South Siders in search of more offense
Originally Published: November 10, 2007By Phil Rogers | Special to ESPN.com
Look out, below.In the second season after they won a World Series, and one year after completing their first back-to-back 90-win seasons since the mid-1960s, the Chicago White Sox received an unexpected slap in the face, barely avoiding last place in the American League Central.
GM: Ken Williams
Manager: Ozzie Guillen
'07 record: 72-90, 4th AL Central
'07 payroll: $109.3M, 4th MLB
Runs scored: 693, 14th AL
Runs allowed: 839, 11th AL
OPS: .722, 12th AL
ERA: 4.77, 12th AL
Fielding percentage: .982, T-11th AL
Primary needs1. A center fielder or left fielder to hit at the top of the order. Podsednik, a major disappointment since 2005, figures to be nontendered before the Dec. 12 deadline. Jerry Owens, who hit .267 with 32 stolen bases, might be able fill one of the two holes but not both.
Free agentsCenter fielder/first baseman Darin Erstad and left-handed reliever Mike Myers became free agents when their options weren't picked up. Shortstop Juan Uribe could still join them. This is a good year to be in the market for center fielders. Aaron Rowand, Torii Hunter and Andruw Jones (especially on a short contract) are guys who intrigue White Sox officials. Mike Cameron is also in the picture. The Sox tried to sign Omar Vizquel three years ago and could renew their interest in him if they discard Uribe. They like the big splash, too, which means they could kick the Alex Rodriguez tires.
Trade baitFor the second winter in a row, the White Sox are one of the few teams with pitching to deal. They traded Freddy Garcia and Brandon McCarthy a year ago and will almost certainly trade one starter, maybe two, this winter. Jon Garland will be eligible for free agency after the season, and the Sox don't seem to have the flexibility to sign him to an extension with Mark Buehrle, Javier Vazquez and Jose Contreras already signed to big contracts.
Farm aidLeft-hander Gio Gonzalez, who was traded to Philadelphia in the Thome deal and reacquired in the Garcia trade, has spent the past two seasons in Double-A and could be ready to contend for a spot in the rotation. Selected in the first round of the 2005 draft (eight picks ahead of Jacoby Ellsbury), right-hander Lance Broadway joins Gonzalez in being on the verge of serious big league consideration. He threw six shutout innings against Kansas City in a late September start. A former second-round pick with a sweet swing, Ryan Sweeney should have been ready to step into a corner outfield spot. His stunted development contributed to the decision to extend Dye's contract, however, and he needs to pick up the pace to get back in the picture.
OutlookGiven that they have seven players earning more than $10 million, the White Sox seem more likely to fill their needs through payroll flexibility than through a major free-agent acquisition. But if they are bold enough to deal Garland and Contreras (giving them a rotation of Mark Buehrle, Vazquez and three from a group including Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Nick Masset, knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, Gonzalez and Broadway), they might be able to make a blockbuster-type move. They definitely seem likely to introduce a couple players from outside the organization to the lineup that disappointed them so badly the past two seasons. Phil Rogers is the national baseball writer for the Chicago Tribune, which has a Web site at www.chicagosports.com. His book, "Say It's So," a story about the 2005 White Sox, is available at bookstores, through Amazon.com or by direct order from Triumph Books (800-222-4657).
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