For the most part as the White Sox make their final preparations to get to Glendale, Arizona for spring training -- pitchers and catchers report in 20 days -- things appear to be set. The team didn't make any big splashes this winter, well not if you don't take into account Bartolo Colon's size, and for the most part they seem content to compete in 2009 with unproven youngsters. Still, there are a couple of things that the White Sox need to pick up before the start of the season.
See, the team is less than three weeks away from reporting to camp, and as of now they only have one catcher on the roster in A.J. Pierzynski. The Sox did pick up catching prospect Tyler Flowers from the Braves in the Javier Vazquez trade, but he isn't ready to contribute in the big leagues right now, and would be better served playing everyday in the minors rather than backing up Pierzynski. So the team needs to sign a free agent, and Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune thinks it's about time the team had another Pudge behind the plate.
If the White Sox have any money left to spend, they should consider 37-year-old Ivan Rodriguez as a platoon partner for A.J. Pierzynski. He is motivated to make himself relevant again after being a non-impact player the last few seasons and could get some at-bats as a designated hitter. "I'm in great shape," Rodriguez says. "Whoever gets me, it's going to be like hitting the lotto." Rodriguez isn't what he once was but still threw out 31 percent of attempted base-stealers, the sixth-best ratio among regulars last season.
At first this idea seems incredibly stupid. Rodriguez is clearly on the downswing at the age of 37 and is not the same hitter he used to be. While Pudge used to be a doubles machine, he's now only capable of hitting singles into right field, though honestly that's the kind of thing Ozzie Guillen loves. Not to mention, Ozzie won a World Series with Rodriguez with the Marlins back in 2003 and the two are good friends.
The Sox need a catcher that can throw out baserunners from behind the plate, and Pudge is still capable of doing just that. Combine that with the fact that he could help Flowers learn the position during the spring, and this idea starts to make a lot more sense. Is Pudge the same player he was? No, but in Chicago he'll only have to play once a week and his knowledge of the game is invaluable.
Plus, is a White Sox team really a White Sox team without a washed up soon to be Hall of Famer on the squad?