Decent, though not roster-altering speed. Is it really that hard to sign a free agent outfielder? Were Torii Hunter, Kosuke Fukudome, Bobby Abreu, and Hideki Matsui really not enough to signify “Hey, White Sox, baseball players cost money”?
A thousand homes (and then some). A left-handed bat to complement A.J. Pierzynski, Teahenacious D and Mark “Kot-Say Can You D-H?” Kotsay. Man, that would’ve helped.
A hitter worth designating. Okay, so no one’s ever going to say Johnny Damon would light up the American League Central, nor revitalize an offense in a coma, nor instill much in the way of visible fear in the hearts when the presumably re-scruffed one steps to the plate (three intentional walks in the past four years!). But—and this is key—he’s not Andruw Jones. He’s not Kotsay. He’s not Omar Vizquel. He’s just some dude who, well into his 30’s, is light years ahead of the team’s other guys well into their own fourth decades. Let’s not get crazy here.
A strong run at second place. Based on nothing in particular beyond non-statistical analysis and nonsensical non-projections, the expected average Twins game score in 2010: 5-3. Expected average Sox score: 3-4. Expected average Tigers score: 7-10.
Spite. The thing about the Sox’ swing-and-miss here isn’t just that they didn’t get their guy, and thus put some distance between themselves and the former middle of the pack, but by conceding to the Tigers of all people—on a one-year deal! One year in America’s Ghost Town!—the Central suddenly becomes more top-heavy than expected.
Obviously there isn’t much of a top when an eight-game improvement vaults the Good Guys to .500 and the Tigers, you know, they were pretty bad even when they almost won the division. Damon isn’t a difference-maker on his own, but I think “difference promoter” fits. The Kittens lose Curtis Granderson, they get Johnny Damon; we can call that a wash. The Sox say goodbye to a whole lot of nothing, fill the holes with even less, then somehow find a way to lose a player they quite obviously never had.