I realize I'm in the minority, but I believe that Chone Figgins (right) is NOT the cure for what ails the White Sox. The Los Angeles Angels leadoff man will be a free agent at the end of the season, and I've heard plenty of speculation that Sox GM Kenny Williams will put on the fullcourt press to try to acquire him.
The Tribune's David Haugh brought up the possibility in his column today. Haugh points out that the Sox will need to find $40 million to sign Figgins.
On this blog, we will not be getting "Figgy" with it. I can't justify giving Figgins $40 million over a four- or five-year period, especially with the knowledge that the speedster with be 32 years old on Opening Day 2010. NEVER give a long-term contract to a 30-something player that makes his living with his legs.
Let's look at some numbers here, comparing Figgins to current White Sox leadoff man Scott Podsednik:
Figgins: .301 avg., .399 OBP, 5 HRs, 51 RBIs, 109 runs, 42 SBs
Podsednik: .303 avg., .353 OBP, 6 HRs, 45 RBIs, 72 runs, 29 SBs
Is Figgins the better player? Sure. But is the difference between those two stat lines enough to send Podsednik packing and bring in Figgins? The answer here is a decisive 'no.'
Podsednik, who is two years older than Figgins, is the better value because you can sign him to a minimal-risk contract of one or two years. Give Pods $2 million and be done with it. There's going to be a big bidding war for Figgins among big-market teams that are lacking a leadoff man. The Cubs and Yankees will be involved, and certainly the Angels will move to try to retain Figgins. The price will be high, both in terms of dollars and years.
Stay out of it, Kenny Williams. You have bigger problems than your leadoff hitter. The biggest problem is the middle of the batting order. The Sox have only three players with more than 70 RBIs this season. One of them was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 31. Another is hitting .180 since the All-Star break.
That leaves Paul Konerko, who has 28 homers and 87 RBIs this year, and not much else. A.J. Pierzynski is batting third now when he should be hitting sixth or seventh. Alexei Ramirez has been hitting as high as fifth against left-handed pitching. He should be batting eighth or ninth. The failures of Jermaine Dye, Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios, along with the trade of Jim Thome, have necessitated a lot of lineup juggling. It just hasn't worked. The middle of the order isn't nearly strong enough.
Contrary to popular belief, the Sox don't need table-setters. They have Podsednik, Chris Getz and Gordon Beckham. Ramirez is another guy who can run. You've got guys who can be threats on the bases. What you don't have is somebody to knock them in.
Forget about Figgins and get a guy who can bat fourth or fifth in the lineup and give you 90-100 RBIs.