So the Sox re-signed Ramon Castro, which is cool. Nice to see some stability in the secondary dish position, even if it does raise serious questions about how far, exactly, young Tyler Flowers has really progressed and from where, exactly the future of White Sox baseball will come but whatEVER, that’s all a discussion for countless other days.
No, the bigger significance of Castro is that, for all intents and purposes, this is the caliber of move we can probably (I say “probably” because you never truly know what’s going on in Kenny Williams’ head [and I mean that in a good way]) expect from here on out: Sox bring back no one of great import, Sox invite bust prospect to Spring Training, Sox take a flier on Veteran X, Sox sign marginal player Y, and so forth. On one hand, this is all well and good because most rosters, good and otherwise, are constructed of parts. Lots and lots of parts.
Except the Sox already have enough scraps. They have the average guy and the liability and the quasi-masher and the reclamation project in place. And those are all great for what they are but, at this point, to truly compete on a league-wide level, the Sox absolutely must make a major move for a major player. Mark Teixeira, Roy Halladay, Jason Bay, these were all just pipe dreams. We will not dwell on where those players went, nor will we speculate on exactly whom the Sox should or should not bother trying to pry away from a club desperate to move a player of any substantial skill.
But here’s the thing: trading the farm for Jake Peavy was epic. And we know it, and we applaud it. But to take a power pitcher of such caliber and surround him with the Mark Teahens of the world is the equivalent of putting 1997 Michael Jordan on this season’s Clippers. A squandering of talent of high order, not unlike 2004 Roger Clemens or 1987 Andre Dawson. Is Peavy in fact Roger Clemens Part II? No, of course not. But the analogy holds all the same. The Sox have, at best, three years to capitalize on the rotation they went out and built. Is Juan Pierre really going to put them over the top? Andruw Jones?
At the same time, there will be the chirps of “but they can compete for the division and anything can happen grinder/grit/2005!” To which the answers are, in order:
a) Of course they can compete for the division. So can everyone else. Look up and down the Central’s collective offseason: do you see anyone getting any better? Or, for that matter any worse? In the past two seasons, 88 and 85 wins, respectively, forced a one-game playoff. Eighty-five. Think about that next time the Sox sign someone to teach their shortstop how to play shortstop.
b) No, it can’t.
c) The reason winning with such a nonspectacular lineup was so special is because it doesn’t happen that often, let alone twice to the same franchise in a five-year span. So let’s just ignore that brand of nonsense.
Are psychotic, knee-jerk moves-for-the-sake-of-moves the answer? Absolutely not. But to look at the Sox as constructed and say “that’s a contender!” is just as ridiculous a postulation.