Here is what I think the Sox need to do to bring the Championship back to Chicago. (I know, it’s a bit premature, seeing as how the Sox still have a slight chance to make the playoffs), but hey, it’s my blog.)I’m not going to list everyone… Only the ones that matter. All this is done without knowledge of contract status…
First things first, the lineup;
Jermaine Dye, RF– An obvious keeper. One of the only bright spots this frustrating season. Whatever he wants, he gets, in my book.
Paul Konerko, 1B– Similar to Dye. These two are the cornerstones of this team.
Tadahito Iguchi, 2B– I think he’s a great second basemen and has pop in his bat.
A.J. Pierzynski, C– I think if he’s not careful he might start to recieve the same reception at the Cell that he got when he was in San Fran. But for now, he’s a keeper.
Jon Garland, SP– Having a breakout year (and to my count should have over 20 wins, what with all the leads the bullpen blew for him.) and should continue into next season. He’s #1 next year in my book.
Brandon McCarthy, SP– notice I said “SP” not “RP”. Give this boy a chance to pitch the way he should– starting. I don’t know if he’ll live up to expectations, but he should be given the chance to do just that. He’s #5
Jose Contreras, SP– He came skidding out of the All Star break after a stellar first half, but part of that skid is the lack of offensive help. He’s #2.
Pablo Ozuna, Util– I like this guy on the bench, versitile with some speed.
Ross Gload, Util– Same as Ozuna as I like having him on the bench, and he does decently at first for when Konerko or Thome need a day off.
Jim Thome, DH– At first I was going to put him in the “Iffie” pile, but I thought better of it. Truth is, he’s the perfect DH, and I cannot think of anyone else that would fill that role on this club better (other than Thomas, *snarl*). Plus I really like him sandwiched between Dye and Konerko.
Bobby Jenks, RP– Up until his hip injury, Jenkies was rolling. He’s staggered some since, and I’m not convinced he’s healed, but having a nice winter off and he’ll be back to his fireballing in April.
Mike MacDougal, RP– One of the few bright spots in the bullpen, one of the better improvements the Sox made this year.
Scott Podsednik, LF– This is probably the move I feel the strongest about. He’s proven time and again he’s an average hitter, a below average fielder with a peewee arm (C’mon, you have guys with OK speed tagging from second to third on his rubber arm.) He had a career year in 205 and will never hit that plateau again, dump him on some developing team using the “speed” argument. Just make sure to use 2005’s SB numbers.
Juan Uribe, SS– The man can play defense, I will give him that. But he lives with the delusion that he’s a power hitter. The Sox have all the power hitters they need. Hopefully they can trade Juan top a team that needs power for a solid middle reliever.
Mark Buehrle, SP– He wants to go to St. Louis, I say ship his ass across the Mississippi. Maybe they’ll give up David Eckstein and solve our hole at SS.
Javier Vazquez, SP– This guy has a mental block involving the sixth inning and I for one never want to see him hurl a ball again. Unless they move him to the pen and make certain he never pitches in the 6th.
Sandy Alomar, C– you’re getting rid of Buerhle, no need for his personal catcher to stick around.
Brian Anderson, CF– this is by far my hardest choice. I like this kid, I think he has awesome talent in the field. But his hitting need severe work. And that’s where I sit, teetering between fielding and hitting, keeping and dumping. I guess if they traded him for a grinder, I’d accept it. I’d also accept them keeping him, but if his hitting does not come around either trade him or drop him to Charlotte.
Joe Crede, 3B– He would be in my keepers pile without a doubt except for two things, his back and his bat. It’s obvious that hit back is bothering him. He plays stellar defense, but his hitting is suffering for it. If he comes to spring training healthy, that’s all the better for the Sox.His bat? What’s wrong with his bat? He suffers from the same delusion that Uribe has. He’s not a power hitter but he wants to be one. He needs to get over this and stop trying to kill the ball with every swing.
Freddie Garcia, SP– Up until two starts ago, he was on my “Dumpers” list. If he sticks with this sinker/forkball/splitter/whatever it is and continues to pitch like he has in his last two, I will keep him. If he reverts back to the whiny baby he was earlier in the year, ship him out.
Neil Cotts, RP — if he shows up to spring training looking like he did in 2005, keep him where he’s at. If he shows up looking like Damaso Marte, demote or trade him.
Next, the note to Ozzie–
Go back to small ball. You claimed you would for 2006, but it didn’t happen. You’re the skipper and the blame falls on you. Do I think you should have Konerko or Dye bunting guys over? No. But I do expect postions 1,2,6,7,8,9 to do so mercilessly.
I don’t care who’s pitching, he starts looking fatigued, he’s out. I don’t know many players who would openly admit to being done, and I don’t know if I’d want pitchers that did. You get paid the big bucks for making these decisions, make them.
I don’t care how many runs we’re down, LEAVE our starting lineup in the game (excluding the pitcher, of coure). I can’t remember how many games we lost because captain hook pulled guys like Thome and Konerko because the Sox were down by eight (Anyone else remember the Cleveland game at home where they came without a dog hair’s width of making an 8 run comeback in the ninth? would’ve been helpful if Dye and Konerko were still in the game).
finally, the sum up–
Get a quality left fielder with speed and leadoff potential. Keep Anderson on a really short leash, otherwise get a grinder in center like you had with Rowand. Grab a shortstop that can match Uribe’s range and arm but without the delusions of being a power hitter. Pickup quality middle relievers. Return to the World Series and win. Rinse and Repeat.