Monday, July 02, 2007

What's a Buehrle Worth in American Dollars?

It is becoming ever more apparent that Mark Buehrle will not be with the White Sox next season. If they could have resigned him at a significant discount, then I was fine with that. But the truth is that evidence shows most finesse guys don't age well, especially ones who can't miss bats with their breaking stuff either. Just the slightest decline in quality and guys like Buehrle go from giving up ground balls to giving up line drives, from giving up pop ups to giving up home runs. So, rather than be saddled with a potentially fading and untradeable player (it was Buehrle's demand for a no-trade clause that apparently torpedoed negotiations), I agree with Kenny Williams that his best course is to maximize his return on Buehrle now.

So, what is that maximum return? The Mets, Braves, Cardinals, and Dodgers are apparently after our dependable lefty. So, I've compiled a quick wish list of prospects from these teams. I leave for Italy tomorrow. I return on the 8th. I'd be a happy man if one of the following guys was in a White Sox' (or Charlotte Knights') uni by the time I re-enter the country.

I'm going to cover the teams in the random order I listed them above. From the Mets, I want outfielder Lastings Milledge. The White Sox will need to replace at least one corner outfielder this off-season (unless Jermaine Dye makes a shocking return for '08). Milledge was on a 13 for 39 streak at AAA before being sidelined by injury. And PECOTA projects a WARP on 19.9 for him from 2008-2011.

From the Braves I covet shortstop Brent Lillibridge. He runs, he draws walks, he plays D. He also strikes out a lot, but not enough to stifle his numbers too badly. He's probably a little further away than Milledge, as he seems to be struggling somewhat from the move to AAA from AA. But the Sox will definately need to address the short stop spot this offseason, and short stops are a lot harder to come by than corner outfielders. Also, the Braves have a shortstop prospect they like even more ahead of Lillibridge (note, I prefer Lillibridge, which I suppose is obvious from the column), so he should be quite available. PECOTA projects a WARP of 21.2 over the next four seasons, which is pretty remarkable.

The Cardinals have always seemed like a likely landing spot for Buehrle, a St. Louis native, when he reaches free agency. Knowing they have a better than most chance of signing a new deal with the lefty has put the Cards squarely in the derby. The name going around is Anthony Reyes. Reyes is 0-10 with a 6.40 ERA this season. His PECOTA projection is an 11.6 WARP for the next four seasons, which is well below Milledge and Lillibridge. I'm not sure the Cards have the young, nearly-ready prospect to entice the Sox when their are so many other possible trading partners out there.

Finally, the Dodgers have been discussed as a possible destination for several Sox players, including Dye and Buehrle. On interesting piece in play is Chad Billingsley. Billingsley is 5-0 with a 3.44 ERA in a swing role. PECOTA projects an 11.6 WARP for him as well, but his greater success this season makes him more attractive than Reyes to me. The Sox will need a starter or two over the next couple of years. Billingsley may be a piece of a package to acquire Buehrle. I'd be a lot more interested, however, if the Dodgers made talented outfielder Matt Kemp part of the package.

Anyway, as I mentioned, I'm off for the next week to Florence. Wine, food, spectacular art and architecture, and the Redhead will just have to suffice to keep me from pining to badly for another week of exciting White Sox baseball. The face of the team may have changed significantly by the time I return. I'll be hoping someone like Milledge, Lillibridge or Kemp is part of that new look.


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