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    Baseball Told the Right Way
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      Have the White Sox been watching Indians games?
    ....because it sure looks like they haven't been paying the tiniest bit of attention. The Indians are getting better. Quickly. If they sign Matt Clement, as has been rumored, they will be one step closer. By himself Clement won't be enough to push them over the top, but it will put the Indians a starting pitcher and a couple of solid bullpen arms away from being World Series contenders.

    So what do the White Sox do to counter?

    Tread water. At best.

    The White Sox are going to lose Magglio Ordonez. Granted, Mags didn't give them all that much last year, but it was greatly offset by a career year by Aaron Rowand. I see Rowand as more of a .280/.320/.450 hitter: solid in an everyday role, but not enough to replace Mags.

    Speaking of career years...
    Has anyone defined the term to White Sox GM Kenny Williams?

    He also went out and traded for Scott Podsednik, a career minor leaguer who (predictably) went from being a very good leadoff hitter (.314/.379/.443) to being a bottom of the order guy (.244/.313/.364) who will hit leadoff because (and only because) he can steal bases.

    It will be popular in fantasy leagues to split the difference when projecting Podsednik, but I'd lean towards the latter year being more predictive. I wrote about Podsednik in his likelihood to continue his success of 2003, and I'm sticking to my guns. In nine minor league seasons he hit .265/.344/.347, and I figure he'll be closer to that number. I certainly wouldnt expect him to slug over .400 any time soon.

    So Podsednik replaces Carlos Lee in the outfield. Lee has quietly flown under the radar as a very good player. He wont hurt you in the outfield and he has been a pretty solid hitter. Certainly much better than Podsednik. Lee has one more year on his contract for $8.5M and an $8.5M option in 2006. Podsednik is cheap, he'll only be making about $4M over the next two years, so based on the talent disparity, I have to think Kenny Williams is doing this to cut salary. I've just been so unimpressed by Williams that I refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    The Wrong Sox also got relief pitcher Jose Vizcaino in the deal, which helps make up the gap. But Vizcaino, while good, has been inconsistent and isn't nearly good enough to make up the difference.

    In other bullpen news, the Wrong Sox signed Dustin Hermanson to a 2-year $5.5M contract. They actually have a pretty solid bullpen with Marte, Takatsu, Vizcaino, and Hermanson. My only problem: $5.5M. Huh? I know, I talked about the market for relief pitchers being really tight, but this is a little crazy. Apparently if you are designated a closer (Percival, Benitez) you make $7-9M, and if not, you make $3M. Cormier, Hermanson? There's not much better out there. Who cares, Hermanson might be solid, but he hasn't had a good season since 1998. He's talented, but ultimately replaceable, and now expensive. So Kenny Williams is cutting Carlos Lee's money to fill the roster with mediocrities like Hermanson.

    Speaking of talented mediocrities....
    The White Sox also felt the need to throw 2-years and $10.2M at Jermaine Dye. This completes the White Sox outfield trifecta of overrated career years. I'd be suprised to see Dye put up anything more than .280/.330/.460 next year. Hell, you could get Craig Wilson, Raul Ibanez, or Jose Cruz Jr. to give you that next year. I fearlessly predict Cruz will sign for about $2-3M a season and be the better player.

    None of these moves suggest the Wrong Sox will improve next year. They need to, in order to re-invest in a fanbase that finally started showing up to The Cell. It's just too bad they lost their chance to compete in a weak AL Central and are watching the Cleveland Indians pass them by.

    and now for the Brewers perspective.....
    .....because everybody loves the Brewers. Wait.

    Well, good trade for the Brewers, they finally look to be investing some of that luxury tax money scammed from the Yankees in an actual payroll increase. It's just too bad for Brewer fans that they don't still play in AL, they might have been able to compete in the Central next year.