Perhaps setting a precedent that all games in which the White Sox get shutout will be followed by a third of the roster being cut, 14 players were sent packing from major league camp Monday.
Alright, so perhaps this day was selected weeks ahead of time and several lockers were cleared out prior to the start of the game, but it was still a momentous sweep.
It was not, however, a surprising sweep. Jared Mitchell, Nestor Molina, Trayce Thompson, Michael Blanke, and Jose Quintana are all way down the ladder in their development.
The return from San Diego for the newly hurt Carlos Quentin--Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez--had both hit the wall in AAA the previous year and weren't perceived to be particularly close to ready.
One supposes super-strong Springs from Jhan Marinez, Anthony Carter, Donnie Veal, or Deunte Heath could have launched a roster candidacy or two, but they're all having the opposite of a strong campaign. These people don't deserve senryus, they deserve sen-boos!*
Ugh, that deserves a sen-boo if anything does. Also Heath wasn't as bad as the other three.
But really, it was great to get a look at those guys, and not all those looks were unsavory, especially the looks spent on Trayce Thompson (swoon!). Now it's time for the real races to begin. The mano-a-mano battles for single spots.
One of the best moments of last year's Spring Training was when it became clear that Brent Lillibridge and Lastings Milledge were duking it out for the final spot, and one night against Arizona--there is no way in hell I'm looking up a Spring Training game from last year--they engaged in entertaining bout of one-upsmanship. Lillibridge homered, then Milledge homered. Milledge made a diving catch, then Lillibridge made a diving catch, and they both collected a few more hits over the course of the evening, until we realized that the Arizona starter was Barry Enright, which kinda sucked the thrill out of the offensive work of that night. At the end of camp, after a furious battle, a winner was declared--it was both of them. They both got spots, and neither were losers, and all my memories of going to a Montessori elementary school came rushing back.
To that end, the only really noticeable cut was Ozzie Martinez, who clearly is going to have a hard time winning the final roster spot from AAA Charlotte. Things were looking bad for Ozzie since he still didn't have a hit for the Spring and they seemed to have completely stopped playing him, but there was still hope. Kind've. Until now. Now there's no hope.
So that leaves Dan Johnson and Eduardo Escobar and...Dallas McPherson? Gonzales mentions Dallas McPherson as a candidate, and sure enough he's still around. McPherson has more experience at 3rd base than Johnson, but he's also been milling about in the organization for a year now, presumably the White Sox know what they have at this point.
I'm pretty sure I touched upon the Johnson-Escobar crisis just the other day, but it's essentially that both are hitting in Spring, Johnson's a bit more likely to carry some of it over (just some). Escobar has more defensive utility, but also a future the organization might care about developing. It's a light-hitting-No.9-hitter-with-a-plus-glove future, but it's a future, dammit.
Apparently Hector Santiago has been so impressive that there's only considered to be two bullpen openings now. The jump straight from AA to the big leagues isn't going to be a cakewalk for him by any means, but he's thrown 6 scoreless innings, struck out 6, and allowed 6 baserunners. The White Sox don't have the depth to bypass a genuine success story just because it's a little risky, or because the numbers are vaguely Satanic.
Santiago's rise is also convenient, because it allows the Sox to split the Axelrod/Stewart pair, leave one as a long reliever, and stash one in AAA for emergency starts. Axelrod has had the upper hand of recent in that battle.
That would leave the final role open to take a flier on Brian Bruney, Nate Jones, or Eric Stults. Bruney and Jones both can miss bats while lacking the control needed for a role larger than the last spot in the pen, while Stults is a journeyman starter who has the attribute of having done pretty much nothing wrong all Spring.
But now with a smaller compliment of players, and veteran regulars upping their playing time, Spring games should get a little bit less meaningless. And with that, Chris Sale pitched great Monday! Woo.
Tags: anthony carter, arizona diamondbacks, barry enright, baseball, Brent Lillibridge, brian bruney, Charlotte Knights, dallas mcpherson, dan johnson, deunte heath, dylan axelrod, Eduardo Escobar, eric stults, hector santiago, jared mitchell, Jhan Marinez, Jose Quintana, lastings milledge, michael blanke, nate jones, nestor molina, ozzie martinez, pedro hernandez, Robin Ventura, san diego padres, simon castro, spring training, trayce thompson, White Sox, zach stewart