Come October on the South Side, will it be all smiles for Jake, White Sox?
Could it be, that as important as Peavy is to the team’s fortunes; the White Sox could be banking on him too much?
Love for the Good Guys in Black: “The three best teams are the White Sox, the Twins and the Tigers,” Tom Hamilton, well-respected, standout voice of the Cleveland Indians, said on the Mully and Hanley Show. “I think the White Sox had the best off-season. Minnesota always finds a way, it just seems like you can never discount them. But I want to see what they’re able to do with the loss they had in the bullpen. To lose the kind of loss they did in the bullpen is why right now, if I had to pick a team, I’d pick the White Sox.”
The “Good Guys” cemented their Opening Day 25-man club with decisions featuring the choice to start Jake Peavy on the 15-day disabled list.
Making the final spots on the club where utility players Lastings Milledge and Brent Lillibridge. Milledge, a former 1st round pick of the New York Mets in ’03 (12th overall), is a five-tool outfielder hoping to make the most out of his chances on his fourth big-league club. Lastings could be a valuable member for the “Good Guys” in black if he taps into that limitless pool of talent he possesses. Keep an eye out for him when he’s on the base paths; he’s got speed to burn. As for Lillibridge, he is a valuable “swing” infielder (even plays outfield) who makes his worth as a superb contact hitter. Don’t be surprised if Lillibridge, who’s known mostly for his viable bat and proven versatility, ends up staying on the club and spending the majority of his time at 3B; the team’s biggest question mark offensively. Ok, I know, I have over-exaggerated his swinging prowess -his numbers tell the story; he’s a career .194 smacker, though he hit a stunningly sensational .389 in 21 at-bats last July.
Third Base Dilemma: Nonetheless, keeping both Lastings and Brent comes at the expense of only having one less arm to go to start the season. Skipper Ozzie Guillen was planning on making it 12, however, to no avail. Yet, despite having just 11 options to take the diamond to throw, you know injuries have their way of making things interesting (even though, the Sox were the healthiest team in baseball, spending the least amounts of days on the DL), and once Peavy comes back it will change up the ever-changing 25-player roster. For now, Lillibridge is here to stay, and if he or the other Brent (Morel) don’t put up in the box, expect the always reliable Omar Vizquel or veteran Mark Teahen to step in at third. You can be sure of this: Ozzie has a super-quick trigger finger. Personally, I would go with Omar for all the reasons I jokingly used to described Lillibridge. Not only does he consistently make noise with the wood (very rarely strikes out, puts the ball in play, and gets on base), but he dazzling flashes his fine leather in the infield dirt, time after time again. There’s no uncertainty when Omar takes the field. Have we seen a better glove, ever, in the history of the spot? The remarkable, soon to be 44-year old wonder still has it in him to showcase his skills and start next to another talented, slick-fielding maestro; Alexei Ramirez.
Joining Peavy also on the 15-day DL will be 3B Dayan Viciedo (thumb), who is an raw, intriguing prospect with power. Dayan was signed from Cuba in ’08 and batted .308 with 5 HR’s, and 13 RBI’s in his first go-around in the Majors last year. “The Tank”, as referred to by White Sox announcer Ken “The Hawk” Harrelson, will need to improve his walk to strikeout ratio of 2:25 if he wants to make a contribution to the team once he recovers from injury. If the Brent Morel project (current starter) doesn’t work, we could see Dayan making his presence felt as a possible everyday third baseman; since he offers more than Morel at the plate with his pop. With all that being said, it will be one wild ride for playing time at the hot corner. All candidates will be on display -I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Note: Both DL moves were retroactive to March 22.
Lastly, Jeff Marquez, who was originally thought to be the 12th thrower until some late-spring woes, cleared waivers and was sent down to Triple-A Charlotte.
Let’s get it on: The team that’s “All In”, is now all set, and ready to take its swings at an AL Central pennant and more importantly, a run at a World Series crown in October. To win the division title, they will have to dethrone their arch rival and #1 nemesis, Minnesota Twins. They have been a thorn in the side for Ozzie’s gang ever since he took over the reigns as the shot caller in ’04. However, if they want to make a push come late fall competing with the big boppers for a championship this postseason, they will have to take care of business within the AL Central first. The Sox start the first five games of the season with Cleveland and Kansas City away from the Cell, before setting up shop in-house against Tampa Bay on April 7 for the home opener.
The following is a rundown of the team expected to contend to win it all in 2011.
• Pitchers (11): Mark Buehrle, Edwin Jackson, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Phil Humber, Matt Thornton, Sergio Santos, Jesse Crain, Chris Sale, Will Ohman and Tony Pena.
• Catchers (2): A.J. Pierzynski, Ramon Castro.
• Infielders (8): Paul Konerko, Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, Brent Morel, Mark Teahen, Omar Vizquel, Lillibridge and Adam Dunn.
• Outfielders (4): Juan Pierre, Alex Rios, Carlos Quentin and Milledge.
The White Sox will open the season Friday afternoon at Cleveland with Buehrle taking the hill.