Complete overhaul? No, but I think some significant change is needed. You can't just tinker around the margins and expect different results.
I think the Sox are set at four positions next year: 1B, 2B, SS and RF.
I know people are not going to be happy with me including 2B in that list, but from where I'm sitting, the up-the-middle defense of Beckham and Ramirez is the strength of this team. That's not something you break apart. That's something you build around. I know neither of them is great offensively, but the two have combined for 25 HRs, 132 RBIs and roughly 120 runs scored. That production is fine batting eighth and ninth when coupled with top-flight defense at critical positions.
Konerko is going to be 37 years old on Opening Day next year. He's got one year left on his contract. He's more valuable to the White Sox than he would be in any trade. You bring him back to play out his deal. Rios had a terrific year and has earned the RF job for next season. As his teammates have crumbled around him, he has continued to play good baseball down the stretch.
You face free-agency decisions on Youkilis and Pierzynski. At least one will leave, if not both. De Aza, if he's healthy, I think can be part of the solution. The main problem with Alejandro is his body broke down in the second half. Can we trust him to hold up for a whole season? Not sure, but I do like what he brings.
Offensively, as a whole, you've got a low OBP team. You've got a slow team. They hit a lot of home runs, but they lack balance and struggle to score in other ways. Ultimately, you have to ask yourself what players can be traded to bring yourself back into balance? I think Dunn and Viciedo are the players you shop. They both have value, and they could bring value in return. I think the Sox need to sacrifice some power to get more speed and OBP in the lineup.
You also have a problem with depth. You've got six of your starting nine over 30, and maybe it just wasn't realistic to ask a group of 32- to 36-year-olds to play 140 games and get you over the finish line. These older players broke down at the end of the season. They had to ride these guys hard because they didn't have capable backups.
If you can move Dunn's contract for a couple useful pieces, you free up some money and you can go shopping. You've also got money coming off the books with Peavy. If Jake walks, and I assume he will, you do need to find another starting pitcher somewhere. But sometimes, you can replace a $15 million a year player with three guys whose salary adds up to the same total, and your team will be better for it.
It's going to be an interesting offseason. There's a lot of different ways you can look at the problems the Sox are having, not only on the field but with attendance and marketing as well.
JB's attendance record:
2004: 14-5; 2005: 16-8; 2006: 19-10; 2007: 8-12; 2008: 15-7; 2009: 6-13; 2010: 12-11; 2011: 9-8; 2012: 11-7; 2013: 8-9; Total: 118-90.
Next game: Spring 2014
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