With rumors circulating Saturday that the Red Sox are on the verge of trading third baseman Kevin Youkilis possibly to the White Sox, who are reported to be a serious candidate Kenny Williams might be close to solving his problem at the hot corner.
But the White Sox shouldnt stop there.
For nine innings on Friday night, Zack Greinke dominated Robin Venturas lineup. The ace of the Milwaukee staff appears to be a short-timer with the Brewers. Hes a free agent after this season. Milwaukee is 33-37, and likely does not have the pieces to make a run for the postseason.
Meanwhile, the Brewers' farm system took a major hit when they traded for Greinke (they gave the Royals Lorenzo Cain, Jeremy Jeffress, red-hot prospect Jake Odorizzi, plus Alcides Escobar). They also sent future All-Star Brett Lawrie to Toronto for Shaun Marcum (who might be going on the DL).
So with talk heating up that the Brewers might have to trade Greinke, the talk in the White Sox front office should be this:
If we cant beat him, lets trade for him.
And for two reasons.
1) The White Sox need him.
John Danks and Philip Humber are on the disabled list. They both struggled before landing on the DL. Will they be able to find their Grade-A stuff when they return? Theres no guarantee. Gavin Floyd was great on Wednesday, pitching 6.1 shutout innings against the Cubs, but how many of those starts can the White Sox expect to see the rest of the season? One? Five? 10?? All three are possible. The White Sox hold a 9.5 million team option on Floyd for 2013. He could wind up in a deal for Youkilis. Floyd has pitched like Cy Young against the Red Sox in his career with a perfect 7-0 record.
If the Sox get Grienke, imagine a starting rotation featuring him, Chris Sale and Jake Peavy. If that doesnt get Sox fans rushing to the ballpark, I dont know what will.
2) Who else needs Greinke?
The Tigers. In signing Prince Fielder, owner Mike Ilitch sent the message that hes going for it all. But here we are in late June, and the Tigers have been the most disappointing team in baseball. Theyre 34-36. Justin Verlander has pitched like Justin Verlander, but the rest of the rotation has been either injured (Doug Fister) or inconsistent (Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer, Drew Smyly).
What move could put them over the top and likely clinch the A-L Central title? Trading for Greinke. Beware.
There is one red flag the White Sox need to consider about Greinke: His career history at U.S. Cellular Field. Before Friday, it was atrocious. He was 1-7 with a 6.48 ERA. Even after throwing those nine scoreless innings, Greinke told reporters, This is probably the one park I dont really like pitching in. I never feel real comfortable pitching here. Its kind of a dark stadium, it seems like. But today I pitched good, so Ill take it.
So would the White Sox.
Williams has said that his team is in transition. Theyre trying to both win and rebuild at the same time. Not an easy thing to do. But despite their recent struggles and the dire preseason predictions, the White Sox are only 1.5 games out. The division is winnable. Their farm system might get criticized for a lack of perceived talent. But theres enough there to make a deal for an All-Star pitcher who could potentially leave after this season. The Brewers dont want to end up with nothing.
Williams admitted this week that low attendance has restricted him from making aggressive moves. Adding Greinkes remaining salary for 2012 (roughly 6 or 7 million) would certainly compete with that statement.
But this sport is about winning. The White Sox have a chance to do it. Williams and Jerry Reinsdorf have gambled in the past. Why not do it again?
Adam Dunn, Alex Rios and Jake Peavy are all having comeback seasons. Gordon Beckham is close to doing the same. Chris Sale has been one of the best starters in baseball. They have a leadoff hitter in Alejandro De Aza and a lights-out closer in Addison Reed. Theres good chemistry in the clubhouse. They could have as many as five players make the All-Star team.
Theyve got the talent to make things interesting. But theyre missing one big piece.
My advice? Roll the dice.
Go get him.
And deal with the repercussions later.