Restoring the rosters: No. 25 – Chicago White Sox

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
The White Sox have a good chance of finishing at .500 or better for the ninth time in 10 seasons this year, but that isn’t well reflected here. The sterling class of position players developed in the 90s are fading now, with Frank Thomas and Ray Durham both out of the league, and the home-grown pitchers who helped the team at the beginning of the decade, such as Mike Sirotka, Jim Parque and Kip Wells, all flamed out quickly.
Mark Buehrle
Brandon McCarthy
Clayton Richard
Josh Fogg
Gio Gonzalez
Jon Rauch
Matt Guerrier
Aaron Poreda
Chad Bradford
Brendan Donnelly
Josh Rupe
Kip Wells
The rotation consists of an ace and four fifth starters, but at least the bullpen should be able to eat innings with Rauch, Guerrier, Poreda and Rupe. One could make a case for putting Poreda in the rotation, but I think he’s a better bet as a reliever right now and he’d get a lot of work in close games as part of this group.
Also worthy of argument is going with Carlos Torres in the pen over Rupe or Wells. But we can let the two veterans duel it out for a month and then replace the weaker of the two.
Interestingly, of the seven relievers, only Wells had any sort of significant career with the White Sox. Guerrier and Rupe were dealt before reaching the majors. Donnelly’s White Sox career consisted of seven starts and two relief appearances in Rookie ball in 1992. Of course, he was released several times before injecting himself onto the Angels roster in 2002.
CF Mike Cameron
2B Gordon Beckham
DH Carlos Lee
LF Magglio Ordonez
SS Alexei Ramirez
RF Aaron Rowand
3B Joe Crede
1B Josh Fields
C Chris Stewart
OF Chris Young
OF Ryan Sweeney
INF Chris Getz
C Mark Johnson
Well, that’s one possible lineup. Personally, I’d probably have Young in left field for the best possible outfield defense, Ordonez at DH and Lee at first base. So many of the guys have similar offensive profiles that there are a lot of different possible lineup combinations that would work. OBP is going to be a problem, of course, but it’d still be a solid group if Ordonez proves he has something left in the tank.
One thing that really stood out as I put all of these rosters together is that some teams seem to have a knack for developing catchers, whereas others can’t come up with anyone viable. Johnson was a legitimate 80-game-per-year guy at the beginning of the decade, but he’s long past his prime now, and Stewart has never been and will never be more than a No. 3 catcher.
The White Sox have had a better decade than any other team that will finish in the bottom 10 of these rankings. GM Kenny Williams deserves much of the credit thanks to a number of quality trades. However, he also should be blamed for some of the lousy drafts. His choices of reliever Royce Ring with the 18th overall pick in 2002 and upside-less right-hander Lance Broadway 15th overall in 2005 qualify as two of the worst selections of the decade. Then again, he’s had a top-14 pick only once since taking over after 2000 and he scored a big hit then by landing Beckham last year.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.