Well, How About Today?

Chicago White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams, asked about whether the White Sox might deal ace Mark Buehrle to the Red Sox, said:

Not today.

Ah. The rumor mills crank up once more. It’s about a month away from the trade deadline, and Kenny Williams will not deny that the White Sox are looking to trade Buehrle, nor will he deny that the Red Sox are a leading option. Does "not today" mean a deal is imminent? No, probably more like, "I’m not going to answer questions about this, and since you can plainly see that Mark Buehrle is three lockers down from where we stand, I will gladly inform you that he has not been traded today."

Tony Massarotti, meanwhile, confirms the report, but says that the sides "were not close to a deal." No duh, if the Sun-Times’ list of Red Sox players "on the White Sox’ radar" is indeed some sort of Chicago wishlist (which it surely must be): Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie. Bowden and Lowrie may get a deal done. Buchholz and Ellsbury are presumably untouchable.

Assuming the rumors are for real and both sides are serious and commited to getting a deal done, would Buehrle be worth the prospects and cash required to make him a long-term member of the Red Sox? He’s 28, so the reported five-year extension would keep him here through his age 33 season — the prime of his already-impressive career. Of his six full seasons in baseball thus far, four have featured an ERA+ of at least 126. Last year was the only season below 100, and all of his numbers have rebounded to their career norms this season. He’s a lefty, already successful in the American League, with a 3.49 ERA in four starts at Fenway Park. The only down side: He’s sucked against the Yankees.

It seems he’d be worth one of the Bowden/Buchholz combo, plus a lower-tier position prospect. Presumably, Sox fans would be thrilled if either of those pitchers turned into what Buehrle is right now. It’s a matter of upside and risk vs. a known quantity. He would make the Sox’ imposing starting rotation downright formidable, particularly heading into a postseason that’s growing more and more likely. More importantly, he would be another young-but-proven presence in a rotation that projects to grow even younger in 2008 and 2009. (Beckett-Matsuzaka-Buehrle-Lester-Buchholz by the end of ’08, anyone?)

Massarotti nails it when he says: "The Red Sox may want Buehrle, but they do not need him." Being in such a position is a new — and not unpleasant — feeling. For once, the Sox don’t need to burn down the farm system to get great starting pitching. They already have it. Buehrle would just be very expensive icing on the cake.

32 comments… add one
  • I don’t see why any of the Sox prospects should be considered “untouchable” if Buehrle is in play.
    Schilling could conk out for good any day as easily as he could last three more years. Wakefield (my favorite Sox player on the current roster, along with Papi) has been extremely durable, but is settling down to a .500 inning-eater, and simply won’t last forever. Matsuzaka is like a box of chocolates. Tavarez is a puzzle. Lester is a question mark. And so on (as Kurt Vonnegut said of more serious matters).
    I know those who follow the minors come to adore our top youngsters, and inevitably have huge confidence that they will become stars; certainly no one wants to see more Hanley Ramirezes go on to greatness elsewhere. But Buehrle is young and proven; with Boston-level run support, it is not unreasonable to expect 16-20 wins from him for years to come.
    So I can see few better ways for the Sox to assure that they continue to compete at the highest levels than making Beckett/Buehrle the top of their rotation.

    Anonymous June 25, 2007, 2:58 am
  • P.S. I also can’t see why the ChiSox, even if they are rebuilding and looking to shed payroll, would trade Buehrle (spelling his name is never easy) for a Bowden/Buccholz combo, plus a lower-tier position prospect.

    Hudson June 25, 2007, 3:01 am
  • Hudson – Apparently, contract talks have broken down, and the ChiSox have little belief they will be able to re-sign him. So it’s mroe of a “get what you can” type of thing as opposed to a “rebuild for the future” type of thing.

    Paul SF June 25, 2007, 3:24 am
  • OK so pretend for a second that the Yanks are in this thing and have the opportunity to deal Hughes and Tabata/Chamberlain for 5 years of Buehrle. Think that’s a good idea? No? Me neither. And per most of the stuff I’ve read this season–Keith Law, for example, is in love with Buchholz–Clay is now the top pitching prospect in baseball. Law has him ahead of Homer Bailey, just behind Hughes, and (I think) ahead of Milwaukee’s Yorvani Gallardo.
    Ellsbury might not have the upside of Tabata, but until Crisp proves this current streak is not a fluke, I can’t understand why anyone would consider trading him. He’s supposed to be a strong CF defender, his arm is miles above Coco’s, and right now he’s on a SEVENTY SB pace in AAA. SEVENTY. Unfathomably fast. The lack of power is a little troubling but that’s not really what you want out of a CF anyway…he’s your prototypical speed/glove/obp leadoff man. And looks to be a very good one at that.
    Bowden’s ceiling was supposed to be just as high as Buccholz, but he is definitely a longer way off. For him and Moss, MAYBE Jed Lowrie–kinda like having a SS prospect behind Lugo–fine, I guess. But…
    All that said…you’ve kinda missed something important here: The White Sox will reportedly not allow potential suitors to negotiate with Buehrle on an extension before the trade. Meaning, they’re set on keeping this as a rental. And since Buehrle’s been talking about the Cardinals for years now–born and raised in MO, and he still lives there–I don’t like the idea of just trading for him and hoping to work something out later. And I don’t think it’s a good idea to give up any of the Buchholz/Bowden/Lester/Ellsbury/Lowrie crowd for a rental.
    (Ken Rosenthal’s column http://tinyurl.com/2pvneb)

    desturbd1 June 25, 2007, 3:43 am
  • If this deal can get done for Bowden and Lowrie (I’d be willing to throw in Murphy, too) I pull the trigger and get Buerhle signed to an extension (by the way, if we trade for him and he bolts, he is a Type A FA, we’d get two good picks in that scenario.)
    Buchholz or Ellsbury, no. The former isn’t going anywhere unless Miguel Cabrera (and a personal trainer for him) is involved in the return, and the latter is too valuable a piece. It’s easier to find hitting than pitching, but a kid who can run a 4.29 40′, play great CF defense, and provide good OBP skills from the top of the lineup isn’t exactly filler. People bash on his power, but if he can bat leadoff, play a good CF, and steal bases, will he ever need to be able to hit the ball out of the park?
    I’d rather not give up Moss, either. He’s blocked, but he’s also showing a lot more upside than Murphy (who I’d be more than willing to part with, but I doubt teams are all that interested,) and makes pretty nice J.D. Drew insurance. Bowden’s got great upside, but he’s far off. One of the better case scenarios is that he has a career like Buerhle’s. I like Lowrie, but he’s also blocked, and unless he can show the defense and arm for the third baseman’s job, he’s expendible.

    Steve June 25, 2007, 4:13 am
  • Buerhle will probably the premier pitcher available at the deadline (barring a Zambrano deal).
    The White Sox should make a trade only if either Buccholz or Ellsbury is the basis of any deal. If not, they could probably do better with other teams.

    yf2k June 25, 2007, 6:23 am
  • I agree, D1, no Buchholz or Ellsbury. As for the contract neogotiations, it seems the Sox have already started those — by leaking their willingness to go five years to the Sun-Times. Regardless of whether they get an official window, I doubt the Sox would make the deal without knowing (somehow) that Buehrle would sign an extension as soon as he arrived in Boston. :-P

    Paul SF June 25, 2007, 8:37 am
  • Some random questions:
    1. Why do we worry so much about the length or value of a contract extension to Buehrle? It’s not like bad contracts have hampered the Sox these last couple of years – did Matt Clement keep them from going after Matsuzaka, for example? Has the Matsuzaka posting fee or the Lugo contract keeping them from making noise about trading for and extending Buehrle? When should we stop being concerned about the Red Sox’ finances?
    2. Why wouldn’t you give up a prospect or two at least two years away from the majors (someone like Lowrie or Bowden) for a 28-year old pitcher who, if healthy, will probably give 200+ innings of decently above-average numbers? Where will the Sox find a pitcher like that on the open market (and therefore cost draft picks) or available for lesser players from their own system?
    3. How would you react if the Yankees gave up two guys in AA for Buehrle? Forget that team’s actual needs for the moment — would this improve their team for the next few years or hurt their team for the next few years? Ask yourself this question but substitute the Sox in the sentence.
    4. Do you like the idea of a Beckett-Matsuzaka-Buehrle-Lester-Buchholz rotation, like Paul asks above? if not, why not?
    5. Who would you rather have: Buehrle for five years (minus the prospects) or Clemens for .66 years?

    SF June 25, 2007, 9:01 am
  • Pass, Pass, Pass. This guy is NOT worth giving up any prospects for. Just my personal opinion. He has been way overused in the past, so arm troubles may not be far off. Not that I care about the state of the Sox, but I think you would be better suited waiting for the off season and making a move that better suits you. FYI if the Yankees give up ANYONE for him I will be singing the same tune. This is an honest opinion.

    John - YF (Trisk) June 25, 2007, 9:37 am
  • Am I right to presume that signing him to an extension would give the Sox (or whatever team doing the signing) a bit of a discount compared to what he’ll get if he hits the open market in the off-season? It seems that’s how these things work in general. So there’s the added benefit of locking him up for years at a very good rate for the market.
    He’s been a very consistent pitcher putting up above-average ERAs over 200 plus innings in a hitter’s park. There’s a lot of value in that. And he has no history of injury issues. Again, very valuable. You would think that would require at least 1 top prospect to get. And a pitching staff with Beckett, Matsuzaka and Beuhrle at the top for the next five years would be pretty solid.
    SF, by the way, the inner YF in you is coming out more and more these days. Indeed, who cares about a bad contract or two or three or four. Teams like the Sox and the…er…Yanks can still compete with them.

    Nick-YF June 25, 2007, 10:03 am
  • ah, Nick. Speaking of bad contracts and bad trades….

    Regular_Brad. June 25, 2007, 10:25 am
  • And a pitching staff with Beckett, Matsuzaka and Beuhrle at the top for the next five years would be pretty solid.
    Nick, I have to ask. How much did it hurt to type that sentence?

    Paul SF June 25, 2007, 10:41 am
  • Hey, when I’m wrong, I’m fantastically wrong! What can you say? Beckett’s been spectacular. I still think Dice-K will have the better ERA at the end of the year and will be the ace of that future rotation. But that’s because he’s now on my fantasy team.

    Nick-YF June 25, 2007, 10:44 am
  • SF, I’ve got something (funny) to send you guys, but you seem to have taken down the email address. What is it? Email me if you want – I think you have my address.

    Andrews June 25, 2007, 12:36 pm
  • email address is yankfansoxfan at hotmail dot com

    SF June 25, 2007, 1:26 pm
  • Trisk:
    How can he not be worth any prospects? How is a guy who throws 200+ innings regularly, even if he regresses and puts up a 4.35 ERA, not worth unproven talent? Obviously if you are talking about elite prospects that’s one thing, but certainly a starter like Buehrle is worth something. Mid-level to high mid-level prospects to lower high-level prospects seems totally fair. No window of negotiation means lesser talent.

    SF June 25, 2007, 1:29 pm
  • From the Globe, Eckersley on Buerhle:
    “I’m not a big Buerhle guy at all,” Eckersley said this morning in an interview on Boston sports radio station WEEI. “Talk about pitching to contact. Everybody hits him. The only thing good about him is that it doesn’t take very long to pitch a game, one way or another. He throws a lot of strikes. I mean not to get on him, lefthanders have always amazed me how they get by. He knows how to pitch obviously, he threw a no-hitter, he’s one of the best lefthanders around.
    “I just… I’m afraid of him. I’m afraid of him because he throws too many strikes. I just, Fenway Park, I really don’t know. You’re only renting him for a couple of months, but beyond that, I’m just not a big fan of his because I think he’s very hittable … to me [Kason] Gabbard’s like Buerhle, but younger and throws harder.”

    Ok, so Buehrle < Gabbard, according to Eckersley. Right. I am all for critical concern over an acquisition of Buerhle, but saying that Gabbard is a better hurler, come on. And leaning on the fluke of a no-hitter as the evidence that he's a good pitcher? No wonder Eck is in a studio and not a front office.

    SF June 25, 2007, 1:45 pm
  • Well to be fair…last year he regressed and had an era of 4.99. And take a look at what he’s doing in his walk year…it’d be generous to call his schedule soft. I have a fairly intense dislike of Buehrle and his chances to continue to perform at this level for the next 5 years in an AL ballpark, but I can’t begin to explain why…just don’t like him. Part of it is the massive number of innings he’s already thrown, but I think mostly I just don’t like soft-tossing lefties with crappy strikeout numbers moving to Fenway park.
    SF, I mostly agree…Masarotti’s article says the Chi Sox refuse to allow teams time to negotiate with Buehrle AND they want an “elite” pitching prospect–Buchholz or Lester–as the centerpiece of any deal. Which is complete horse sh*t as far as I’m concerned; if Boston’s not allowed to negotiate an extension, I don’t think he’s worth more then a Lowrie. No Bowden, no Buchholz, no Lester.
    Also what possible reason would the White Sox have to for not letting teams negotiate? Rosenthal says it could be a distraction…the hell is it distracting from? Their battle with the Royals to stay out of the division basement? Remember last year when the Sox got sh*t for being the first $100MM team to miss the playoffs…I wonder why there’s less gloating and making-fun of the boys from Chicago, fourth-highest payroll in the game and sporting a fantastic .408 WPCT.

    desturbd1 June 25, 2007, 1:47 pm
  • If the Sox can get Buerhle for 1 second and 1 third-tier prospect, then I’m for it. If not, let’s roll with what we have until the trade deadline and see what happens.

    jp-sf June 25, 2007, 1:49 pm
  • Oh and about WHY I don’t like the idea of a soft-tossing lefty who relies on his low-bb and low-h/9 to get by moving from US Cellular to Fenway…according to ESPN’s park factors, Fenway has inflated hits every year except for 2005, when it somehow did a complete 180 and suppressed them (Outlier.).
    US Cellular, on the other hand, has ranked pretty far behind Fenway every year except for 2004 (when they were 2-3 respectively). Meaning Chicago has been harder to hit in by varying degrees over the last six years. Even a slight increase in Mark’s hittability would probably result in an ERA in the 4’s…anything even a little more dramatic then that and he’s a genuinely mediocre pitcher.

    desturbd1 June 25, 2007, 1:54 pm
  • last year he regressed and had an era of 4.99.
    d1: Why is this a regression and not an “outlier”? It seems like this would fit your definition of the latter, but qualifies to you as a “regression” (a term which implies the actualization of true talent). How do you distinguish?
    I am not arguing in favor of Buehrle at any cost, but rejecting him without condition seems silly; he’s just not that terrible a pitcher!

    SF June 25, 2007, 2:07 pm
  • actually, his statistics seem to point to the idea that he’s a good pitcher.
    His peripherals are not amazing, but it seems that he’s one of those pitchers who has figured out a way to consistently outperform them (like Tom Glavine). I think he’s worth a top pitching prospect if you get the window to negotiate with him…at the very least.

    Nick-YF June 25, 2007, 2:24 pm
  • 6 Consecutive years with 200 plus innings. (Not counting the playoffs) Back to back seasons of 230 plus innings in 2004 and 2005. 221 innings pitched at age 22, with only 53 the year prior. Just too many red flags for me. Add to that I just don’t think he’s a great pitcher. I think there will be other pitchers available that have bigger upsides and could help the Yankees or Sox in bigger ways.

    John - YF (Trisk) June 25, 2007, 3:28 pm
  • The guy roughly has a 4:1 K/BB ratio and Ks more than 5 per 9. These are not bad numbers. His numbers show absolutely no trend whatsoever; they are completely level. There’s no “regression” involved. He had one crappy year, in which all his rate stats plummeted (or skyrocketed), and those rates have stabilized this season to be exactly in line with his career norms. There is no slippery slope, like we see with Zito’s numbers or even Schmidt’s numbers. PLUS, he’s twenty-freakin’-eight and has NO signs of injury. If the Sox acquired him, he would not be asked to be an ace. He’d be asked to be a third starter, fourth if Schilling returns healthy in the second half.
    At some point, we’ve got to quit worrying as much about innings pitched. If he’d only pitched 100-150 innings per season for the last six years, we’d all be fretting about all the different reasons he hasn’t been able to put in a “full” season. So is 200 IP/year good or bad? If it’s bad, is it worse than failing to reach 200 IP/year?

    Paul SF June 25, 2007, 3:30 pm
  • His IP’s to me are troublesome, that’s my opinion. It’s not a FACT that he will break down, it’s just a theory. I don’t think he is garbage, I just don’t think he’s worth anything more then middle of the road prospects. You guys have quite the farm system, hate to see you go the Yankees route of the 80’s and early 90’s.
    Just as a point of reference Zito has also pitched 6 consecutive years of 200 plus. He moved to the NL and his ERA is a full run higher then last year in the AL. And he’s only one year older then MB. Did Chris Carpenter’s 241 innings in ’05 have anything to do with his breakdown in ’07? An arm only has so much life in it, eventually these things catch up. Ask Al Leiter.

    John - YF (Trisk) June 25, 2007, 4:32 pm
  • theres speculation hes dead set on signing with his hometown team St Louis no matter what.

    TJ June 25, 2007, 5:10 pm
  • Yeah, that’s what I heard on Mike and Mike today as well, TJ

    Regular_Brad. June 25, 2007, 5:16 pm
  • Mike and Mike also said something about the Mets trying for him, but I had to go to work and missed that segment. I think there’s too many other teams, too many variables (or really the one big one: whether he’d sign), and not enough desperation on the Sox’ part for this to go through.
    Still. Fun to dream.

    Paul SF June 25, 2007, 5:40 pm
  • Didn’t the Cards just get Maroth in a deal?

    jp-sf June 25, 2007, 6:24 pm
  • Buehrle’s been talking about becoming a Cardinal for years now; I stumbled across an old mlb.com article detailing his yearly “joke,” wherein he’d tell reporters about how much he was looking forward to it. Something to that effect…
    In any case, it’s yet another reason I don’t want to trade for him under any circumstances–unless they just want to give him to us for, say, Wily Mo–without the negotiating window. I’m also not convinced about this season quite yet because, as i’ve said…his schedule has been easy as hell. But the big thing for me is that, while known as a big HR park, US Cellular field is notably more friendly on pitchers like Buehrle then Fenway is. Usually. If it doesn’t cost Ellsbury, Bucchholz, or Lester it might be worth a try. IF they can negotiate…and it looks like they can’t.

    desturbd1 June 25, 2007, 6:39 pm
  • if the whitesox have a fire sale, it will have a sizeable impact on the yankees wildcard chances. i know the buehrle move is just seen as a “get something now” deal but, there continue to be rumblings and grumblings about ozzie, thome, and dye. the tigers, indians, and twins all have a chance to fatten up on a dismantled whitesox team.
    the weird thing is, it could be to their own detriment if the yankees get in on the buehrle talks. no sources have mentioned any interest from the yankees so far, but you’d have to imagine they would be interested in singing a durable younger pitcher to a multi year.

    sf rod June 25, 2007, 9:55 pm
  • According to Joe Crowley, who seems to really be on top of this for the Sun-Times, the Yankees did not offer a package close the ones ofered by the Braves, Mets and most of all Red Sox. He says he has multiple sources on this sisutation — not just someone in the ChiSox front office.

    Paul SF June 25, 2007, 10:14 pm

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