If you had to pick one player on the White Sox, at least on the offensive side, who has the most pressure on him, it would have to be Tyler Flowers. Never mind that he has been the “catcher of future” since he arrived from the Braves in 2008. He is replacing once of the best White Sox in recent memory, one AJ Pierszynski. Underneath all of the bad boy stuff that AJ is known for, he provided stability at catcher for seven seasons, was a decent hitter and beloved by the fans in that way we love a good rapscallion. Unfortunately, the time had come to say good bye. As much fun as he was to have around, I wish the White Sox would have traded him last year before the trading deadline. Perhaps they did and the offers just weren’t that good, but it seemed like Kenny Williams was not his usual gunslinger self last year.
Adding to the pressure for Flowers is the fact that he pretty much is it when it comes to catching. Hector Gimenez looks to be the backup for 2013, he of the grand total of 81 major league games. So there is a lot of faith that Flowers will step up, if not yet another big hole for the White Sox. That idea is coming up a lot in these posts, that being that if this one person goes down or doesn’t perform, the White Sox are in trouble. The theme that is emerging as I write these little previews is that the White Sox have no depth. No in the minors is ready to contribute, unless absolutely needed and hoping for lightening in a bottle every time a prospect comes up seems like a dangerous strategy. What’s more I don’t see the White Sox going after a catcher in the trade market even if Flowers doesn’t perform.
The statistics from the past and the projections for 2013 don’t offer much insight I’m afraid. Everything that is available as of now is based on Flowers being the backup, not the starting catcher. Only Fangraphs did projections based on over 400 at bats. The results were basically slight increases in all of the partial season predictions. Looks like Flowers will get about 15-20 home runs, hit for little average, get few walks and strike out a fair amount. In limited action, his defense wasn’t that bad last year and hopefully a younger person behind the plate will be an overall upgrade at the catcher position for 2013. To turn on the overtly optimistic lens just for a moment, perhaps with the additional playing time, Flowers thrives and beats all projections, with more hits, more walks and more home runs. I can’t say that I’m expecting it, but it would be nice to have a pleasant surprise.