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But Are They Better?
2003-07-03 01:18
by Mike Carminati

The White Sox added big names in Robby Alomar and Carl Everett within 24 hours. All the analysts seem very excited and are stating unequivocally that Alomar will bounce back in the AL. Frank Thomas hits a dramatic home run to win tonight's game (his second on the night) and sweep the Twins, and the Baseball Tonight crew is ready to hand Chicago the division even though they just reached .500 and are three games back in third place. I, however, am left to wonder if they actually improved with te high-profile deals.

Alomar replaces underachieving D'Angelo Jimenez who was reassigned and whom the Sox will try to move. Alomar has a pretty good shot of going into the Hall of Fame while Jimenez's biggest claim to fame is being picked by Rob Neyer as the better player over Alfonso Soriano a couple of years back. So it seems like a no brainer, right?

Well, Jimenez is 25; Alomar, 35. Even though Alomar's batting average is six points higher (.261 to .255), Jimenez has an OPS that is over 40 points higher than Alomar's. Jimenez was given exactly 100 games to prove himself in Chitown. His offensive numbers were respectable (a .791 OPS in 27 games in 2002, 9% better than league average and .724 OPS so far this year, which is 120 point better than infield-mate Joe Crede).

It seems that GM Ken Williams was upset by his baserunning and defense ( I had a quote to that effect but cannot find it now). Jimenez is just 4-for-7 in stolen bases and apparently has been picked off on occasion. It is surprising that a player with such innate speed is not an outstanding baserunner. Also, Jimenez is a converted shortstop, so his defense should be an asset. Looking at his stats from last year, his range was better than average at second and third base and far better than average at short. This year his range dropped severely at second (5.43 to 4.51 in range factor) and he has had seven errors so far. However, with Alomar's legendary defense, his range has not been much better in 2003 (4.75 RF) and was much worse last year (4.42 RF).

Given the age difference, Alomar's one and a half year slump, the amount of Alomar's contract, and the fact that he will be a free agent this offseason, I would prefer to hang onto Jimenez. Moreover, if the Sox want to improve, why not shift Jimenez to third, a position he has played well, and bench the deplorable Joe Crede (.226 BA, .266 OBP, .610 OPS, 13 walks in 279 ABs)? Or bench Jimenez for the remainder of the year and let him try to win back the job after Alomar leaves?

It seems that Kenny Williams had high expectations for Jimenez and when he did not fulfill them, he was jettisoned. Jimenez may have a lot of decent baseball left in him; Alomar may be out of the game after one more bad half-season.

Meanwhile, Carl Everett takes over apparently for Aaron Rowand in center. The 25-year-old Rowand was a poor offensive player last year and has been even worse in 2003 (.279 OBP, .633 OPS), and there is little indication that he will even hit enough to start in the major leagues. So here's another no-brainer, right?

Well, Everett is somewhat damaged goods himself. He is 32 and is in his third organization n three years. He is a free agent at the end of the year. He is coming off two subpar years in a row. Even though he started out as hot as anyone in the game, he has cooled considerably. His stats for June (.211 batting average, .273 on-base percentage, .389 slugging, and .662 OPS) are probably worse than Rowand's numbers above. Besides he is a well-known cancer in the clubhouse. Though I would expect Everett to better Rowand's numbers over the course of the season.

It makes me wonder if they would have been better off shifting Magglio Ordonez to center and starting Brian Daubach in right. Though sacrificing so much defense for offense may be nuts.

So are they better? I would say not much if at all. At worst, Everett adds some depth to the outfield. Well maybe there is worse: the two are a bust and the Sox lose a top closer as early as next year (in Ring) while Billy Koch continues to struggle. However, if I were a White Sox fan, I would be loving it. The team is finally buying instead of selling talent before the trade deadline. They did get big name players with potential up sides should they capture lightning in a jar. They don't have any long commitments to these wizened players. Their in a pennant race and appear to have the division champs on the ropes. Life is good on the south side.

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