Jason Bourgeois, the versatile infielder/outfielder who dominated spring training this year Pablo Ozuna-style, finally got the call he's been waiting for all season. For the first time in his career, he's a major leaguer. To make room on the roster, the Sox DFA'd pitcher Charlie Haeger.
He probably would have been promoted earlier if he didn't hit like Oney Guillen for the first month of 2008 at Triple-A Charlotte. In 22 games, he hit .180 in April before catching fire and finishing the season with a respectable .286 average.
Bourgeois joins Chris Getz and Jerry Owens as a 2008 version of the old "Group Four starring Willie Harris." With a combined 71 minor league stolen bases this season between the three of them, you can guess what their primary purpose will be down the stretch this season. Now Jim Thome, Paul Konerko and Ken Griffey, Jr. can each have their own designated pinch runners. Talk about luxury.
Charlie Haeger seems like an insignificant loss, as once again he and his knuckleball failed to dominate Triple-A this year (10-13, 4.45 ERA). But I always had a soft spot for the guy, and conventional wisdom says it takes longer for a knuckleballer to develop anyway. Could 2009 have been the year?
The most frustrating thing is that the Sox chose to hang on to Dewon Day, who shows little potential to be a major league contributor, over Haeger. Indeed Day, who took a step back at Charlotte in '08, is still living off his other worldly strike out rate with Double-A Birmingham in the spring of 2007, where he averaged more than two Ks per inning pitched for the first two months.
Come 2009 it would seem that Haeger would hold more value to the club, but the point probably would have been moot anyway, since he would have been out of minor league options and forced to make the team out of spring training (highly unlikely) or become a free agent. Basically, the Sox just gave him a head start on that free agency.
Best of luck to ya, Charlie! Here's hoping you catch on with a NL team and crack their Opening Day rotation in '09.
A lot of hand-ringing occurs over the loss of top minor league prospects Ryan Sweeney and Gio Gonzalez to the Oakland A's, but it might be another former Sox farmhand that makes the biggest impact in the green and gold.
Outfielder Aaron Cunningham, who was traded to the Diamondbacks for Danny Richar then to the A's as part of the Dan Haren deal, has quietly emerged as a candidate for an everyday job in Oakland.
Known for his discipline and on base skills, Cunningham hit .329 with 17 homers and a .400 OBP in the minors this year before being called up to Oakland's decimated big league roster. Since his call up, he's gone 6-for-17 (.353).
When the Sox traded Cunningham to Arizona, he was the organization's best-performing hitting prospect. Danny Richar, who was supposed to replace Tadahito Iguchi at second base for the Sox, got lost in the shuffle after his ribcage injury and the hoopla over Alexei Ramirez.
With the presence of Ramirez, Getz, Bourgeois, John Shelby and top draft pick Gordon Beckham as middle infield options, the Cunningham-for-Richar trade looks like a rare Ken Williams loser.