The most important White Sox: Nos. 26-14

Quick question: If Brent Lillibridge is indeed on Twitter (and I”m skeptical, considering the date and the cryptic “BS Lillibridge”) and Lillibridge is indeed using this photoshop job I did on the old site as his profile picture:

Would this the greatest achievement of my blogging career to date? And should I be proud or ashamed?

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Moving on, after going through the bottom third of the roster a couple of days ago, let’s proceed through the creamy middle of the White Sox roster.

You’ll see that it starts to get interesting, and I’d be willing to hear all sides, should you disagree with me or the consensus.

No. 26: Randy Williams (You said: 23)

Nothing against RAAAAAAAANDY!, who and can pitch well when restricted by Ozzie Guillen and is the kind of guy I pull for. It’s just that White Sox LOOGYs are interchangeable by nature.

No. 25: Carlos Torres (You said: 24)

I think he’ll eventually find a spot in the bullpen, serving as the long reliever/swingman Ozzie Guillen likes having at his disposal.  It would certainly behoove him and the team to not embarrass himself, because he could be useful for this team.

No. 24: Sergio Santos (You said: 21)

Santos just needs to be good enough to stay on the roster, or bad enough that nobody else will want him.  The former rather than the latter, preferably.  He probably won’t face any high-leverage situations before the 14th inning, unless he’s some kind of revelation right off the bat.

No. 23: Omar Vizquel (You said: 26)

Everybody knows what he can and can’t do.  He got 195 plate appearances with the Texas Rangers last year, and that seems like too many.  Then again, he backed up a rookie and filled in for an injury.  I’d like to see that number closer to 160, personally, and if the starting infielders take care of their business, Vizquel can spend most of his time imparting wisdom.

No. 22: Scott Linebrink (You said: 15)

The last couple years have torn him into two pieces: Bad and worse!

Big difference! Maybe the majority thinks Linebrink is capable of more.  I’d like to believe it, but reading between the lines, it seems like a pretty desperate situation. Guillen might be worried more than anybody.

No. 21: Freddy Garcia (You said: 13)

I’m pretty pessimistic about Full-Season Freddy. More specifically, Midseason Freddy.  He just needs to get through April, after which the chips can fall where they may.

Big difference! I don’t think the expectations are much higher for Garcia than they were for Bartolo Colon.

No. 20: Juan Pierre (You said: 16)

It’s hard to get excited about a player whose chief selling point is that his worst isn’t as bad as some players in recent Sox history.  His floor — an OBP no-worse than the .320s — is pretty well-established, and the Sox are paying him for 150+ games of non-abysmality, which reflects poorly on all sides.

No. 19: Jayson Nix (You said: 28)

Nix’s chief purpose is to prevent Brent Lillibridge from reaching the roster, staying healthy and cutting down on the mental errors.  He  provides a decent alternative to Mark Teahen when a lefty’s on the mound, but only so much since the Sox are already righty-heavy.

Big difference! I’m placing a lot of emphasis on power, and that’s one thing Nix has going for him, at least relative to his position.

No. 18: A.J. Pierzynski (You said: 11)

Pierzynski’s profile in White Sox Outsider 2010 (BUY IT!) was the most interesting to write, and hopefully the most interesting to read.  He finds a way to cancel out most of his contributions on an individual game level, but positional scarcity and endurance allow him to compile value by the season’s end.  I think he can be replaced, even if two people have to do it. For the record, though I’d like to avoid that if at all possible.

Big difference! One year ago, I’d be right there with you.  I just think he’s aging more deceptively than most.

No. 17: Mark Kotsay (You said: 22)

Kotsay’s beard must emit pheromones that get managers hot, and I can’t blame Sox fans or brass for liking him.  He’s had a terrific last two baseball months, and he looks like he has more fun on the field than any other guy on the team.  That also makes him a great candidate to be overplayed if he regresses to the mean.  He can make it a non-issue by replicating his last two baseball months, but the odds aren’t in his favor.

Big difference! In terms of talent, he’s lower on this list.  But if his back problems hamper him again, we could be in for a lot of pop-ups.

No. 16: Daniel Hudson (You said: 19)

Five years ago, the Sox entered the season with a fifth starter who was guaranteed to miss a significant chunk of time. Brandon McCarthy served as valuable protection against the inevitable, going 3-2 with a 4.03 ERA over 10 starts.  Hudson will be called upon at some point this season, and answering the call would be such a huge lift to a team that is going to need run prevention help from unexpected sources.
No. 15: J.J. Putz (You said: 18)

Putz doesn’t have the most responsibility riding on his shoulders.  Everybody on the Sox has to be prepared for Putz to only be good for 20 innings.  But Putz’s potential means that he can change the shape of the bullpen more than anybody else.  A return to form means that the eighth inning is taken care of, frees up bromantic Matt Thornton for the most desperate of situations, insures against a Bobby Jenks injury, allows Guillen to weather Tony Pena’s streaky nature, and relegates Linebrink to lower leverage roles.  Them’s a lot of dominoes, and Putz has the power.
No. 14: Andruw Jones (You said: 14)

On one hand, this feels too high for Jones, because the Sox front office has contingency plans in the event that Jones can’t live up to his $500,000 contract.  Yet the Sox are so short on power that a halfway decent power season — his .459 slugging percentage seems like as good a number as any to throw out there — would help the Sox out a lot.  He hit 17 homers in 331 plate appearances last year, and there aren’t many guys on the roster who are guaranteed to his 17 over a full season.
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Christian Marrero Reading Room:
*Jake Peavy is the subject of plenty of talk, good and bad, but this line stuck out like, well, you know:

Konerko had a cortisone shot in his left hand to treat a lingering thumb injury, but a team spokesman said he’ll play Friday in Atlanta.

*Brian Anderson, in the words of Royals manager Trey Hillman, “has elected to become a pitcher.” Just last year, he was too good to platoon.  Now he’s resorting to emergency measures to try to crack Kansas City’s 25-man roster.
*Jermaine Dye and the Brewers couldn’t come to terms.
*Guillen, trying his hand at his first slogan since “Paws Up,” goes with “Don’t Hate Ozzie. Hate the White Sox.”
*Carl has a new strip up at Smells Like Mascot.
*J.J. tries not to get swayed by spring performances when deciding whether to buy or sell on capricious players.

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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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mechanicalturk

If lil’ bridge is indeed the twitterer (which I am inclined to believe based on the Pineville location tags and that he seems to be talking with Teahen, you’d think we’d learn if something were fishy there) then absolutely be proud.
And props to Lillibridge for a sense of humor about being criticized by jerks on the other side of a computer screen.
As for BA, I imagine that he met Mr. Wizard and thought to himself “pffft, I can do better than this jagoff.” I imagine they’ll try him out, find that he only has an arrow-straight 84 mph fastball, and just let him hang around AAA as an outfielder. Of course, that’s all only if he somehow clears waivers without being claimed.

knoxfire30

I CANT BELIEVE your AJ ranking, I just cant. This guy is top 5 on my list, he absolutely cant go down. We have ramon freaking castro backing him up, and tyler flowers who i like has still proven nothing at the mlb level. The whole winning the division thing is tied up in one basket and that is having dominant starting and relief pitching, AJ is crucial to that in how he handles a staff and calls a game. Plus while not being a run producer he does seem to have quite a few clutch moments at the plate over the course of a season. I just dont get that ranking at all.

bigfun

I put him at #11 – I agree with you to an extent, but I don’t think he’s top 5. For one thing it’s very unlikely that he goes down – the dude is a tank. He’s one of the most consistent players on the team.
Secondly Castro is better than he looked last year, and AJ is hardly a standout bat outside the catcher context anyway. I mean look at this: http://www.fangraphs.com/graphs/514_746_C_cseason_full_8_20091006.png
And Flowers might start slow, but I’m not too worried about him proving himself in the majors – his AA numbers already equate to .251/.367/.431 in the majors. He probably won’t be that good right away but to even have that potential for a rookie is awesome.
I think the handling the staff thing is a good point you’re making, as many people strongly disagree about how much of a difference that makes. So that could be a factor. Then again, I think about that July 24 game last year

knoxfire30

Assuming health hurts my arguement, and as healthy as AJ has been he is still a catcher and thats an easy position to go down at. I have seen what castro can do in the AAAA NL and on a team with no real catching options but I have zero faith in him to be a starter for the sox.
When I make a list like this I do it in the order of who can I afford to lose and still win the division. I cant win the division without AJ as a catcher for 120+ games this year. Thats why he gets such a high grade from me.

striker

I believe Castro had a better catchers ERA than Pierzynski did, so he can handle the staff. He caught Buerhle’s perfect game.
As Jim pointed out, AJ can hit but not with RISP.
I’m not arguing your ranking value, just playing the devil’s advocate on what AJ’s value is to the team.