On the day before the start of SoxFest, Robin Ventura spent a lot of time answering questions -- first on a conference call, then on Chicago Tribune Live. Given the number of topics he tackled, his inexperience with the job and his lack of contact with most of his players, he's speaking in vague, open-ended terms. It doesn't do us much good, but it puts him in a better spot as he prepares to run his first spring training.
Here's what we can glean from the bulk of it...
Closer: Matt Thornton is his first thought, and he'll see if that thought holds up after talking to Thornton, and then seeing how everybody looks in the spring.
Leadoff man: It's Alejandro De Aza's job to lose, but he tossed Gordon Beckham out there as a Plan B. I assume he's referring to the version of Beckham he hopes to see.
Backup shortstop: Open competition, and when asked about whether Brent Lillibridge could start there in the event of an emergency, Ventura didn't say he couldn't, but he also didn't say he could. He preferred to talk about Lillibridge's defensive capabilities in the outfield, so that appears to be a "no" without saying "no."
Alex Rios: The direct quote is, ""As of right now, he could be moving around -- left field, he could be in center. We don't have concrete plans. I know I'm going to want him to play." That's still probably more Rios than people would like, but I'm choosing to be encouraged that he listed left field before center.
"Obviously" Count: At least 15
There's plenty more video at White Sox Talk, but few surprises. So far, Ventura appears to be navigating the minefield pretty well, and while the idea of Beckham batting leadoff or Dunn playing the outfield can rattle one's confidence, there's no point in reading too deeply into his passing thoughts when his main goal appears to be not dismissing players before he's met them.
According to the SoxFest calendar, Ventura and Kenny Williams will be on the stage at the Palmer House with Steve Stone from 6:00 - 6:45 p.m.
From watching the proceedings and reactions the past few years, there are a few ways of getting a thoughtful, applicable answer from Williams in response to a tough question:
- It can't be a yes/no question. (Easy way out)
- It can't be a standard gripe. (Prefab answers)
- It can't be overemotional. (You'll look like a lunatic)
And sometimes none of these work. But at the very least, it's nice to have the topics raised in a public forum. I think of four questions that might get a useful response. Three of them attempt to take something that went wrong from last season and see if it altered the organizational philosophy in any way.
No. 1: How did Adam Dunn come within six plate appearances of qualifying for the batting title, and are there standards in place to prevent an underperforming veteran from amassing that much negative value in the future?
No. 2: What's it going to take for the Sox to actually abide by the safety measures put in place to preserve Jake Peavy's health? Even the six-man rotation didn't work, because he was bumped up, used for long relief, and then still took his turn.
No. 3: How has Marco Paddy been able to put things in motion while previous rebuilding attempts in Latin America stalled? And is this the one that takes?
No. 4: Between bunting and botched stolen base attempts, the White Sox give away more outs than any other team. How will the change in leadership address this?
Am I missing anything?