SoxFest brings some clarity to roster, and death to some interesting ideas

SoxFest brings some clarity to roster, and death to some interesting ideas
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Suits with baseball caps; always looks terrible

While the off-season has been a delightful forum to opine about what the best use of the players on the White Sox roster would be, SoxFest comes now as a time to break all that chatter apart, as the people who matter tell us what the use of the players on the Sox roster will be.

Some sexy ideas bite the dust.

Sexy death #1 - The non-traditional bullpen

Riding the hot hand, picking the reliever best suited for the specific situation, multiple-inning outings, and every other cool thing the Sox did near the end of last season to win games that didn't matter seems to have been dismissed in favor of traditionalism.

per Mark Gonzales

Ozzie Guillen had one internal wish.

That's to leave Arizona at the end of spring training with one closer, although he hesitated to name a clear-cut candidate.

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Could be a lot of this in 2011...maybe too much

"That's a good thing for the pitcher, knowing what (his) position is
going to be," Guillen said. "I think that's one thing we're looking for
and I hope we do."
Guillen was reluctant to name
left-hander Chris Sale, who earned four saves in the final five weeks,
as the leading candidate.

"Funny thing," Guillen said. "You look
around and Matt Thornton is the guy with experience. You look around and
the guy was there before. You look at Sale and we don't know, we got to
wait to see if (Jake) Peavy is ready and see if we use Sale or somebody
else."

This brings forth three less-than-desirable scenarios.  The first, Matt Thornton--the most talented reliever--goes where relievers who are the most talented go, to strictly the 9th inning.  Sure he'd be great, but it would also take him away from his current use: outs on demand.  Second scenario is Chris Sale closes, is also great at it, but if it's a waste of his value to relegate him to the pen, it's certainly a waste to chain him to the 9th.  Third scenaro is shoving Sergio Santos or Jesse Crain into the role, which would be a fine usage of them, if I was convinced either of them were actually ready.

NOTE: This quote from Ozzie seems to suggest that Thornton might still be the guy for just the highest leverage situations, which would be a BIG step in the direction of what I, and the other White Sox bloggers are calling for, but it remains to be seen how this shakes out.

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Sexy death #2 - Ozzie managing with his job on the line

It's of minor importance, as Ozzie doesn't throw any pitches or swing any of the bats, but admittedly Guillen being forced to manage 2011 with his job on the line might have ramped up the urgency.  The White Sox announced that they're picking up Guillen's option for 2012, which Jim Margalus at SSS sees as a way of placating him and getting an early start combating the drama of last season.  It's not like Guillen won't be under pressure to perform in 2011 with what could be the last good Sox team for a while.  One theory as to why Guillen decided for a traditional closer situation was that he didn't want to experiment in a contract year, but Reinsdorf nixed such a notion, explaining that this has been in development for a while.  So Ozzie's just a stick in the mud.

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He made the Edwin Jackson trade not a disaster, surely that earns him something?

Sexy death #3 - listening to Don Cooper

Sale's a candidate to close, he's also a candidate for the 5th starter role, and he's a very strong candidate to start off in the rotation, and switch to the bullpen when Peavy comes back.  To the organization's credit, Sale is being told to ready himself to start with the understanding it will be easiest to adjust back to the pen, but if I had to grade the level of compliance that Williams and Guillen are giving to Cooper's request that the youngest arm on the team not be submitted to a great deal of adjustments, I'd put it at around...oh...20%.

For his part, Sale has been active in going on the record with the mainstream media, and the blogs, that he doesn't care.  21 is a little old for any guy to be rigid in his ways though, so it's really on the Sox to manage this thing the right way.  At the very least, Coop feels that they aren't.

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Sexy death #4 - disavowing Mark Teahen

This was never, ever going to happen, if for no other reason than Teahen is under contract and they might as well try to mine some kind of value from Mark.  Still, when I hear Ozzie say that to name Brent Morel the starting 3B would be a slap in the face to Teahen, I cringe, and I imagine most White Sox fans who didn't spend 2010 in the peace corps cringe too.  As far as left-handed bats off the bench, there are worse than Mark Teahen.  So maybe we'll be thankful sometime down the road that Ozzie didn't say "Yeah, it's Morel's job, I can't think of anyone who even qualifies as a competitor.  Not even one guy with the physical capability, let alone the mental fortitude to play the position.  Not one guy.  Certainly no one in this room.  Wracking my brain...can't think of someone else.  No one comes to mind.  Seriously, any suggestions?  I'm stumped."

Even though that would be hi-larious.

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Coupled with the piece I've wrote for my ND blog today, I've now written two posts this day nitpicking about two teams I feel very good about on the whole.  The prevailing message coming from SoxFest is that everyone feels great.  Kenny and Ozzie have mended fences, Paulie and AJ are thrilled to be back on a squad with renewed momentum, and Adam Dunn is thrilled to have a real shot at playing in October.  Seems like everyone in the Palmerhouse this weekend thinks the Sox can win the World Series, which is why they need to do things perfectly.

 
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I should mention that there are exceptions to the suits and hats rule

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