Who the next manager of the White Sox is could signal a rebuilding project -- or another attempt at making the playoffs.
Ozzie Guillen had to leave. And the White Sox had to part ways with him.The point of no return was reached months ago, when the Sox started 2011 in horrendous fashion. After it became clear the Sox weren't going to get back into the division race -- so long as Guillen continued to play Adam Dunn and Alex Rios over Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza -- the writing was clearly on the wall. And it pointed toward the worst logo in sports.
So, now what?
We must rebuild. But who will lead us in the rebuilding process?
Man, it's got to be someone with the know-how AND the elbow grease to lead us to a new land.
No, not me and KG, we don't have the cognitive capacity to lead...alright, we'll do it!
I don't know if Kenny Williams and/or Jerry Reinsdorf are Tenacious D fans (probably not), but if they are, maybe they'll take some inspiration from Jack Black and look to rebuild a fairly barren farm system.
That could mean some drastic moves. Maybe John Danks and Gavin Floyd will be dealt, instead of one of them or neither. Carlos Quentin is likely to be sent away regardless of what direction the Sox go in.
If the Sox do go the rebuilding route, it can't be construed as a fire sale -- attendance is already down this season, and a perceived implosion of the roster would hurt ticket sales even more. Of course, staying with the status quo won't help, either -- whether the Sox are mediocre or bad probably won't make much of a difference.
And that's why now is the perfect time to re-stock.
Sure, a few shreds of hope exist for the Sox to contend in 2012, but those hopes lie on the shoulders of Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, Gordon Beckham, Jake Peavy, Philip Humber -- a host of question marks. Another season of mediocrity not only will hurt attendance, but it very well could push the Sox window to win back another year.
Dayan Viciedo is a nice building block, as is Chris Sale. Beckham, for all his struggles, still deserves another shot at redemption. Brent Morel has come a long way in September and hopefully can translate it into a few solid years down the road. If given the chance, Tyler Flowers could develop into a nice, cheap replacement for A.J. Pierzynski. Addison Reed has all the makings of a dominant reliever.
So the White Sox aren't completely bereft of young, inexpensive talent. But they need more, especially in terms of starting pitching.
Acquiring a young arm or two would be a nice start, although it may mean trading more than the rumored Danks/Floyd/Quentin triumvirate. Think Alexei Ramirez.
That'd be a tough pill to swallow, as Ramirez has provided the Sox with fantastic value since coming over from Cuba in 2008 and has a very favorable contract running through 2016. The Sox don't have a clear alternative to him, as neither Eduardo Escobar nor Ozzie Martinez hit well enough to justify anything more than a utility role.
If Pierzynski can be dealt, the Sox should move him and his $6 million salary to make way for Flowers. In fact, the only veteran I'd be hesitant to deal is Paul Konerko -- from the standpoints of sentiment, production and leadership.
Obviously, the Sox shouldn't completely blow up the team, lest they trot out a lineup on April 6, 2012 that would make the Astros look hopeful. But a few shrewd moves here and there -- as Williams was able to pull off after the 2006 season -- could go along way toward competing in an ever-competitive division down the road.
And that means hiring someone who could bring that youth along. In other words, not Tony La Russa -- although he's an unlikely option regardless.
It's actually a shame Buddy Bell says he won't manage again, because he wouldn't be a bad option to bring along whatever youth the Sox decide to go with.
But here's an idea: hire Sandy Alomar Jr. as the manger and Frank Thomas as the hitting coach.
It sounds like Thomas wants to be a hitting coach, and while he doesn't have any coaching credentials, he'd be an interesting hire from the standpoint of "keeping it in the family." Maybe Harold Baines sticks around and returns to a bench coach role if Alomar is brought in.
The next few years could be rocky with the Sox, but if they go the rebuilding route, it could pay bigger dividends in the future.