Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sox sign some scrubs

Wiki Gonzalez gets a non-roster invite to White Sox spring training. So do Kenny Kelly and Ryan Bukvich.
The Sox needed some catching depth, and now they have it in Gonzalez, who I think is an improvement on the recently departed Chris Stewart. Gonzalez has always hit well in the minors (812 career OPS), while not carrying that success at the plate with him to the majors (666 OPS). He’ll start out at Charlotte and probably only surface in Chicago if there’s an injury to either A.J. Pierzynski or Toby Hall.
As a bonus, Gonzalez handles left-handed pitching pretty well. So if it’s Hall that goes down, the Sox won’t really miss a beat. Losing Pierzynski would hurt, but that’s true for any team that loses its starting catcher.
Bukvich is the real highlight here, and he will try to push himself into a crowded bullpen picture. He’s another reclamation project for the Sox. Bukvich comes in with solid minor-league credentials, striking out more than 11 guys per nine innings with a 3.19 ERA outside of the Big Show.
Of course, he’s also walked more than five guys per nine over the same 279 career frames. Last season, coming off Tommy John surgery in the Rangers organization, he gave up 44 hits – eight of which went over the fence – in only 35.1 innings at AAA.
Bukvich has also had problems in his brief time in the American League. With the Royals and Rangers, he’s walked almost a man an inning. He’s registered 41 walks against 39 strikeouts. He posted those numbers in 46 innings before his elbow injury.
Before the TJ surgery Bukvich didn’t have a problem with giving up HRs in the minors or his short stint in the big leagues. The strikeouts are still there, so Bukvich still has some upside left. The odds of him being real good are real small. But then again, nobody thought Matt Thornton would be good when he came over from Seattle (including me).
Tell me if you’ve heard this one: The Sox sign an outfielder who used to be a college quarterback.
Kelly is like Joe Borchard-lite – all the physical tools but without the tantalizing power at the plate. While Borchard owns a .474 career minor-league slugging percentage, Kelly sits at .398. Kelly also has the same problem making contact, striking out in almost a quarter of his at-bats just like Borchard. And I’m not aware of any scouting report that indicates Kelly is better in center field.
Simply put, Borchard is a superior player. And if he wasn’t able to stick as a reserve outfielder with the Sox last season, Kelly won’t do it this season. Look for him to share time in Charlotte.