Predicting the Odd Man Out

With Alex Rios expectantly aboard (for those keeping score of such things, this makes him 2009’s tenth White Sox outfielder), and with Kenny Williams making some rather cryptic remarks regarding his non-denial of the acquisition that may or may not have been happening all along but never before it actually did, one particular nugget of Williams’ carefully-worded non-denial becomes extra pertinent. Specifically:

“You have to look at the players for the 2009 season, maybe the 2010 season, along with blocking a player going to a team that may be in your division or may be in your league where you don’t want to see them end up. So there are a number of things that go into the whole waiver process.”

Note that first part. The same Alex Rios the Sox just landed already figures to be a big part of next year’s team and while we all probably assumed someone had to go, at least one current Pale Hoser has just been put on notice.

But who?

Rios is right-handed, hits for lower-order power and plays a respectable (though non-spectacular) right field, making him a threat to (though not an eliminator of) a few of his new teammates’ jobs. A quick rundown of the logical possibilities:

Jim Thome, DH
The obvious candidate, pending free agent Thome isn’t getting any younger and really has no place outside the batter’s box anymore. If the economy around baseball continues to tank, Thome might be available for a sizable discount or incentive-laden one-year deal, but Big Jim doesn’t seem like the retirement-ready type just yet (you wouldn’t either if you knew hanging up your spikes meant going home to Peoria). However, removing Thome from the lineup takes out a lot of the club’s pure power from the left side of the plate.
Chance of Departure: High but not absolute.

Jermaine Dye, RF
He still swings a mean stick and can spell incoming RF Rios from time to time. The mutually-optional $12 million coming his way make him a pricey option for 2010, but Dye’s local legend might make him the sentimental favorite and a probable recipient of a $1 million buyout followed by a new deal. Dye will be 36 next season, which seems like a good age for a guy who doesn’t have to run too much.
Chance of Departure: Moderate but painful to execute.

Scott Podsednik, LF/alleged CF
Technically he still has his legs, but consider the following lines:

  • .297/.352/.391
  • .292/.344/.416
  • .250/.294/.354
  • .240/.296/.400

Those are Pods’ average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, in that order for the season, past month, past two weeks and past week, respectively. We all love Scotty, but an ever-decreasing .352 is still too low to be an acceptable on-base tally for a leadoff man, and Pods doesn’t have the power or the stick to be an RBI producer. Add the increasingly questionable defense and you’re looking at a guy no one’s going to call “untouchable.”
Chance of Departure: 2005 is so four years ago.

Dewayne Wise, OF
“The Catch” was awesome and all but seriously, dude has got to go. If it means the Sox spent $9 million to make Mr. Twenty-Three Unjeerable Hits disappear, let’s call that money well spent.
Chance of Departure: Inevitable.