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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

What Moves to Make?

by Hal Vickery

The Boston Red Sox, by convincing Curt Schilling to waive his no-trade clause with the Arizona Diamondbacks, are setting into motion a series of events that will profoundly affect the rest of the American League.† One result may very well be that whatever hope White Sox fans might have had in re-signing free agent pitcher Bartolo Colon may have been dashed.†

With other teams wooing Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, you can bet that George Steinbrenner is going to open up his wallet and woo Pettitte and anyone else he can to counter this bold move by his arch-rivals.† Right now, the top free-agent pitcher available is Colon.†

It wasnít surprising to hear, despite previous reports to the contrary, that Colon is now interested in joining the Yankees.† Colonís agent, Mitch Frankel, hasnít actually identified the teams that Colon is interested in, but ESPN reports that Colon still might be interested in the Sox.† However, the news is that the Yankees and Phillies are two of the other four teams he is considering.† Colonís fourth choice is an unidentified National League club.†

Frankel, however, said that it appeared that the Sox are no longer interested in Colon.† Colon turned down a reported offer of $36 million over three years.† He was reportedly interested only in a four-year deal.†

The odds are now much greater that Colon will end up wearing pinstripes, and they wonít be Sox pinstripes.† Whether or not this is a bad thing is subject to debate.† Colonís 15-13 record was certainly disappointing.† On the other hand, he did pitch 242 innings, completing nine games.† Thatís nothing to sneeze at.†

One problem in signing Colon is that he pitches a lot of innings in winter ball.† Colon is putting a lot of stress on his arm, and at age 31, he isnít getting any younger.† To be fair, his mechanics are good, and he hasnít had arm problems.† On the other hand, he went through several dead-arm periods in the 2003 season.† An important question is, just how much of that is due to all those innings he pitched?†

The main point, however, is that the Sox are going to have to make some kind of move to either retain or replace Colon.† Right now the Sox starting rotation consists of Mark Buehrle, Esteban Loaiza, and Jon Garland.† †

Danny Wright could be a part of the rotation, but that could be more by default than anything else.† He never did come back and pitch well after his shoulder injury suffered in spring training last year.† As a result, the Sox were in the all-too-familiar position of not having a viable fifth starter.† This was a key reason that the Sox didnít have the legs to hold off the Twins late season rush.†

If Colon goes to the Yankees or one of the NL clubs, that leaves Kenny Williams with two holes to fill in the starting rotation.† And this is one of several holes that the Sox have to fill if they even want to pretend they are contenders.†

If Roberto Alomarís interest in the Yankees is mutual, that leaves Willie Harris and Aaron Miles as the contenders for second base.† Miles turns 27 on December 15 and has been knocking around the minor leagues for nine years.† His total major league experience in all that time is eight games with the Sox last September.† Harris has yet to prove he can hit above the Mendoza line.†

Centerfield is another problem.† Aaron Rowand would seem to be the leading candidate as Joe Borchardís stock continues to fall.† Borchard just turned 25 and has yet to prove that he can hit AAA pitching, let alone major league pitching.†

The third hole is one that Williams created for himself when he traded Keith Foulke (a current free agent) for Billy Koch.† Koch showed less than nothing last year.† As reported in this column, he has a laser-straight fastball.† Unfortunately, as was not predicted here, he lost close to ten miles per hour on that fast ball.† When Koch stepped onto the mound in 2003, the ball park looked more like a pinball machine.†

Tom Gordon and Damaso Marte each filled in the hole created by the Koch disaster, but Gordon is gone to free agency.† If Koch is traded (and for some reason known only to them and God, the Mets were interested in him), Marte could close, but that means the Sox will need a set-up man.†

The challenge, and it is a huge one, is to fill those holes on a reported budget of $58 million.† Unfortunately for Sox fans, a horrible precedent was set when the Florida Marlins won this yearís World Series. †

It proved to Jerry Reinsdorf that once in a blue moon, someone can win the Series with a low salary budget.† Williams has admitted that he will have to be ďcreativeĒ in filling holes with the budget he has been allowed.


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at hvickery@svs.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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