Just when I thought the White Sox hot stove was going to barely turn on, today they turned the burner on high and made huge news. Such huge news that LeBron’s return to Cleveland took a backseat on sports talk radio this afternoon and there was no Bears talk.
In case you haven’t heard, the White Sox signed free agent Adam Dunn. The same Adam Dunn that Kenny Williams has had an obsession with (because he wants more power and if it comes from the left side, like Adam does, BONUS). There were other moves involving the Sox, which I will get to later in this post, but the huge news was Dunn. The signing won’t be official until tomorrow afternoon at a press conference at 2 pm CST, when presumably Dunn might be introduced. In any event, KW in his usual manner is keeping quiet on the whole thing even though every media outlet is reporting it is a done deal. So done in fact that the Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley said it had been done for 24 hours from what he was hearing.
In any event, I know I should be thrilled about the Dunn signing, but in truth I am not sure how I feel. This is probably because I am not a complete sabamatrician. I appreciate stats in baseball because they can help to compare players and tell you things about them, but I also like to judge players upon what I see them do. In my opinion, fantasy also contributes to this over reliance on stats as well (more on that in another post). I know that thanks to Money Ball, stats are far more important in the game in evaluating talent and players, but I still can’t bring myself to put more stock in them than what I see on the field. In any event, next season will be fun listening to Hawk Harrelson call games because he will actually have to start discussing stats potentially as opposed to just watching the game.
I GET that Dunn is superior to ANYONE who filled the Designated Hitter role for the Sox last season given the abysmal numbers put up primarily by Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones last season. However, if Dunn gets his hands on a glove to be used a ton in the field, his offensive output will be negated by his lack of being able to play defense. There is no place to hide him on the field. I am still not a fan of Dunn’s strike out rate and I fear he is going to do it at times when I least want it to happen. I know many say that outs by a strike out are the same as if a guy hits a liner or flies out because it is still an out (unless it is in a situation where a guy is at 3rd with less than 2 outs or a guy is at 2nd with 1 or no outs), but I think that a strike out is worse because no contact has been made and with a liner or fly ball, I believe the baseball gods have a say whether that ball finds a piece of fair ground to land on.
My other issue is with Dunn is I think he is old. Yes, he is only 31, but I still see that as on the wrong side of awesomeness. He’s been relatively healthy, but the deal he is getting is 4 years at $56 million. I am not a fan of the amount of the money spent on Dunn. The years I can live with, but if for some reason Dunn starts to break down, then this deal will just look horrible. It may be premature to think horrible deal, but it isn’t unprecedented in sports for a guy to get big money and years and then turn out to be a huge bust. Finally with Dunn, I still question whether he is a guy who is committed to being a full-time DH. When the Sox tried to acquire him at the 2010 trade deadline, he balked because he feels he can play the field and that he is not a designated hitter. Only problem with that is that Dunn is the only person in baseball who thinks he can play the field. I hope he is fine with being a DH because he is terrible with a glove.
As I started writing this post, I found out that the White Sox have reached an agreement with AJ Pierzynski for 2 years at around $8 million. This is good. I have thought that of the free agents we were losing, he was the one that needed to be a priority. I didn’t think that Tyler Flowers was ready to handle the pitching staff and after Victor Martinez went to Detroit, the available free agent catchers left a lot to be desired. This news I know made a friend of mine on twitter extremely happy as her twitter handle is about Pierzynski.
In brief comments made today by KW, he has said that Paul Konerko is now the priority in bringing him back. There are rumors that he is close to signing and if he does come back, The King, Dunn and Rios in the middle of the White Sox lineup makes me think that I won’t need to prepare for a 4th place division tie finish. Apparently, there has been money found to be able to land Dunn and still bring back The King. I really do hope PK will come back, but if he doesn’t, I do understand why he wouldn’t as I have said previously.
Other Sox action today: As expected, Bobby Jenks was non-tendered. For those not super baseball contract savvy, it means that the Sox chose not to offer him a contract and he is now a free agent. Jenks still had arbitration eligibility and the Sox decided after his declining production as the closer (he was still getting the job done, but just not as well) along with his expected raise getting him close to $9 or $10 million to walk away. Alexei Ramirez opted out of his contract for 2011 and the Sox picked up a club option on him for $2.75 million. This was a great move. Ramirez deserves every bit of the money he will be earning over his previous salary of $1.1 million.
Overall, I think I am mostly feeling positive about moves that are occurring. In some ways I wonder if my not being fully happy about the Dunn thing makes me a bad sox fan, but KW has done some things of late that have made my white sox lose their luster they have had for so long. Granted, he isn’t the only culprit, but I feel like he is more to blame than others might be. This could be because I am so hungry to win again and make Minnesota look silly. Because I HATE the Minnesota Twins (but maybe not completely hate them).
There are still questions to be answered, such as who will be the closer. Matt Thornton is more than capable, but I think he might think too much and doesn’t have a short memory, which are things I don’t want my closer to have. I want him thinking very little and I certainly want him to have an incredibly short memory. Plus, Thornton is the best set-up man and he is a great lefty specialist if you need him there. There is still possibility that JJ Putz could be closer, but I think he is going to walk for the best deal and I don’t see that coming from the White Sox. The bullpen aside from the closer still needs help and the middle relievers out there are very underwhelming. Also, I still think Carlos Quentin is an issue. If he can be traded for a productive bat that can FIELD, then please send him packing. As great as he was in 2008, I won’t miss him. His “intensity” thing is getting old really fast and I think he is more destructive than productive. I am sick of waiting for him to be good for a bit then getting in a huge funk because he had a bad at bat.
2011 is looking like the final hurrah in getting another championship. The starting pitching is there and the offense clearly looks better than it could have been. Really all I want is a team that has top notch pitching top to bottom, stellar defense and enough offense to score one more run than the opposing team. I don’t need a team of sluggers but want a good balance of everything needed. (Guess that makes me kind of old school in terms of not wanting a team that out slugs everyone to win it all). If the teams doesn’t go all the way in 2011, then maybe there could be whole sale changes in the front office with the GM going and the Manager going. Not to mention that if KW does stay, he will have to do the one thing he has never done here and that is the dreaded rebuilding. With the state of the farm system, I might have to prepare myself for a number of years of bad baseball on the south side.