A decidedly drab pitching market is on the verge of receiving a major shot in the arm. The White Sox are sending out word that they're willing to trade one of two veteran front-line starters -- either Freddy Garcia or Javier Vazquez -- if a team will relinquish a top-flight setup man. One potential target is Phillies All-Star closer Tom Gordon.
If anything's weaker than the starting-pitching market right now, it's the relief market. But if anyone's capable of injecting life into both markets simultaneously, it's White Sox general manager Ken Williams, who has outworked and outmaneuvered virtually everyone else the last couple of years.
Immediately, Garcia (10-5, 4.91 ERA) and Vazquez (9-4, 5.07) become the top starters available.
The reason Williams is amenable to dealing a stud starter is two-fold: 1) He has five first-rate starters, plus one young dynamo, Brandon McCarthy, ready for the rotation; and 2) he doesn't have the deep bullpen he had last year, when the Sox won their first World Series in nearly nine decades and relievers Luis Vizcaino, Damaso Marte, Dustin Hermanson and Cliff Politte all contributed. This season, Vizcaino's in Arizona, Marte's in Pittsburgh, Hermanson's on the disabled list and Politte may as well be (8.04 ERA).
The White Sox are targeting a list of top relievers, and it's believed that roster includes the Mets' Duaner Sanchez, the Dodgers' hot-shot rookie Jonathan Broxton and especially ex-Sox setup man Gordon, who has a more-than-decent chance to be part of a Philadelphia fire sale and would work nicely in front of the Sox' All-Star closer Bobby Jenks. Gordon made a point of telling friends at the All-Star Game that while he's enjoying Philly, he wouldn't mind returning to Chicago's South Side.
The feeling is mutual. Three winters ago White Sox officials were upset when they believed that Gordon, who grew very close to Williams, reneged on an agreement to return before signing with the Yankees for more money. But all is forgiven now, as Gordon looks like a potential answer to the White Sox' worrisome bullpen. He's a veteran with American League success and White Sox experience who's been through the playoff wars.
Around the majors
Buddy Bell is not going to make it to next year as Royals manager, executives familiar with the situation say. While Bell's Royals have rallied to go 13-8 in their last 21 games, it won't be enough to save his job. Kansas City is 31-57 overall after starting the season looking like it might break the 1962 Mets' record of 120 defeats. Bell is 419-588 in three managerial stops, including 74-126 with the Royals.
Reached on Friday, new Royals GM Dayton Moore said, "Right now I'm not in position to evaluate anything going forward. I will never discuss publicly an employees' contract until a decision has been made. It's way down the list of priorities. Buddy's the manager. Buddy Bell is well-respected throughout baseball, he's from a great baseball family, he's well-liked by the players and the club is playing well.''