Friday, February 04, 2005

Why Not Olerud?

MLB.com reports that John Olerud is still looking to play in the majors in 2005. While the White Sox have the first base position adequately manned by Paul Konerko, I think having Olerud around makes a good deal of sense.

Frank Thomas's injury will leave the White Sox with Carl Everett as full time DH, Konerko at first base, and Ross Gload backing up Konerko. Defensively, Olerud is better than Konerko or Gload. Offensively, Olerud will get on base more often than Gload - even last year with the Mariners and Yankees, Olerud managed a .359 OBP. His
career OBP is .399. With Jermaine Dye and injury risk, and Ross Gload a probable outfield replacement, Olerud could be a great insurance policy.

If Olerud is cheap enough - perhaps $1 million or so - he can not only be a valuable reserve and twice-weekly starter, he could serve another useful role. If Olerud performed well in his limited role, it seems clear that he would be an attractive property at trade-deadline time. The Sox could flip Olerud for a solid prospect or perhaps another bullpen arm. A team like the Mets might be willing to take Olerud off the Sox's hands in the middle of the NL pennant race and overpay for him. Injuries could strike another team at first base and make Olerud a dear commodity. Kenny Williams has been excellent in identifying the Sox's weaknesses in this offseason and addressing them aggressively. Now, I think it's the time for him to take it to the next level and start planning for the ability to fill in whatever pieces are necessary mid-season.


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