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Off-season Equinox

Off-season Equinox
I only went with this because the photo of A.J. wearing a Paul Star t-shirt looking like your dad after a day of drunk-fishing wouldn't load // Jeff Bottari, Getty Images

I'm declaring this the off-season equinox, because it's roughly an equal period of time since the Winter Meetings and pitchers and catchers reporting.   I'm also declaring it the equinox because it's snazzier than saying "I've got nothing besides a smattering of notes", and makes it sounds like me not having enough time to do another edition of "Much Better Moments in White Sox History" is a natural, seasonal occurrence, and not the result of a stupid work meeting at 7:30 in the morning.  As if anything can be synthesized at that hour.

SoxFest is this weekend...wait, no...it's next weekend...

Well, there goes a note I had.  Screw it, I'll do it anyway.

I've never been to SoxFest, and don't plan on going anytime soon unless I luck or work my way into free passes.  I understand the appeal, but I'm not much of a memorabilia or signature hound, and what could possibly top watching Frank Thomas sign a beer can big enough to be used as a melee weapon for my sister?  Most of the money I throw the White Sox way tends to be for games, and stuff at games...and nachos.

But SoxFest--from what I can tell by reading through articles of other people doing the reporting--tends to be good place to get a feel for the state of the organization, or at least see what kind of good face they're trying put on things.  At the very least, it will be interesting to see how Adam Dunn's pledge to never discuss 2011 again holds up, whether Alex Rios will show up or be hidden in the basement the whole weekend, and if Robin Ventura shows a crack in his professional facade.

Joe Cowley is gleefully reporting that the White Sox have given the first indication of what kind of promotional face they'll put on the season by picking "Appreciate the Game" as their slogan for the 2012 season.

Appreciate the Game.  Hmm, that pretty easily adheres to the principle of "When your team's slogan avoids boasting, or even addressing the topic of competitiveness in general, it'll probably be a rough year", that I've been a believer in ever since my alma mater busted out a shirt that read "Together as One" for the upcoming football season....they went 3-9.

But while "Appreciate the Game" seems toothless, would it really invite more derision than the unvarnished braggodocio of "All In" inspired once the ship started to sink?  At least if things go south again, "Appreciate the Game" will have the decency to be largely forgotten by June.

Or they could inexplicably double-down and set their 2012 slogan as "Still F****** All In!"

That'd be the most fun choice.  There's something beautifully tragic and noble about draping the stadium in All In posters, and blaring that awful Lifehouse song as Dylan Axelrod walks in from the bullpen, gearing up for his showdown with C.C. Sabathia and the Yankees, who will be trying to control a lineup that boasts Tyler Flowers DH'ing out of the No. 4 slot.

Never let them catch you in a lie, Kenny.  Never.

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Bud Selig is supposed to be at SoxFest for a Q&A session, and perhaps, in his advancing age, he will prove a bit easier to catch with a difficult question than the typically stoic Kenny Williams.  Some questions to consider asking if you're planning to attend.

-While we all loved this past year's playoffs, aren't you concerned that continuing to expand the playoffs not only saps away at a regular season that is currently the best of all of major sports in keeping the post-season to a contest between the elite teams in the sport, but also that in a sport with as much random variance as baseball, makes us more likely to crown a relatively undeserving champion?

-Thank you, thank you, thank you for the new CBA.  It really evened the playing field for the White Sox.  International scouting was way too hard with all that free market chaos going on, where top talents went to the highest bidder and required advanced scouting to even find!......I guess I didn't really have a question.

-Does anything about baseball in Puerto Rico immediately going into the tank after it was included in the amateur draft give you pause about the international draft you're clearly cooking up?

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Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein put together his top 20 prospects for the White Sox, and added to the general consensus reached among FanGraphs' Mark Hulet, John Sickels, Baseball America, and Larry from South Side Sox: there's Addison Reed as a sure-fire closer, Nestor Molina as a valuable major-leaguer of some sort, and then a underwhelming grab-bag.  The order of said grab-bag depends on whether the reviewer prefers raw, toolsy players who may bust, or more sure-fire prospects with low-ceilings.  Also, there's some debate as to whether Hector Santiago is to be loved or loathed.

J.J. made a handy-dandy table compiling all of the rankings.

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Phil Rogers' sources indicate that the White Sox are in on multiple Cuban players, beyond just the mysterious 26 year-old Yoenis Cespedes.  That may include the 19 year-old Jorge Soler, who like Cespedes, is also a toolsy centerfielder with an uncertain level of adjustment to MLB play necessary (though definitely a longer one), or 18 year-old LHP Gerardo Concepcion.

There's an argument to be made for shooting for Soler on the notion that the White Sox are building more toward the future, and the only outfield piece they'd really want to shuffle out is immovable.

However, Rogers seems to be of the notion that both the Cubs and the White Sox are leveraging having Cuban players in their system as an attraction that will allow them to win without out-bidding the field.  Such an approach seems like an underestimation of the market for Soler, who plenty of teams look at as a more intriguing option due to reduced price and time to develop.

Signing Concepcion would be just fine.  He doesn't sound high-ceiling, but acquiring young left-handed pitching depth generally gets rubber-stamped.

 

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  • "Appreciate the Game"? How 'bout "Appreciate the Lame"? Thanks. Be here all week.

    While there have been some classics like "Good Guys Wear Black" and "The Kids Can Play," I think my favorite was one season during the pre-Frank era - lean years for the franchise. I cannot find evidence of this on the web, and if someone can confirm or deny please let me know, but I swear the slogan was something like "Start Clappin' Anything Can Happen." I guess "Anything Can Happen" meant, "we could have a miracle run at the pennant with this collection of sub-par ballplayers." But maybe "anything can happen" meant, "there's a minuscule but definite statistical possibility that Ozzie Guillen and Fred Manrique will string together back-to-back extra base hits." Or, "anything can happen": "Melido Perez might spontaneously combust into a tiny puddle of green goo on the mound, Spinal Tap style." (This actually occurred a few seasons later).

    Aaaah the late 80s, those were the days (of sickening, wretched, horror).

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    "Win or Die Trying" was the 2005 motto, and they won the World Series. Once death got taken off the table, we got six years of malaise. Time to bring it back; players need to know what's at stake.

    "Win 85 Games or One of You's Guys Get Made Into Prosciutto."

  • In reply to James Fegan:

    "Vee Hav Vays of Making You Hit!"

    "Death before Dishomer" (e.g. before any AB that does not result in a HR. Admittedly, it's a stretch.)

    "Make an Error? Reign of Terror!"

    Or the tv spot could be that scene from Untouchables with DeNiro going on about baseball before bludgeoning to death with a baseball bat some hapless underling. Then fade to black and up comes the Sox logo and slogan: "Enthusiasms."

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    I meant "i.e." instead of "e.g." I was told there would be no Latin.

  • In reply to Ham N Egger:

    The Untouchables spot is my favorite, but I also enjoy that the other three all seem to reference horrorifying moments in 20th century European history.....since for some reason I imagine the second one being read in a heavy German accent.

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