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Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Non-tendered options

Last night was the deadline for teams to non-tender players who were eligible for arbitration. Most of the players who aren't offered arbitration are AAA fodder. (think Timo Perez) But last night brought a few surprises, and players who can help the Sox in areas of need.

Ben Davis was non-tendered, but then resigned for $1M earlier today. The Sox saved a few hundred thousand dollars with that move, as Davis made $1.4M last season.

The three players that should interest the Sox are Alex Cora (brother of White Sox third base coach Joey Cora), David Eckstein and Wade Miller.

Miller is the prize of the non-tenders. His a better pitcher than most of the free-agents who signed those cookie-cutter 3/$21+M deals. If he didn't have injury concerns, he'd be looking for a Russ Ortiz type deal. Miller would be a great fit for the Sox because he would slide right into the role he had on the 'Stros as a solid middle of the rotation starter. Plus he's learned how to pitch in a hitters park, with the short porch at Minute Maid park. He gives up a few walks, but allows fewer hits than innings pitched and has a good strikeout rate(7.72/9IP). His ERA+ shows you his true value.(
Year     ERA+

2000 96
2001 134
2002 130
2003 107
2004 129
Career 116
The one drawback to signing Miller is his durability. He went down last season after just 15 starts due to a shoulder injury. He elected to rest his shoulder instead of opting for surgery. Dr. Lewis Yokum, who's opinion the White Sox trust, has given Miller a clean bill of health and said that Miller should be ready for the start of the season. In the last 4 years, Miller has only eclipsed 200 innings pitched once.

Miller has indicated that he'd like to stay in Houston though.
"Obviously, I got to look at it optimistically," Miller said. "Hopefully I can still get something done with Houston. It's still not over yet. Anything can happen now. I feel good. I'll start throwing in two weeks."
I wouldn't expect him to be signed anytime soon to another team, given his current Magglio-like condition. He's likely to end up signing an incentive-laden deal that puts him back in Houston for at least the 2005 season.

* * * * *

David Eckstein was non-tendered by the Angels on the heels of their signing of Orlando Cabrera for the lofty sum of $32M over 4 years. Eckstein is the portrait of the "grinder" that KW has tried to sell White Sox fans on since last off-season. The most important numbers from Eckstein are theses, .281/.355/.384, his 3-year numbers vs. LHP.

Eckstein made $2.15M last season, and may be looking for a starting job. He could get one, as the Cardinals still need a SS and 2B, and Placido Polanco accepted arbitration from the Phillies. He has only played 14 games at 2B on his career, but that's likely where he'd play on the sox, Juan Uribe is far superior defensively at short. Eckstein's not gonna set the world on fire with his bat or his glove, but he would be a good fit for the Sox in the Tony Graffanino role.

* * * * *

The final non-tender of interest to the Sox is that of Alex Cora. He'll probably get at least a nepotism-induced offer from the Sox. Being the brother of the White Sox third base coach does have it's benefits. Cora is a good defensive 2B, but is essentially a Willie Harris clone. He's just been given longer to develop. Cora has been in a platoon situation for the last few years, for the same reasons I want peapod in a platoon; he can't hit lefties(or has at least been given little opportunity to prove he can).

All things being equal, I'd rather have Eckstein. He's more of a stolen base threat, and just seems to be that scrappy type of guy in the mold the Sox are trying to build this team around. Sadly, I think nepotism is stronger force than a player who's better equipped to fill the position.