THIS ISN'T THE YEAR!!!
Well, now that the White Sox have perfectly executed a full gainer into the empty swimming pool, it's time to consider who of the Pale Hose won't be around when spring training 2009 starts in...in...in whatever municipality the Sox are scamming into building them a new training camp these days...Tucson? Surprise? Las Cruces? Petaluma?
We can start with left-handed reliever Boone Logan and right-handed reliever Mike MacDougal, both of whom departed Tampa in a huff before game one of the ALDS after being informed that they were left off the playoff roster. I think the right term for the speed of their departures will be "like shit through a goose."
Next let's consider the veteran free agents. Orlando Cabrera, he of the unearned "I'm a leader" tagline and the mediocre .334 OBP in the leadoff spot, won't be back; Alexei Ramirez will most likely move to shortstop, with either prospect Chris Getz or a low-priced veteran (Tadahito Iguchi?) filling in at second.
Ken Griffey, Jr., who several years ago was a good baseball player, shouldn't be re-signed and won't be. The Sox will search for a full-time center fielder this off-season, which would leave Brian Anderson and DeWayne Wise as fill-ins.
What about first base? With Jim Thome set to return to the DH slot, either Paul Konerko or Nick Swisher will probably have to go. Neither player is at top value; both played badly in 2008. Swisher is more versatile, is even at this level a better player, and has the advantages of being much cheaper and four years younger...but Konerko is signed through 2010 and his contract would be a lot harder to move. Plus, if cutie pie Paulie were traded, a full-on Trixie Revolt would ensue, leaving GM Kenny Williams with his eyeballs scratched out.
Third base is a trouble spot. Joe Crede is probably finished due to back problems, but he could get a courtesy deal. Juan Uribe filled in admirably at third when Crede went down, and might earn a new contract if he'll accept a utility role. (But only if he gets rid of that ugly-ass goatee.) With Josh Fields appearing unready in his brief trial, the White Sox are in the market for a full-timer at the position.
The pitching staff needs a bit of work. Besides Logan and MacDougal, we're likely to wave goodbye to free-agent relievers D.J. Carrasco and Horacio Ramirez. Right-handed starter Javier Vazquez is signed through 2010, but he has quite obviously worn out his welcome with Ozzie Guillen. It should be interesting to see what Kenny Williams can get in trade for the talented Vazquez, who has plenty of ability but neither the consistent command nor the killer instinct that great pitchers possess.
Could be a fascinating winter, if anyone cares about the Sox or Cubs anymore...