Running is on the short list of things Wise does well. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
When the White Sox signed Wise to a $700,000 major league contract at the beginning of the offseason, I was upset. The White Sox have shown in the past that they are happy to stretch him beyond his talents, using him as a full-time starter for extended periods of time during bids for playoff spots. $700,000 is not a lot of money, so the question really becomes whether Ventura can use him properly. If you believe in Jordan Danks, he’s a bit redundant, but at the very least they both play the big half of the platoon (there are more right-handed pitchers than left-handed), and they both can play defense at all three outfield spots. While Wise is completely unplayable against lefties, he managed to hit .288/.322/.463 against RHP last year in a small sample.
The reason I am less upset about Wise, however, isn’t really due to anything Wise has done. Rather, it’s what other teams have done. Delmon Young – while a better hitter than Wise – has no business playing in the field, is a horrible human being, and his base salary is $50K more than what Wise is making. Further, that can get up over $2 million with incentives for plate appearances, days on the active roster, and six weigh-ins. Yeah, you read that right. In a league without a DH, Delmon Young doesn’t have a position, he can only hit lefties, and not even all that well at that. I’d rather have Wise for $700K.
Jeff Francoeur is by all accounts a wonderful teammate and human being. He also hits lefties pretty well. It is problematic that he can’t defend at all or hit right-handed pitching, and that he’s making $6.75 million this year. Francoeur has some things to offer to a team if used properly – although he almost never is – but that price tag is just way too high. Once again, I think I’d prefer Wise on essentially the league minimum, even if he only acts as a defensive replacement.
The Marlins signed Juan Pierre for $1.6 million. Pierre is and always has been a much better hitter than DeWayne Wise – but he is more than twice as expensive, and is limited to left field only where he is mediocre-to-bad. I think it’s better to have the $700K option who has something specific to offer, and (hopefully) isn’t given as much rope to hang himself as Pierre always seems to get.
Then there’s the entire Mariners’ offseason. Notwithstanding the fact that they still owe Chone Figgins $8 million for next year, Jack Z has continued his plummet from wunderkind to liability. If players hit their incentives, Seattle is going to owe $7 million to Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez, as well as $5.25 million owed to one of their 4 or 5 DHs Kendrys Morales. I haven’t even mentioned the ghost of Oliver Perez yet.
If you have followed me on Twitter for any length of time, you will have seen plenty of screaming about wasted money and short-sighted moves on the part of the White Sox. Signing DeWayne Wise still kind of bothers me in some respects, but looking around the league at some of the other moves that have gone down this winter, it is hardly worth much attention. I’d rather have his tiny contract and meager skills than any of these other ill-conceived money sinks.