Sunday, April 03, 2005

Old Sox trying to find new jobs

Just keeping up with old friends... here are some of the former White Sox players fighting for spots on Opening Day rosters:

Matt Ginter, who was sent to the Mets for Timo Perez last year, won't make the Mets bullpen so instead goes to Pittsburgh, where he should be a lock. The 26-year-old righty had a 4.54 ERA last year in 69 1/3 innings spread over 14 starts and one relief appearance. Former Sox closer Roberto Hernandez, who was last seen starting fires in Philadelphia's bullpen (4.76 ERA for the Phils in '04), was added to the Mets' roster, effectively taking Ginter's spot.

Outfielder Chris Singleton will make Tampa Bay's roster as a reserve outfielder. This comes after the D-Rays also picked up Michael Restovich off waivers from the Twins, and signed the lousy (ED: and now suspended for steroids) Alex Sanchez, formerly Detroit's CF. During his time with the White Sox, Singleton was a premier defensive CF, with range factors of 3.01, 3.00 and 2.56. That last number must have been a bad omen. Even though it was still better than average (the league RF that year was 244). Singleton was traded for Willie Harris after that season, and has been below average every since.

Singleton also saw the power in his bat evaporate. As a rookie for the Sox in 1999, the then 26-year-old had 54 extra-base hits, including 17 home runs. He hit 38 and 33 the next two years, and saw mild resurgence in Baltimore in 2002, when he had 45 hits that went for extra bases (30 doubles). Then the roof caved in with Oakland in 2003. He had only 26 extra-base hits and saw his on-base percentage stay near .300.

Leg injuries cost Singleton a job with the Pirates last spring, and it's probably the same nagging problems that are costing him his speed and defensive range. At his advanced age (33 on April 15), Singleton is unlikely to reclaim the skills that made him valuable earlier in his Major League career.

Wilson Valdez, who the Sox cut last week, was picked up by the Mets, who tried to send him to AAA and lost him to the Mariners. With Seattle's bleak infield situation, Valdez looks to make that team. Some irony: Benji Gil, who came to camp with the Sox in 1998 and lost the SS job to Mike Caruso, was sent from the Mariners to the Mets for a PTBNL.

Crappy former Sox Ruben Sierra and Tanyon Sturtz will both hang out on the fringes of the Yankees' roster. That they won jobs defies probability. That the Yankees have them on guaranteed contracts and didn't really bring in anyone to compete with them screams it even louder. How they hell does a good organization do that?

Scott Schoneweis will likely make the Blue Jays in their bullpen, where he belongs (if anywhere on a MLB team). Toronto elected to cut Billy Koch in what's become a bizarre situation. At least Billy got some guaranteed cash out of the deal.

Former Sox relief prospect Joe Valentine looks like he'll make the Reds' roster. He was traded with Keith Foulke to Oakland, who later flipped him as part of a deal for Jose Guillen. Lefty Kelly Wunsch looks like he'll stick in the Dodgers bullpen. He'll be a teammate of former Sox minor-league Olmedo Saenz, who won a job as a backup infielder. The Pirates elected to keep pitcher Rick "Whiny Boy" White and former Sox draft pick Bobby Hill. Pitcher Cal Eldred looks like he'll stay in St. Louis. In Colorado, Greg Norton will keep his job as a utility infielder.

Also in the mile-high city, Charles Johnson, who was slated to be the team's third-string catcher, was traded to the Red Sox and promptly released. Johnson, 33, was scheduled to earn $9 million dollars of a backloaded 5-year, $35 million deal he signed with the Marlins after a career year in 2000, when he hit .304/.379/.582. The teams are eating various portions of the contract because even with his .350 OBP last year, his usefulness is limited. His power is falling off, even playing in Coors field, so at best he's an OK backup. He'll be a good fit when he joins Singleton in Tampa.

Jon Rauch and Gary Majewski, the pair of pitchers Sox GM Kenny Williams gave up to bring back Carl Everett last season, were sent to AAA by the Washington Nationals. That makes three former Sox pitching prospects that won't rejoin the Expos/Nats. Rocky Biddle was released in the offseason. Antonio Osuna does make the club there. Alex Escobar, who the Sox claimed on waivers last summer, went on the DL, so will be temporarily spared from being demoted or released for the third time in the last nine months.

Pitcher Jason Bere and outfielder Jeff Abbott won't make the Indians roster, and Jason Grilli won't make it with the Tigers. Catcher and former Sox farmhand Humberto Quintero, who Williams traded for D'Angelo Jimenez in 2002, was sent from the Paders to the Astros for Tim Redding. Quintero should be starting ahead of Brad Ausmus in Houston, but won't. The consolation is that even if Quintero doesn't have much of a career, he still got traded for some nice swag a couple times.

Former Sox first-round pick and draft-loophole free agent bonus baby Bobby Seay was designated for assignment by the Devil Rays. With a 3.28 ERA in 44 MLB innings, and a functioning left arm, he'll get more chances. Must be a great life.

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