14 players, 14 (or so) questions, and please tell two Cubs to be quiet.

I think White Sox fans like you and me have been conditioned to think beyond 2018. We have Michael Kopech coming (there I go with ‘we’ again-trust me, I realize I’m not actually a member of the White Sox organization), we have Eloy Jimenez coming, we have Luis Robert coming, etc. However, as fans, theoretically we will be paying attention this season, so let’s address our starters.

We have eight position players, one DH, and five starting pitchers. In an uncertain season that many Sox followers would probably deem a transition year, a question will be attached to each of the fourteen players here.

C Wellington Castillo (2017: .282/.323/.490, 20 HR, 53 RBI)

Question: This is such an unusual signing. Rick Hahn basically admits that 2018 is not going to be a winning year, yet he signs a 31 year old catcher to a 2 year, 15 million dollar contract with an option for a third year. Is he a trade chip with a palatable contract? Is this an indication of a lack of faith in former first round pick Zack Collins? I know that’s two questions, but this signing kind of confuses me. Castillo and Jose Abreu are the only 30+ year old position players in the White Sox starting line up.

1B Jose Abreu (2017: .304/.354/.552, 33 HR, 102 RBI)

Question: If the Sox start the year out 32-49, is Abreu aggressively shopped to the highest bidding contender?

2B Yoan Moncada (2017: .231/.338/.412, 8 HR, 22 RBI)

Question:   Does Moncada break out, declaring himself a superstar, with big numbers like .260/.370/.530, 25 HR, 80 RBI, or does he continue to go through growing pains in his first full season?

SS Tim Anderson (2017: .257/.276/.402, 17 HR, 56 RBI)

Question: This is an enormous year for Anderson. After his rookie season in 2016, with a line of .283/.306/.432, 9 HR, 30 RBI in 410 at bats, the Sox rewarded him with a 6 year, 25 million dollar contract with two team option years in 2023 and 2024. He regressed in 2017-he struck out too much with very few walks and led the league in errors. If he struggles out of the gate, what do the Sox do with him? They can’t call up Fernando Tatis, Jr. He plays for the San Diego Padres (but we got Jimmy Shields!).

3B Yolmer Sanchez (2017: .267/.319/.413, 12 HR, 59 RBI)

Question: With Jake Burger out for the year, setting back his development one year, what is the future of the third base position for the White Sox? If Sanchez goes .280/.330/.460, 18 HR, 70 RBI this season, is he the Sox 3B when (if?) they begin to contend? Yes, I am doubling up on questions sometimes. These are legitimate concerns!

LF Nicky Delmonico (2017: .263/.373/.482, 9 HR, 23 RBI)

Question: Delmonico was red hot after being called up to the White Sox in August, but he cooled off considerably in September. Does Jimenez take his place in June? July?

CF Adam Engel (2017: .166/.235/.282, 6 HR, 21 RBI)

Question: How long can the Sox allow a starting position player to put up the numbers listed above for Engel? Despite his defensive skills in center field, a .166/.235/.282 line is not sustainable in the major leagues. Ryan Cordell, Leury Garcia, or Charlie Tilson should get a shot if Engel stumbles out of the gate.

RF Avi Garcia (2017: .330/.380/.506, 18 HR, 80 RBI)

Question: Simple. Can Avi do it again? I hope so.

P James Shields (2017: 5-7, 5.23 ERA, 117 IP, 103 Ks)

Question: If Shields can pitch capably in April, May, and June, will any team take him for a broken washing machine if the Sox offer to pay 98% of the remainder of his contract?

P Lucas Giolito (2017: 3-3, 2.38 ERA, 45.1 IP, 34 Ks)

Question: Can Giolito be a number 1 starting pitcher in the big leagues?

P Reynaldo Lopez (2017: 3-3, 4.72 ERA, 47.2 IP, 30 Ks)

Question: In 2014 at two levels of A ball, Lopez was 7-3 with a 1.08 ERA. In 83.1 innings pitched that season, he allowed 42 hits and struck out 70. He has this kind of stuff. Will he access it with the White Sox in 2018?

P Miguel Gonzalez (2017: 8-13, 4.62 ERA, 156 IP, 100 Ks)

Question: What insignificant prospect that will never sniff the major leagues will Gonzalez be traded for in July?

P Carson Fulmer (2017: 3-1, 3.86 ERA, 23.1 IP, 19 Ks)

Question: If he gets embarrassed as a regular member of the starting rotation, will he be sent to the bullpen or the minor leagues? Also, will Hector Santiago get a shot to take his place?

Addendum: More news from your populist White Sox blog writer who thinks anybody that doesn’t realize Major League Baseball salaries are sickeningly exorbitant is either delusional, devoid of common sense, or a (expletive) greedy MLB player. Two North Siders have chimed in on the injustice of MLB player salaries.

Kris Bryant: “I think with this next one [collective bargaining agreement] things are definitely going to change, and there’ll definitely be more fight on our side…”

I see Kris Bryant on the picket line, oppressed, angry, hungry, and beaten by mistreatment. Maybe some Cub fans will hand him some cash and a warm blanket.

Kyle Hendricks: “You look at just what the raw [salary] number is, and it’s ‘greed’ because who needs all that? But it’s all relative. That’s how business works.”

Kyle, I know you’re an Ivy Leaguer, a silver spooner, and that’s cool I guess. But what’s relative is, as MLB salaries go up, ticket prices go up, and people you didn’t grow up with get freezed out of games, unable to attend because they can’t afford it. 

Who says owners have to give a player a 5 year, 100 million dollar contract based on past performance? Business sense involves a prognostication of the future, and if you’re not worth 100 million dollars, you’re certainly not entitled to 100 million dollars. God, I hope the Sox light Hendricks up like a Christmas tree this season. The Cardinals too.


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