For a lot of people, the run-up to the convention on Thursday featured too much Avisail Garcia for their liking. For me, the Garcia coverage featured a little too much Gordon Beckham for my liking, in that it repackaged talk that wasn't actualized the year before. Here's Scott Merkin from Thursday:
Garcia instead exhibited a quiet confidence, looking to be in excellent shape and somewhere around 20 pounds lighter than he was at the end of last season.
And here's last year:
Avi Garcia on present phys. condition: "I don’t know how much I lost, but I know I’m skinny. I don’t know how much, but I feel really good."— Scott Merkin (@scottmerkin) January 24, 2015
Another year of this weight story, and he's going to be on the cover of supermarket tabloids next to Oprah Winfrey and Kirstie Alley.
Garica went on to talk about what he needed to do, and you can read it if you want to. He shouldn't be punished for answering questions, I don't doubt his sincerity, I understand why some will hold out hope far longer than others, and I hope to hell that he turns the tables on the majority assessment.
But I think it's vital to hold an extremely healthy skepticism, because he's not especially close to reliable in any facet of the game. While he draws easy comparisons to Dayan Viciedo, I think Mark Teahen is more apropos, as both remind me of this Bill James quote about Earl Weaver from his Guide to Baseball Managers:
DID HE PREFER TO GO WITH GOOD OFFENSIVE PLAYERS OR DID HE LIKE THE GLOVE MEN?
Most of his players were clearly one or the other. There were many defensive specialists who played regularly for him for years, including Dempsey, Belanger, Larry Harlow, Etchebarren, Hendricks, Dauer, Paul Blair, and the aging Brooks Robinson. His teams always played outstanding defense. He also found room for some players who were slow and didn't play great defense, including Boog Powell, Ken Singleton, and a boatload of pinch-hitting outfielders.
What Weaver never used were the guys who didn't do anything specific, but looked good in the uniform, the .260 hitters with 10 to 15 homers, a little speed and so-so defense. [...]
That description basically fits Garcia to fitted T, except "so-so" is too kind of an adjective for his defense. And when I read this, I'm apprehensive about the idea of Garcia looking better in a uniform, because it's not like this situation needs any more noise.
It'd be far easier to buy into the idea of Garcia's last stand if Trayce Thompson were still around, because you could simply swap starters if both players proved that 2015 was their new normal, for better or for worse. But as much as I enjoyed J.B. Shuck's effort last season, he's not the same kind of safety net, so strenuously questioning this arrangement is fair and just when there appears to be a worrisome lack of safeguards.
That's why I'm not ruling out the possibility of a late addition, even though Garcia is front-and-center right now. After all, the White Sox traded Micah Johnson days after posting this video:
At least Thompson is gone for a good reason: He was instrumental in getting Todd Frazier to the White Sox, and Frazier's the key in the White Sox being projectably better than last season.
SoxFest will mark the official introduction for the South Side's new third baseman, but he's already won over David Haugh, who is also stumping for Dexter Fowler:
They wisely avoided overpaying for enigmatic free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, whose attitude concerned the Sox, but signing free-agent Dexter Fowler would go a long way toward establishing legitimacy for 2016. Fowler would fit nicely in a clubhouse that values character and welcomes the kind of candor Frazier brings.
"That's really important,'' said Frazier, who turns 30 next month. "I mean, you don't have to get along with everybody. It's all right to have a little friction because sometimes that's needed during the year. You don't look for it. I'm just trying to meet everybody and get a sense of what they're about … like the new kid in school.''
I know I already used the "my kingdom for a smooth transition" line with Frazier, but this is why. I'd very much like to see an episode of "Good Guy Plays Well For White Sox, " and this passage is just begging for another serving of "Good Guy Deals With Professional Crisis For White Sox While Exciting Guy Delights Different Fan Base With Highlights And Wins Despite Occasional Headaches."
The White Sox could use another badass, if only to fill out the new spring training uniform:
I'm predisposed to souring on reboots even if I might actually enjoy them, whether it's uniforms, foodstuffs or my favorite TV shows being revived on Netflix. I know a new idea doesn't die every time an old thing is brought back to life, but it sometimes feels like it.
That said, the national reaction to the "Batter Man" logo is difficult to ignore, especially since I've seen them show up on caps in my neck of the woods with people who otherwise pay no attention to the Sox.
Setting aside the clash of the logos -- I'm guessing the sleeve "Sox" is there to not let anybody get too carried away -- it has promise, especially with the actual color by the handle of the bat. I'm less sold on the cap, as it looks rather bland without the "Sox," especially without the red in it.
I wonder if the organization is using this jersey as a trial balloon, since the only other jersey to be this far removed from their usual look is the Rays. If so, I look forward to seeing whether its popularity is more than they bargained for. Tampa Bay's jersey has no such nod to its traditional logo, so they might be ready to move on. Then again, the jersey does symbolize the franchise's natural tendency toward straddling fences.