Throughout this week, I’m going to run down the 40 most important (potential) White Sox in 2010.
You answered the question earlier, and I’m doing it now — “Who needs to be ‘good?'” For instance, if plantar fasciitis robs Carlos Quentin of half his season and Juan Pierre has a nice year by his standards, the Sox are screwed. Conversely, if Quentin returns to his 2006 form and Pierre’s OBP languishes in the .310s, Ozzie Guillen can work with that.
Looking at it another way: If Jayson Nix has a ‘good’ year, he’ll probably prevent C.J. Retherford from making his major-league debut. At least until September.
If it still doesn’t make much sense, well, just treat it as a method of discussing expectations. That’s what I’m hoping to get out of it above all else. But it seems like people generally have the same concept as I do.
No. 40: Brian Omogrosso (You said: 38)
With all the right-handed relievers who struggle to throw strikes and retire lefties currently in the system, Omogrosso is the least likely to last a full season. The guy just has to figure out how to stay healthy, first.
No. 39: Freddy Dolsi (You said: 35)
Dolsi strikes me as a Kelvin Jimenez type — picked off the waiver wire, added to the 40-man, but not for long. He has the sinking fastball that the Sox front office loves, but he can’t locate it. He frustrated management in Detroit, and I don’t see that stopping in Charlotte.
No. 38: Lucas Harrell (You said: 40)
I cut off the list at 40, meaning that I had to choose between Harrell, Brandon Hynick and Jeff Marquez as the owner of the final spot. I opted for Harrell, because 1) Hynick’s shoulder is cause for concern, 2) I like Harrell, and 3) I don’t like Marquez.
Name aside, this is the spot for the eighth starter, and the Sox have needed one the past three years, although not desperately. Starters per year since the end of Fifth Starter Hell:
- 2009: 11
- 2008: 8
- 2007: 8
- 2006: 7
- 2005: 6
The lack of a true swingman in the bullpen means the Sox could dig this deep, but I think it’ll stop at Carlos Torres. I hope. If the Sox need an eighth starter for more than one night, I doubt it’ll be any of the three aforementioned fringe arms.
No. 37: Jordan Danks (You said: 33)
Danks’ development is crucial to the health of the Sox’ minor-league system, but with Juan Pierre, Mark Kotsay and a guy further down this list, I don’t see the Sox needing the services of Lantern Jaw Junior this year. Maybe as a September call-up.
No. 36: Jhonny Nunez (You said: 37)
Nunez strikes me as the kind of guy who could put up great numbers in Triple-A, but struggle to retire batters in the majors. The Sox are probably well aware of his major issues against left-handed hitters, and if he has the same wildly uneven splits in Charlotte, I don’t know if he’ll serve much of a purpose in a multiple-inning role. Greg Aquino would probably block him for low-leverage duty, as they both have multiple-inning capabilities.
No. 35: Dayan Viciedo (You said: 32)
The major-league salary is the fly in the ointment here, because given his age and the small pool of evidence we have regarding young Cuban hitters, the Sox would probably be happy to go step-by-step. I don’t think his best is good enough to get him at-bats — at least important ones — in 2010.
No. 34: C.J. Retherford (You said: 29)
Judging by his quotes alone, Ozzie Guillen likes Retherford’s game far more than those of Brent Lillibridge and Jayson Nix. However, he’s not on the 40-man roster, and he needs to get reps at multiple positions to boost his major-league prospects. He could force the issue if he posts another .800+ OPS at Charlotte, but he has other obstacles to overcome, too.
Big difference! Am I giving too much credit to the Sox trying to wring any possible utility out of Lillibridge before giving up on him in the offseason?
No. 33: Clevelan Santeliz (You said: 39)
Santeliz is streaky as all get-out. If Sergio Santos falters over the first month, it’s not hard to imagine Santeliz replacing him after a lights-out month in Triple-A. It’s equally easy to see him taking the Dolsi track.
Big difference! Obviously, most of you seem to think the latter is far more likely.
No. 32: Brent Lillibridge (You said: 30)
He’s the best pinch-runner of the bunch and has defensive versatility. That keeps him in the running as a short-term injury replacement who would see four innings of action over two weeks.
No. 31: Erick Threets (You said: 35)
For the last time a second lefty lasted the entire year in the Sox bullpen, you have to go back to Damaso Marte. Not only that, but the Sox usually resort to the most worthy lefty at Triple-A. That said, I think there’s a very good chance Threets will get the opportunity to be grossly misused in Chicago, although RAAAAAAAAAAANDY! is doing his damndest to keep his job right now.
No. 30: Alejandro De Aza (You said: 31)
There’s no reason he couldn’t be the second coming of Dewayne Wise, especially with Mark Kotsay’s health history. Having a great spring probably helped him bunches, and he’s been a good minor-league player in between ankle injuries.
No. 29: Tyler Flowers (You said: 27)
If Ramon Castro and A.J. Pierzynski stay healthy and the rotating DH is mildly productive, Flowers might spend the whole year in Triple-A. If he continues to strike out every four at-bats, I don’t think Guillen will be begging for his services. Hell, he could be traded — AND SOON!
No. 28: Greg Aquino (You said: 34)
Is there any reason to believe that a 32-year-old journeyman has finally discovered the secret to retiring major-league hitters? Or is it more likely that Aquino is a AAAA talent that faced the right batters in spring training? I’d put my money on the latter, but his lengthy track record of success at Triple-A will probably get him a shot at redemption.
Big difference! I think he’s a right-handed RAAAAAAAAAAANDY!
No. 27: Ramon Castro (You said: 25)
If Castro only returns to his average production against right-handed pitchers, he’d prevent any kind of drop-off at the catcher position on A.J. Pierzynski’s days off. Then again, “average” for Castro means missed time for injury, so a return to the mean isn’t easy to assume. Plus, he’s 34. It’s probably more likely that Pierzynski renders him irrelevant like he has every other White Sox backup catcher.
These stories are separate, but related!
No. 1: Ozzie Guillen tells his veterans not to worry, because he’ll be able to get them at-bats.
No. 2: Jim Thome has no problems with a reduced role in Minnesota:
“You’re talking about a Hall of Fame guy,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I wanted him to know exactly where we were at and what we had available. I didn’t want anything to be a hidden agenda, him coming here thinking I’m going to have a shot to take over as our full-time DH.
“I wanted him to know exactly where we stood, how much we wanted him and how I was going to use him and let him know that everybody gets at-bats and everybody plays. We play to win. You’re swinging well we’ll find a way to get you in the lineup.”
Most of the time, there isn’t much use in paying a ton of attention to what ex-Sox are doing for other teams, but Thome is going to be an exception.