|A climbing home-run rate made righty reliever Scott Linebrink expendable in the eyes of the White Sox front office. But thinking those longball totals were inflated by Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, the Braves acquired the durable, 34-year-old Linebrink in trade, surrendering power-armed but inconsistent Double-A righthander Kyle Cofield. Atlanta also received $3.5 million in the deal to help cover the final year of Linebrink’s contract.
Linebrink signed with the White Sox for four years, $19 million prior to the 2008 season and proved to be durable, if nothing else. In fact, since Linebrink moved to the bullpen full-time in 2004, just five other pure relievers have logged more than his 463 1/3 innings. Mariano Rivera leads the way with 500 1/3 innings, followed by Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez, Brad Lidge and Chad Qualls, who range from 489 to 468 2/3 innings. With the White Sox, Linebrink finished with rates of 8.3 strikeouts, 2.8 walks and 1.6 home runs per nine innings.
Chicago can work with Cofield on the minor league side for two seasons, if necessary, because he has two options remaining.
|White Sox Acquire|
|Kyle Cofield, rhp
Born: Jan. 23, 1987 in Gadsden, Ala.
Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 230. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Southside HS, Gadsen, Ala.
Career Transactions: Selected by Braves in eighth round of 2005 draft; signed June 8, 2005.
Cofield has an ideal frame for a righthanded starter and when in sync he has two potentially plus pitches. His low-90s fastball tops out at 95 mph with heavy sink and his sharp curveball buckles the knees of righthanded batters at its best. Yet for all his strengths, Cofield has not been able to show any sustained consistency during his career. He made tremendous strides in 2008 and ’09, but was not able to maintain his strong performance during the 2010 slate, in part because of a two-month stint on the disabled list with an elbow injury. He returned in the starting rotation shortly after his return to Double-A Mississippi in early July, but found himself in the bullpen for the final two weeks after going 0-2, 6.75 in six starts. Despite ranking among the circuit leaders in walks, Cofield led the high Class A Carolina League with a 3.26 ERA in ’08. He struggles with his control, which stems from his lack of consistent feel for his pitches and falling behind in the count by being too fine. He also needs to add more depth and fade to his changeup. (Player capsule written by Bill Ballew.)
|Scott Linebrink, rhp
Age: 34. Remaining Commitment: 1 year, $5.5 million (White Sox send $3.5 million).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.