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White Sox Fri Oct 21 2011

Plenty of Reasons for Sox to Bring Buehrle Back

Thumbnail image for white sox.gifAfter making headlines for hiring rookie manager Robin Ventura, the next big move for the White Sox is free agency. While some players on the market appear to be getting older and replaceable, the Sox should think long and hard before letting free agent Mark Buehrle go.

Any other year, the White Sox and Buehrle would re-up without issues. This offseason is different because of the less than impressive free agency selection of starting pitchers, especially left-handers. MLBTradeRumors.com has him ranked as a Type B free agent, essentially meaning that any team that signs him wouldn't lose a high draft pick. Buehrle is getting a lot of attention and the White Sox don't have time to wait around until December to resign him like they did last offseason with Paul Konerko.

Buehrle might not wait that long. After pitching his last game of the season, Buehrle told reporters that "if the right deal is there and the right team is there, I don't think I'm going to wait around to see what everyone else gets."

So just how valuable is Mark Buehrle? After 12 seasons in Chicago, the lefty has an impressive list of accomplishments including a no-hitter, a perfect game, and a World Series championship. He is the only major league pitcher to pitch at least 200 innings every season for the past 11 seasons. In those 11 seasons he also consecutively had at least 30 starts and 10 wins. If that isn't enough, he's been an All-Star four times and won two Gold Gloves.

That's just some of his accomplishments on the field. His value skyrockets even more when you consider the leadership Buehrle has consistently provided for the White Sox off the field over the years.

His exit this season proved just how integral his character is to the team. In what might have been his last start in a White Sox uniform, Buehrle pitched seven shutout innings in a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field. He was hugged individually by every player. He received standing ovations and chants that were a result of 12 strong seasons with the team. Emotion like that doesn't just come up for any old player.

While some have expressed concern about Buehrle's staying power after a dismal September, the veteran wasn't the only one who struggled. After collectively posting 6.36 September ERA, the highest in the major leagues, the team all but crawled the end. But taking a solid starter like Buehrle out doesn't seem to be the solution. If the team can get something going consistently with offense, the pitching can remain strong through the entire season.

Kenny Williams has talked about essentially rebuilding the White Sox. But starting from scratch can be dangerous if you don't have a direction. While only time will tell if Ventura can elevate the team to the level they should be playing at, there needs to be leadership on the players' side, too. Buehrle provides a consistency many of the other guys can't.

The White Sox can choose to build off the young players and new management but that doesn't mean you knock down the foundation completely. While Williams has hinted it's unlikely, keeping Buehrle will provide the team with a good mix of rookie and veteran players that can grow into a winning team down the road.

 
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