The Chicago Sun-Times Has Our Back

It’s like Christmas! Christmas in… well, December. Since the McCourts seem intent on being the Grinches of the season, we at least have Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, who is doing more for us than Santa Claus ever could. I mean, just look at the headline of his most recent story and try not to shed a tear of joy:

Sox Outfield has lots of room for Pierre
Leadoff man/OF would fill need at tolerable price

It’s… *sniff*…  just so beautiful. Excuse me, it’s getting a little dusty in here. After a few intro paragraphs explaining the Dodger payroll predicament and how LA would likely have to pick up a majority of the contract, Cowley gets to the heart of the matter…

It would give the Sox the third outfielder they covet, but more important, it would fill the hole at the top of the lineup. Pierre is coming off a 2009 season in which he hit .308 in 380 at-bats, stealing 30 bases and scoring 57 runs.

At 32, he also would be the perfect player to hold down the fort until outfielder Jordan Danks is completely ready to be an every-day player.

Yes! Yes, oh lord yes. This is hardly the first time we’ve discussed moving Pierre, of course, and it’s not even the first time that the White Sox have been the prospective destination. The difference here is that it’s not us wishcasting Pierre off on some other club. This is a writer from another city saying, “you know what? I could see him on our team.” That, my friends, is progress. That is a writer opening doors with the fanbase to make this happen.

Of course, what Cowley neglects to mention is what the White Sox would have to give up in return. We’ve all heard that Ned Colletti is looking for a back of the rotation starter type, and the White Sox don’t have anyone who really fits that mold. However, one commenter on Cowley’s story has the answer: Scott Linebrink.

this could be the one and only chance we have to dump linebrink and his 10 mil. kenny needs to sell this hard to the dodgers even if we have to throw in a minor leaguer. pierre is a perfect fit and we could then resign carrasco.

Now, I’ll admit I was somewhat surprised to see this. I remember thinking that 4 years and $19 million was a silly contract for a middle reliever when he signed it after 2007, but I mostly remember him being one of the top relievers in the NL while with San Diego and had a pretty good White Sox debut in 2008 (124 ERA+, 1.079 WHIP).

Granted, he regressed badly in 2009 (1.661 WHIP, woof), but I can’t let one commenter on a news story convince me that White Sox fans are dying to be rid of him. So I did some research…

The White Sox blog, 9/1/09:

At least Scott Linebrink will stick around long enough for me to perpetuate the nickname I gave him last week via twitter: Scotch Linebrink. Both because he gets into stick situations and because he’ll make anyone watching him pitch want to be an alcoholic.

Speaking of Scotty Linebrink, here’s what I was originally writing when the news started to trickle in:

There’s a picture (MSTI note: shown at right) that Sox bloggers have adopted of late that sums up the games better than any blog post could.

Okay, but that’s just one unimaginatively-named Sox blog. How about one of the top White Sox blogs?

Southside Sox, on September 28th, laying out the rules for selecting who should take the fall for the 2009 season:

You also can’t be someone who has an unmovable contract.  So Scott Linebrink will have to wait to take the fall for the 2011 season.

And on August 17, after a bittersweet victory:

The Sox were still giving games away — What other purpose does Scott Linebrink have? — but the Royals have perfected the craft through years of organizational ineptitude. 

There might not be a more hollow victory all season.

- Linebrink gets the win after giving up two 2-out walks and a first pitch, game-tying homer to Mike Jacobs

And on July 16th, talking about the good, the bad…

and the ugly (Wilson Betemit, Scott Linebrink, the inability to find a real centerfielder)

Okay, maybe Sox fans do hate Linebrink. (Especially judging by the 19-page thread at SoxTalk about who they could deal him for.) That last quote in particular is a double whammy, since they’re complaining about the lack of a centerfielder. Juan Pierre to the rescue!

It’s true that adding a reliever isn’t as important as adding a starter, and I agree that Colletti should go that route if he can. But if not? Linebrink’s not a terrible suggestion at all. He’s is owed $10.5m over the next two years (he does have a no-trade clause, but those can be negotiated), so that helps bring the price closer to Pierre’s. The best part is, despite how much Sox fans seem to hate him, there’s a lot to like here. Linebrink may have been awful last year, but that was a little misleading. Check it out:

1) His FIP went from 4.21 to 4.63, which isn’t great but also isn’t disastrous.

2) He actually struck out more than a batter per inning more than in 2008 (7.77 to 8.84).

3) Going by BABIP, he was wildly unluckly. His usual rate was between .260-.300 for the last five years; in 2009, it shot up to .372.

4) His home run rate, while still high, was lower than it had been since 2006.

To be fair, his walk rate skyrocketed from 1.75 to 3.70, and that didn’t help him. But for a guy with his history of success who’s apparently fallen out of favor in Chicago, why wouldn’t you want to move Pierre for him? Sign me up.