We all like a good batch of young, talented players. And I am not one to argue the worth of a prospect. But what if none of the players have ever played together at a big-league level? What if it’s a whole new team of youngsters with absolutely no chemistry?
The Sox are going into the 2009 season with a team full of new ballplayers. Dayan Viciedo, Josh Fields (though he’s played before), Cole Armstrong, Chris Getz and a few other pitchers all have never played — or never played long — at this level. We’ve still maintained a handful of the experienced players, but for the most part we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for an opening day roster.
Spring Training hasn’t started yet, I know, but I can already tell we’re headed for a roller-coaster ride of a season. Sporting News, in their annual preview magazine, see the AL Central as follows:
At first glance I was shocked and appalled at this prediction but now that I have given it time to sink in… I realize the possible truth to their outlook.
Our infield depth has dropped considerably. Orlando Cabrera, Joe Crede and Juan Uribe are all gone. Uribe could play any infield position while O.C. and Crede were limited to only one slot, shortstop and third base, respectively. Alexei Ramirez, our current shortstop, can also play center and can beat the heck out of the second base position. Chris Getz, a promising rookie, is filling the second base role on the current Sox depth chart. In ten games on the South Side squad last year Getz had seven plate appearances with two hits for a .286 average.
Here are two ways the season could turn out based on my above comments.
- We crash and burn as Sporting News predicted.
- We sit in first place for a good portion of the year, then drop off the map
Now give me some time to argue with myself.
Maybe having a bunch of rookies is a good thing! All of these players will be fighting to keep their jobs which, more often than not, results in good statistics. Look at Evan Longoria last year. He was rookie trying to keep the job the Rays had given him at third base and he ends up winning Rookie of the Year. I won’t say that any of our players are in line for winning American League Rookie of the Year as David Price, steering clear of injury, will surely walk away with the award.
Though this has nothing to do with the topic, I am going to throw this into the equation.
Say Carlos Quentin matches or betters his 2008 stats. That will give us roughly 100 RBI and 36 home runs (+/-) from one player alone. Give Thome the same thing and we’re up to 200 RBI and 72 homers. Same for Dye and Konerko and we’re already at 400 runs driven in and 144 round trippers from 4 players alone. All of the above mentioned players are more than capable of producing those kinds of numbers and have in the past.
2008 – Carlos Quentin… you know the story.
2006 – Jermaine Dye drives in 120 runs and hits 44 homers.
2006 – Jim Thome parks 42 jacks with 109 driven in.
2005 – Paul Konerko hits 40 home runs and drives in 100.
There is proof that those players have had Ruthian seasons.
But, like in science, something has to be repeatable to be possible.
The season is only days away! Of course, it’s only Spring Training, but for a baseball junkie like myself this time of year is just as important as October.
OK, not really, but that sounded nice.
The White Sox get underway in a short matter of 8 days, leaving me plenty of time to ponder what did and didn’t go down this past off-season. We, unfortunately, lost Ken Griffey JR, Toby Hall, Joe Crede and Nick Swisher — just to name a few. We gained a handful of good-looking prospects, however; most of which I can’t wait to see don a White Sox jersey at some point down the line.
A guy I think we should have gone after, though, is Ivan Rodriguez. Granted there’s still time to scoop him up, this deal would’ve given us plenty to look forward to while we counted down to the start of Spring Training.
- Will his defense hold up?
- Will his bat start to catch fire?
- How will he handle our pitching staff?
- How will he handle our coaches?
- How will our coaches/upper management handle him?
All of those are more than eligible questions that are still floating in the air waiting to be answered.
The possibility of Bobby Abreu coming to Chicago which, in turn, would send Jermaine Dye out of the city is something I don’t want to happen. Though Abreu and Dye’s numbers have been comparable (Abreu has a vast upper-hand in the stolen bases department), Dye has such a history on the South Side. It’d be sad to see him leave.
On the home page of whitesox.com is an article that sparked an area in the back of my head. John Danks would love to stay in Chicago via a long-term contract. My thoughts on that were as follows: I’d love to see him stay in Chicago… He and Gavin Floyd (who I would also like to see locked up, long-term) were arguably our most consistent starters over the course of last season. We need that kind of reliability in mid-rotation pitching that we haven’t had since Jon Garland was wearing a White Sox uniform.
Carlos Quentin is another guy we need to sign to a long-term deal. The man was an absolute beast in 2008 and I can only see him get better. His defense was solid, he has a rocket launcher for an arm and his offense leaves nothing to be desired. He’s the ultimate outfielder and a perfect fit for our lineup.
Our minor-league system is looking nice and strong — something I haven’t seen since I began looking at the minor leagues as a hobby. I like the pitchers we picked up from the Yankees in the Swisher deal and I also like the players we got from Atlanta for Vazquez — especially Tyler Flowers. I can see him and Cole Armstrong as the future catching duo for the Sox.
With all this in mind, I’m still waiting for news of Pudge’s arrival on the South Side… I’m waiting for Danks to be signed to an extension… and I’m waiting to find out if Carlos Quentin will hit 96 home runs this year — all of which have a chance of happening.