In Joe Sheehan's Newsletter a couple times he played GM for a day for a team. Today I'm going to do that with the White Sox.
The first issue the average Sox fan will bring up is the starting rotation. Sure the Sox have Bartolo Colon now, but who is going to be the fifth starter? Call me crazy but I'm not worried about the fifth starter. Jerry Manuel and Kenny Williams seem determined to minimize the number of starts made by the fifth guy. The new plan is to skip the fifth guy to get the ball in the hands of Mark Buehrle and Colon as much as possible. Thats a good plan. Some combination of the fifth starter candidates will capably handle 25-30 starts. Plus if you make it to the playoffs you use four pitchers, maybe three.
The Sox also have the capability to score a lot of runs. The team is especially deep at the corners and the middle infield. The one problem with the lineup is the best hitters are all right handed. The Sox core of Paul Konerko, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Lee and Frank Thomas could produce the AL MVP but imagine when the opposition brings in a reliever like Jeff Nelson or even Chad Bradford. This lineup reminds me of the late 90's Houston Astros teams who were also heavily righthanded and scored lots of runs. Unfortunately they were obliterated in the postseason.
The White Sox need a bat who doesn't use righty as the lead hand. And it would help if the guy can play centerfield. The first players who come to mind are Brian Giles and Carlos Beltran. Giles is awesome, right now he's the second most dangerous weapon in the NL after some guy named Bonds. Giles has hit .308/.428/.601 (AVG/OBP/SLG) over the last three seasons. One issue with Giles is he isn't a real centerfielder. Putting him in center will make a defenseive hole and put him in a situation where he's more likely to be injured. The other problem is when the Sox inquired about Giles the Pirates asked for Mark Buehrle. Let's call a trade for Giles unlikely.
Going to Kansas City for Carlos Beltran seems a lot more reasonable. Beltran is a great defensive centerfielder and over the last two seasons he's hit .289/.354/.504. If thats not enough he is one of the best basestealers in the game and is 66 for 74 stealing bases over the same time span. He's also just 26. Beltran is the best young centerfielder this side of Andruw Jones.
Also KC GM Allard Baird isn't exactly the cock of the walk when it comes to making big deals. Baird has consistently found himself on the sucker end of deals. Fortunately he doesn't have much choice when it comes to dealing Beltran because Scott Boras has asked for a huge contract extension that Baird hasn't been willing to ante up.
So who do the White Sox give up for Carlos Beltran? Joe Borchard and Kris Honel. If you don't know Borchard well you should scroll down to my analysis of Sox positioned players. And Honel may be the Sox best pitching prospect. It might look a little crazy that I'm willing to give up the Sox best batting and pitching prospects but if it ever makes sense, it makes sense right now.
Borchard is definitely a great prospect that I'd love to keep but he's streched out in center field. He'll need to move to a corner at some point and right now our corners are filled. It's easier to find a good corner outfielder than a good centerfielder so when Borchard does move he'll lose some of his value. Carlos Beltran will fill the gap in center and make Borchard an extra piece.
Kris Honel is about as good a prospect you can be when you are 20 years old and not yet in AA. Nonetheless because he's 20 and not yet in AA makes him more likely to flame out than become a star despite his talent. Right now he's very likely to suffer a major arm injury in the next few years. Check out Will Carroll and Nate Silver's work on pitcher injuries.
Numerous reports say Honel has lost velocity since high school. Let's just say that doesn't make him look like less of an injury risk. Even if he remains healthy he's at least two years away from the majors and that's assuming he doesn't spend a full year at each level of the minors. It'll be a while before Honel has a chance to be an impact White Sox pitcher.
I'm becoming more and more convinced this season is the White Sox best chance at winning the World Series in the next three. Colon will likely leave after this year. Frank Thomas isn't getting any younger. Carlos Lee and Paul Konerko are at the age you can expect their best seasons and Magglio Ordonez is still close to that age. In other words, the offensive core is as good as it's going to get and the rotation is likely to take a big hit after this year. Even the bullpen looks good. Now is the time to bring in someone like Beltran.
The major issue is whether the Sox can lock up Beltran long term. If they can it's a great deal. If they can't I think they should still explore an option like Carlos Lee, Honel and Corwin Malone for Beltran. Or possibly something involving Paul Konerko. The Royals do have Mike Sweeney but he can opt out of his contract after this season. There are a plethora of options. The Sox should make a serious bid to bring Carlos Beltran to Chicago.Andrew Ritchie