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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

The Professor gets it Right!

Prof. Chaos has taken the first major step towards his rehabilitation.  The three way deal that sent Orlando Hernandez from the Yankees to the briefly to the Sox in exchange for reliever Antonio Osuna and minor league pitcher Delvis Lantigua, and then sent Hernandez to the Montreal Wandering Expos along with Jeff Liefer and Rocky Biddle in exchange for starting pitcher Bartolo Colon and minor league infielder Jorge Nuñez was nothing short of brilliant.   

For once the professor has made a trade for a front-line starter without overpaying.  Of course, these are the White Sox, and some have already expressed concern about Colon’s ample girth and the fact that Colon becomes a free agent after the 2003 season.  Still, this trade was a good one. 

To begin with, Osuna’s turns out of the pen were often adventures.  He always seemed to be getting behind in the count, walking batters, and then pitching out of jams of his own making.  His loss leaves a hole in the pen, but it’s a hole that can be filled.  The loss of Biddle is really moot with the acquisition of Colon.  Williams gave up a number 5 starter and picked up an ace.  Finally, Liefer wanted to be traded.  The professor simply granted his wish. 

All in all, it’s the kind of deal that makes sense.  The starting rotation is improved immeasurably, assuming Colon performs as he has in the past.  A rotation of Colon, Buehrle, Garland, Wright, and Rauch looks pretty decent.  We’ve been saying for awhile now that Garland is going to have a breakout year this year.  With the reduced pressure of being dropped down to the number-three role, the odds of that have just increased immeasurably. 

The only argument against Colon at this juncture seems to be his weight.  Another possible negative is that he has been pitching in winter league ball.  So the question has to be asked, “Will Colon be worn out and overweight when he reports to spring training.  It is a concern.  However, this can be balanced by the fact that Colon becomes a free agent after the 2003 season.  He has incentive to pitch well. 

We’ve always tried to be as objective as possible in this column.  If we seem to rag on Prof. Chaos, there is a reason.  He’s given us a lot of reason to do so.  But it is also policy here to give credit where credit is due.  Colon appears to be healthy.  The Sox didn’t give up an arm and a leg for him.  This is the kind of dealing fans expected of our GM from the beginning and didn’t get. 

However, let’s not let the professor off the hook yet.  Good ball clubs are supposed to be strong up the middle.  Well, the middle of the Sox features the catching troika of Miguel Olivo, Josh Paul, and Sandy Alomar, Jr.  Olivo seems to have trouble catching fast balls.  His passed ball totals in the minors have been horrific.  Paul leaves a lot to be desired defensively, and as for Alomar, his legs are so old they’ve had to date them using carbon-14.  All this when Ivan Rodriguez languishes as an unsigned free agent.   

Shortstop could be a concern and Jose Valentin ages.  However, he is on the last year of his deal and will become a free agent after the 2003 season.  As far as the Sox’ chances for 2003 are concerned, this is a good thing.  D’Angelo Jimenez is still an unknown commodity at second base, but in his brief stay with the Sox in 2002, there was a lot to like. 

Another concern is at centerfield.  Aaron Rowand just doesn’t seem to be an everyday ballplayer.  When he’s not living up to his nickname of “Crash” off the field, he’s earning it by running into fences on the field.  A lot of knowledgeable people have him pegged as a number-4 outfielder on a good team.  Joe Borchard is on the way, but he looks a whole lot more like a corner outfielder than a centerfielder. 

So there are still concerns to be addressed.  Prof. Chaos is slowly morphing into Kenny Williams, General Manager.  How he addresses the major concerns that will serve as obstacles to the Sox making it to the World Series will do a lot to determine how long the transformation takes, if it happens at all. 

But at least now there is hope.


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 nsmf@aol.com.

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