Sergio Santos: The great cheap hope

Bobby Jenks and Sergio Santos both contributed a scoreless inning to the cause during the Sox’s 9-5 loss to Kansas City on Monday.
One of them left the field pointing to the sky in celebration, and one might think that it would’ve been the guy who wasn’t even a pitcher at this point last year.
But nope, it was Jenks.  Granted, it was a self-deprecating gesture, as Jenks has never been a great spring pitcher.  Yet it’s also an acknowledgment from the man himself about how high-maintenance he’s become. His back hurts. His calf hurts. He’s too fat.  He’s in great shape. His velocity will come around. He doesn’t need velocity. He needs to wind up.
There’s never one fix, one solution, which is why 75 percent of Jenks-related discussion pertains to getting him back to his old self, whatever that is right now. He’s never a fun guy to talk about.
Through all the hand-wringing, he’s become a great foil for Santos, who is just rocking and firing his way to great results — similar to the way Jenks did in 2005.
I think we can get used to Santos being the seventh reliever.  He walked one and struck out two over his inning of work. His fastball hit the high-90s, and his strikeouts — one Mike Aviles, one Wilson Betemit — came on high-80s sliders. He has the liveliest stuff in the Sox bullpen, and he’s too dynamic to hide from other teams.
It’s remarkable, and also a little disconcerting.  The Sox have pumped a lot of money into the bullpen, and they’ve also acquired some highly touted relief candidates from other teams’ farm system, and yet it’s a career position player who’s lapping the field in terms of pure stuff.
That said, I’m not going to complain.  Ever since the Great Bullpen Collapse of 2007, the Sox have lagged behind in finding league-minimum relievers.  Outside of D.J. Carrasco, every one they’ve tried has had an obvious, fatal design flaw.
Santos’ control might be his undoing, for all we know, but it’s too early to tell.  It’s not premature to say he has a high-leverage repertoire, though, and that alone is encouraging.  The Sox haven’t graduated too many guys who have the pitches to get out of tight situations. Bobby Jenks was the last internal option; Matt Thornton was the last cheap one.
Fortunately, nobody needs to know that much about Santos at this moment.  He doesn’t need to be a high-leverage reliever — he just can’t be a disaster.  Ozzie Guillen has experience in getting work for delicate bullpen cases without killing the team (see MacDougal, Mike), and Santos will probably be on that plan if he makes it on the Opening Day roster.
And if he does get that far, watching him in action should turn out to be one of the highlights of April, for better or for worse. It’s not often Sox fans have looked forward to watching a relief pitcher, but Santos seems to be a different case in almost every way.
Jake Peavy redefined the phrase “getting his work in” on Monday. The Royals rocked him for seven runs on 10 hits over three innings, but that’s because 71 of 74 Peavy pitches were fastballs.

“I’ll take my chances in the regular season,” said Peavy, who followed his 74 in-game pitches with 21 in the bullpen. “That’s a good team but obviously it will be a different story when you go out there with a game plan for each hitter. I know it was hard for you guys to believe or see, but today was another step for me in the right direction.
“The bottom line is I’m trying to build up arm strength. I was 91 to 94 [mph] today, building velocity and strength. It really went well. I threw three breaking balls and got outs on two and a take on one.”

He’s obviously hurt.
Christian Marrero Reading Room:
*Oney Guillen should quit while he’s behind. Even Ozzie Guillen agrees. But I love this Paul Konerko quote:

“As a rule of thumb, twice a month something is going to come up. Sometimes it’s back-to-back in a week, sometimes every other week, but if you’re a White Sox player you just kind of prepare that it’s not boring around here and things kind of pop up. That’s just the way it is. There’s always some controversies that pop up here that are a little different than most teams, but that’s the way we roll here.’’

*The Birmingham Barons will be the Sox’s Double-A team through 2014, at least.
*Scott Podsednik says he thinks there were misunderstandings between his camp and the White Sox during early offseason negotiations, but harbors no ill will.
*White Sox previews:

Any team on which what’s left of Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre and Omar Vizquel have reasonably prominent roles could be a disaster. If any team won’t be, though, it’s this one.

It’s not clear why Kenny Williams decided to acquire a player who hits like Chris Getz and plays left field (Juan Pierre) and trade the real Chris Getz for the pricier Mark Teahen instead of just using the money given to both Teahen and Pierre and hiring a left fielder who could hit.  But that’s what he did, and the fans will turn on these two for not living up to their billings.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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the comment from ribat in the podsednik article is a gem:
“This is about the 20th time that Merkin has mentioned this couch that Pods spent the first part of the ’09 season sitting on, and I for one would like more details. Was it traditional? Convertable? How many weeks was he actually on it? Did he leave it to use the bathroom? Sleep there? C’mon Scott, don’t leave us hanging.”
i also got my sox outsider book in the mail the other day. impressive work jim!


If Sergio brings his saxophone up north, he will simply be a force of nature.
Another fun quote from the BDD preview: “Ageless wonder Omar Vizquel can amazingly still play the field like a much younger man, and hits better than most pitchers.” Sick burn.


“fans will turn on teahan” hell i already have


A disaster of an offseason with Teahen the poster boy for bad moves. That’s not saying we won’t compete this year or that I’m not pulling for the team, but we haven’t significantly improved since acquiring Peavy. Had they just gotten Figgins, we could have kept Getz as a back-up and/or played Chone in left with Slappy Pierre hitting 9th. How can Seattle afford all these free-agents and we get Jones and Vizquel!!!


i will never turn on williams for getting rid of getz and fields. teahen might be bad, but getz is a virtual nothing to a major league team.


its still not the trade that upsets me, at the time its hard to argue we didnt get the best player in the deal, its the retarded extention that was immediately handed over that is beyond a head scratcher


It isn’t what we gave up to get Teahen, it’s that he really wasn’t the player that was needed. The worst defense in the AL picks up a player for their infield who is sub-par at his position. And I know it’s only spring training, but the guy’s already pressing at the plate!
Clearly Fields was a bust but the rap on Getz I really don’t understand. It seems he was always getting hurt, which is not good considering he’s still young. Still, he hit okay, had the speed Ozzie loves so much, and was at least adequate at 2nd. No doubt he’s a better back-up than a starter. My point is, we needed a good defender like Figgins or Beltre at third and we get Teahen. The extention, as Knox mentions, seemed rather unnecessary. Getting Damon would have made our line-up far more formidable and allayed the posibility that we may get frustrated with Pierre leading off down the line. Instead, we let him go to a team in our division and you damn well know Johnny boy is going to beat us 1 or 2 games this year. Obviously Williams knows all this and knows a helluva lot more about the game than I do (at least I hope) But the Sox failed to make the commitment to winning by shopping for players at the 99 cents store — when all the while they claim they’re all about winning.


From the previous post:
“In previous years, we’ve been treated to a Boone Logan who was about to be overwhelmed”
Santos could pretty easily be the same thing, given level of experience. That said I’m fine with having him in the bullpen to start given his options situation. If he bombs he’s easy to replace.


great point and it hasnt been brought up too much
you keep santos and he is good, its a good decesion
you keep him and he is bad, you no longer have to worry about someone else claiming him so you can send him down and go right to acquino or hudson and let santos develope a bit more in the minors
its win win for him to make the club initially


“Outside of D.J. Carrasco, every one they’ve tried has had an obvious, fatal design flaw…”
…which bwgs the obviuos question…why not just keep Carasco?