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infohawk
06-23-2004, 11:58 AM
Not to get ahead of ourselves, but I wanted to use this thread to consider the future of the American League Central Division. In particular, a disturbing trend that I would like to see the Sox avoid this time.

Let's start with 1990. The Sox were beginning to play the good baseball that culminated in the 1993 playoff appearance. We all hoped that 1993 was the beginning of a multi-year period of division championships and playoff runs. 1994 brought the players strike, and when baseball resumed in 1995, the Sox had been displaced as the predominant power in the newly created central division by the Cleveland Indians.

Incidentally, the point of this thread is not to dwell on the baseball strike or JR's role in bringing it about. I'm not prepared to automatically concede the 1994 Central Division title to the Sox. Remember, they were only a game up on Cleveland at the time of the strike. Many will say that the team was so good that they would have surely won the division. I would submit that the Indians were also a good team, as they proved time and again over the next several years. Who knows how it would have played out.

The point of this thread is to chronicle the experience of the last 13-14 years where Sox teams that appeared on the verge of owning the division were unexpectedly "supplanted" by another up and coming team. In the mid-nineties it was the Indians. In the early part of this decade it has been the Twins. When the Sox won the division in 2000, I was relatively sure that the torch had been passed. The Indians were clearly aging and the Sox were young and good. We as fans, however, had become so obsessed with beating the Indians that we failed to notice the rise of the Twins.

The Sox chief rival this season, like the last two, are the Twins. The number of Twins players eligible for either arbitration or free agency threatens to rapidly close the Twins window of competitiveness based upon their payroll restrictions. They could very easily lose all or a combination of Radke, Koskie, Jones and Guzman after this season. Having already lost Pierzinski, Hawkins, Guardado and Milton, the Twins roster could look significantly different than it did when they began their "run" in 2001 (finishing 2nd). They are rapidly losing their core talent.

While this is good news for the Sox, my concern is that the next up and coming team could be the Indians. They are young, aggressive, have good starting pitching and can absolutely rake. I would hate to find the Sox "supplanted" just as it appeared that, once again, they were going to be the best team in the division. The solution is obviously to make sure that the Sox field the best team in the division not only this year, but over the next several years.

I think the key for the Sox this offseason (if not through trades this year) is to use any money freed up from allowing free agents to walk (potentially Maggs and Valentin and Koch being off the books) to acquire some dominant pitching. I certainly don't want to see Maggs leave, but I am very concerned about being supplanted once again, this time by the Indians. The Indians can hit and have excellent starters. Their bullpen is their achilles heel, but if they address that over the offseason, look out! I am convinced that the Indians will be the primary threat to the Sox in the coming years and strongly believe we need to invest in pitching to quell that threat. I believe that our offense is good enough to where we can sacrifice or more cheaply replace a bat or two for more balance as a team.

I'm interested in everyone's thoughts.

joeynach
06-23-2004, 12:05 PM
Not to get ahead of ourselves, but I wanted to use this thread to consider the future of the American League Central Division. In particular, a disturbing trend that I would like to see the Sox avoid this time.

Let's start with 1990. The Sox were beginning to play the good baseball that culminated in the 1993 playoff appearance. We all hoped that 1993 was the beginning of a multi-year period of division championships and playoff runs. 1994 brought the players strike, and when baseball resumed in 1995, the Sox had been displaced as the predominant power in the newly created central division by the Cleveland Indians.

Incidentally, the point of this thread is not to dwell on the baseball strike or JR's role in bringing it about. I'm not prepared to automatically concede the 1994 Central Division title to the Sox. Remember, they were only a game up on Cleveland at the time of the strike. Many will say that the team was so good that they would have surely won the division. I would submit that the Indians were also a good team, as they proved time and again over the next several years. Who knows how it would have played out.

The point of this thread is to chronicle the experience of the last 13-14 years where Sox teams that appeared on the verge of owning the division were unexpectedly "supplanted" by another up and coming team. In the mid-nineties it was the Indians. In the early part of this decade it has been the Twins. When the Sox won the division in 2000, I was relatively sure that the torch had been passed. The Indians were clearly aging and the Sox were young and good. We as fans, however, had become so obsessed with beating the Indians that we failed to notice the rise of the Twins.

The Sox chief rival this season, like the last two, are the Twins. The number of Twins players eligible for either arbitration or free agency threatens to rapidly close the Twins window of competitiveness based upon their payroll restrictions. They could very easily lose all or a combination of Radke, Koskie, Jones and Guzman after this season. Having already lost Pierzinski, Hawkins, Guardado and Milton, the Twins roster could look significantly different than it did when they began their "run" in 2001 (finishing 2nd). They are rapidly losing their core talent.

While this is good news for the Sox, my concern is that the next up and coming team could be the Indians. They are young, aggressive, have good starting pitching and can absolutely rake. I would hate to find the Sox "supplanted" just as it appeared that, once again, they were going to be the best team in the division. The solution is obviously to make sure that the Sox field the best team in the division not only this year, but over the next several years.

I think the key for the Sox this offseason (if not through trades this year) is to use any money freed up from allowing free agents to walk (potentially Maggs and Valentin and Koch being off the books) to acquire some dominant pitching. I certainly don't want to see Maggs leave, but I am very concerned about being supplanted once again, this time by the Indians. The Indians can hit and have excellent starters. Their bullpen is their achilles heel, but if they address that over the offseason, look out! I am convinced that the Indians will be the primary threat to the Sox in the coming years and strongly believe we need to invest in pitching to quell that threat. I believe that our offense is good enough to where we can sacrifice or more cheaply replace a bat or two for more balance as a team.

I'm interested in everyone's thoughts.
Take a look at cleveland finnacial situation as well. Not good. Omaz Vizquel will soon be gone, big contract. THen look at emergin starts like lawton, martinez, and also guys like blake and gerut. At some point in the very near future they will either be due arbitration, be in a contract year, or deserve big money. The crappy town of cleveland wont be able to keep all these players as well. The same thing that is or will happen to the twins will happen to the tribe in the next couple years as well.

Malgar 12
06-23-2004, 12:07 PM
I like your post, and I agree the Indians are on the rise. Can I however be the first to vote "aye" on any proposal to permanantly eliminate the word "rake" from all baseball dictionaries.:D:

Tekijawa
06-23-2004, 12:15 PM
The Indians have a nice group of players but I wouldn't count the Tigers and their ownerships willingness to open the wallet up a little and their young pitching staff out of it either.

bobj4400
06-23-2004, 12:20 PM
Take a look at cleveland finnacial situation as well. Not good. Omaz Vizquel will soon be gone, big contract. THen look at emergin starts like lawton, martinez, and also guys like blake and gerut. At some point in the very near future they will either be due arbitration, be in a contract year, or deserve big money. The crappy town of cleveland wont be able to keep all these players as well. The same thing that is or will happen to the twins will happen to the tribe in the next couple years as well.
Cleveland didnt have a problem paying their stars through the latter half of the '90's. When they start winning consistently, their fans will come back and they will be a heck of a team.

nlentz88
06-23-2004, 12:28 PM
Good post, Infohawk.

I completely agree with your assesment. The Twins are most definitely on their way out. After their losses this past offseason I predicted the Twins to finish in 3rd in the division; I'm amazed they are doing as well this season as they have. Still, the situation in the Twin Cities looks to be getting worse before it gets better. They're going to have to rebuild soon. I predict that one year from now the Twins will be in the bottom half of the ALC standings and have a big fire sale to restock their farm and begin the rebuilding project.

The Indians began rebuilding awhile ago, and we're seeing the fruits of the team's management's labors this season. They will indeed be a force to contend with soon in the central. I look forward to the future when the Sox and Indians can once again be rivals for the ALC crown. We used to share quite the rivalry with the Indians, and it would be fun to have it resurface if both our teams prosper.

For that to happen the Sox need to address some key issues, and I think they began doing so in the recent draft. The Sox almost exclusively drafted left handed pitchers. I hope that when next year's draft rolls around they'll continue the trend and keep drafting arms. Over the past century the Sox have had many periods of success, but the longest and most successful of those eras were when the Sox focused on pitching and defense. For many years now the Sox have been an offensive powerhouse. I love seeing homerun-spawned fireworks, but I'd be willing to wait through a firework-less game to see post-win fireworks instead.

Infohawk brought up the expiring contracts of Maggs and Valentine and that of the departed Koch. If I'm not mistaken, that's somewhere in the area of $26.5 million available next year if we don't resign Maggs and Jose. I love those guys, but right now we have a glut of productive infielders and some youth developing for spots in the outfield. Besides, finding a right fielder who can hit for power is like finding a Scrubs fan who likes to talk on a cell phone at the Urinal.

Therefore I present this plan for Sox management to consider in order to stay competitive in the ALCS:

1) Before this season's draft deadline, trade for pitching. Get a starter. Get a closer (tough to do now). Get another quality arm for the staff.

2) After this season (and post-season, baby!) make it a priority to resign the best arms on the staff, including any that may have been picked up in trades earlier in the season.

3) In the offseason sign a veteran free-agent ace or stud closer.

4) Draft more pitching.

5) Use any of the remaining $26.5mil from the ex-contracts of Maggs, Jose, and Koch to plug whatever holes remain (RF comes to mind).

Is that asking a lot? Maybe. But I think it not only is possible, but it is necessary for the continued success of the Sox in the ALC.

Just my $0.02.

DrummerGeorgefan
06-23-2004, 12:36 PM
I think Cleveland will be a good team in 2 years. Already they show promise. Also, the GM has said (read in USA Today) that as far as trades go, the team is a buyer.

However, IMO Cleveland would be best to wait, let this year unfold as it does, which would save on giving up a bunch of prospects this year, develop their guys and get some FA this winter.

DaveIsHere
06-23-2004, 12:48 PM
It almost seems like the Sox are always standing still. They always seem to be near the top of the division, while other teams around then change positions over time, like we were competeing with Cleveland in the late 90s and they always took the division, and now we are competing with minnie and they have been winning. We are always "competetive" but the others aways seem to pass us. What do you guys think. I think we will remain competetive for quite a few more years as we have a solid core, we will just need to plug some holes.

harwar
06-23-2004, 12:56 PM
I was watching the twins-red sox game and they put up a list of FA for the twins next year and it was most of the team.
Also,the indians had some tremendous drafts in the 90s' because they were always bottom-feeders.They signed a lot of realy young guys to long term contracts and it seemed like just about everyone panned out for them.Thats not the same story there now.
I like our chances in the years to come.I guess we'll see.

OurBitchinMinny
06-23-2004, 01:04 PM
I dont think there is much question that the indians have the best young talent, both at ML and minor league level. The twins also have some good prospects and the sox have a few too. The best thing the white sox have going for them is that they are in a division with 4 small market teams (detroit isnt that small, but the tigers act like it is). The problem is the white sox dont outspend these teams as much as they should

gosox41
06-23-2004, 01:56 PM
Take a look at cleveland finnacial situation as well. Not good. Omaz Vizquel will soon be gone, big contract. THen look at emergin starts like lawton, martinez, and also guys like blake and gerut. At some point in the very near future they will either be due arbitration, be in a contract year, or deserve big money. The crappy town of cleveland wont be able to keep all these players as well. The same thing that is or will happen to the twins will happen to the tribe in the next couple years as well.
FWIW Cleveland used to have an $80-90 mill payroll in their heyday. If this team catches fire and starts winning fans will come out there.


Bob

ma-gaga
06-23-2004, 02:55 PM
I think the key for the Sox this offseason (if not through trades this year) is to use any money freed up from allowing free agents to walk (potentially Maggs and Valentin and Koch being off the books) to acquire some dominant pitching. I certainly don't want to see Maggs leave, but I am very concerned about being supplanted once again, this time by the Indians. The Indians can hit and have excellent starters. Their bullpen is their achilles heel, but if they address that over the offseason, look out! I am convinced that the Indians will be the primary threat to the Sox in the coming years and strongly believe we need to invest in pitching to quell that threat. I believe that our offense is good enough to where we can sacrifice or more cheaply replace a bat or two for more balance as a team.

I'm interested in everyone's thoughts.
A great topic, but it really needs to be looked at carefully before making sweeping generalizations. I notice that the Twins are losing lots of talent due to free-agency/arbitration, but luckily the W.Sox aren't?!?

I'm sorry, right now the W.Sox have a lot of offense tied up in F.Thomas, M.Ordonez, C.Lee, P.Konerko, and J.Valentine*. I think EVERY SINGLE one of these guys is either eligible for FA or arbitration after this year (* did Valentine sign a multi-year deal???). E.Loiaza needs a new deal. Did you sign Garland long term??? Buehrle is taken care of for a while, so that's done. Each team has a lot of question marks.

I don't think the W.Sox have a significant advantage over the Twins in terms of their free-agents. The pockets should be deeper, but it's hard to get a gage on how much Reinsy will allow KW to plow into payroll. Besides, all the players that the Twins are losing are currently being paid. Radke's making $9MM, Koskie $5MM, Guzman $4.5MM. They would be "clearing money" from these contracts expiring to resign talent as well. I mean, they should be able to hold onto Radke/Koskie and lose Guzman for the same payroll as this year. MAYBE. Depending on how much interest Koskie gets. Good hitting third basemen are tough to find, if he can stay healthy he's easily a top 3 third baseman in the america league... We'll see.

Cleveland scares me. They have the young talent, the talent is starting to perform, and they have the stadium/revenues to support that team for a 3-4 year period. Their pitching is fantastic. Bullpen help is the easiest part of a team to put together, and that's really the only area that they need help in.

Great question.

bobj4400
06-23-2004, 03:02 PM
Bullpen help is the easiest part of a team to put together, and that's really the only area that they need help in.
You would think that bullpen help is the easiest thing to acquire, yet the White Sox havent had a good closer in 3 years and their middle relief is always a bunch of stiffs.

bigdommer
06-23-2004, 03:08 PM
You would think that bullpen help is the easiest thing to acquire, yet the White Sox havent had a good closer in 3 years and their middle relief is always a bunch of stiffs.
shingo
marte
wunsch
foulke/koch (if he would have been half as good as he was in TOR and OAK)

that bullpen would be one of the better ones in the league. just goes to show what an injury and one bad trade can do to a bullpen.

bigdommer
06-23-2004, 03:12 PM
All of this talk about the future is pretty pointless. About three months ago, coming off of an 80+ win season in a weak division and after signing Juan Gone, Benito, Scott Sullivan, and Graffy, the Royals thought they were going to walk away with the division, while being able to resign Beltran and Randa. Now they are dead last, and struggling to trade away all of their best players so that they can start all over.

bobj4400
06-23-2004, 03:14 PM
shingo
marte
wunsch
foulke/koch (if he would have been half as good as he was in TOR and OAK)

that bullpen would be one of the better ones in the league. just goes to show what an injury and one bad trade can do to a bullpen.
Koch was half as good as he was in Oak/Tor. His ERA went from 3 to about 5. He wasnt that good before he got to the White Sox. As Greg Blache would say, "Numbers lie" in the case of Koch...

Philo-Sox-er
06-23-2004, 03:16 PM
Today, actually, there is a great article on the Inidans at the following:

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news?slug=fullcircle&prov=cnnsi&type=lgns

Those interested in thsi thread should read it.

bigdommer
06-23-2004, 03:19 PM
Koch was half as good as he was in Oak/Tor. His ERA went from 3 to about 5. He wasnt that good before he got to the White Sox. As Greg Blache would say, "Numbers lie" in the case of Koch...
I wouldn't say Koch's numbers lied in OAK/TOR, because the "number" 100 on the radar gun was no lie. Unfortunately, the "number" 93 on the Sox radar gun didn't lie either.

I never thought Koch was a great closer before the Sox got him, but he was definitely above average for the league. But, as his fastball goes, he goes.

Philo-Sox-er
06-23-2004, 03:31 PM
Indians Projected Starting Lineup without going to the FA pool in 2005:

C V. Martinez
1st B. Broussard
2nd R. Belliard
SS B. Phillips
3rd C. Blake
RF J. Gerut
CF C. Crisp/A. Escobar
LF G. Sizemore
DH T. Hafner

Batting Order:

Crisp/Escobar
Belliard
Gerut
Sizemore
Hafner
Martinez
Broussard
Blake
Phillips

Pitching:
1. C.C. Sabathia (LHP)
2. C. Lee (LHP)
3. J. Davis (RHP)
4. J.Westbrook (RHP)
5. F. Cruceta (RHP in AAA now)
CL K. Tadano (in AAA now)

That is a nice base to work with; though they are still very young.

Lip Man 1
06-23-2004, 03:39 PM
No one can 'guarantee' the future but if it's one thing I've learned in watching baseball for 43 years (Man that's a long time!) it's that pitching wins pennants.

If you want to Sox to be in the best position possible to win, then get all the good pitching that you can and then get one or two more guys because you are always going to have injuries and slumps.

As long as I've been alive the Sox have had great seasons when they have had very good pitching. Pick any year you want...59, 63, 64, 65, 67,72, 90, 93, 94.

The only exceptions in my mind were 1977 and 2000.

Still that's a lot more evidence on the side of pitching wins then the other way around.

Lip

Philo-Sox-er
06-23-2004, 03:48 PM
I agree with Lip. The past several years, however, it appears to me that the organization, like much of baseball, has gone with offense--"chicks love the long ball".


I love our offense; but I'd rather see a shift of philosophy to pitching as well. This would mean securing better defense in addition to pitching--listen to the Braves pithcers, for example, about how important it is for them to have a guy like Andrew Jones patrolling CF. He saves the Braves 40 runs a season easy.

infohawk
06-23-2004, 04:25 PM
One tremendous advantage the Sox have is that many of their projected "core" position players are still relatively cheap. I'm thinking primarily of Crede, Olivo, Harris, Uribe and Lee. Lee's cost is rising but is manageable. I'm also assuming the Sox will let Valentin walk after this season for financial reasons while sliding Uribe into short. I also believe that the Sox will probably let Konerko walk after next season (or trade him this offseason) for financial reasons. I think Thomas' salary can be considered low considering what he does for that lineup as a DH with his OBP and SLG percentages. If Maggs were to walk and be replaced by Reed/Borchard the Sox would be going from a 12-14 million dollar rightfielder to paying someone the league minimum. In fact, both Reed and Borchard (unless one is traded) may wind up patrolling the outfield with Lee. In that case, 2/3 of the outfield would be making the league minimum. I think the Sox could have a significant amount of money to invest in pitching while still having enough left over to fill any holes. Anymore, it appears that in order to truly remain competitive, a team must have financial flexibility. I think the Sox will be in such a position. I also think that Ozzie will emphasize pitching, speed and defense when he confers with Kenny about any future acquisitions (like a first baseman or any outfield pickups if they are necessary). I think Ozzie likes scoring lots of runs, but if he had his druthers, would rather be a pitching/defense team.

doublem23
06-23-2004, 04:32 PM
I'm still convinced the Sox can dominate this division with just a few moves.

whitesoxglenn
06-23-2004, 05:20 PM
We must keep Magglio and Valentin!!! Unless we can find someone the caliber of Magglio on the open market, we have a combination of Rowand/Harris/Perez for next year that we know can work!!! With Rowand, I would like to keep him in center, as I feel that Rowand is our best defensive outfielder, and Rowand's average is over .300 at this point of the season, with 6 home runs and some stolen bases!!! Willie Harris is better at second base, as he is not as good in center field, where Rowand is our best center fielder!!! So, we have, in the minors, Joe Borchard and Jeremy Reed, both batting below .300 at Charlotte!!! We know what we have with Magglio, but do we know what we have with both Reed and Borchard??? True, Reed had the highest minor league average at .373, and batted over .400 at Birmingham!!! But with Reed or Borchard, we will need to sink or swim with either one, and Borchard has done nothing to justify his 5.3 million albatross of a signing bonus that the White Sox are stuck with!!! If we don't keep Magglio, we will need to go out and get someone else unless we can swing a deal for a right fielder. In Magglio, we already have someone who might be one of the 10 best players in baseball!!! What would we have to replace Magglio next year??? And for Jose Valentin, despite his many strikeouts, while Valentin struggles against lefties still, he is still hitting better than he was last year just swinging lefthanded than switch hitting!!! And Valentin continues to come up with clutch hit after clutch hit!!! After tying the game with the second of back-to-back doubles (lee doubled before Valentin), Valentin ends the game with a 2-run bomb!!! And he is the one player on the team who best exemplifies the type of player that Ozzie Cullen was as a player!!! And Valentin's fielding has even improved!!! We do need pitching, however, with the clutch play of Valentin, and the uncertain future of life without Magglio, why don't we reward both players and go get some pitching also???

Cubbiesuck13
06-23-2004, 05:29 PM
And he is the one player on the team who best exemplifies the type of player that ozzie guillen was as a player!!!
i will agree with that, for his heart and the way he plays. perfomance wise they are opposites. jose can't be making 5 mil? a year next year for the sox. i like him and hope he signs for closer to 1.

why don't we reward both players and go get some pitching also???
:reinsy

whitesoxglenn
06-23-2004, 05:37 PM
I don't know if $1 million will get the job done, Cubbiesuck, and remember, Valentin is a Yankee-killer, especially in the Bronx, Cubbiesuck13!!! Valentin just might be the biggest Yankee-killer in the league, Cubbiesuck13!!!

Cubbiesuck13
06-23-2004, 05:41 PM
I don't know if $1 million will get the job done, Cubbiesuck, and remember, Valentin is a Yankee-killer, especially in the Bronx, Cubbiesuck13!!! Valentin just might be the biggest Yankee-killer in the league, Cubbiesuck13!!!
i remember last year he took a pay cut, i also remember hearing that his agent was not happy about it. thats right, his agent. i assumed he wasn't either but i could be mistaken on that. i am sure that he could get more than 1 mil a year from someone but with uribe here i don't think he is indispensable.

he is a yankee killer, i love that about him. a 1 mil per would make him even more lovable.

i am happy someone else likes typing my sn! there is so much truth to it.

mcfish
06-23-2004, 06:02 PM
Cleveland didnt have a problem paying their stars through the latter half of the '90's. When they start winning consistently, their fans will come back and they will be a heck of a team.
The Indians will have plenty of fans at the ballpark when the new ad campaign starts up:

Harry Doyle: Just a reminder fans about "Die Hard Night" coming up at the stadium: free admission to anyone who was actually alive the last time the Indians won a pennant.
I can't believe I read 2 pages of Indian attendance talk and no Major League quotes.

mcfish
06-23-2004, 06:30 PM
The Indians do look a lot better this year, so maybe this quote's better.

HEY, in case you haven't noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven't, the Indians have managed to win a few here and there and are threatening to climb out of the cellar.