Monday, June 25, 2007
BURLY ADDITION TO ROTATION?
The White Sox are struggling. The rumors of a fire sale are starting to rumble. Some names bandied about include the likes of Jermaine Dye, who somehow always seems to find himself part of trade rumors.
The name Sox fans and Sox brass are interested in is Mark Buehrle. The 28 year old lefty has found himself in the center of trade talks before, but this time it might be serious. Chicago is 4th place in the cutthroat AL Central, 13.5 games out. They're 9th in the AL Wild Card, 12.5 games behind Cleveland. This is the last year of Buehrle's contract with the White Sox. Everything seems perfect for a deal.
The Red Sox have confirmed that they are interested in Buehrle. Among other teams rumored to be making inquiries are Atlanta, the Mets, and the Yankees.
Word on the street is that the acquisition of Buehrle would be a mere rental. Mark's a Missouri man and a big Cardinals fan. It's believed that he is destined to wind up in St. Louis after the '07 season.
However, if it isn't a rental, and Buehrle is willing to sign a contract, he could become a very good acquisition to whatever team gets him. The Red Sox should do all they can to get the White Sox to allow contractual negotiations and attempt to make a deal.
Chicago wants young prospects, of course. Unlike the very hopeful sports radio trade talkers, they will not trade Buehrle for Wily Mo Pena, Coco Crisp "and some single A prawspect." It's likely that we'd have to give up guys like Clay Bucholz and Jacoby Ellsbury. These two guys are the most highly touted prospects in our organization, and some might fear losing them to be mortgaging the future. Michael Bowden and Jed Lowrie are also names that have been overheard.
To be honest, I wouldn't mind giving up Bucholz and Ellsbury for Beuhrle, so long as we already had a contract in place for him for about 5 more seasons. Bucholz is excelling at AA Portland, but Beuhrle is already a proven commodity. Ellsbury had an outstanding AA stint hitting .452, and is doing well at AAA Pawtucket. However, we would still have Brandon Moss, who is hitting .296 in AAA and is almost the exact same age as Ellsbury (Moss is 5 days younger). Moss doesn't have Ellsbury's speed on the basepaths, but Moss has some power whereas Ellsbury has yet to hit a homer in Pawtucket or Portland this year.
I think one of the most untouchable prospects we have is Jed Lowrie. Jed is the 23 year old short-stop in AA Portland. He's hitting .305. More importantly, he has a .416 OBP and a very nice .901 OPS. With Julio Lugo struggling to hit his own weight (which is really sad because he's listed at 165 pounds), and the Sox still sending checks to Edgar Renteria, I think it's important to hold onto a young short-stop like Lowrie. Plus, his name is Jed. With a name like that, you KNOW he's going to make it in The Show.
Back to Beuhrle. He isn't an Ace by any stretch of the imagination. However, he's a solid front line starter that would be great in the #3 slot in our rotation. He's averaged 6.8 innings per start since he became a full-time starter in 2001. He's a guy who can give you 230 good innings a year. His career ERA of 3.80 isn't earth shattering, but it's still good. He's only 28 and could be part of a very impressive 1-2-3 rotation of Beckett, Matsuzaka, and himself for years to come.
Curt Schilling's tired arm, Wakefield's inconsistency, and Tavarez's inability to go very deep into games are all reasons why we should get another pitcher. Lester has the potential to come in contribute, but he's still AAA pitcher, in my opinion, at least until next year.
The addition of Beuhrle would increase the options we have with our rotation. We could move Tavarez to the pen without bringing up Lester. We could endure Schilling being on the DL, WITH Tavarez in the pen, and Lester in the rotation. We could even move Wakefield into the bullpen, along with Tavarez.
We've had some of the best starting pitching in baseball thus far this season, but it needs to be better for us to excel in the playoffs. We can't be throwing Tavarez out there to pitch 5 innings in a playoff game. Nor can we have Schilling go unless he's 100%.
I really hope we get Beuhrle, but only if it doesn't cost us too much in terms of prospects, and only if we can extend his contract so he pitches for us in 2008 and beyond.