When dissecting the Chicago White Sox current 25-man roster, the holes are few and far between.
For the most part, the starting pitching has been good behind aces Chris Sale and Jake Peavy; the offense has been powerful, or at least timely, as the team leads the majors in hitting with runners in scoring position; and the bullpen has been solid to this point, overcoming an excess of youth in the form of six rookies.
I’d just like to emphasize how young the unit is. Photo courtesy MTV
Now don’t be mistaken, there clearly are still a couple of question marks, and they are as follows:
- The back end of the rotation
- The middle of the bullpen
- The bench
So let’s take a deeper look at each of those areas of concern and discuss not only how we can expect Kenny Williams to address them, but what really should be done (as we overly-optimistic and sometimes unrealistic fans should do more often).The Rotation
Even though 2012 seems like it’s treated Gavin Floyd very poorly, he’s actually been a good force in the rotation more than he has struggled thus far.
As you probably all know by now, I am indeed a Gavin supporter. I have faith that he has already turned the corner on his struggles earlier in the year, something we’ve seen him do year-in and year-out. With him as a very capable middle of the rotation guy when he’s going well, our rotation really does look quite nice. In whatever specific order you want, you have Chris Sale and Jake Peavy at the front, Jose Quintana and Gavin Floyd in the middle, and then a question mark at the number five slot.
Lots of teams, even contenders, often struggle to find a number five guy that can keep the team in ball games consistently. Luckily for the White Sox, it has not been a huge problem. Besides his start Sunday on short rest, Dylan Axelrod had at least kept the White Sox in close contention in each of his starts. And he’s probably third in line to get the nod down the stretch, behind John Danks and Phil Humber, who are both currently on the disabled list.
Dempster has compiled a 1.99 ERA for the Cubs in 2012. Photo courtesy ESPN
So while a pickup of, say, Matt Garza or Ryan Dempster would be nice, it is probably the least necessary of the potential moves the Sox could make, in addition to being the least feasible dollars-wise. If no one is added and injuries are soon resolved, the team will hope for someone to pick up the slack with the final rotation spot, ideally in this order:
- John Danks
- John Danks again (just for emphasis since he, you know, recently signed the biggest contract for a pitcher in club history.)
- Phil Humber
- Dylan Axelrod
Due to that depth, I do not think Kenny Williams should add here nor do I expect him to. So now on to the bigger holes within the team.The Bullpen
We all know that a bullpen with six rookies could easily inhibit a team from winning a division title. What’s to note first and foremost is that it will not be six rookies for very long. Jesse Crain will return shortly after the All Star break, which doubles the number of veterans that currently are in the ‘pen. Then, if you add just one more veteran through a trade, most likely a righty, all of the sudden it won’t be a very worrisome unit for the south siders.
- Closer: Addison Reed
- Set up men: Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Nate Jones
- Middle relievers: Hector Santiago, some veteran acquisition, Phil Humber
Now that doesn’t look to bad, right?
No, Humber wasn’t a typo. Continue reading for my explanation. Photo courtesy South Side Asylum
Of course there are a couple “if’s” there, with the prospective acquisition and Humber, who has his sights set first and foremost on rejoining the rotation. Humber has good stuff but has, for the most part, been a big bust as a starter over this career. So, my thought process is simply that a change of pace could be good for his career and that devastating curveball he possesses…somewhat Brett Myers-esque.
Still, that’s merely speculation and something I’d be interested in seeing rather than anything that has actually been suggested.
I don’t want to speculate too much on who a potential pickup could be for KW in the coming weeks, but I will say to take a look at the Cubs’ and Padres’ bullpens, as I feel they both have at least a couple different options that could fit nicely with Juan Nieves’ unit.The Bench
Often overlooked are baseball teams’ benches. But with a 162-game regular season, it’s easy for players to wear themselves out and struggle in August and/or September. For that reason, having a deep and reliable bench is important, especially for a contender.
Currently, the White Sox bench is as follows:
- Jordan Danks, L, OF
- Eduardo Escobar, S, UTIL
- Orlando Hudson, S, IF
- Tyler Flowers, R, C
Like the bullpen, youth is abundant on the Sox bench (Danks, Escobar, and Flowers). With only one seasoned veteran on that unit (Hudson), more production and reliability than we’ve seen thus far is needed.
If I were to choose one guy to be replaced, it’d actually be Flowers.
Danks has been good since his call-up and plays stellar defense. Escobar has continued to get better at the plate and is very versatile in the field. Hudson has been terrible at the plate, but gives you a veteran switch hitter who will take a lot of pitches and play a sound backup second and third base.
Tyler Flowers is actually the bench player that will be relied on the most, as starter A.J. Pierzynski will need his fair share of days off down the stretch to preserve his legs for September.
Photo courtesy Jason Miller via Getty Images
The backup catcher spot usually starts once a week, if not more when the team faces a lot of lefties. In the White Sox case. Flowers has all the power in the world, but he rarely makes contact. I don’t think a mid-level catcher from someone out of contention will be too hard to come by. Someone like Geovanny Soto, for example.
It’s tough to put an automatic out in the starting lineup once or twice a week when you’re in contention, and while Flowers has played good defense and called good games behind the plate, I think the team would be better off with a seasoned veteran in that role.Summary
What I want from Ken Williams this month is not too much: a veteran reliever and a solid veteran bench player, preferably a catcher. F
or once, I think I’m actually being realistic in a discussion of this nature. I mean, I guess I need to be, considering I threw out Felix Hernandez’s name earlier when discussing who I’d like to see added to this 2012 White Sox squad.
So maybe, for once, KW will do what I expect. I think he’ll definitely make one move, and possibly two. Don’t get your hopes up Sox fans, as they probably won’t be high profile moves like the Youk trade of a couple weeks ago.
But then again, who knows, it is Kenny Williams we’re talking about.
This was originally posted on Zach’s White Sox blog, GrabSomeBench.com! In addition to visiting the site, make sure to check them out on Twitter @Grab_Some_Bench!
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