Since suddenly transforming into a team that couldn't drive in runners and coughing up the division, the White Sox have been very light on the surprises.
Rick Hahn made his much-rumored about ascent to the GM seat immediately after the close of the season, initiating a waiting game to find things out about Hahn's style, and how much power he will actually wield. Does Rick like to bide his time, and rebuild from the ground up? Does Rick like to, and have clearance to, chase the hottest free agents with gusto? Does Rick just want to keep the status quo and not really do either? There are weeks yet to speculate.
Unless Hahn is ruthless, local institution Paul Konerko will be back next season, making his successful wrist surgery on Thursday highly relevant. The procedure was never regarded as being particularly complex or risky, it's just that the floating bone chip problem tended to flare-up mid-season, when the required rehab period was unpalatable. Konerko refuses to assign responsibility for him transforming into James Loney for four months to his wrist, but surely this will only help.
Despite a period of teasing with the possibility of self-representation, Jake Peavy made like just about every other professional athlete, and hired an agent in anticipation of his first foray into free agency. To be exact, Peavy hired Jeff Berry, the man who negotiated the John Danks extension, the Mark Buehrle extension, and eternally inexplicably Mark Teahen extension. He's worked well with the White Sox, but isn't exactly going to swing a deal for the Clemente Award nominee to pitch on the South side for $8.50/hour, either. That's a shame too, since it would be his most bulldog feat to date.
Robin Ventura first season as a manager was a big old bag of net positives--especially set against the flaming trash barge Ozzie Guillen dragged to Miami--and while his coaching staff shows promise, anyone hiring them to manage off of a single year of MLB experience would be fairly nuts. As such, the entire coaching staff is coming back. The whole thing.
Was another scenario foreseeable? Ventura was a hit with the players, well-regarded by his peers, and his tactical foibles can be chalked up to the learning curve of the job. Don Cooper is respected all over, but would be foolish to leave his spot as the most powerful and most secure pitching coach in baseball.
Least surprising, and most sad among the unsurprising news was Alex Rios and others being willing to admit after the end of the season that fatigue might have been a factor. Rios uttered the magical words of "out of gas", and CSN Chicago's Dan Hayes was quick to link it to an offense predominately on the wrong side of 30, just like any reasonable person would.
In actual surprising news...
Terry Francona was hired as the manager of the Cleveland Indians. It's a good hire, for sure, but doesn't quite seem like a reason to drastically alter our conception of the state of the Indians as a franchise. By selected player accounts, Manny Acta was frustratingly reserved, but hardly seems like a cancer on the level of the later years of the Williams-Guillen marriage.
- Hector Santiago's turn in the Puerto Rican league may be in jeopardy due to "housing issues." As a complete outsider who knows nothing of the specifics of the situation, this seems like a problem that you can throw money at.
- Catching prospect Josh Phegley won an award for defense. I can't even imagine.
- No one knows what Steve Stone is going to do. Maybe not even Stone himself!