Friday, January 27, 2006

MLB inflation

Not so much of salaries, but of personnel needs.

Take this excerpt from an article by John Donovan talking about urgent needs teams have:

A center fielder for the White Sox

It's hard to pick on a team as loaded as the Sox, who are easily better than they were last season when they won 99 regular-season games (more than anyone in the American League) and that little postseason tournament everyone gets so excited about. But, despite all of GM Kenny Williams' upgrades, the position where the Sox probably are worse is center field. Williams swapped last year's starter, Aaron Rowand, to get DH Jim Thome, leaving the spot to prospect Brian Anderson, who had wrist surgery in November. Anderson batted .176 in 34 at-bats with the White Sox last season after posting a respectable .829 OPS at Class AAA and is rated by Baseball America as the organization's second-best prospect (closer Bobby Jenks is No. 1). The Sox are really good, so good that they can carry an unproven youngster as an everyday player. But with the ever-pressing Williams in charge, and the Indians charging, the Sox won't want to carry Anderson for too long.

They won't want to carry Anderson for too long? The sentence that gets to me is "The Sox are really good, so good that they can carry an unproven youngster as an everyday player." This is why his whole argument carries no weight. He says it himself.

It used to be you could have a player on your team who was a defensive wiz and nothing else (Ozzie Smith), but these days everyone has to have an offensive edge. This is a mentality of more more more. If you don't hit .280 or hit more than 20HRs, then you don't belong in the lineup, especially if you're the defending champs.

This is rubbish. Unless everyone wants to be the Yankees and the Red Sox (and by that I mean they'll be efficient and have a budget), then you have to take some chances.

And the White Sox aren't even taking that big of a chance.

Check out their lineup:

Podsednik LF Speed speed speed, runs scored, stolen bases, creates chaos at the top
Piercynski C (16HRs, 71RBIs)
Iguchi 2b (15HRs, 71RBIs, 74 R, 15 SBs. small ball guy, good contact)
Dye RF (31HRs, 86 RBIs, cannon arm)
Crede 3B (Gold glove Defense, 22HRs)
Konerko 1B (MVP of the team, 40HRs, 100RBIs)
Uribe SS (16HR, 71 RBIs, great defense)

That is a VERY good offensive team. Oh but wait, you have Jim Thome at DH too.

That leaves one position with a big question mark. ONE.

What numbers we do have for that position are minor league numbers. Let's look at them:

.295 AVG, .360 OBP, 16HRs, 57RBIs, 71R, 4SB, 44/115 BB/K ratio.

We can say he can hit pretty good (lifetime .300 hitter in the minors), he's got some, but not a lot, of pop. He won't steal bases. He's a very good defender (scouting reports, Baseball America ranked him the Sox's best defensive ourfielder). How much of a risk are you taking REALLY by playing him?

Not a lot, I say, especially at that price.

And he's been rated as the White Sox's second-best prospect by Baseball America. If you really can't have ONE risky bet (if you call this being risky) in your whole lineup then you know that the Steinbrenner effect really has permeated all of baseball, which sucks because it means guys who might start on lesser-quality teams won't get that chance, they'll be kept in AAA for "insurance" in case something happens to a starter.

It's all driven by an irrational fear, not a sense of wanting to be prepared.


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