Here’s a last look back at 2004, which will actually look forward. These are the holes that the Sox had at the end of the season. So, in the spirit of the Christmas season, here’s a shopping list for GM Kenny Williams to take with him to the winter meetings.
Sandy Alomar Jr. has left town, and thankfully he’s taken his .606 OPS with him. Ben Davis .676 isn’t much better, though there’s a glimmer of hope he could still be an OK player if he could get his BA up around .260 and his OPS up to about .320. Jamie Burke (.795 OPS) played well in limited action, but the Sox still need a better option going into the season.
Must have. Must, must, must have. Even if it isn’t a big name, even if it’s someone that can just take the ball every fifth day with just-below-average performance, this is a must have. The Sox’ troubles from the fifth spot have been well documented, but it’s obvious the Sox need someone to slot in behind Garcia/Buehrle/Contreras/Garland. The Pale Hose can’t go another year giving away a game every fifth day… not in such a winnable division.
Sox could use a veteran in the infield. Not a short stop, but preferably someone that could play third and second base. Call it Joe Crede/Willie Harris insurance. Might as well let the kids play, but come ready with a backup plan. Placido Polanco would be perfect.
Unless the Sox are ready to turn the job over to Joe Borchard, with his .249 OBP and .338 slugging percentage, they need another outfielder – especially if they plan on having Carl Everett patch over the hole at DH should Frank Thomas miss the first part of the season.
This could work out though if the Sox don’t trade Paul Konerko this winter. It’s conceivable, should the Big Hurt even miss any time, that Konerko shifts over to DH, Ross Gload tries to replicate his surprising .851 OPS from last season while playing better defense at first, and Everett play as a fourth outfielder, taking over should Borchard bomb out again.
We should mention that Everett would ideally be this team’s fourth outfielder. Period. He can handle center, he can hit, and he wouldn’t have to play every day in that role. Again, ideally, it would be spelling for an OF of Carlos Lee, Aaron Rowand and a free agent pickup like Jermaine Dye or Richard Hidalgo.
Shingo Takatsu, Damaso Marte and Cliff Politte are a nice trio, and with Jon Adkins and Neal Cotts back in a lefty-righty long-relief tandem, this isn’t a pressing need. Kenny Williams already landed Kevin Walker, so maybe they’ll stand pat on this front. That wouldn’t be too bad of an option.