In the confusion of Wednesday’s server outages, Nick and I both started writing posts expressing our grumpiness over the Dewayne Wise. Nick got his up first, and I do declare it is a plate of well-aged, delicious grumpiness over the needlessly aggressive move to secure the services of a replacement player before the Winter Meetings even start. I have just a few things to add to it.
$700K for a year of Dewayne Wise? $700K for a veteran fourth outfielder? What could be wrong with entrusting a player with such defensive utility to fulfill such meager expectations for such a manageable sum of money.
Nothing. Nothing wrong with the deal in a vacuum, but as the old adage goes: in a vacuum, everyone is dead but the Twins find a way to win the division.
The trouble is what this indicates for the White Sox intentions with their outfield.
Even after 2012, which in spite of the .293 OBP was the best offensive season of Dewayne Wise’s career, he’s still a .228/.264/.385 hitter who can absolutely never be allowed to bat against a left-hander. It’s a curious what he can really provide–especially as a defender at 35 years of age–over Blake Tekotte and Jordan Danks that’s worth a contract over the minimum. It’s curious, but immaterial, since it’s a difference of $300K.
What is not immaterial, is Robin Ventura’s usage of Dewayne Wise. Having a fourth outfielder like Tekotte, or Danks, or even Jared Mitchell, leaves the roles very clear. Wise however, already has established trust with Ventura, and that relationship has produced such episodes as ‘Dewayne Wise as leadoff hitter’, ‘Dewayne Wise as #3 hitter’, and ‘Dewayne Wise platooning with Dayan Viciedo’.
That’s all well and good in the short-term view of September, but having Wise on the bench available to address every immediate concern about lefty-righty lineup balance, or Viciedo’s struggles against right-handers can detract away from the overall goal of the season. Essentially, there’s a baseline of competence that Wise can provide against right-handers, and I’m worried that Ventura will remain just as in love with it as he was last year, when Viciedo needs to play.
That’s if Viciedo is even still around.
The Wise signing fills the last slot on the White Sox 40-man roster. They can always non-tender Philip Humber to clear a space, but they could also clear up space by swinging the trades they’ve been said to be considering and weighing for the past two weeks.
That could mean something innocuous like the other fourth outfielders being used as throw-ins, or actual assets like Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza could be in play, which would potentially offer Wise an opportunity at a larger role. That’s bad for the reasons detailed above.
Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Dewayne Wise–Fourth outfielder. Even at 35, he can defend, and hit right-handed pitching well enough to be on a major league roster. I am positive, that at some point this year*, he will do something great, and I will say–without prompting–“Good job, Dewayne!”
*Well, not POSITIVE. He’ll be 35 in February and has no elite skills, I’m sure his decline will be swift and brutal. Like, “dead before he hit the ground” brutal.
But the insistence about acquiring Wise ahead of time, as part of plan going into the season rather than plugging an immediate need, raises concerns about the size of his role. Wise can be useful, he can be a stop-gap, he will never be good.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan