Funny visual: White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson screams, "You can put it on the booooard... YES!" while sipping on an Orange Mango Banana Vivanno Smoothie from Starbucks, when in Seattle prepping for Monday night's game. A semi-realistic reaction to expect for the ultimate homer, someone who makes Sid Hartman seem like Jay Mariotti, upon hearing the news that his team picked up OF Alex Rios -- for nothing.
Sure, Chicago has to absorb his contract -- Rios is set to earn $2 million the rest of this season and has salaries of $9.7 million in 2010, $12 million in 2011, $12 million in 2012, $12.5 million in 2013 and $12.5 million in 2014. But, solving a position they've tried to fix ever since trading Aaron Rowand prior to the '06 season -- manager Ozzie Guillen has used 14 different CFs since Rowand's departure -- makes this a wonderful move by general manager Kenny Williams. Based on a large sample size, Rios is a lock to post good to very good numbers for the duration of his contract.
Fangraphs.com, the mecca for sabermetricians, has Rios DEFENSIVELY in CF over the last three years worth roughly 20-runs above average per 150-games. To put that into perspective, Twins CF Carlos Gomez comes in at a value half of that. Rios has a plus-arm and plus-range.
Offensively, Rios is said to be having a bad year, yet is on pace for 21 HRs, 91 RBIs, and 28 stolen bases. At 28-years-old, he's still in the prime of his career. If he were a free agent, undoubtedly he would have Type-A status meaning the team signing him would have to sacrifice its No. 1 draft pick. In this case, Chicago gives up nothing. No draft picks and no prospects lost for a two-time All-Star OF. Williams proves once again why he is as savvy and ruthless as any GM in the game and owner Jerry Reinsdorf shows us again that he is one of the best owners in all of sports. He understands that to make money, you need to spend money. For the most part, they spend wisely. Every team -- the Twins with Nick Punto definitely included -- have at least one or two troublesome contracts, but Chicago more often than not will take financial chances and does so wisely.
In two weeks, Williams acquired Rios and 28-year-old pitcher Jake Peavy, two guys who will create headaches for the Twins for years to come. Not only do these acquisitions give Chicago an advantage the rest of this season, but make Chicago a likely favorite over the Twins for the foreseeable future. With a front-four rotation of Peavy, Mark Buehrle, John Danks, and Gavin Floyd and a lineup featuring Rios, Alexi Ramirez, and Gordon Beckham, it's a great time to be a White Sox fan...and not so fun being a Twins fan.
In Harrelson's mind, credit the "good guys" with two positive additions. Come the next few Septembers, Harrelson, when talking about the Twins' postseason chances may have to say, "They gone!"