What the White Sox Should Do

by Ross Friedman

The White Sox had a great year in 2000. I still haven't figured out how. I'm not sure they were anything more than a decent team, yet they managed to finish with the best record in the American League. The White Sox could be set up for a big fall in 2001 if they don't make major adjustments this off-season.

However, in a weak division that could get weaker if Manny Ramirez leaves the Indians, the White Sox have a legitimate chance to make an impact. There is only one way for them to do this though: act like a big-market team. It was a great story when the team with a tiny payroll made the run they did, but they play in Chicago. Cleveland had a much higher payroll and is a much smaller market.

The White Sox main problem is that they are second-class citizens in their own city, to the Cubs. Remember though, neither Chicago team has won a championship since the White Sox did it 83 years ago in 1917. If the Sox became a perennial winner, with a chance of bringing a baseball championship to the city of Chicago, they could create a fan base that would help the White Sox continue to field a winner in years to come.

So now the question becomes, what do the White Sox have to do to keep the winning going? First, do not go after Alex Rodriguez. They could get lured by the fact that ARod would look great in their lineup and in their infield. However, there are locations that ARod prefers to Chicago, and will be willing to meet Boras' demands for him. All the White Sox would be doing is wasting time and effort that should be spent elsewhere.

And for the White Sox, elsewhere is pitching.

And then more pitching.

The White Sox will not be able to get Mike Hampton. If Hampton leaves NY he is going to leave for a warm-weather team. That leaves Mike Mussina in the top-tier free agent pitchers. They should go after him hard. Make him an attractive offer at 12:01am this Saturday. They should find any way they can of getting Mussina signed.

And as great as Mussina is, he's not enough for the White Sox pitching staff. They need more. Next they should go after Yankee reliever Jeff Nelson. Nelson may not be easy to lure away from NY, but at times last year he fought with Yankee management and ownership. If the White Sox can make him feel very wanted, they may be able to get him. This would give the White Sox a great bridge from starter pitcher to closer. Nelson with Keith Foulke would make a wonderful one-two punch, and give the White Sox a very strong six-man bullpen.

The White Sox should then make one more move for a pitcher. To help preserve salary, the final move should be done by trade. They should try to get either Francisco Cordova from the Pirates, or Dustin Hermanson from the Expos. There are a lot of rumors that the Expos are shopping Hermanson and teams may not have to give up major leaguers to get him.

Finally, the White Sox should re-sign their own free agents Charles Johnson and Jose Valentin. The White Sox scored the most runs in the American League last year, so there is no reason to make a change there.

In conclusion, the White Sox need pitching. If they go out and spend the money to get it, they have a good chance to take over as the dominant team in the AL Central for the next 5+ seasons.

Plan B: If they cannot get Mussina, go for two second-tier pitchers such as Darren Dreifort and Denny Neagle.

2001 Suggested 25-man Roster

2B-Ray Durham
SS-Jose Valentin
DH-Frank Thomas
RF-Magglio Ordonez
LF-Carlos Lee
1B-Paul Konerko
3B-Herbert Perry
CF-Chris Singleton
C- Charles Johnson

C- Mark Johnson
C- Josh Paul
IF-Tony Graffanino
IF-Greg Norton
OF-Paul Abbott

Mike Mussina
James Baldwin
Mike Sirotka
Dustin Hermanson
Jim Parque

Keith Foulke
Jeff Nelson
Bob Howry
Bill Simas
Kelly Wunsch
Sean Lowe

Send Ross your opinions, comments or verbal abuse at ross@JBaseball.

© 2000 JBaseball

"How can you not be romantic about baseball?" - Moneyball.