jason Grilli -- Renewable at near league minimum
Got 7 starts in the final month-plus of the season, while failing to post a single quality start. He has suspiciously been given a vote of confidence by both Ozzie Guillen and KW. All indications are that he will be in competition for a spot on the staff next season. (If he is starting a game in the first week of the season, I will break my TV.)
- Felix Diaz -- Renewable at near league minimum
Also had 7 starts over the course of the season, many in bad situations, (i.e. short rest, unusually long rest, or impossibly hostile environments). He was able to post 2 quality starts, while being uncharacteristically wild. Transferred to the pen when Grilli was given the 5th starters job in September, Diaz was able to flourish. He posted a stretch of 23 innings without yielding a HR, something that plagued him as a starter. Expect him to compete for a spot on the team next season, be it 5th starter, long reliever, or mop-up guy.
- Jeff Bajenaru -- Renewable at near league minimum
Came into his own this season after fully recovering from arm surgery. I would have expected him to compete for a set-up role, but with the signing of Cliff Politte he has only a fringe possibility of making the team. Expect him to start the season in Charlotte, or possibly another teams roster.
- Arnie Munoz -- Renewable at near league minimum
After nearly making the team as a reliever two seasons ago, Munoz converted to a starter in Birmingham this season. He should be back to his relieving ways next season. Has the best shot of the "on the horizon" crew to make the team next season simply because he was blessed with the ability to throw left-handed.
- Brandon McCarthy -- minor league contract.
Tore through opposing line-ups in the minors across three levels. McCarthy throws strikes and challenges hitters. He should start the season in the minors, but could be the first candidate for a call-up in the event that a starter goes down.
With 4 starters solidly penciled into the rotation next season, expect KW to look to add another reliable starter through free agency or trade. The bullpen is a little more muddled, with 5 guys roughly penciled in. That makes a staff of 10 guys already (5 starters, and 5 relievers). The front office has indicated that they will be in the market for a FA reliever, pushing the staff to 11. I don't think the sox will carry more than 11 anytime before September next season, as Ozzie tends to like three catchers with one who can play multiple positions, and he tends to let the starters go deeper than any other manager in baseball. If both free positions come from outside the organization, I just can't see the sox leaving all those promising arms down on the farm. I would expect that some of them will be trade bait.