Offseason Sox moves questionable

By Kevin Olsen

Like every year under the Kenny Williams regime, I am very wary of what to expect in the offseason. It is still November and this year has been no exception. Williams’ decisions this offseason have already left us with questions as to what direction the team is heading.

It seems like every season Williams trades away a player with a ton of talent and from there it is a crapshoot if the gamble pays off or not.

This year, his risk came at the expense of trading away Jon Garland to the Angels.

Garland has won 46 games in the past three years, including back-to-back 18 victory seasons. In return, the Sox get a 33-year-old shortstop coming off a career year in Orlando Cabrera.

I just do not see how this is optimizing the team’s best options, especially because it had already opted to bring Juan Uribe back for one more year. Of course Cabrera is a meteoric improvement over the inept Uribe. The amount of money Williams saved the White Sox by trading away Garland is lost in the Uribe contract.

Williams has even said Cabrera can be a guy who can play 155 games at shortstop, which leaves Uribe as a useless waste of money.

The trade may have been close to equal in value for the White Sox, but there are too many question marks in the rotation now with the absence of Garland.

Behind Javier Vazquez and Mark Buehrle, the other three starters are very shaky: Jose Contreras, John Danks and Gavin Floyd.

That inconsistent starting rotation is bound to cause problems in a very talented AL Central.

But I did accept the Garland trade in hopes that it might free up money for prized free agent Torii Hunter.

But once the Angels snatched him up, I have become increasingly concerned with the White Sox being able to complete a turnaround next season.

The team did improve its bullpen with the signing of Scott Linebrink, but his contract ate up $19 million over the next four years and the Sox still have some gaping holes in the outfield outside of an aging Jermaine Dye.

The most obvious place to turn in the situation is to bring back Aaron Rowand. But I’m not sure this will be as easy as some might expect.

Sure, Rowand liked his time in Chicago as a crowd favorite and is now a blossoming player and the kind of guy others love to play with.

I’m only worried that his breakout season last year and his constant 110 percent effort on the field might make him a little overpriced for the White Sox.

In this day and age, in which teams are throwing around money for players like Gil Meche and Barry Zito or Alfonso Soriano and J.D. Drew, you know there is going to be that one team that screws everything up by offering Rowand a ridiculously high contract that he can’t possibly refuse.

My bet is on the Los Angeles Dodgers – once again, a team from Los Angeles drastically changing the landscape of the Sox next year.

I just do not see the White Sox giving into any contract demands from Rowand.

If anything, they are hoping for a hometown discount from an integral part of their 2005 World Series season.

If other teams up the ante too much, don’t expect the White Sox to give much of a chase in raising an offer sheet. Rowand is a pure gamer, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t think he can match his all-star appearance along with career stats from last season.

U.S. Cellular Field is still largely a hitter’s park, but it does not compare with hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia where stats tend to get bloated.

But he would still be a significant upgrade in center field, a position the Sox desperately need improvement from.

After missing out on Hunter, the White Sox better bring in someone like Ron Zook to recruit Rowand back to Chicago or else this team will not be much of an improvement of last year’s version.

Kevin Olsen is a senior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected]