The inexorable march of spring training

In hindsight, maybe the Twitter flap was the best thing to happen to the White Sox.  Kenny Williams called the debacle “draining,” but following the Sox’s box scores have the same effect.  A move from Tucson to Glendale hasn’t helped the Sox muster any additional enthusiasm for the spring schedule.
They lost both games of split-squad action on Sunday, scoring one run over the two contests.  They’re 2-8-1 over their last 11 games, and even when they pull out a win, it’s thanks to facing guys like Tim Redding.
It doesn’t matter, of course, but I’m getting the idea that the Sox are so bored, they’ve taken to messing with us. It’s not just that…

Everybody’s getting hammered, and nobody cares

*Jake Peavy gives up seven runs on 12 hits over seven innings in a minor-league game, but says that getting up for minor-league games isn’t the best choice for the extremely intense.
*Freddy Garcia gets tagged for seven runs on 11 hits over five innings, and Ozzie Guillen blames it on the outfield positioning and the lack of Harold Baines.
*Gavin Floyd is “peppered” for eight hits over six innings against the Rangers, including two bases-loaded jams.
No, what’s worse is seeing…

Bad ideas gain traction

*Sergio Santos has the 12th bullpen spot all but wrapped up, which is leading people to wonder whether a 13th reliever is necessary.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Royals have hit as many homers as the Sox this spring (19), and in two fewer games.
These two ideas are connected.
Adding a 13th reliever means goodbye to Jayson Nix.  I don’t care much for Nix’s game — he has tools, but his mind seems to let him down — yet he can hit left-handed pitching, and for power.  He could make a decent platoon partner for Mark Teahen, if Teahen underwhelms like many of us are expecting.
A 13th pitcher rarely appears in victories, but Nix could appear in White Sox winners on a fairly routine basis.
That’s the heart of the matter.  The Sox have one of the deepest starting rotations in the league, and they’ve invested a commensurate amount of money, talent and thought into it.  And yet all that money and talent isn’t enough to eliminate hand-wringing over who would pitch in the fourth inning after a starter’s early exit.
The answer’s simple:  Santos (or anybody else if Santos flops) can pitch then, Tony Pena can go two, and that’s the only time Randy Williams should be allowed to face righties.  That combination can work once a week. If a D.J. Carrasco type is truly needed, the Sox can cross that bridge when they get to it.  That bridge’s name is “Carlos Torres.”
I don’t think the Sox are going to carry 13 pitchers, but it’s worth talking about.  Hawk Harrelson often says that the offense is only as good as the bullpen, but the opposite is true when it comes to this kind of glut.  Carrying an extra reliever who adds little to the cause of winning games restricts the mixing and matching that forsaking a true DH was supposed to provide.  And at that point, the Sox are half-assing both chief tenets of their offseason strategy, neither riding on the backs of the starters nor truly tailoring lineups to fit the need.
Forget Jake Peavy or Gordon Beckham.  The face of that team — one with no identifiable traits — is Mark Teahen.
*Tyler Flowers’ bad 18 at-bats have doooooomed him.  At least if you believe Joe Cowley:

4. Tyler Flowers, C — With Brent Lillibridge falling short of expectations, the Javy Vazquez deal is starting to look one-sided, especially with Flowers looking lost at the plate this spring.
In other words, re-sign A.J. Pierzynski.
Keeper or trade bait: Trade bait.

and Phil Rogers:

Tyler Flowers’ unimpressive spring showing makes it more likely the White Sox will look to extend catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s contract during the season. …

The more that’s written about Flowers, the steeper his uphill climb to gain respect in Chicago becomes.  The problem is twofold:
No. 1: He strikes out a lot. This is a big problem for some people, both inside and outside the White Sox organization.
No. 2: Catchers need more time to start hitting. Guys who create projection systems have seen this pattern with catchers before. Hell, Matt Wieters was rocking a .670 OPS over his first two months before his bat started coming around, and he was projected to be Jesus with a chest protector by PECOTA.
Sticking with Flowers as Pierzynski’s replacement is going to take a mission statement,  sticktoitiveness and balls.  Kenny Williams usually has them, but he spent most of this offseason deferring to Guillen.  If that keeps up, I can see Flowers not having much of a future in Chicago.
But that’s not the senseless part of the equation. Now, extending a 33-year-old catcher with limited physical skills and an even more restrictive market… I mean, what the hell’s the rush?
(Additional senseless part: Jordan Danks, he of the same strikeout rate and a .200 batting average, is considered a “keeper” by Cowley.)
At least Mark Gonzalez is keeping a level head, for the time being.  I appreciated this sly reference to Pierzynski’s self-defeating ways:

“I like this style,” said A.J. Pierzynski, who hasn’t been afraid to attempt to stretch singles into doubles.


  • 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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Jim, you always bring the sanity, and in the case of the Flowers bashing that’s been going on lately I have to say I don’t get it. Anybody remember Ryan Sweeney? The guy had a great spring a few years back and was the second coming. I suspect that Rogers just wants the Vasquez trade to be a total waste so he can harp on and on about it.


Cowley and Rogers you would hope know better, but of course they dont. Its unbelievable how stupid those statements are but its just what you come to expect picking up a newspaper in chicago nowadays.
13 pitchers is a joke, to tell you the truth I hate the idea of 12 arms, some guys on that staff need to sack up and realize it is possible for starters to go past 5 or 6 innings and relievers to come in for more then 1 inning. Im not a jayson nix fan, but he gives us more options and more in game use in terms of “winning” a game then a 13th pitcher would and its by a substantial margin.
The sox spring offense has been bad, the pitching doesnt worry me at all, a little chicago smog will have all our guys stuff breaking sharper and more consistently, not to mention using a full arsenal will prevent some of the rediculous box score numbers that have lit up our guys.
Its going to come down to the offense being atleast average as well as the defense. Has anyone noticed how terrible the defense has been? And again its not just the number of errors its also all those plays that keep going as spring time hits (cant make an error in professional baseball anymore) and just simply arent made.


Doesn’t the NEED for a Carrasco type leave when Richard left the rotation…?


Also, as to the “Flowers strikes out a lot” problem, he also walks a lot. I thought that made striking out less of a problem with the higher-ups, or is that just for Swisher?


I am reminded of this:

I’d rather see a backup infielder not named Omar Vizquel and a backup outfielder not named Andruw Jones on the roster. Especially if we see Andruw DH (or, my preference, Jones in RF and Q! at DH, but definitely NOT Rios in RF and Jones in CF like we’ve seen this spring), then carrying 13 pitchers leaves the bench options for pinch hitting/pinch running at Castro, Kotsay, and Vizquel. Ozzie says he wants to run this team more like an NL team, play ozzieball, hit and run and steal and whatnot, and while the team has gotten faster there are still a few guys I’m gonna be pinch running for when it really counts.
Personally I might be rooting for 11 pitchers and adding De Aza and Nix if I thought Santos could clear waivers. I know De Aza won’t hit like he has this spring, but he’s shown good speed and I’d prefer him as a defensive option over Andruw.
For this team, I see the offense being the major issue, and adding at least some ability to bring speed off the bench and potentially manufacture a few runs late in close games could make a big difference. Carrying 13 pitches in my mind pretty much eliminates that option and seems like it could just make a bad offense worse without making a good pitching staff any better. That is, if we even see that 13th pitcher at all.


Another issue with having thirteen pitchers is that nix is out of options. If we send him to AAA and he doesn’t clear waivers, then Lillibridge becomes the first infielder to be called up when an injury happens or they change their mind about wanting thirteen pitchers.


yea that dropoff is huge, lillibridge wouldnt be on my AA team, why he keeps getting chances is beyond me


13 pitchers are a necessity when you’re trying to win on two runs a game.


how is that you really expect randy williams, scott linebrink, greg acquino or sergio santos to be pitching in 1 or 2 run games??? I mean it wasnt that long ago teams had 4 man rotations and 8 or 9 man staffs, keeping 13 is embaressing. SACK UP BULLPEN


If you have a team that needs a 13th pitcher, than that team isn’t very good.
As for giving up on Flowers after a bad couple of weeks in spring training–ridiculous.


This Sox hitting lineup is deep enough to have Ramirez batting 9th! This is the best bases loaded clutch home run hitter they have, six grand slams in his only two seasons in the majors. The lineup is deep enough that they will regularly have him at the bottom. It makes sense, because ahead of him is going to be Alex Rios, a noticeably in shape Andruw Jones, and Mark Teahen, a career .380 hitter at Cel field. These concerns about the sox hitting lineup is more about them not looking like a fantasy home run hitting lineup, but this is real baseball not a video game. Go sox! They don’t need Nyx really, i would rather have Santos.


I hate how negative im being with Teahan, but again I have to bring this up, where are people getting their info on him being a sox killer and a 380 hitter at the cell????
Every time i check his numbers i dont see it, via baseball reference at us cellular field he is a 261 hitter with a sluggish 514 slugging percentage