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White Sox should make Chris Sale a starter, not put him in the bullpen

White Sox fans shouldn't want to see this.
White Sox fans shouldn't want to see this.

Joe Cowley authored an opinion piece entitled "White Sox should make Chris Sale their closer, not put him in the rotation".

Well, allow me to retort. Joe's words are in bold:

The White Sox began the week tossing promotions around.

Buddy Bell had a snazzy new vice-president title thrown on the sign in his parking spot, and Nick Capra was named director of player development.

It's January so it's not unusual for promotions to happen at the start of the year.

Even left-hander Chris Sale took time out after his return from honeymooning in Maui to discuss his promotion. Sale, 22, is preparing to make the jump from proven reliever to promising starter.

That's great!

Too bad Sale’s promotion might be the one the Sox regret in early May.

I guess Cowley, like Keith Law, thinks Sale can't start in the big leagues.

There’s no question Sale has the stuff to be a big-league starter: four quality pitches, a fastball that can hit the dance floor in triple digits and short-term memory when it comes to watching his mistakes get hit over the outfield wall.

In talking to several scouts, one said the lanky flamethrower has "ace potential.’’

Wait, what?

But Sale also has staying power as a ninth-inning presence. As one member of the Sox’ organization said recently, "I wouldn’t be surprised if they have to pull Sale out of the rotation and make him the closer by the end of April.’’

Why would anyone pull an ace out of the rotation and make him a closer?

General manager Ken Williams had better hope that scenario doesn’t take place, but that’s what happens when you build a team with ifs and hopes.

I guess you're not going to answer that until you've gotten in your customary shot on KW.

The kid wants to be a starter, period. That was evident in Sale’s teleconference to start SoxFest week.

The difference in his tone when he spoke about taking the ball every fifth day compared to when he rehashed the last two years as a reliever was night and day.

"Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time and good moments out of the bullpen, but I guess you can say [starting] is something I have worked toward and am very excited that it’s here and I was given the opportunity," Sale said. "I truly believe I can do it.’’

So the White Sox want him to start, he wants to start, scouts think he should start, you think he has the stuff to start...but you think he should close.

Belief in his ability is not the problem here.

I'm guessing this means you'll stop fluffing Sale and finally get to your point.

Sale can go out there every five days and dominate, and it won’t mean a thing if the Sox can’t find an arm to consistently close out the ninth inning, especially with the Jekyll-and-Hyde offense the Sox are expected to have.

Well if he dominates that would mean KenWo probably could get those last three outs.

Last April is the most recent reminder. The team couldn’t close games and dug a division-race hole that they never seemed to get out of.

I see what you're getting at. Thank god the White Sox got rid of that Juan Pierre clown.

The problem is the Sox’ borderline-arrogant belief that closers grow on trees.

I know, totally. How could they believe that when their last four closers were well-credentialed vets like Shingo Takatsu (signed from Japan for $750K); Dustin Hermanson (signed for $2 million); Bobby Jenks (waiver wire pick-up); Sergio Santos (converted infielder). What arrogance! Since none of those guys worked out they should go back to the formula they used in 2003: acquire a guy who has shown he can close games. Where have you gone, Billy Koch.

Lefty Matt Thornton might be the early leader out of the gate to close, but there’s no guarantee he’ll even be around for the start of spring camp with continued speculation that Williams is still looking to shed salary.

Well, that settles it. A guy might be traded. Tell Sale to get his butt ready for a bullpen folding chair.

That would leave right-hander Addison Reed.

Reed’s résumé? He throws hard. That’s it. Maybe he’s good; maybe he’s a bust. Just another maybe for the Sox.

Great, so they've got a back-up plan.

Sale has shown he can handle the ninth. He has ninth-inning stuff. just about every other legitimate starter in the majors. Let's convert all the starters into closers. With, like, seven closers, there's no way the White Sox lose a game in the ninth.

And that’s why the trade of Sergio Santos to Toronto for Nestor Molina in December is still a head-scratcher.

Santos wasn’t the perfect closer by any means (30 saves with a 3.55 ERA), but he was fiscally affordable, improving in the role and had very little wear and tear on his arm, considering he was a former infielder.

KW is crazy.

Even Sale thought his starting dreams were on hold when the Santos deal was announced. He immediately reached out to pitching coach Don Cooper for answers.

Dial 1-800-4COOPER. All the answers are in the Coop. Just watch your back.

"There is nothing like being the last guy in line and having that pressure on you,’’ Sale said. "Those are things you love to do. I thought for maybe a little bit — since they traded [Santos] — that I would be back in the bullpen.’’

Cooper reassured him that the starting plan was still in place, and Sale has spent the offseason preparing for it.

That aside was certainly informative.

That’s fine, but the Sox can’t ignore the obvious.

Sale will be limited to 140-150 innings. Williams already has said that entails skipping starts when they can and messing with the rotation during the All-Star break. Basically, it means another year of watching a starting rotation nurse off Cooper.

Thanks, Joe. That's an image I'm not going to be able to get out of my head.

That scenario can’t be described as getting the maximum out of your talent.

But being limited to 65 innings surely can.

If this team is "rebuilding,’’ like Williams said, why not put guys in the spots they can best flourish as well as help the team? If Williams is so high on Molina, as he gushed when he acquired him, get him ready to start.

I'm with you, Joe. Molina has 22 innings above A ball. The spot he can best flourish is in a major league rotation.

Look, Sale might be a great seven-inning pitcher.

Too bad that won’t mean a thing in the ninth.

Why do they even play those other eight innings?