Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Kenny Williams Finds An Outfielder

Back in November and December, pundits in the Chicago media were wailing and gnashing their teeth over Kenny Williams' "failure" to sign a high-paid, aging center fielder with a misspelled first name such as Andruw Jones or Torii Hunter. While not much interested myself in either Jones or Hunter, I had been wondering if there was any plan to improve on an outfield that was among the worst in baseball in 2007.

Well, three cheers for Billy Beane's rebuilding program. Today, the Sox were able to obtain slugging, popular, and borderline insane outfielder Nick Swisher from the A's. While not exactly Willie Mays, Swisher can at least cover center, has 30-homer power, and, most importantly, gets on base, a concept most Sox hitters, seemingly emulating their manager, had little knowledge of in 2007.

Back in December, the Sox made a little-noticed trade with the Diamondbacks, sending power prospect "first baseman" Chris Carter to the Snakes for busted prospect Carlos Quentin. While I liked Carter (who now, ironically, has also been dealt to the A's), I still like Quentin, who has a bit of power and also can reach base. While I don't think he'll ever be the star I once thought he would, Quentin is also an upgrade to the lineup.

The bad news of the Swisher trade is that the Sox once again gave up the very best of their farm system. Gio Gonzalez and Fautino de Los Santos were the two best pitchers in the organization. Remember, this is a team that thinks Gavin Floyd is a viable starting pitcher, so the loss of Gonzalez may be felt hard some time this summer.

Williams' next trick will be to clean up the logjam on the left side of the infield. The trade for Orlando Cabrera made Jose Uribe superfluous (not that he wasn't a crappy player to begin with) and the rules only allow one third baseman on the field at once, so either Joe Crede or Josh Fields will have to be moved. I advise Williams to try giving Brian Sabean a call; the Giants are good at collecting crummy veterans who can't get on base.

The AL Central is going to be a handful, and even with the Swisher trade the Sox still trail the Tigers (who made a much bigger deal last December) and the Offensive Stereotypes. But it's certainly a step in the right direction.

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