The White Sox have re-signed DeWayne Wise for $700,000 for the 2013 season. In MLB terms, $700,000 is a negligible sum, so in that sense this move shouldn’t even warrant a second glance. However, this move still really upsets me. Yeah, the Catch was amazing, and Wise has gone on some stretches where he popped some home runs. The problem is that the White Sox clearly have a thing for him, and are willing to play him a lot (even batting him 3rd in key games down the stretch last year and having Kevin Youkilis bunt with him on deck) despite the fact that he is a really bad baseball player.
In 1,118 career PAs, Wise has never posted an OBP above .300 except for a 6 PA sample back in 2007. He’s going to be 35 next year, and has a career slash line of .222/.264/.385. This is someone you give a minor league contract to, not someone who gets a major league roster spot and anything above the minimum. The White Sox desperately need guys who can get on base, work the count, and make contact. Wise, instead, is yet another guy whose entire offensive value is hoping that he can run into some cheap home runs in the White Sox’ home park.
Wise isn’t going to cost a lot of money at all, but in an age where you have 12-man pitching staffs, you don’t have a lot of bench spots on offense. It’s also scary because it means now that he’s around, the White Sox will be sorely tempted to make him an everyday player as they have for playoff pushes in 2012 and 2008. Further, I am hard-pressed to find anything meaningful that Wise does better than Jordan Danks. Best-case scenario he is completely redundant, and worst-case he is blocking someone who may be considerably better – and is cheaper to boot. Wise doesn’t even offer platoon variety from Danks. This move demonstrates a profound lack of imagination on the part of the White Sox, and Wise is the epitome of a fungible, replacement-level player.
The analysis here shouldn’t be, “Why not make this move?” but rather, “Why make this move?” Inevitably with players like this someone says something about how he’s good in the clubhouse, or that he’s basically an extra coach – and fine, I can accept that. However, why don’t you offer him a job as a bench coach or something or make him a minor league manager? Didn’t we learn from 2011 Omar Vizquel? As one of Rick Hahn’s first moves this is a minor one, but it’s a very worrisome indicator that the White Sox are going to be making the same mistakes in building their offense that they have for almost a decade now. The White Sox are a team that can compete, but they have a razor-thin margin for error, and it’s time that their front office started acting like it instead of throwing away value around the margins.
As a final insult, Wise will occupy the final spot on the White Sox’ 40-man roster.