In a fortnight, everything counts

Ozzie Guillen, who owns a 19 percent success rate with sentences in his young Twitter career, became quite the statesman as the social media flap involving his son, Oney, wound down.
He hit all the right points:

  • “You cannot Tweet or talk bad about this team while you’re getting paid by this organization.”
  • “I told my kids: Every day you walk, you represent your mom, you represent myself. And every mistake you make, that gets back to us.”
  • “Everyone should be behind us and hopefully in November, we’re celebrating with a trophy and have a nice book about how this season began.

AHEM.
Both Guillen and Kenny Williams said it hasn’t affected their relationship, but a Ken Rosenthal article touched on some of my impressions about Williams’ reactions to these types of distractions.

All of this struck me Saturday as I spoke with Williams at the team’s training facility in Glendale, Ariz. Williams, sitting in a golf cart, seemed worn out — not by Guillen, but by what he called “the peripheral changes around the game that have made it difficult to navigate your way through your job.”
He seemed to be referring to social media — Twitter, Facebook, etc. — but he could have been talking about local media, national media, even MLB-operated media. The cycle of non-stop information, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

For now, though, it looks like we won’t have to worry about Sox employees talking trash in public for at least a couple days.  So let’s take a cue from Williams and Guillen and talk about the on-field product, since we’re only a fortnight away from Opening Day, and I like using the word “fortnight.”
BIG CONTRACTS

Sometimes, I get the feeling that Jake Peavy is trying a little too hard to be liked.  He already has the the 110 percent intensity and self-reflexive profanity down pat — now he’s making his stance against the Cubs known as well.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because maybe he’ll friend-dump Toby Keith if we all complain about it.  But really, if he pitches like he has so far (8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K), he could lead “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” at Wrigley Field on a weekly basis and few would care.
Meanwhile, Alex Rios (.304/.346/.739) has everything working for him so far, with the exception of a sore quad, which he says is fine after Sunday’s game. He’s even making strides in the area of “Chicago toughness,” which is a great indicator for something, I’m sure.
Ken Rosenthal talked to Rios, who reaffirmed Greg Walker’s impact during the midwinter Miami workout.
ROTATING DH
Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay have silenced the masses for the time being by being the Sox’s two best hitters at Camelback Ranch. Kotsay went 2-for-3 on Sunday to raise his average to .433, while Jones is slugging a team-best .769.
BACK END OF THE BULLPEN
Thank goodness for Matt Thornton, who has allowed just one hit over four scoreless innings, striking out four. The rest of the late-inning workers are in flux.  Bobby Jenks still has calf problems, but an MRI showed no structural damage and he says he’ll be ready for Opening Day. It’s hard to be too optimistic  about J.J. “89.4 percent” Putz, who seems like he’s still rounding into game shape.
Scott Linebrink? He’s working on visualization. Oh boy.
FRONT END OF THE BULLPEN
It’s not often — at least in White Sox camp — that the fight for the last bullpen spot is a good one. In previous years, we’ve been treated to a Boone Logan who was about to be overwhelmed, and Nick Masset and Mike MacDougal winning the job by default.
Of course, the Sox may have no choice to go with Sergio Santos, but nobody can quite complain about that, what with the 0.00 ERA and all. At the very least, he’s shown flashes of dominance more often than bouts of wildness, even if Greg Aquino would have an edge with his 6 1/3 hitless innings, all things being equal.
But behind those two, a lot of guys are throwing the ball well.  Dan Hudson has impressed Ozzie Guillen, and Carlos Torres is rounding into shape with two scoreless innings on Sunday, improving his overall line (10 IP, 13 H, 4 BB, 11 K).
LAST BENCH SPOT
Jayson Nix is still getting great results (.320/.393/.440) despite too many strikeouts (nine over 28 plate appearances). Brent Lillibridge is still getting poor results (.208/.296/.292) thanks in part to too many strikeouts (seven over 27). Shouldn’t be a contest, although Nix committed error No. 4 on Sunday.
FIRST SPRINGS
Guillen is riding Nix and Lillibridge for the K rates, maybe in part because two first-timers are showing them up in the contact department.
Had C.J. Retherford played an inning above Double-A, he might be under more serious consideration for the utility job. He’s been terrific thus far, hitting .318/.375/.545 and walking more often (twice) than he’s struck out (once) over 24 PAs.  Most of those are coming in the second half of games, but the competition he’s facing isn’t much different from Lillibridge’s.
Brent Morel is still a couple years away, kinda slapping away early in the count at this point. Still, he’s pantsing Lillibridge in the production department (.393 slugging, four strikeouts over 28 PAs).
An exception to Guillen’s preferences: Jordan Danks.  The manager has praised the younger Danks, even though he’s all walks (nine), strikeouts (11) and singles (one extra-base hit) over his 43 plate appearances.
THE BIG QUESTION
Mark Teahen is taking his cuts in minor-league camp at the moment, but not because his spring training line is worthy of a trip to Winston-Salem.
As Walker describes the problem:

“Right now the effort level is too high right now,” Walker said. “There’s no fluidity to it. Everything is hard. He needs to slow the game down. It’s too fast. It happens to everyone. All we’re looking for is the guy who hits to all fields and hits line drives and in gaps and drives in runs. He’s done it before.”

Teahen is 3-for-25 with one walk, seven strikeouts and zero extra-base hits thus far, and it’s a soft .120.  Even Guillen says, “I didn’t like his swing.”
I wonder how much the new contract factors into it.  If Teahen got off to the slow start in his first year of arbitration, there would be little cause for concern, because if he completely crapped the bed, the Sox would have the option of moving on.  That three-year contract puts Teahen under the microscope in a major way, though, and the situation could get Linebrinkey in a hurry.
In other words, it’s time to visualize.
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Sunday was a big day for the Minnesota Twins:

The second half of that contract is going to be fascinating. Mauer hasn’t been the healthiest of guys so far, and catching doesn’t exactly help guys stay in the lineup.  Still, it’s good for baseball that he’s in Minnesota, even if it’s bad news for the White Sox for several seasons.
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Site note: At some point this week, you may experience a site outage. It’s planned, as I’m doing some spring cleaning and getting all my domain- and hosting-related ducks in a row before the season begins.  I’ll post updates on Twitter if necessary.

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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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iowaoaks

Listening to the game yesterday… Just made me want the season to get here that much faster.
I’m sure it was worse last year, what with the WBC, but it feels like spring training will take for ever to end. Just like December when you are five waiting for X-mas.
It was and will be awesome listening to Boston and New York fans cry about not getting a shot at Mauer in the open market.
Tears of unfathomable sadness.

cushinglee

God knows I can’t stand the Twins–but I would much rather see Mauer in Minnesota instead of an East Coast team that ESPN sucks up to.

knoxfire30

I’ve been calling this teahan impending disaster since before the ink was dry on that extention it made no sense then, makes no sense now and his god awful spring is really taking the point home. Not only has he not hit, but did anyone watch the televised game a few days ago, he had 3 of those plays that arent scored errors but are plays that should be made… so he cant hit for much average or power, doesnt have a strong arm, doesnt field everything, limited range… what does this guy do well again? Oh and top all that off with 3 years of diminishing statistics.
During the broadcast Kenny Williams made it very clear that he was sick and tired of talking about bullshit and not baseball, glad he took a hard line approach and canned Guillens kid, talk about an ungreatful kid
Very interesting mauer extention, as a catcher he is worth every cent, but as a 1b/DH with an injury history the last 3 or 4 years could be dicey. Either way the twins HAD to make this move and when you sign an 8 year deal chances are it will be the next GM’s problme not yours.

larry

seems to me that the primary reason CJ isn’t – and shouldn’t be – getting more consideration is his weak defense. he can play an average 2B – maybe – and he can – maybe – play 3B. you better be hitting if that’s your defensive resume. nix and lillibridge can play all of the non-1B infield positions and also at least moonlight in the OF.

bigfun

Is the scouting report on his defense negative? He had positive TotalZone numbers at 3B in A ball and averageish ones at 2B in AA.

ricksch

Isn’t it interesting that the Twins have all this money to sign Mauer and everyone else they’ve desired this year? And then you have the Tigers, with a $113m payroll despite the fact that they play in Foreclosure City where you’d think going to a ballgame would be something of a luxury. Meanwhile, the Sox play in this “tiny” market called Chicago and have to make big bones out of signing Jones ($500K) and Vizquel, $1.3m. Basically, Reinsdorf only spends what he has to in order to put a decent product on the field. Then they talk that they’re all about winning. BS Jerry, you are a greedy a-hole who charges more for spring training games than the A’s do for regular season tix.
Finally, Melissa Isaacson writes an article about Viciedo, essentially summing up what we all discussed last week on these boards. She goes on to mention that Viciedo would have to wait behind Teahen at third. I could almost hear Knox screaming. We may have two busts at third. Jerry and Kenny never made a decent effort to get Chone Figgins, who would have solved several needs for the Sox all at once. They had a chance to salvage the off-season somewhat by signing Damon, but let him go to Detroit where his bat will beat us at least 2-3 games.
I’ve been behind Williams because AT LEAST he knows what the team actually needs. But the cheapness is going to keep us out of the elite class for the foreseeable future. Maybe if Peavy can throw a shutout every time he takes the mound we’ll get another flag. Otherwise, I guess we won one and will have to wait for another insane planetary alignment for another.