Build dominant teams.
Win 95 games, and things will sort themselves out somehow.
Stop using other teams to determine your window to compete.
We’ve been stressing all offseason how the awful production the White Sox received from their 1B/DH slots allowed for easy improvements to their offense. It made Jose Abreu worth the squeeze for them, but as it turns out, there’s another team in a similar situation with similar amounts of cash lying around. And as Jim Margalus noted in his summary, the Sox swiping Abreu might have forced their hand.
The Texas Rangers just traded Ian Kinsler to the Detroit Tigers for Prince Fielder and $30 million in cash (is it actual cash? Will Fielder bring it on the plane with him?), swapping seven years and $168 million of obligation to a possibly/probably 1B/DH for four years and effectively $92 million of obligation for a more clearly declining second basemen. Taking into account defensive and positional value, there’s an argument to be made about how close Kinsler and Fielder are to being equal talent, but all the hubbub with Detroit will be about what it allows them to do.
Miguel Cabrera, after two years replete with nagging injuries and reduced movement, can get a large defensive workload taken off his shoulders if he moves back to first base. Max Scherzer, fresh off a career-year at age 29, is suddenly much more affordable as an extension candidate, as is Cabrera. If Nick Castellanos was still playing third base, it would be the nearly ideal shifting of resources that it is for Texas.
Instead, they still need to add a third basemen, or shoot the moon for Robinson Cano or something similarly transforming, but they removed themselves from the potential pitfalls of the end of Fielder’s contract. Their existence as an above-average offense is more tied to keeping Miguel Cabrera healthy and productive as ever, but at least now they can maintain him properly.
Between selling low on Fielder after a year filled with personal turmoil, committing to four years of a middle infielder who will be 32 in June and shifting resources around potentially to commit to Max Scherzer after a season that’s a hop, skip and a jump away from his career averages, there’s plenty of room for regret. But if pressed to tab one example of Detroit’s narrowing competitive window, most would point to the last two years, and the next seven years, of Prince Fielder.
The Tigers just dealt with that. I’m not sure it made them immediately better, and how they manage their corresponding moves, or how much this really does to counteract their core–which is there is much focus on extending–crossing the age-30 barrier will have plenty of say on their future, but they’re not going to bow out effortlessly.
Meanwhile, the White Sox should keep trying to build a team that can win any division, rather than just a weak one.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan