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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

Last Thoughts on Cotts
by Hal Vickery

We finally have a trade to discuss! Well, it’s not exactly earth shattering news, but the Sox did trade Neal Cotts, who began last year as vice-president of last year’s bullpen arson squad and who rose to president when Cliff Politte was released. Oddly enough the trade was to the Cubs. In exchange for Cotts, the Sox received two relief pitchers, David Aardsma and minor league reliever Carlos Vasquez.

After last season’s dismal performance, most Sox fans seem to be happy with the prospect of a bullpen sans Cotts. I have to say that you can count me among those. Cotts and Matt Thornton were the only two experienced lefthanders in the Sox bullpen, and Cotts just wasn’t getting the job done. It was time for a change.

Aardsma finished the 2006 season with a 3-0 record and a 4.08 ERA, a little high for a relief pitcher, but it should be noted that the 24-year-old righthander must have felt like he was commuting between Des Moines and the North Side what with serving four separate stints with the Cubs in 2006.

To his favor, he did show improvement, especially after the All-Star break, when he won two of his three games and posted a respectable 3.12 ERA. His ERA for the month of September was an even more impressive 1.65, including 16⅓ scoreless inning from September 2-19.

Kenny Williams, who has proved to be pretty crafty in recent years with his dealings for secondary players in trades has said that this trade was just as much about Carlos Vasquez as it was for Aardsma.

Vasquez, 23, has certainly shown promise in 2005. With the class A Daytona Cubs, he posted a 3-0 record with a 1.57 ERA in eighteen appearances. After being promoted to the class AA West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx, he appeared in thirty-six games, going 3-5 with a 3.55 ERA.

So what do intelligent Cubs fans think of the deal? I only talked to one, and his comment was that, “It could be a lose-lose deal.”

Unfortunately we’re not talking about your stereotypical Cubs fan here. We’re talking about a person who is actually a baseball fan and who knows something about the game. Of course that means he is highly disappointed over the past few years, and this could be clouding his vision a bit regarding Aardsma.

At least we can hope so.

The loss of Cotts leaves the Sox with just one proven lefty in the bullpen, Matt Thornton. Williams has identified 22-year-old Boone Logan as a possible replacement for Cotts. Of course his 8.31 ERA in twenty-one appearances would seem to belie that statement. Of course Logan has his youth going for him. It is encouraging that his ERA in Charlotte was 3.38 in 42⅔ innings.

Another possible solution is Paulino Reynoso, but Reynoso performed at a much lower level than Logan at Charlotte. Reynoso finished the 2006 season with a 4.37 ERA in forty-seven games.

Unless Logan makes tremendous strides pitching against major league hitting in 2007, the Sox will have a gaping hole in their bullpen. One can only hope that Kenny Williams has another trade up his sleeve to fill it.

______________________________________________________________________

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.

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