August 19, 2022

Here Come the Miami White Sox

December 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Mark Buehrle has long been the best pitcher in the National League and that distinction will likely grow more evident now that he’s actually going to be pitching in the National League.

After 12 seasons, 161 victories, four All-Star games, three gold gloves, one no-hitter, a perfect game, a World Series victory and the coolest through-the-legs throw-out ever seen, Mr. Buehrle is leaving the Chicago White Sox to join the Miami Marlins (yes, that’s what they’re called now) where he’ll pitch for manager Ozzie Guillen, who bolted the South Side two months ago.

Buehrle, 32, is being rewarded handsomely for jumping ship to the Marlins, agreeing to a four-year $58 million deal and the Marlins appear to be making a solid investment.  Buehrle has a very admirable career record of 161-119 with an ERA of 3.83.  But against the National League he’s a commanding 24-6 with a 3.32 ERA and is 16-2 with a 2.29 ERA in his last 25 interleague starts.  Hello, Senior Circuit.

Buehrle has never been a superstar but the lefty is about as reliable a starter as there is in baseball.  He has pitched more than 200 innings for 11 straight years, works quickly, is great with the glove and is tough to run on.  He’s also a great clubhouse guy who will certainly help his Marlins teammates adjust to Ozzie’s oddities, having pitched for Guillen in Chicago since 2004.

In no one’s universe is Mark Buehrle considered a better baseball player than Albert Pujols but giving $58 million to Buehrle might prove a smarter move for Miami than giving $200 million to Pujols which it now appears Miami certainly will not do.  There is every reason to expect Buehrle can chalk up 13-15 wins a season over the next four years and then, when his contract is up, Miami can decide what to do with him.  Pujols, on the other hand, seems to face very long odds to justify the money he wants over a decade.

The White Sox will miss Buehrle greatly as will South Side fans who adored him for his success, reliability, humility and humor.  Buehrle’s departure is also  another significant blow to Pale Hose nostalgia as first baseman Paul Konerko and catcher A.J. Pierzynski are now the only players left from Chicago’s 2005 World Series winner.

The White Sox are not making it a secret that they’re in a rebuilding mode having curiously traded away closer Sergio Santos this week but, realistically, losing Buehrle might not be quite as bad as it seems.  Another southpaw, Chris Sale, has shown great promise in the bullpen and the 22-year-old appears ready to move into the starting rotation.  Sale also makes only $425,000 a year so the cost-cutting Sox might get similar production for a whole lot less money.

Still, it’s uneasy to see old #56 leave.  Mark Buehrle helped make White Sox baseball successful and entertaining.  He was a joy to watch and a consummate professional.  It will be touching yet painful to see him teamed up with Guillen, his fellow South Side expatriate, who said of Buehrle’s signing…“The Marlins know how much I love him…I know how much he can help us.  If we have Buehrle, it can make my life a little easier.”

 It certainly will.

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