It's a good thing that I am not a White Sox fan because if I was, I would be awfully conflicted about the direction of this team. If you haven't heard, the White Sox are not looking to add any high priced free agents despite the surplus of veteran free agents who are still available. Instead of trying to add proven commodities to the team, GM Kenny Williams has instead shed payroll this off season by trading away Nick Swisher and Javier Vazquez.
Even with their almost $30 million in savings, Williams has opted not to go after any free agents this off season and is instead relying on young players to step up as key contributors in 2009.
-Instead of going after Orlando Hudson, Williams is banking on Chris Getz, Jayson Nix, or Brent Lillibridge to hold down the fort at second base.
-Instead of going after Jim Edmonds, Williams is relying on DeWayne Wise or Brain Anderson to hold down the center field job.
-Instead of going after Ben Sheets, Braden Looper or Randy Wolf, Williams is depending on Jeffrey Marquez, Aaron Poreda, Clayton Richards, or Lance Broadway to become an effective back of the rotation starter.
-Instead of going after Ty Wigginton or re-signing Joe Crede, Williams believes that Josh Fields is finally ready to handle third base duties full time.
Obviously, Williams' faith in these young players is a risk. If these guys fail to produce, Williams will be chided by fans and baseball people alike for entrusting the White Sox season is so many unknowns.
But perhaps the the toughest thing for White Sox fans to swallow right now is not just that there are so many free agents available right now, but because of the market, these guys can probably be had at a much cheaper rate. Guys like Hudson and Wigginton have literally no buzz around them and are struggling to get offers. I'm sure there are many fans who would feel much better about the team if they went for the proven guy at a great price.
Williams decision not to go after any major free agents underscores just how much baseball has become centered around young players. Baseball is a copycat league, and if the Rays taught us anything, its that young teams can win and withstand the burdens of a long baseball season. Williams feels more comfortable with young, unproven players then going after veterans who are more likely to break down.
Whether the young guys work out or not, you have to admire Williams for coming up with a specific plan and sticking to it. Sometimes the right decisions are not always the most popular and there is definitely a chance that this youth movement could be a major boon for the White Sox in the future.
As for 2009, that's anyone's guess. This team has a lot of question marks and uncertainties, which could make them regress from their 2008 performance. This team still has veterans like Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Mark Buerhle, and Paul Konerko who expect to win and have succeeded before. However, I think that Williams's refusal to spend this off season coupled with his commitment to youth will make the White Sox better in 2010 and beyond.
So for all you White Sox fans out there, how do you feel about the penny pinching White Sox? Do you like the quasi-youth movement?