WTNYOctober 25, 2004
'Tall' Cup of Coffee
By Bryan Smith

A couple months ago, I moved this site to prospect-only, which is not to say my interest in Major League Baseball has evaporated. Particularly, my interest in Hot Stove baseball still is extremely strong. So while I dont have a lot of time to write an article today, I want to point to a few things on the Internet.

Being an avid reader of Chicago newspapers, it was refreshing to see a great offseason preview like the Daily Southtown did with the Chicago White Sox. An honest and telling series, the Southtown has three articles (infield, outfield, pitching staff) on the White Sox coming months. Each article goes over the players on the White Sox roster, and offers quotes from Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams, as well as the writers prediction on the players future.

From this article, we learn that the White Sox plan on signing a shortstop, a good starting pitcher and a good reliever. Randy Johnson and Carlos Beltran are the clubs top two targets, and eithers acquisition would lead to the trade of Carlos Lee. After that, the club appears to be in hot pursuit of Omar Vizquel, looking to steal him from the rival Indians. They also want Troy Percival, who would supplant Shingo Takatsu in the bullpen.

As for the starting rotation, it is a lock that Chicago will sign one of Pedro Martinez, Carl Pavano, Odalis Perez, Eric Milton, Wilson Alvarez, Russ Ortiz and Derek Lowe. Judging by Ken Williams previous interest, I would say that Milton, Ortiz and Perez are the three likely targets. We see a 2005 roster that includes:

Catchers (2): Ben Davis and Jamie Burke

Infielders (8): Paul Konerko, Willie Harris, Juan Uribe, SS signee, Joe Crede, Frank Thomas, Ross Gload, Wilson Valdez

Outfielders (4): Carlos Lee, Aaron Rowand, Carl Everett, Timo Perez

Starters (5): Mark Buerhle, Freddy Garcia, Jose Contreras, SP signee, Jon Garland

Bullpen (6): Shingo Takatsu, RP signee, Damaso Marte, Cliff Politte, Neal Cotts, Jon Adkins

Going into the offseason with three needs? Wouldnt it be nice?

Todays article has to be really short, because I spent a lot of time today working on a Game 2 chat us All-Baseballers had last night. Let today be somewhat of an open forumwhat prospect/organization/issue do you want to see profiled?



I'd also like to see the Yanks to see if the system is as dead as the NY papers are making it. I thought that they had a few good, if not very good, young players coming up and that they had a pretty good draft recently. However, this may be showing bias - I'd just like to see an objective take on the system.

Hey, your link to the pitchers article leads to the OF article. Here's the pitchers article: http://www.dailysouthtown.com/southtown/dssports/pro/241sd7.htm

Even though I love Boston and hate but respect the Yankees. Both teams have big money and will find away to fill whatever holds they need filled. But the team Im interested in is the up and coming young and inexpensive Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I love what this team is doing and find myself following them more and more. Lou Piniella has this team fired up, especially against the Yankees. Boston and the Yankees both have to be looking over the shoulder and see what maybe a very strong team in there division. Yes, I know they where 70 and 91 this season. But if this team continues to develop with players like B.J Upton, Scott Kazmir and Delmon Young on top of Crawford, Huff, Baldelli and company and with pitcher like Jason Hammel and Chad Orvella keep developing from the low minors. This can become a very good team.

So my question is. How good can this team become?

I'd love to chat about Dodgers prospects. Will the likes of Edwin Jackson, Greg Miller, and Chad Billingsley join the rotation, if so, then when, and what are their upsides? Who eventually plays first base? Choi, Loney, Joel Guzman perhaps? Where does Guzman fit in? Shortstop, third base, right field, first base? Should we be concerned about Guzman's low walk rates?

What's going on with the A's at 1B? Will Dan Johnson get the job or is it Hatteberg's to lose? Also, can we expect to see Blanton in the starting rotation?

Fabian, don't hide your partisanship or anything. I'll definitely write of the Yankees farm a little later in the week for you and James, and Fabian, expect an e-mail from me later today about that.

Mak, thanks for the heads up.

I wrote about Tampa a bit on October 4, if you want to peruse my archives. I am planning an article on minor league relievers, so obviously Chad Orvella will be a part of that. Tampa is going to have a chance in the later part of this decade, when New York and Boston are getting very old. This is when the team must strike, and Huff-Upton-Young must have Blalock-Young-Teixeira type numbers. And without a minimum payroll of $50M, I'm not sure they'll ever compete in this division.

Jake, Billingsley will be part of an upcoming article on the top group of pitchers. If I write an article of Southern League struggles, I'll have to include Loney. As for Guzman, I'm torn. My heart wants me to believe Baseball America, which says that Joel can't stay at short. But from other accounts I've read, including Guzman himself, it sounds like he's good there. Given Beltre's range, I think Guzman could be a good doubles shortstop in 2006.

Judging from those articles, having only three needs this off-season is not a product of a White Sox roster that's nearly complete but a White Sox front office that's devoid of any real ambition or an author that's failed to recognise any. Sure, there are the customary references to both Johnson and Beltran, but regardless of whether the money is there, both players have the final say over where they'll be playing next year, and as a result the chances of them playing on the Southside next year are slim. Otherwise, there's just a lot of optimism over youngsters with ugly numbers and disappointment over older players with slightly less ugly numbers (Konerko, Lee and Takatsu aside). As refreshing as it is to see a manager and GM speak frankly about each of their players, I wonder how much of that they truly mean, and whether they'll really be as inactive this winter as is suggested. If I were a White Sox fan, with the organisations that the Twins and Indians have, I'd certainly hope not.

John, spoken like a true Cubs fan. I tend to disagree with your comments, because I think the additions of Everett, Garcia and Contreras were made for both the present and the future. Ozzie was extremely so, almost demoralizing so if his players come across this article. I think the Sox could be poised to take the division by the horns in one of the next two years, especially if they land Vizquel, Percival and Milton. Ken Williams is better than the on-line community gives him credit for.

Ryan, I wish the A's would send Scott Hatteberg packing and use Dan Johnson already. I mean, wasn't Moneyball about using effective inexpensive pieces? Hatteberg was that when he came to Oakland, but not so much anymore. I think they will definitely trade one of the Big Three, opening a spot for Blanton, who closed out his AAA season well. Some have liked my proposed Zito for Chipper deal, some have not.

Jeff, none of us have ever done a real profile of the Rays' future, but you can get a lot of info on their prospects and such at www.raysbaseball.com. Under the Prospects link at the top you can go to a page with all the significant prospects with a brief scouting report on most and their complete minor league statistics. Also, if you scroll down to the bottom of the main page on the right side you'll see the writers' names, you can click on Jay Bradley's name to see all his articles, he did a series at the end of the year reviewing all the prospects. Hope that gives you some of what you're looking for.

Bryan, you mentioned Huff as part of the team's core for contention, but I doubt he'll still be with the Rays then. He's a free agent after 2006 and I think the first year the Rays have a real chance at any sort of contention is 2007. I went into some detail on it in my blog (link in my sig) a few days ago, but I expect him to be somewhere else in 2007, which will probably be the best thing for the Rays even though their payroll should be a fair amount larger by then.