WHITE SOX ACQUIRE TEAHEN FROM ROYALS
CHICAGO — For the past three seasons, Mark Teahen admitted to never really knowing where he was going to play for the Kansas City Royals.There was time spent at third base, second base, first base and both corner outfield spots for the talented left-handed hitter.
But while that lack of on-field certainty was a bit more extended, it wasn’t quite as intense as the past 24 hours for the 28-year-old.
“I didn’t know what city I was going to play in,” said Teahen, during a Friday morning conference call to announce Teahen’s trade to the White Sox, in exchange for starting second baseman Chris Getz and first baseman/third baseman Josh Fields.
Rumors of the trade involving these three players began early Thursday morning, but none of the individuals involved really had anything confirmed. That confirmation came before the weekend began, with Teahen and cash considerations coming over from the Royals.
And as for that position roulette experienced recently by Teahen? Well, general manager Ken Williams answered that question through his opening comments in Friday’s call.
“He’s going to be the starting third base, and Gordon Beckham will be moved to second,” said Williams of Teahen and the infield configuration. “I had a very good conversation with Gordon, prior to pulling the trigger on this deal, and he’s all for it and ready to go.”
Beckham played second base as part of the 2008 Arizona Fall League and almost won the starting job at that position coming out of Spring Training. That job eventually was won by Getz, with Beckham returning to the Minors, but then rejoining the White Sox on June 4 to become the team’s starting third baseman and now recognized twice by his peers as a the American League Rookie of the Year.
During a recent conference call to discuss one of those postseason honors, manager Ozzie Guillen said that Beckham projected out more as a second baseman or third baseman in his mind and not a shortstop. Williams didn’t specifically address that analysis but certainly liked the look of his infield with the moves caused by the Teahen addition.
“It makes us better defensively across the board, and more balanced,” Williams said. “Gordon has a better profile at that position. Some people will evaluate the trade based on raw numbers but sometimes it’s about projection and what’s within the numbers.”
Those raw numbers for Teahen in Kansas City have been steady if not spectacular. He is a career .269 hitter with 146 doubles, 24 triples, 59 home runs and 293 RBIs in 676 games from 2005-09. Teahen also has 42 stolen bases in 53 attempts and should benefit from playing in a hitter-friendly ballpark, such as U.S. Cellular Field, and having the same defensive spot every day.
Playing for a team consistently in contention, where games in August and September regularly matter in the scheme of the playoffs, also will be a nice change for Teahen. In describing his overall game, though, Teahen sounds cut from the grinder mold that Williams has talked about so much in the past.
“If I’m a young fan following the game, I hope I’m the type of guy those fans are watching,” Teahen said. “That’s the way I view myself.
“There isn’t one tool I have that jumps off the board. If they need me to steal a base, I can steal a base to beat a team. I can hit a home run once in a while. I pride myself on trying to be a complete player. I grew up loving the game, trying to respect the game and doing everything right.”
Getz played that same sort of grinder-like mentality, only with more speed, as his 25 stolen bases in 27 attempts from 2009 would indicate. Guillen had talked about Getz’s injury absence from Aug. 12 to the start of September as a major contributing factor to the White Sox overall funk at that time, and Williams admitted the second baseman was missed when he was out of the lineup.
Fields, meanwhile, wanted a chance to play regularly after losing his starting job at third to Beckham and eventually returning to Triple-A Charlotte. Williams made good on a promise to Fields from an in-season meeting after the Beckham change, leaving Fields optimistic for his future in Kansas City.
“I’m excited, and I love the opportunity,” Fields said. “I had my talks last year with Kenny and he was fair with me. I appreciate him looking out for me, and I appreciate the Royals giving me an opportunity, as well.”
“Obviously, yesterday when the story kind of hit, it was kind of a zoo for 24 hours,” Getz said. “It was stunning to say the least. I didn’t expect it, but you know in this industry it’s a possibility. I look at it as another positive opportunity.”
This addition of Teahen, coupled with the White Sox buyout of Jermaine Dye, leaves Williams looking for another outfielder and a designated hitter in terms of position players, with one of those individuals being more of a speed guy. Williams talked about not having much money to spend, which might rule out a high-end free agent such as Chone Figgins, and admitted those decisions might not come until the end of this Hot Stove period.
On Friday, Williams simply was happy to have Teahen’s skill set on board. Teahen, in turn, was happy to know where he was going to be playing, both in regard to position and city.
“Yeah, I think I got better with it the last year, being able to bounce around and keep my production up,” said Teahen, who .271 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs last year. “But I produce better when I’m left alone, and I’ve been most productive at third base. So, I can settle back in there and put up bigger offensive numbers.”