During most of last season the White Sox took over the baseball headlines in Chicago for the first time since they had their month of fame in October 2005. The main reason was their was expectations with a payroll just shy of $130 million and the offseason acquisition of Adam Dunn; it seemed like the Sox would be series contenders in the AL Central. Dunn under achieved, and so did the Sox as the Ozzie and Kenny drama took center stage again. We know the rest of the story, so I won’t bore anyone.
Since Guillen’s departure and the hiring of Robin Ventura to replace Guillen the Sox have faded back into obscurity in the Chicago Sports headlines, especially since the Boston Red Sox front office took over the Cubs’ front office. The coverage of Ventura was more of shock and no one really knew how to react including myself.
In the end, I’m somewhat pleased with what the Sox have done quietly under the radar. They made Mark Parent their bench coach, who brings real managerial experience to dugout having managed the Double-A affiliate of the Phillies. While from a nostalgia and fan perspective I would have loved to seen Big Frank as hitting coaching the Sox hiring Jeff Manto, who can take credit for the success of De Aza, Viciedo, and Lillibridge, was the smart choice. The hitting approach of those young players was often much better than many of the veterans in 2011. We must not forget that Harold Baines and Don Cooper remain on the staff, also. So despite the experience that Ventura lacks he has veteran coaches surrounding him. I’m not too terribly concerned, in fact a fresh approach is exactly what the Sox need coming off the Guillen-era.
Joe McEwing rounded out Ventura staff as third base coach, but has already interviewed for the Cardinals managerial spot. If he should leave to manage the Cardinals he might hold the record for shortest stay on a coaching staff in baseball history, but it also legitimizes my point about knowledgeable veteran coaches surrounding Ventura. This coaching staff has been designed with one thing in mind, the ability to win with a mix of young and veteran talent.
The only thing left for White Sox fans wish lists would be resigning Mark Buehrle, especially since he’s arguably the best pitcher in baseball in the last 11 years. Buehrle, 32, has topped the 200-inning mark in each of his 11 full seasons in the majors, starting more games (362) than any other pitcher in baseball during that time. His 2,425 1/3 innings and 230 quality starts are the most for any pitcher, while he ranks fourth with 157 wins and 27 complete games. He also has the third lowest ERA (3.82) among active AL pitchers with at least 1,500 innings pitched.
Seems like it should be a no brainer to resign him, and move one of the younger kids to get some solid prospects to rebuild the pitching in the farm system that Williams has traded away the last three seasons. I’d be OK with the Sox trading Floyd or Danks to resign Mark Buehrle for a 2-3 year contract.
The rotation would be Buehrle, a healthy Jake Peavy, Danks or Floyd, Phil Humber, and Chris Sale. I like our chances from a rotation standpoint against the AL Central favorite, Tigers. I think both the staffs have as many solid pitchers and is does “what-ifs” with big upsides. Of course, none of this matters if the Sox fail to hit the ball like they did in 2011.
So, as a Sox who lives with the internal struggle of wanting to be noticed for our accomplishments, but not wanting to be in the spotlight 24/7 like the Cubs, I’m happy to take a back seat to the Theo Epstein show. The Sox can quietly go about their business and get some housekeeping taken care of without all of Chicago commenting on it. I’m not making any World Series predictions for this Chicago team, but I think the Sox will be more competitive than last season.