Taking Stock of the 5th Starter Candidates
Gavin Floyd -- Floyd entered spring training as the 5th starter favorite by default. He still seems to hold that position, though his final inning of work in his last outing may have loosened his grip on the position. I'd give him equal odds with Haeger and Danks on winning the job.
Update [2007-3-9 23:54:34 by The Cheat]: Kenny Williams "could not be more pleased" with Floyd's spring thus far. With that knowledge, I suppose he should still be considered the favorite.
Charlie Haeger -- Even before he threw a pitch, the White Sox acknowledged that it would be difficult to evaluate Haeger and his knuckleball in the thin, dry air of Tucson. As such, I haven't really put much weight (good or bad) behind what I've seen from Haeger this spring. I expect him to be back in Charlotte's rotation come opening day.
John Danks -- When he arrived at camp, Danks seemed to be destined for Charlotte only to be called upon when he dominated AAA and/or the 5th starter fell flat on his trip north. Danks has now had three impressive outings, including Friday's three innings pitched while facing the minimum, and has been the most impressive starting pitcher in camp. I've only been able to catch two innings of his work, but I thought he looked surprisingly polished. I expect him to get a couple of "A" game starts based on his latest outing.
Gio Gonzalez -- Gio's stuff is as good as advertised, but he clearly needs to work on refining his control. He should end up in Charlotte working on throwing more strikes (and keeping the ball in the park) while (hopefully) putting himself back among the elite lefty prospects in the game.
Heath Phillips -- If the Sox goal was only to have a better-than-Felix-Diaz, non-disasterous 5th starter, Phillips would be my choice. He's not going to wow you with his stuff, but he's learned how to use what little stuff he does have to be an effective pitcher.
Floyd, Haeger, and Danks should all be starting "A" games from now until it's clear that they've lost their shot at 5th starter duties. The Sox should let the other 4 starters alternate pitching in "B" games in order to let the three 5th starter candidates face lineups comprised of mostly major leaguers.