Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sox Offseason Roundup

And speaking of happy days (not the ones with Ralph Malph), it's now just five days, 23 hours, and 24 minutes until pitchers and catchers begin to report. Not that I'm counting...

One thing I can say for Kenny Williams...he doesn't sit still over the winter and he's not afraid to roll the dice on a trade. The disaster of 2007 left him a lot of mess to clean up over the winter, and all things considered I think he did very well.

When we last left our heroes, they featured an outfield in which the three most used players combined for 31 home runs. Twenty eight of them came from Jermaine Dye, whose season was otherwise quiet pedestrian. They had traded the second baseman, the third baseman was injured, and the shortstop had a .284 on-base percentage. And compared to half of the starting rotation and almost the entire bullpen, all of that didn't even look that bad.

With the media pretty fixated on the Johan Santana trade and the Roger Clemens Mitchell report yawner, Williams worked under the radar. Without a lot of fanfare, he has, at least on paper, improved the club in every one of it's weak areas.

The outfield now features, Dye, Nick Swisher, and Carlos Quentin. Quentin may or may not pa out, but I still like him and think it's a very worthwhile risk. Cuban product Alexei Ramirez goes into camp with a chance to take over at second base, another gamble, but another one with upside. Williams gave up Jon Garland, a decent but not great starter, and acquired Orlando Cabrera to take over at short, a huge jump in OBP at the position.

I'm not as thrilled by the additions in the bullpen; but I will have to admit that both Octavio Dotel and Scott Linebrink should be far better than the guys they replace.

The only spot not tended to was the starting rotation; given what the options were this winter, that is just as well. There is no way that the Sox were going to be in the market for Santana, and the free agent pool was a lot of regret just waiting to happen. Unless you think that the Sox should have been chasing Tony Armas, Mark Redman, or Carlos Silva. They did make an incentive based offer to Bartolo Colon, which wasn't a bad idea, but he turned it down. Williams may still be pursuing that, however.

Williams also goes into camp with two tradable commodities; Joe Crede and Jose Uribe. Either could be moved for a starting pitcher.

Kenny Williams had an off year in the winter of 2006-2007. This year he's back on form.

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