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White Sox Thu Feb 16 2012

Coming & Going: White Sox Right Fielders

It's been a tumultuous offseason for the local nines, with the Cubs and White Sox both saying goodbye to big names who played big roles in recent years. Let's get you up to speed before spring training arrives. (Part of a series.)

    

Goodbye: Carlos Quentin
Last season: .254 BA, 24 HR, 77 RBI, .838 OPS (.340 OBP, .499 SLG)

Hello: Dayan Viciedo
Last season: .255 BA, 1 HR, 6 RBI, .641 OPS (.327 OBP, .314 SLG)

What Happened?

With several other key members of the team gone, the White Sox traded right fielder Carlos Quentin to San Diego in exchange for two prospects on New Year's Eve. They also added a fourth outfielder who could spell youngster Dayan Viciedo if needed, signing former Cub Kosuke Fukudome to a one-year deal.

How Will the White Sox Miss Quentin?

Flashback to 2008. Quentin finished with a breakout career year - 36 home runs (second in the American League), 100 RBI, and a .965 OPS. Plus, he only turned 26 during the season. The sky looked to be the limit for him.

Since then? Not as wonderful. That's not to say he's been bad, not by any means. But he has only averaged 24 home runs, 73 RBI and a .815 OPS from 2009 to 2011. While's he had a 4.6 WAR for 2008 (placing him in near-elite status), he suffered from plantar fasciitis and had a wasted 2009 and a decent 2010 (conventional stats say he was good, Sabermetric stats said he was below average), but regained form and was an all-star for 2011.

Obviously, Chicago will miss a player who was good for at least 20 home runs, 20 doubles and 80 RBI. But the Sox found themselves at the crossroads with Quentin for four reasons.

One, the team has signaled its intentions to rebuild. Along with Quentin, pitcher Mark Buehrle, closer Sergio Santos and manager Ozzie Guillen have departed. In return? Either nothing, or prospects. They want to clean house.

Two, Quentin will make $7 million this year, and is eligible for free agency after the season. Might as well get something now (even if it is two marginal minor leaguers) than watch Quentin leave for nothing.

Three, Quentin is 29, has had problems with injuries, and could use a change of scenery. Fortunately enough, Quentin's hometown team, the Padres, acquired him, so he's in a good situation. If he has another fantastic season, so be it; he's 2000 miles away an in the National League. It shouldn't haunt the White Sox.

Four, Dayan Viciedo is waiting in the wings.

What Do Viciedo and Fukudome Bring to the Sox?

Viciedo hasn't made his mark in the majors yet (six total home runs over 67 games the last two seasons), but in the minors he has been a dynamo - 20 home runs each of the past two seasons in Triple-A, and guys making rehab starts in Charlotte have said good things about the Cuban outfielder.

The White Sox organization is expecting big things from Viciedo. "He has a bright future, there is no doubt,'' Sox hitting coach Greg Walker said in a Sun Times article. Viciedo projects to be a high .200s hitter with around 30 homers a year. He is known to crush balls out of the zone, which, not surprisingly, leads to a lot of strikeouts - 48 total in MLB, with only 11 walks. Future Sox at Chicago Now even says Viciedo could be a poor man's Vladimir Guerrero.

As for Kosuke Fukudome, the fourth outfielder slot is a good place for him. He led all right fielders last year with a 2.30 range factor (putouts and assists divided by innings played), and his batting stats were okay, nothing to get crazy over. He's a competent left-handed bat who gets on base around 35% of the time.

This was not just a low-risk signing for the Sox, but a no-risk signing. Fukudome will only be paid $500,000 this year, and although he has a $3.5 million team option for next year, the buyout will only cost the Sox another $500 K. If the 35-year old from Japan struggles or is ineffective, the Sox can cut him loose fairly easily.

 
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