We made it! After a long winter, the bats are going to crack and the mitts are going to pop. This offseason has seen some of the biggest names in baseball switch teams. Unfortunately the only one that involves the White Sox is Mark Buehrle leaving for the Marlins. Its alright though. Hope springs eternal. If enough things fall into place maybe the Sox can have a magical season. I thought they were going to be terrible heading into 2005 and then they won the World Series, so you never know.
Departures: Ozzie Guillen, Joey Cora, Greg Walker, Jeff Cox, Mark Buehrle, Sergio Santos, Jason Frasor, Tony Pena, Carlos Quentin, Juan Pierre, Ramon Castro, Donny Lucy, Omar Vizquel
Arrivals: Robin Ventura, Mark Parent, Jeff Manto, Joe McEwing, Nestor Molina, Simon Castro, Pedro Hernandez, Jose Quintana, Donnie Veal, Jhan Martinez, Osvaldo Martinez, Kosuke Fukudome, Dan Johnson
SP: John Danks, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Chris Sale, Philip Humber
RP: Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Will Ohman, Addison Reed
C: A.J. Pierzynski, Tyler Flowers
INF: Paul Konerko, Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez, Brent Morel, Adam Dunn
OF: Alejandro De Aza, Alex Rios, Dayan Viciedo, Kosuke Fukudome, Brent Lillibridge
Open Roster Spots:
Assuming the Sox go north with 12 pitchers, 3 bullpen spots will be open. The main contenders for those spots are Dylan Axelrod, Zach Stewart, Brian Bruney, Jhan Martinez, Hector Santiago, Donnie Veal, Gregory Infante
That would leave open one utility spot, probably infield between Eduardo Escobar and Osvaldo Martinez.
Top Story Lines:
Ventura's managerial style - It will be interesting to see how Robin and the new coaching staff handle things. Mark Parent said in the conference call with season ticket holders that a quick start would be huge this season and that includes spring training. The Sox have been bad in spring training in recent years. While a good Spring record promises nothing and a bad one doesn't mean much, it could give them some confidence heading into April.
Dunn and Rios - If the Sox intend to surprise some people, these two are obviously going to have to give us a lot more than what they gave last year. A quick start in spring would be great for their psyche.
Peavy's health- Can Jake Peavy finally give us a full healthy season?
Sale's move to the rotation - After being a dominant late inning reliever, Chris Sale moves into the starting rotation. How will he handle the extra work load? How is his change up?
De Aza and Viciedo - Are these two guys ready to play 135+ games in the majors? De Aza was great from his first game up until the end of the year last year. While he clearly won't keep up on that torrid pace, can he produce enough to be an everyday player? Viciedo killed the ball last spring and dominated AAA pitching until his call up. After a great first game, he struggled at the plate. Can he replace Quentin? Seeing that all three of our starting outfielders and the DH have questions makes the signing of Kosuke Fukudome that much better.
Closer - It will be interesting to see how Ventura and Cooper handle the closer role. Will Addison Reed grab that role out of Spring? Will Thornton be given another shot after last season? Is Jesse Crain going to be the transitional closer allowing Reed to set up?
Dr. Phil- Can Humber build on last year? He came out of nowhere to do a formidable job for the Sox. Was it a fluke or did he find his stuff?
Beckham - Is he going to be a glove only player or is he going to rekindle the offense that made him the Savior in 2009?
This team obviously has a lot of question marks and the organization isn't even kiddie pool deep. I do look forward to seeing some of these questions get answered though. If all of the answers turn out to be the correct ones it could be a fun year. On MLB network the other day, they were discussing what team could surprise the Tigers and 2 of the 3 panelists (Mike Lowell and I believe Sean Casey) chose the Sox (Dan Plesac went with KC). There is talent here. It has been severely underperforming talent, but talent nonetheless. Maybe new voices in the clubhouse can get it out of them.