Friday, July 20, 2007

Say it ain't so, Kenny!

First, Kenny Williams tells the Tribune that he's excited to see what the White Sox can do when Scott Podsednik and Darrin Erstad come back. Then, the Trib start murmuring about how the Sox can win 90 games if they just play .700 ball the rest of the way. Today, Ozzie tells the Sun-Times that there are no trades on the horizon. Maybe this is all just a smoke screen, but if it's not, then oy vey.

Contrary to Herm Edwards otherwise brilliant diatribe, you don't actually play to win the game. You play to win the championship. And, the White Sox can't do that this year. If they proceed as if they do still have some hope, instead of preparing now for next season, then all they can accomplish is to set the franchise back.

According to Baseball Prospectus's play-offs odds report, which runs the rest of the season a million times (based on current winning percentage and an expected winning percentage that starts with a team's third order winning percentage so far, and then allows for regression) the Sox have a .02% chance of making the play-offs, or one in 5000 chance if that makes the team's dire straits clearer. Yes, they can win 90 games if they play .700 ball the rest of the way. But 90 wins probably won't get them into the post-season. The AL wild card winner has averaged 95 wins. Plus, even the best teams don't play .700 ball. And, has this team done anything to indicate it has that kind of talent? That last point is emphasized by BP's Pecota-adjusted play-off odds report. If you adjust the teams' expected winning percentages the rest of the way based on Pecota's expected performance by the team's individual players, then the Sox chance SINK to .01%. Kenny, that's 1 in 10,000. In other words, the Sox are much more likely, based on their current roster, to fall further out of the race, than charge back into it.

This has implications. First, if the Sox allow guys like Podsednik and Erstad, and even the red-hot Rob Mackowiak, who should not be part of the team's future, to take at-bats from guys like Jerry Owens and Ryan Sweeney, then they shouldn't be allowed to run a franchise anymore. Owens and Sweeney, and even Brian Anderson, may not be the answers in the Sox outfield next year, but shouldn't we find out? It was reassuring to hear Ozzie say that Andy Gonzalez will play significant time at shortstop the rest of the way. I doubt he's the answer there. But let's find out because we know that Juan Uribe isn't.

Second, I don't care how little future value we can get for Jose Contreras, trade him now for whatever you can get. He has NO future value to this team, especially at his price tag going forward. As for Dye and Iguchi, if someone wants to give up a good prospect for them, grab him. If the team thinks those guys are better answers than anyone else they're likely to find at the right price next season, then great, keep them, but make sure you get them signed. If you're not going to re-sign them, then trade them for whatever you can get. But don't let guys with value leave for nothing.

The White Sox need to be realistic. They CANNOT contend this season. What's the point of wasting at-bats on Erstad, Podsednik, Uribe, or even Dye and Iguchi if they're not coming back? Why make a futile run at respectability. I think White Sox fans are smart enough now that they would be more excited about watching the kids play the rest of the way than watching this crew's last gasp.


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