I love the idea that the White Sox are going for it in 2015.
I just don’t get everything they’re doing.
I get the idea of trading for Jeff Samardzija. That was the big win Tuesday, which almost matches the team’s win total from August.
Samardzija gives the Sox the top-of-the-rotation right-hander they’ve needed since Gavin Floyd won 17 with a 3.84 ERA in 2008 or Jon Garland won 18 with a 3.50 ERA in that stunning 2005 season. Pick one, but either way, it has been a while.
But more than that, Samardzija’s addition gives the Sox not just the best three starters in the AL Central in terms of WAR, but the top three in baseball, period, right now.
According to Fangraphs, Samardzija’s 4.1 WAR with the A’s and Cubs ranked 15th, while Chris Sale finished eighth (5.4) and Jose Quintana ninth (5.3). Talk about being deep in stoppers.
The part I don’t get is spending more than $10 million a year for one of the most unpredictable spots on the roster. David Robertson saved 39 games for the Yankees, no small thing in following legendary Mariano Rivera, and finished in the top 10 among relievers in expected fielder independent pitching and strikeouts per nine innings.
But still, $46 million over four years still seems like a lot of money when many free-agent closers who get that kind of money prove not to be worth it. Closers are fungible and seemingly found unexpectedly -- baseball’s mostly common one-and-done spot.
The Sox, remember, won a World Series with three closers.
Robertson’s deal worth more than $46 million also seems like a lot for a team that seems like it regularly begs fans to buy tickets so it can afford to make a trade, and this team still has glaring holes.
Sox general manager Rick Hahn said the Sox aren’t done, and it’s a good thing. They can’t be done. The Sox now have, I don’t know, five catchers who can’t play catcher, and issues at third, second or left.
Left field and third base remain particularly big issues. Power issues.
Dayan Viciedo isn’t the answer, especially in the field. But he also poses problems as a platoon candidate because he hits better, such as it is with him, and hits more homers against right-handed pitchers.
The Sox also need more than Conor Gillaspie’s seven homers at third base. That has to be a power source. Seven homers is a power outage.
In fact, there has to be one player the Sox can find who can at least match Viciedo’s and Gillaspie’s combined 28 homers.
That will take money, perhaps some that is already going to Robertson, and that’s my issue with the closer’s contract.
Or maybe not. Now that's he's dealing in an Adam Dunn-free zone, Hahn has a new payroll and knows his budget and needs, and he’s a smart guy. So, maybe he can finagle all of it.
The AL Central seems more winnable than you’d think from a division that has produced World Series teams two of the last three seasons. The Sox appear to feel the same way, and good for them.
I don’t know if it will work, but at least the Sox are trying. In fact, they're making moves as if a Ken Williams team presidency depends on it.