Wednesday, December 18, 2013
White Sox having underrated offseason
By David Schoenfield
Buster Olney wrote a little bit about the White Sox in his Tuesday blog:
Chicago White Sox GM Rick Hahn has quickly altered his team, signing Jose Abreu and trading some pitching for some position-player help. On Monday, he sent closer Addison Reed to the D-backs for third baseman Matt Davidson.
Here's what Chicago's lineup could look like:
CF Adam Eaton
SS Alexei Ramirez
1B Jose Abreu
RF Avisail Garcia
DH Adam Dunn
3B Matt Davidson
2B Gordon Beckham
C Tyler Flowers
LF Alejandro de Aza
You can throw Dayan Viciedo in there as well, maybe splitting DH duties with Dunn. In 2013, the White Sox were bad and, worse, boring. If Chris Sale wasn't starting, there was no reason to pay attention unless you have a Ralph Garr jersey hanging in your closet. Outside of the Astros, they were the most unwatchable team in the majors.
But Hahn, starting with the Jake Peavy deal that brought over Garcia from the Tigers, has done a remarkable job of adding some interesting talent without giving up much in return. I'm not a huge Garcia fan due to the poor walk rate, but it's clear he does have some talent and he performed well in his late-season stint with the White Sox.
I love the Davidson-Reed trade. OK, Reed is a decent closer, but he's not an elite one -- at least not yet -- and closers often have short life spans. Davidson should be the team's starting third baseman for the next six years. He's not going to be star but he has power and could be a solid regular. The point is if you've acquired a cost-controlled starting position player for a reliever, you've made a good trade.
Eaton also came over the from the Diamondbacks, in the three-way trade that sent Hector Santiago to the Angels. Just a year ago, Eaton was touted as Arizona's starting center fielder and Rookie of the Year candidate but he hurt his elbow in spring training and didn't play in the majors until July. He has the potential to be a solid leadoff hitter with his speed and on-base skills and also moves Alejando De Aza out of center field, where he was below-average defensively.
Santiago had a solid season while making 23 starts but the feeling is he's a guy outpitched his peripherals (1.40 WHIP) and isn't a good bet to repeat his 3.56 ERA, at least if he'd remained in Chicago (as a fly-ball guy, he could do that in Anaheim). Again, however, Santiago is a back-end starter at best. The White Sox got a cheap, dynamic young leadoff hitter in return.
Then there's Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu, signed for six years and $68 million. He's a wild card, as Keith Law wrote back when he signed:
Abreu has enormous raw power, probably a 70 or perhaps higher, on the 20-80 scale. The power is evident in BP and should translate to 25-35 homers a year in the majors. The concerns about him revolve around his bat speed and his conditioning, only one of which can be fixed or improved at this point. ...
The bigger concern scouts have about Abreu is that he might have more of a "slider-speed" bat that will struggle with velocity, especially on the inner half. He's extremely balanced at the plate and very strong, with a setup like a right-handed David Ortiz, and very good follow-through for power to all fields. He hasn't faced many pitchers with plus fastballs, and between his size and the questionable bat speed, several scouts indicated to me that they're concerned that major league pitchers will eat him up with velocity on the inner half.
Still, it will be exciting to see if that power potential translates. The White Sox have a long ways to go after losing 99 games, but with Garcia, Davidson, Eaton and Abreu, they're guaranteed to be a much more entertaining product to watch in 2014. We've focused on the moves the playoff contenders have made, or the Mariners' mega-signing of Robinson Cano, but the White Sox have quietly had a terrific offseason.