Possible Offseason Alternatives To Paul Konerko
As the offseason continues for the White Sox, more and more news has been circulating as to what is going to be done in regards to Paul Konerko. I posted a blog a few days ago speaking my mind on the issue, and how the White Sox need to part with Konerko. With that being said, and with the potential free agent list being posted a few days ago, let’s look at some possible players that could contribute on the South Side next season.
First off, let’s look at the potential first base options:
Dunn is a known power hitter that would thrive at U.S. Cellular Field. He has hit at least 30 home runs in every season since 2004, hitting 40+ home runs from 2004-2008. If he were to stay healthy then he would be a candidate to hit 50 home runs a season and that’s the power hitter the White Sox sorely need. He is also very good at driving in runs and would be almost a lock for 90+ RBI every season.
His down side is defense. Dunn has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t want to play DH for any team. That would mean that Dunn would have to play first base for the White Sox, and that is a bit of a liability. He doesn’t have much range anymore (not like he really had any to begin with), and that’s a step down from Konerko. Dunn also has a tendency to strike out way too many times. In 2010, Dunn struck out 199 times, the most in his career. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him strike out nearly that many times if he came to Chicago, and that’s something that could become a problem.
Viciedo is an in-house option that could fill in at either first base or DH. While he hasn’t had a great amount of success in his short time in the majors, he has a good chance of being a power hitter that could hit 30+ home runs a year.
The downside to Viciedo is his defense as well. While he hasn’t been terrible, he isn’t a great defender. He’s had his troubles at third base, his primary position. He’d have to spend some time in the minors playing first base to get accustomed to it, and that could be time the White Sox don’t have. Like Dunn, Viciedo also strikes out a ton (25:2 K to BB ratio in 38 games in 2010) so that could become an issue as well.
When it comes down to it, Viciedo has a very positive upside offensively and might suit the White Sox best if he played as a DH and the team went after one of the many first baseman on the market this offseason.
Pena is one of the better options the White Sox have both offensively and defensively. Offensively, he is almost a lock for 30+ home runs and 100 RBI and that is something the White Sox desperately need. He also strikeouts out a lot, as does almost every power hitter, but he walks a lot more than guys like Dunn and Viciedo. This season he ranked 6th in the AL in walks so he does know how to take pitches and not swing for the fences every single time.
Defensively, Pena can hold his own. He has committed only 10+ errors twice in his career and holds a career .994 fielding percentage. He has some range and can move for the ball so he would do fine playing first base.
The downside to Pena is money and batting average. Pena might just be too pricey for the White Sox, and that could prevent them from even making an attempt to get him. His batting average is also a huge issue because it has steadily gone down over the past few seasons. He hit .282 in 2007 and had a monster year. This season, he hit .196. That is not a stat that will look pretty on anyone’s resume. He seems to have more and more problems getting hits at the plate, and that could be a liability.
The only good thing to look at is; if Pena can hit .196, 28 home runs, and 84 RBI, just imagine what he could do if he hit .250 or so?
No one is quite sure whether Adrian Gonzalez will be put on the market this offseason, but if the Padres do then the White Sox will definitely take a shot at getting him. Gonzalez is going to be having offseason shoulder surgery, so that could be in the benefit of the White Sox. Teams may be reluctant in taking a guy coming off of surgery, so that may reduce the number of teams in the running for his services.
Regardless of his shoulder surgery, Gonzalez is another solid option at first base. He’s easily a 30+ home run and 100+ RBI guy if he comes to Chicago. He consistently has a solid batting average and doesn’t strike out a lot. Surprisingly enough, he has walked nearly as many times as he has struck out so that’s a huge difference between him and all other power hitters. He is also solid at first base on defense so the White Sox aren’t losing anything there as well.
I don’t really see any downside to acquiring Gonzalez except for the amount of money it would take to sign him long term. The White Sox might not have enough to do that, and that could severely hinder their chances if he hits the market.
Fielder is one of the biggest names on the trading block this offseason and I would expect him to be moved somewhere around the time Winter Meetings roll around. The White Sox have been linked to Fielder since the trading deadline so it’s no surprise that they would want to get him. Fielder would be a candidate for 40+ home runs and 100+ RBI every season here in Chicago, and that speaks for itself.
He isn’t the fastest player on the field, and that could cause an issue. Jim Thome was let go because he was getting slower, and he “clogged” the base path with his slow running. Fielder could do the same, especially with guys like Juan Pierre and Alex Rios on the team, so that may make a difference (but I don’t think it would).
However, even with his size, Fielder is a solid defender and that could be a plus if the White Sox don’t want to use him as a DH. But again, money could be an issue and that could prevent him from coming here.
So that’s just a taste of the potential names that could come to the White Sox this offseason. There are a lot of lower level players that have been linked to the White Sox already, but these are the big name guys that could make the biggest impact.
It’s going to be another offseason filled with rumors for the White Sox, but just like with the Alex Rios waiver claim and Jake Peavy trade, we know Kenny Williams is not afraid to make a big splash. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dunn or Fielder here next season, and that would make the White Sox even bigger competition for the Twins next year.