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White Sox sitting pretty with Garland, Contreras as trade bait
By Scot Gregor | Daily Herald Columnist

Bill Hall


Associated Press

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Published: 10/17/2007 3:47 PM

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The stove isn't hot yet. As a matter of fact, it hasn't even been turned on.

That will soon change. Not long after the Cleveland Indians finish cooling off the Colorado Rockies and celebrate their first World Series championship since 1948, look for major-league baseball trade rumors to really heat up.

Given the thin free-agent market this winter, teams should be wheeling and dealing at a much higher rate than usual.

That should work in the White Sox' favor.

Fortunately for the Sox, they are loaded at the one spot most teams desperately need to upgrade - starting pitching.

Mark Buehrle has a no-trade clause for next season, so he is staying put. So, too, is Javier Vazquez, who was 15-8 with a 3.74 ERA this year.

The White Sox figure to give rookie John Danks another shot, and they also have Gavin Floyd and two promising young arms in Gio Gonzalez and Jack Egbert.

That leaves two veteran starters: Jon Garland and Jose Contreras. Let the bidding begin.

The Sox need help in center field, left field, shortstop and possibly second base.

In Garland, they have a proven performer who can bring quality talent. A talent like, say, Milwaukee's Bill Hall.

The Brewers would have to give up more than Hall to get a pitcher of Garland's caliber, but the 27-year-old outfielder is exactly the type of player the White Sox need to get back into contention.

Yes, Hall is coming off a disappointing season (.254, 14 home runs, 63 RBI, .315 on-base percentage), but he is signed through 2010 at a reasonable price and he played very well in 2005-06.

Hall also has the speed the White Sox desperately need.

Three years ago, Sox general manager Kenny Williams traded Carlos Lee to Milwaukee in exchange for left fielder Scott Podsednik and relief pitcher Luis Vizcaino.

Williams took some serious heat for the deal, but he was able to fill several holes with the money he saved on Lee's contract. And don't forget about the spark a healthy Podsednik provided from the leadoff spot while helping the White Sox win the World Series.

Should a trade for Hall not be available, the Sox still have plenty of other options in their search for outfielders.

Forget about free agents such as Aaron Rowand and Torii Hunter. They are too expensive, and neither have the young legs the White Sox are looking for.

The Sox might make another attempt at getting Carl Crawford in a trade with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The Philadelphia Phillies are another team to keep an eye on. The Phillies again need starting pitching, and they could offer the White Sox outfielder Michael Bourn, who has speed to burn.

Last winter, Philadelphia sent Floyd and Gonzalez to the Sox in a trade for starter Freddy Garcia. The Phillies wound up paying $10 million for 1 victory, as Garcia's season was cut short by a serious shoulder injury.

Philadelphia GM Pat Gillick never accused Williams of trading damaged goods, so future deals are still possible.

As a matter of fact, Williams called Gillick in late July after all-star second baseman Chase Utley went down with a broken hand. Williams wound up trading Tadahito Iguchi to the Phillies, who chased down the New York Mets and won the NL East.

In addition to the Devil Rays and Phillies, the Dodgers, Angels, Cardinals and Mets are among the teams looking for starting pitchers like Garland and Contreras.

Before long, Williams is going to be sifting through plenty of enticing offers.