o Return to Unsettled Bullpen and Catching Situations
My weekly offseason opinions and observations about the White Sox and more…
Mets short list
Pale Hose Assistant General Manager Rick Hahn is one of the leading
candidates for the New York Mets GM job along with the likes of long-time MLB
exec Sandy Alderson
and L.A. Dodger Assistant GM Logan
White. How valuable has Hahn been? Just listen to his boss, Kenny Williams: “I know I’m going to lose him
(at some point)
and it’s going to be a heavy blow.” An unnamed baseball exec told
the New York Post: “His
fingerprints are on everything Kenny does.”
Fall League report
While the Sox have six prospects with the AFL’s Peoria
Saguaros (a seventh, catcher Josh
Phegley, was set to play but was sent home with a health issue), the
main player to keep an eye on is centerfielder Jared
Mitchell. The MVP of the 2009 College World Series with LSU and the
No. 1 Sox draft choice just weeks later was injured in spring training and
missed the entire 2010 season. So his performance this fall is the first step
on his road to recovery. For the record, Mitchell knocked out three hits in his
first game and in his initial five
contests he boasted a .389 on base percentage.
magic of Herm Schneider
Year after year, the White Sox are at the top or among the
healthiest teams in the major leagues. Highly respected Herm Schneider is the reason why. During
the course of the 2010 season, the Sox tied the Arizona Diamondbacks for fewest
trips to the disabled list and had the fewest days spent on the DL.
offers his two cents
Viewers of the ESPN week-day show First Take are being treated to a pundit
better known around Chicago as the White Sox starting catcher. That’s right, A.J. Pierzynski,
appearing from an Orlando, FL studio, is offering his analysis of the
postseason–and he’s doing a pretty good job. Any Sox sighting in October is a
welcome addition to the universe, though it’s still up in the air whether A.J., a free agent, will be in the Sox fold come 2011.
update (sort of)
Speaking of free agency, it would be a shocker if news concerning Paul Konerko‘s status would come out before the end of the World Series. But, just for
the record, he hasn’t gone anywhere yet.
GLENDALE, AZ–After witnessing a tie on Sunday against the Reds and a blowout loss against the Royals last night, it was fun to be part of yesterday’s 6-1 Sox win over the Rockies at Camelback Ranch.
When the White Sox picked up outfielder Alejandro De Aza off of waivers from the Florida Marlins last October, it was pretty much greeted with a ho hum attitude. I had heard of De Aza, but knew very little and wondered how he would fit in with the 2010 Sox.
So who is Alejandro De Aza?
A native of the Dominican Republic, he will be 26 in April. He bats and throws lefthanded, is six feet tall, 175 pounds with great speed and the ability to play outstanding defense. He was originally signed by the Dodgers, but picked up by the Marlins in the 2004 Rule 5 draft. He actually earned the starting centerfield job for Florida in 2007 and started the season on fire. In nine games he went 20-33 (.606), but went on the disabled list with a hairline fracture of an ankle. He didn’t appear in the big leagues in 2008 and in ’09 he batted .250 with a .385 on base percentage for the Marlins in 22 games.
So far this spring De Aza has made the Sox brass look good. He’s played in six games, going 5 for 11 (.455) with two RBI and a .538 on base mark. Yesterday, in the South Siders’ 9-5 win over the A’s, De Aza went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored while playing both left and center.
The Sox outfield picture is a crowded one with Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones, Mark Kotsay plus Jordan Danks and even Jared Mitchell (who was just sent to the minor league camp) in the wings. As a result, it is very unlikely De Aza will make the major league club out of spring training. But if he continues doing what he’s doing, I can certainly see him fitting in nicely with Ozzie‘s “new look” White Sox some time this season.
This spring, a lot of the buzz is being directed toward another Sox No. 1 draft pick out of the SEC–Jared Mitchell, the club’s top selection in 2009 from LSU.
Both a football and baseball star in college, Mitchell (pictured here at the plate against the Dodgers last Saturday) began his pro baseball career last summer in impressive fashion. At high-A Kannapolis he hit .296 with a .417 on base percentage and a .435 slugging mark.
Mitchell, who is a non-roster invitee in the major league camp, has already turned heads in Arizona. In his first three games he has gone 4 for 9 (.444) with two doubles, a triple, a .500 on base percentage and an astronomic .889 slugging percentage.
Yesterday, in the 5-4 loss to Mariners, Mitchell was electrifying as he hit an opposite field triple to left. Some observers were trying to figure out the last White Sox player who was such a blur around the bases.
While Beckham was called up last June after his outstanding spring, Mitchell is surely destined to spend a bit more time in the minor leagues to gain the necessary experience to make the big league roster. But it’s hard not to imagine that Beckham and Mitchell will soon be spearheading the Sox fortunes.
Note of the day: After Carlos Quentin‘s two-homer outburst on Saturday, it was nice to see both Alex Rios and Paul Konerko go deep against Seattle yesterday–especially Rios after his subpar ’09.
It was a Saturday of epic proportion. Well, maybe not epic, but boy it was fun.
If it were a game played in the middle of a pennant race, it might have prompted a tirade from Ozzie. But yesterday’s 8-3 loss to the Dodgers in the spring home opener was simply a blip on the way to Opening Day in Chicago.
My final weekly offseason musings on the White Sox and more. In just two days, four hours and 56 minutes, pitchers and catchers officially report and the 2010 season will be underway.
My Random Thoughts Heading into Spring Training:
* He’s coming, he’s not coming, he’s coming, he’s not coming, he’s…That’s basically what we’ve been through this week with Johnny Damon. I’m through guessing what will happen. We’ll just have to wait and see and deal with the decision when it comes down. And it very well could be determined before you read this. Who knows?
* As I look ahead to the 2010 Sox, I can’t help but think that the two keys to whether or not we make the playoffs will be Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios. While the personality of the team will change, putting a priority on pitching, speed, versatility and defense, there still needs to be some significant power now that Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome are no longer on the South Side. Quentin and Rios must rebound from last year whether or not the other factors listed above prove successful.
* Speaking of Jermaine, it’s painful to see he’s still on the outside, looking for a decent
deal. Despite his horrible second half in 2009, you have to think he can help someone. Here’s hoping the news of him signing is imminent. Dye, like the other 2005 guys, holds a special place for us. Even more special for Jermaine, considering he was the World Series MVP.
* I’m looking forward to seeing Jordan Danks and Jared Mitchell in spring training. It doesn’t seem like either outfielder will make the 25-man roster, but Danks is right on the cusp and actually could make the jump at some point this year. Mitchell is a couple of years away, but inviting him to major league camp is a smart idea–he’ll get a jump start on getting acclimated to major league life.
* I love this. Jerry Reinsdorf, Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen will be featured in The Club, an original reality series on the MLB Network The show will follow the Sox braintrust to provide “unprecedented behind-the-scenes access” to a major league front office. The Club premieres Sunday, July 4 at 8:00pm, ET.
* By the way, has Damon signed yet?
My weekly offseason musings about the White Sox and more…
Wheeling and Dealing: Putz Joins Pale Hose, Sox Still Seeking Leadoff Man
Well, the Winter Meetings are now in the rear-view mirror and the hope of some blockbuster White Sox news went right along with it. But we knew that Kenny Williams had something up his sleeve and it’s just been announced, as rumored, that J.J. Putz has signed a one-year deal with the Sox for $3 million. He’s coming off an injury, but if he can get back to his previous form he’ll be a big asset. He’ll be reunited with his buddy, former Mariner Matt Thornton.
While the Hideki Matsui and Coco Crisp rumors are still out there, lo and behold a new name has surfaced–the Yankees’ 26-year-old centerfielder Brett Gardner. With the Yanks outfield pretty well set, it certainly is a possibility New York will deal Gardner under the right circumstances. Word is Kenny Williams likes him, he has dealt with Yanks GM Brian Cashman in the past and it does give us a leadoff hitter. With Scotty Pods holding out for a two-year pact and Crisp still a rumor, perhaps the Sox think this is the answer–though some feel it’s up in the air if he can be an everyday player. In 150 major league games Gardner has hit .270 with 26 stolen bases. He was chosen by the Yanks in the 2005 draft out of the College of Charleston.
GBeck to Lead Off? He Hopes Not
Speaking of the quest for a leadoff hitter, Gordon Beckham has gone on record that he hopes he doesn’t land in that spot. “I’ve heard the rumors,” he told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. “I kinda hope I don’t lead off. I’ve never lead off before.” After saying that, Beckham followed up with what you would expect out of him. “If I have to bat leadoff, I’ll make do. I’ll work at being good at it. I’m OK if they want me to bat there.”
Looking into the Future
The following are the Sox Top 10 prospects as determined by baseball analyst John Sickels:
Daniel Hudson, RHP
Jared Mitchell, OF
Tyler Flowers, C
Brent Morel, 3B
Jordan Danks, OF
Dayan Viciedo, 3B
David Holmberg, LHP
C.J. Retherford, 2B
Christian Marrero, 1B-OF
Santos Rodriguez, LHP
Hudson and Flowers spent time with the Sox at the end of 2009 and could be in the picture next year. The conventional wisdom is that the Sox want Flowers to get more experience at AAA Charlotte instead of serving as A.J.’s backup. Among the others, Danks probably has the best chance of playing in Chicago next season.
Tiger, Take Note
My non-Sox note of the week: If Tiger had only heeded the wisdom of the great John Wooden: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”