The White Sox announced on Monday that they signed 42-year-old, 11-time Gold Glover Omar Vizquel to a one-year, $1.375-million contract.
So what does it mean?
Well, the Yankees can still sleep well at night.
“I don’t want him to be a coach,” manager Ozzie Guillen said of the signing. “That’s the last thing I want. Omar is so professional handling something he had to do for the first time in his life. I think the job he did with the kids in Texas [last season] was outstanding.
“His presence with the team is very important. He’s a guy that knows how to play the game, he’s a Hall of Famer. The kids can take advantage, especially Gordon [Beckham] and [Alexei] Ramirez. We will try and find him a lot of playing time, especially early in the year because everyone knows Ramirez struggles early either because of the weather or over-training.”
Vizquel gives Guillen a defensive presence off the bench at short, third and even second base. He will play mentor for Beckham and Ramirez. And if there is an injury, he is a suitable band-aid. That’s it. In other words, he’s a $1.375 million babysitter.
All the talk of keeping the chain of great Venezuelan shortstops on the South Side – from Chico Carrasquel to Luis Aparicio and Guillen – is nice PR, but this is a starting pitching staff built to win this season, with a bullpen and lineup that still isn’t up to code.
And now there are even more concerns.
With talks between the Sox and Scott Podsednik back on frigid, there is still a gaping hole in the leadoff spot.
“I’m not concerned about it, but I’m thinking about it,” Guillen admitted of Podsednik. “The last few years, people think it’s easy to say, ‘This is my leadoff hitter.’ The good ones are already signed, the good ones cost a lot of money. In the meanwhile, by April 4 or whenever the season starts, we will have one.”
Re-insert Coco Crisp rumors here.
Meanwhile, Vizquel’s main concern is a jersey number to wear. Guillen told his friend that he “doesn’t have enough money to get my number ,” so Vizquel was kicking the tires on Aparicio’s No. 11 or Carrasquel’s No. 17.
“This closes a great chapter in my career,” Vizquel said. “Every great shortstop from Venezuela has passed through Chicago.
“I look at myself as a mentor. I think that will kind of be my role on this team.”