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November 2009 Archives

Oh, man: Sox get Omar

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The White Sox made good on recent rumors and signed 42-year-old shortstop Omar Vizquel as a tutor for their young, promising infielders Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham. Actually, though a lot of his value will come as a defensive mentor and tutor to The Missile specifically, Omar can still play, and he could play a great late-inning defensive role for the Sox at 2nd, shortstop or 3rd.

I'm guessing this is another move--along with the Mark Teahen deal, the re-signing of Mark Kotsay and the likelihood that the Sox won't trade the already expensive Dayan Viciedo--that signals that GM Kenny Williams probably will not attempt to bring in Chone Figgins.

That's a shame, because the Sox could really use him in the lead-off spot, where Vizquel will give you no help at all. But, Vizquel brings the Sox a step closer to their commitment to win with string defense, and that's definitely a good thing.

The Cubs, meanwhile, recently traded Aaron Heilman, re-signed John Grabow and still haven't moved Milton Bradley. There has been some buzz about possibly acquiring Chicago product and talented Detroit centerfielder Curtis Granderson. That would be nice, and though Granderson strikes out a lot as a lead-off man, he's got the speed and power of a younger Alfonso Soriano with that much-desired left-handed bat. But, I'll believe this one when I see it.

Fickle about Figgins

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As we move a little deeper into off-season action, it might be getting more apparent that neither of our Chicago teams will make a strong case to sign speedy, multi-position free agent lead-off man Chone Figgins.

One school of thought has it that the Cubs won't make a run on Figgins because that already have too much committed salary (around$120 million) for next year, and probably will have to commit even more to re-signing other players who have filed or are expected to file for free agency--Rich Harden, Reed Johnson and John Grabow being some examples. The Tribune reported that Harden and Johnson already filed for free agent status.

I think the Cubs should wave good-bye to both at this point. While Harden is spectacular in short stretches, he doesn't go deep enough in most games. His health issues have lessened, but that makes his 4.00-plus ERA for the 2009 campaign even more troubling. Maybe the Cubs could go after a non-glitzy bottom-rotation known for relaiability, like Joel Piniero, who was great for the Cardinals in '09. As for Grabow, the Cubs need the southpaw in the bullpen.

Johnson has a lot of defensive value and the scrappiness factor that so often defines winning teams, but he is already 32. If the Cubs do unload Milton Bradley and don't sign another outfielder (Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir aside), Johnson probably would be worth keeping. I'm back to suspecting the Cubs may keep Bradley, despite the reports of interest in him elsewhere. The Cubs may assume the worst is over with Bradley, though it's hard to believe that until we see it.

The Cubs seem indecisive about offensive contributors/defensive liabilities Fox and Hoffpauir, which make me think we will see another season of spot duty for both, though there is potential that an American League team could make an offer for Fox (a potentially great DH) that the Cubs won't be able to refuse. All of this, plus new owners, suggests no Figgins for the Cubs.

The Sox, meanwhile, might be more interested in giving Jordan Danks an outfield job than spending money on Figgins. I wouldn't mind taking a gamble on Danks (who may feel at home with his brother in the dugout) and keeping the resurgent Scott Podsednik as an insurance policy, but it sounds like the Sox don't have much interest in re-signing Pods (visions of 2006, I guess).

Signing Figgins would end all outfield questions (except whether or not Alex Rios actually will hit next year). But, the Sox might making signing a new DH a higher priority, unless Carlos Quentin moves into that role. though that again would heighten the need to sign a player like Figgins.

Decisions, decisions...

Bye, bye, JeDye

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Jermaine Dye, the MVP the 2005 World Series for the White Sox, is probably done as a Southsider. The Sox, as expected, declined their option on JeDye, who now will become a free agent.

The Sox also confirmed the reports that they have traded Chris Getz and Josh Field for Mark Teahen. At first glance, it would seem the multi-position Teahen might take Dye's spot in right field, but Sox GM Kenny Williams is already saying that Gordon Beckham will move to 2nd base, while Teahen comes in to play 3rd.

That's definitely workable, though a little surprising. Why not move Beckham to his original position at shortstop, where Alexei Ramirez has had defensive troubles, and move The Missile back over to 2nd? Meanwhile, we hope the Sox are still thinking about going after Chone Figgins as a possible off-season signing. He's speedy, a great lead-off hitter and can play right field, or 3rd base or pretty much anywhere.

The loss of Getz generates mixed emotions. He hit in the .260s and never developed into the lead-off hitter the Sox might have expected (Last year at this time, Kenny was pitching Getz as a solid starter at 2nd), but he displayed nice speed base-running skills, and had his moments last season. It is good to see the Sox got something for Fields, whose time with the Sox started ticking away when Beckham became a star.

Abreu's off the table

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The hot stove season isn't even warmed up yet, and one of the players who would have been a great fit with either the Cubs or the White Sox has been taken off the table. Bobby Abreu, the L.A. Angels' southpaw outfielder with power, speed, a decent batting average and plate patience, has re-upped with the Angels.

He would have made a nice replacement for Jermaine Dye on the Sox, or a much better follow-up to Milton Bradley on the Cubs. Now, both teams could end up setting sights on another Angel, Chone Figgins.

Incidentally, it had been reported earlier Thursday that the Sox had traded Chris Getz and Josh Fields to Kansas City for Mark Teahen, another potential Dye replacement, though by the end of the day, the veracity of those reports was in doubt. Well see. Teahen also plays third base, so maybe Gordon Beckham would move to second?

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