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sox therapy?

multiple reports out of chicago say the white sox, having acquired javy vazquez, will now listen to offers for jose contreras and jon garland. the chicago tribune's phil rogers specifically mentioned the cardinals and houston as interested franchises, which comment got some of the chat rooms fired up. so (heavy sigh) . . . . . could it work?

let's start with this: if the cards are interested at all, they should focus on contreras. garland is barely an upgrade over marquis -- indeed, he may be no upgrade at all. his 2005 line departs from his previous record of mediocrity mainly in two respects: a dramatically lower walk rate and a slightly lower dinger rate. overall he is extremely similar to marquis. taking 04 and 05 together:

w-l era whip opp avg opp slg k/9
garland 30-21 4.19 1.27 .262 .427 4.7
marquis 28-21 3.92 1.37 .269 .429 5.2

baseball think factory's ZIPS system projects garland to post a 14-12 record and 4.20 era in 2006. (the cardinals' ZIPS haven't been posted yet; don't know what they're forecasting for jason.) from a payroll standpoint, garland is in the same position as marquis -- in his last arbitration year and eligible to walk after 2006. garland made $2.7m in 2005, slightly less than marquis, but will surely make more in 2006 after going 18-10 with a 3.50 era.

contreras is another story, insofar as he profiles as a power pitcher -- that so-desperately-sought commodity. his strikeout rate the last couple of seasons is 7.2 / 9 innings, about equal to carpenter's rate the last couple of years. he held batters to a .232 avg / .372 slugging pct in 2005, also on par with carpenter. though he stunk in '03 and '04, one might chalk those performances up to his being a stranger in a strange land; and one might conclude that in 2005, with a couple years' acculturation and (finally) his family stateside, he showed his true ability. ZIPS doesn't like him, forecasting a 10-11 and 4.45 era -- but if you buy into the "acculturation" theory (which ZIPS does not adjust for) then you may discount ZIPS.

still with me?

i e-mailed The Cheat, my SB Nation colleague at Southside Sox, and asked what the sox might want in return for one of these guys. he wrote back (and see Cheat's post today for more insight):

Contreras will sign an extension with the Sox before the end of the calendar year. Garland is another story. He's gonna make huge bank next year....

From the Sox perspective, even if they keep Garland until he leaves for free agency, they're going to get 2 top picks for him in the '07 draft. By trading him, I think they'd just be looking to restock the farm ( i.e. two top prospects) and maybe bolster their bullpen.

the chicago daily herald made a similar assessment: "According to a source, the Sox want at least two quality pitching prospects for Garland." makes sense: the sox dealt three top prospects (two pitchers and a centerfielder) to acquire thome and javy vazquez; they also have dealt two relief pitchers (luis vizcaino and damaso marte) out of last year's bullpen. . . . . but if all you can get in return (garland) is essentially what you already have (marquis), why bother?

well, if it enables you to turn around and trade marquis for an outfielder . . . . maybe it makes some sense. just to toss out names, let's say (and i highly doubt it) you could get garland for chris lambert and adam wainwright. let's say the cardinals do it, then turn around and flip marquis for (again, just to toss out a name) kevin mench. here's your ballclub:


molina c
bigbie of
carpenter rhp
is'hausen rhp
pujols 1b
j rodriguez of
mulder lhp
dotel rhp
luna 2b
miles if
suppan rhp
flores lhp
rolen 3b
cruz if
garland rhp
thompson rhp
eckstein ss
bennett c
an reyes rhp
ty johnson lhp
mench lf
gall 1b-of
fe rodriguez rhp
edmonds cf
schumaker of
warm body
taguchi rf
seabol if
al reyes rhp

the lineup lacks a #2 hitter (most likely taguchi/jrod/bigbie would have to serve), and the bullpen lacks . . . well, nothing to be done about that. unless, that is, you trade marquis for bullpen help instead of mench, then sign a free-agent to complete the outfield (which idea i heartily endorse, by the way). but does the upgrade as shown here justify the loss of two pretty good pitching prospects?

i don't think it does. now, if the return on the trade is contreras instead of garland, maybe i come back with a different answer. and mlbtraderumors' opinion on contreras differs from Cheat's -- mlbtrade speculates that contreras might be easier to trade than garland. but as we have seen, when a good arm hits the market (either free agent or trade), the competition gets fierce. the rangers, mets, cubs, nats, and orioles are among the teams that (like the cards) have unaddressed rotation needs. and the cardinals have so little to offer in the way of trade . . . . .

we'll see.