If I really wanted to, I think I could squeeze a third post out about Kosuke Fukudome signing on to be the 5th outfielder, but it's probably not the best thing for anyone involved or in the surrounding area. Additionally, the video for the classic White Sox game I was going to write a retrospective on is taking forever to download.
The only solution left is to do a rundown of smaller White Sox tidbits around the internet, and use a title that makes it sound like something other than a link dump.
Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago is trotting out his position group previews (already!?!?). It has the standard stuff that any White Sox preview is going to have; Player A needs to return to career averages, Player B needs to blossom in his first full-time role, no one knows what to hell to make of Player C but man if he didn't suck last year...etc.
What jumped out at me was his statement that Jesse Crain becoming the "closer" is the best-case scenario. The initial reaction is to scoff at the suggestion of least talented member of the Reed-Thornton-Crain triumvirate getting the best job. The least talented candidate getting the best job! What is this? Real life?
However, Padilla is making the same argument I made about how keeping Thornton out of the 9th inning gives the White Sox more versatility in terms of handedness. He simply is more conservative about handing Reed the primary role, which is perfectly reasonable. Between Jenks, Santos and Sale, youngsters who have the stuff and confidence to close don't inspire my apprehension anymore, though.
Last week, In his ongoing series discussing the possible struggles the top prospects of each organization might encounter, Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus addressed the White Sox farm system. Well, kind of. It's behind a pay wall, but here's the summary provided that will tell you all you need to know.
"Addison Reed is joined by the cast of Real Genius, who collectively probably have a higher upside than Chicago's actual system."
Parks wrote about Reed earnestly, then spent the rest of the article writing about characters from the movie Real Genius as if they were prospects. In case you didn't get the joke, it's that this is a better use of his time than actually analyzing the moribund White Sox system.
When prompted in the comments, Parks gives more insight on his take of some of the other prospects (he thinks every Sox pitching prospect is probably doomed to the 'pen, and Thompson can be an average power-oriented corner OF), on Gordon Beckham's development (he thinks he can return to being average), and Dunn's demise (thinks the problem is bat speed; he can make adjustments but will still die a slow death).
I thought it was pretty funny, but as Parks responded to the anger toward his piece from Sox fans, there was a clear--I think 'disgust' would be overstating it--but certainly some firm disagreement with the way the White Sox operate.
"White Sox fans have been handed a lot of negative press lately, so I don't blame them for having a strong opinion. It shows their passion and I respect that. I wish I could say the system was strong or that the infrastructure was sound. I don't believe either to be the case. With this article, I just wanted to create something interesting and spark discussion. It wasn't meant to insult fans of the team. I'll leave that to White Sox ownership to execute."
This isn't an uncommon sentiment among prospect gurus. The organization has rebutted that the nature of top prospects lists is counter to their goals of swift graduation, which is so condescending and brushing past the real concerns that I can't imagine it's how the White Sox higher-ups really feel about the matter. The international scouting system is only starting to take a step of the shambles, and the draft allocation is piddling. In turn, the fact that they're viewed to be primary actors in tilting the CBA so that this matters less only verifies to league-wide observers how wrong-headed the White Sox are in their approach.
I've seen a lot of denigration of the White Sox farm system recently, but none of it has really taken an unbearably harsh tone, at least not from the major outlets. There's a sense that it could be coming, though.
Jim Margalus synthesized the dueling Greg Walker stories that came out this week, the professional profile of the new Atlanta Braves hitting coach by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, and Cowley's latest attempt to stir the echoes of the 2011 implosion.
Cowley reasserts that the poisonous atmosphere of the organization contributed to the disappointing results last season. Adversity leads to discord just as much if not more so than vice-versa, but since the puff pieces about team chemistry only come flowing after division-winning seasons, we'll keep ending up with this narrative till the end of time it seems.
Jim's takeaway from the Crasnick piece is that we'll now be afforded an opportunity to objectively judge Walker's performance, as he enters a new environment with the Atlanta Braves and is afforded the opportunity play a pivotal role in the development of young hitters like Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman.
I would imagine he'll have mixed results--players who swear by him, and others who will wilt despite his best efforts--just like every hitting coach.
In their latest effort to take one step back toward the rest of the AL Central, the Tigers are giving displaced 3rd basemen Brandon Inge a shot at the 2nd base job. Since all he has to really to do is beat out career utilitymen Ramon Santiago and Ryan Raburn to do it, it's entirely possible he wins it. Since discussing the corresponding Miguel Cabrera move to 3rd base in open-ended terms just allowed for a lot of people to theorize "Oh well, he could get in shape and you don't really know...", let me be more definitive. Brandon Inge would be a bad 2nd basemen. Corner infielders in their mid-30's don't switch to an up-the-middle position for a very good reason.
Of course, the Tigers infield defense wasn't 4 Ozzie Smiths out there in 2011, and they just went ahead and mashed their way to the ALCS anyway. If anything, they're more equipped to do that now. Large men making futile efforts to bend over and pick up a tiny ball is a good source of comic relief, but it might not change the fate of this division
Stemming from one specific incident of someone getting the hell beaten out of them in the U.S. Cellular Field stands in 2004--given the year, the blood was probably stirred up by Carlos Lee not bunting runners over enough--a judge inexplicably ruled to have the White Sox main rivals being the Twins, or the Cubs during interleague play, established and entered in as part of the court's decision.
This is just lazy on the judge's part. There's a way to slip in baseball into your day job beyond making legal provisions acknowledging tribalism as a natural element of existence for citizens of specific regions. It's called a blog. Reputable media organizations will give you one for basically no reason at all, most of the editing screens look vaguely professional to co-workers passing by your desk, and most of all, you're instantly inundated with unspeakable fortune and desirable prospective breeding partners from the moment your first post goes up.
Tags: addison reed, Atlanta Braves, baseball, baseball prospectus, Bobby Jenks, brandon inge, carlos lee, Chicago Cubs, Chris Sale, Detroit Tigers, freddie freeman, Gordon Beckham, greg walker, jake petricka, jason heyward, Jerry Reinsdorf, jesse crain, Kenny Williams, kosukue fukudome, Matt Thornton, miguel cabrera, Minnesota Twins, nestor molina, Ozzie Guillen, ramon santiago, ryan raburn, Sergio Santos, simon castro, trayce thompson, U.S. Cellular Field, White Sox