Saturday, August 11, 2012

Will They Stay or Will They Go?

Esta indecisión me molesta.
Si no me quieres, librame.
Digame que tengo ser.
¿Sabes que robas me querda?
Me tienes que desir - ¿me deob ir or quedarme?
"¿Me Debo Ir o Que Darme?" por Mick Jones

In-cinder-ary: Everyone with a $22 million option year, take your calls in the tunnel.

On Thursday and for the second consecutive week, Daryl Van Schouwen wrote off-day copy that demands an answer. Last week, it was the notion that Adam Dunn and Alex Rios were, somehow, equally deservingComeback Player of the Year candidates. The Dutchman might not have said so explicitly, but his piece provided a launching point.

This week, Daryl writes a somewhat dismissive piece on the 2013 White Sox; namely, enjoy these White Sox while you can, because “it says here” that potentially a half-dozen key contributors will be gone.
Under first-year manager Robin Ventura and his new-look coaching staff, the team has played a clean brand of baseball on the field and has been refreshingly distraction-free off the field.
Enjoy it while you can.
In the always-changing roster landscape driven by free agency, it says here the team as constituted will be no more after this season, whether it ends with a second ticker-tape parade in eight years or no postseason at all.
I actually had to double-take on this piece, because it sure smelled Cowleyesque, but then, I remembered that Cowley had been demoted--er, "reassigned"--to the Chicago Bears beat from the columnist post he held for just about 18 months. Perhaps the writer was Rick Telander, orchestrator of the Gordon Beckham-Chris Getz controversy a year ago, a cheap and shameless grab at relevancy that was trumped only by Sun-Times sports ogre Chris DeLuca chastising the White Sox beat for largely ignoring his paper’s insulting non-story.

Turns out it was neither writer, but in fact Daryl who penned the pessimism. For so many years the Sun-Times, in spite of the presence of all-time South Side hiney bird Jay Mariotti, was considered the healthy alternative to the pro-Cubbies Tribune. But between Cowley’s muckracking and the more subtle negatives abounding in seemingly innocuous pieces like Van Schouwen’s, the Sun-Times actually has emerged as the publication more dour toward all things South Side.

Anyway, yes, Daryl is merely stating the obvious, that the 25 men on the roster today will not all be White Sox in 2013. So let’s examine the six players he drops into the departure pot and stir up some reality-check odds on their returns.

A.J. Pierzynski
Not everyone attaches to A.J. a proper value.
After an 12th hour re-signing in 2010 that many predicted would bite the White Sox resoundingly in the ass come 2012, A.J. has outperformed his $6 million salary this season in absolutely astounding fashion. (In fact, to date Pierzynski has provided $20.8 in value per FanGraphs on his two-year $8 million deal--one that seemed overly sentimental and a huge risk for Chicago.) That sets Williams up for another game of chicken this offseason, as fans will clamor to bring the seemingly ageless backstop back for another couple of seasons, while the GM will keep looking at the clock, sun dial or calendar and thinking that at some point, Pierzynski will collapse into a pile of dust, leaving the team badly undermanned at catcher. Pierzynski’s career year has made what could have been a tricky decision a no-brainer, especially with the regression of Tyler Flowers and absolutely no one in the minor leagues capable of even replacing Flowers as the backup at this point. If we’re to believe A.J.’s constant proclamations that his first choice is to continue his career in Chicago, this is a consummately easy call.
Chance of 2013 return: 95%

Gavin Floyd
Kicking the man on his down year, Van Schouwen questions whether longtime rotation stalwart Floyd will have his relatively inexpensive, $9.5 million option picked up. At 2012’s rate of production (1.2 WAR/$5.4 million) it’s possible decline, sure, but if Williams looks at Floyd’s body of work for the White Sox he’ll see a surplus value to Chicago of some $45 million dollars. Put another way, 2012 is the first season Floyd won’t provide substantial surplus value for the White Sox. If Floyd isn’t on the Opening Day roster in 2013, it won’t be because his option was declined.
Chance of 2013 return: 90%

Jake Peavy
Peavy has been healthy for a full season for his first time in a White Sox uniform, and as a result he’s on track to actually outearn his onerous, $17 million contract (3.4 WAR/$15.3 million value projects to 5.0 WAR/$22.5 million for the full season). His value as a de facto captain of a pitching staff in which no man wishes to lead (no thanks to the ineffectual and now injured John Danks) adds dollars to his contribution, in much the same way Paulie doesn’t have to produce $12 million on the field to earn his postgame spreads and beers. So if Peavy can duplicate his 2012 in 2013, he’d be a fair deal for the White Sox even at the pricier ($22 million) option rate.

But it shouldn’t come to that; while Peavy is proud, the Bulldog is not obstinate and realizes he's in the red with the White Sox overall. Provided the White Sox roll his $4 million buyout into a contract extension (maybe it will come in the form of deferred payments later this decade), Peavy would be good to stay in Chicago for a few more years. Look for Danks money in a three-year, $42 million extension.
Chance of 2013 return: 75%

Liriano, under scores of watchful eyes.
Francisco Liriano
Obviously, how the southpaw performs in the stretch run will have a lot to do with Williams’ interest in bringing him back. But in the midst of a disappointing season, (0.7 WAR/$3.2 million value), Liriano could jump at a Floyd-like deal (an escalating, three-year, $24 million contract, let's say). That way, Williams will keep his man and, as an added bonus, potentially torment the rival Minnesota Twins three or four times per season directly.
Chance of 2013 return: 35%

Kevin Youkilis
Yolk is a tough call, as for all the life he breathed initially into the White Sox, he’s still just a 1.2 WAR/$5.4 million player so far this season. Granted, he could sit the rest of the year and remain quite a steal for Williams, who is paying just $1 million for the sweaty one in 2012. His $13 million option in 2013 is another matter entirely, and short of Yolk wanting so badly to stay some sort of Sox that he accepts a Visquelian veteran’s package (let’s say a drop to $4 million), he’ll be gone. Shame, because it’s hard to imagine Brent Morel being any less Morellian in 2013, and I’d wager that $6 million would keep Yolk in Chicago.
Chance of 2013 return: 20%

Snapshots like these will become  increasingly rare in the Dog Days.
Brett Myers
Myers was a gratuitous addition, to the degree that if Jesse Crain hadn't been alternating injured obliques all season long, Myers wouldn't have been added at all. That said, the righthanded veteran has blossomed into an ideal and efficient setup man for rookie Addison Reed. In order for a monstrous 2013 option ($10 million) to kick in, Myers needs to finish 45 games in 2012; he’s at 32 at this point and it would take an absolute implosion by Reed for Myers to finish more than 12 additional games for the White Sox from here. Myers has provided more than .05 WAR per game for the White Sox (per Baseball-Reference), but even that unlikely clip (Myers is just a 0.2 WAR performer on the season overall) won’t make him a good buy in 2013.
Chance of 2013 return: 5%

You guys are really asking me if I'll be back?
Orlando Hudson
Wait, Hudson wasn't on Daryl's short list. No respect for the O-Dog, Dutchman? Sheesh.
Chance of 2013 return: Less than zero.

NOTE: Unless otherwise specified, WAR figures cited are a supermix of Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus. Per-WAR dollar figures come via FanGraphs: $4.5 million per 1.0 WAR.

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