Showing posts with label Alejandro De Aza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alejandro De Aza. Show all posts

Monday, August 14, 2017

White Sox lose two of three to Kansas City Royals

Reynaldo Lopez
Hey, that winning streak was fun while it lasted, wasn't it? It reached four when the White Sox beat the Kansas City Royals on Friday night, but reality set in over the weekend as Kansas City prevailed in the final two games of the three-game series.

The Sox (45-70) finished their six-game homestand with a 4-2 record, which was a pleasant surprise despite some weekend ugliness. Here's a look back at this latest series.

Friday, Aug. 11
White Sox 6, Royals 3 -- Reynaldo Lopez finally got his opportunity, and he started his Sox career in electrifying fashion. He struck out five of the first eight hitters he faced, and turned in six quality innings.

The rookie right-hander allowed two solo home runs to Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas, but he kept the Royals off the board otherwise. He struck out six and walked three in receiving a no-decision.

The game was tied at 2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, when the Sox broke it open with a four-spot. Tim Anderson's two-run homer capped the rally, which also featured a go-ahead RBI triple by Adam Engel. The center fielder became the first Sox player to collect two triples in a game since Alejandro De Aza in 2011.

Aaron Bummer worked two scoreless innings of relief to pick up his first major league win.

Saturday, Aug. 12
Royals 5, White Sox 4 -- Hey, a quality start by James Shields!

Sure, Shields put the Sox in a 3-0 hole after two innings, but he didn't give up anything else over a six-inning outing. And the Sox got him off the hook, eventually rallying to take a 4-3 lead on Leury Garcia's two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Alas, the lead did not stick.

Reliever Chris Beck did what he does best -- walk people. Bummer relieved after Beck walked Lorenzo Cain to start the the eighth inning, and the rookie left-hander took the loss this time -- serving up a two-run homer to former Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera.

It stunk to see the four-game winning streak come to an end, but this game was an entertaining, back-and-forth contest. You can live with losses such as this one during a rebuilding season.

Sunday, Aug. 13
Royals 14, White Sox 6 -- In contrast, Sunday's loss was not one you could live with. It was a parade of terrible pitching that started with Derek Holland and continued with Mike Pelfrey, Beck, Greg Infante and Brad Goldberg.

Holland (6-12) allowed seven earned runs and didn't make it out of the third inning. Those who followed him weren't much better. Sox pitchers combined to give up 16 hits and walk nine batters in a boring game that took 3 hours, 38 minutes to play.

A fan seated behind me at Sunday's game pointed out that Holland is only here to "eat innings," which is true enough. I would be fine with that if Holland would, you know, actually eat some innings. It's ridiculous for him to get bombed like that and overexpose an inexperienced Sox bullpen. That's been a season-long complaint of mine: veteran innings-eaters failing to eat innings.

There were some positives offensively. Anderson continued his improved hitting with his 13th home run of the season. And rookie Nick Delmonico extended his hitting streak to 10 games, going 1 for 3 with a double and an RBI. Delmonico stung the ball into the right-center field gap three times. He was robbed of a double by Cain in the fifth inning, and robbed of a home run by Alex Gordon in the ninth inning.

Still too early to say whether Delmonico is going to stick in the majors, but he's been having consistent at-bats since he was called up from Triple-A Charlotte.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Adam Eaton looks like a solution to two long-standing White Sox problems

The White Sox have sputtered as a team over the past six weeks, but center fielder Adam Eaton has continued to establish himself as a major league player.

Judging by the attendance figures and a relative lack of media coverage, few in Chicago have noticed that Eaton has been one of the best players in the American League since the All-Star break.

In Tuesday's 7-5 Sox win in Kansas City, Eaton went 4 for 5 with a double, a triple, two runs scored and a brilliant diving catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. The performance raised Eaton's season batting average to .303.

But, the thing that stands out most about Eaton is his improvement throughout the year. His first-half numbers weren't bad by any means, but he's taken it to a new level since mid-July. Check out these splits:

First half: .270/.340/.372
Second half: .365/.418/.462

His season splits now stand at .303/.367/.403. This is arguably the best performance we've seen from a Sox leadoff hitter in the past 10 years, and it's definitely the best production the Sox have gotten from a leadoff hitter since Scott Podsednik surprised everyone with a resurgent year in 2009.

If you look at the past decade, you'll see the Sox have had their problems in center field.

Here's the revolving door the organization has had at that position since Aaron Rowand was traded for Jim Thome after the 2005 season:

White Sox center fielders:

2005: Rowand
2006: Brian Anderson, Rob Mackowiak
2007: Darin Erstad, Jerry Owens
2008: Nick Swisher, Anderson, Ken Griffey Jr.
2009: Dewayne Wise, Anderson, Alex Rios
2010: Rios
2011: Rios
2012: Alejandro De Aza
2013: De Aza
2014: Eaton

That's 11 players in 10 years. Swisher and Rios were corner outfielders who were asked to play out of position. Erstad and Griffey Jr. were declining players at the end of their careers. De Aza and Mackowiak couldn't handle the position defensively, and were put in center field for the purpose of getting another left-handed bat in the lineup. Anderson, Owens and Wise stunk and didn't belong out there for any reason.

Eaton is none of those negative things. He has proven he can play the position, and he's proving he can hit major league pitching. Sox GM Rick Hahn can rest easier now knowing he has a 25-year-old player who looks like a long-term solution in center field.

If you look at Sox leadoff hitters from the past 10 years, you'll see that Eaton compares favorably:

2005: Podsednik .290/.351/.349
2006: Podsednik .261/.330/.353
2007: Owens .267/.324/.312
2008: Orlando Cabrera .281/.334/.371
2009: Podsednik .304/.353/.412
2010: Juan Pierre .275/.341/.316
2011: Pierre .279/.329/.327
2012: De Aza .281/.349/.410
2013: De Aza .264/.323/.405
2014: Eaton .303/.367/.403

Eaton's .303 average is second only to Podsednik in 2009. His .367 on-base percentage is easily the best in this group. The .403 slugging percentage ranks fourth on the list, and it's a heckuva lot better than anything the Sox ever got out of punch-and-judy Pierre.

Obviously, the free-agent acquisition of Jose Abreu last offseason was a game-changer for the Sox organization. They now have that middle-of-the-order presence to build a lineup around. But almost as importantly, they solved two major holes -- center field and leadoff hitter -- with the acquisition of one player.

Eaton has established himself as a big part of the White Sox core moving forward.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

White Sox trade Adam Dunn to A's; deal Alejandro De Aza to Orioles

When the Oakland Athletics visit U.S. Cellular Field for a four-game series starting Sept. 8, White Sox fans will get their first opportunity to boo Adam Dunn as a member of the visiting team.

That's because the Sox traded Dunn and cash considerations to Oakland on Sunday morning for minor-league pitcher Nolan Sanburn.

Dunn, who was hitting .220 with 20 home runs and 54 RBIs at the time of the deal, finishes his White Sox career with a .201/.321/.410 slash line. Dunn hit 106 home runs during his nearly four-year tenure on the South Side, but he leaves town as a symbol of the franchise's failings over the past four seasons.

Dunn fell out of favor with the fans after an historically bad 2011 campaign, and while he rebounded somewhat the past three years, he never performed to his previous career norms while wearing a Sox uniform.

So why would Oakland want him, you ask? The A's are leading the majors in runs scored, but that's a bit deceiving. The A's traded their cleanup hitter, Yoenis Cespedes, to the Boston Red Sox for ace left-hander Jon Lester on July 31. While Lester has performed well (2.66 ERA in 6 starts), Oakland's offense has slumped. The A's rank 20th in baseball in runs scored during August, and no doubt they are hoping Dunn can give them a boost.

The Sox, meanwhile, save themselves about $1.25 million and acquire some organizational pitching depth with Sanburn, who has been working in relief at Class-A Stockton this year. He has a 3.28 ERA in 71.1 IP with 73 strikeouts and 25 walks.

The Dunn deal comes on the heels of another move the Sox made Saturday night, in which they traded left fielder Alejandro De Aza to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for minor-league pitchers Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas.

De Aza figures to be a fourth outfielder with Baltimore. He was hitting .243 overall at the time of the trade, but as we've noted before on this blog, De Aza is a left-handed hitter who can produce against right-handed pitchers. He owns a .279/.347/.410 slash line against righties, and he will be a useful offensive player for Baltimore if spotted correctly in matchups that are favorable for him.

Of course, baserunning blunders, defensive gaffes and lollipop throws from left field also are part of the package with De Aza. To put it mildly, the Sox will not miss those things.

Blackmar owns a 10-1 record with a 3.18 ERA in 26 games (18 starts) with Class-A Frederick this season. Chalas (2-3, 4.80 ERA) has been working in relief at Frederick for most of the year. He was recently promoted to Triple-A Norfolk.

Nobody can say for certain whether any of these three pitchers will one day contribute to the White Sox. If nothing else, these are moves that help replenish organizational depth. If one of the three pans out and becomes a major-league pitcher, that would be great news for the South Siders.

The best part of these trades for the Sox? Neither Dunn nor De Aza was going to be back with the team for the 2015 season, and these moves open up playing time for younger players. It's evaluation time for the organization.

We know Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia are part of the White Sox outfield plans, both now and in the future. One spot remains open. Now, instead of wasting their time with De Aza, the Sox can take a longer look at Jordan Danks, Moises Sierra or even Jared Mitchell, if they wish.

With the subtraction of Dunn, the door opens for 1B/DH Andy Wilkins, who was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte and is making his big-league debut Sunday for the Sox. Wilkins is a left-handed bat who hit .293 with 30 home runs, 38 doubles and 85 RBIs for the Knights this year. Can he help the Sox in the middle of the order? I don't know, but now is the time to let Wilkins play and gather more information about him.

Of the 25 roster spots available on the 2015 White Sox, you have to figure at least half of them are still open. Some younger players are about to receive an opportunity to put themselves in the picture for a job on next year's club.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Adam Eaton returns; Jordan Danks caught in numbers game (again)

White Sox center fielder Adam Eaton is set to return from the disabled list in time for Tuesday's game against the Cleveland Indians. This is good news for everyone associated with the Sox organization.

Well, it's good news for everyone except Jordan Danks, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte for the umpteenth time in the past three years to make room for Eaton on the 25-man roster.

Danks' demotion is not based upon poor performance. He has done everything he has been asked to do. He has started 11 of the past 13 Sox games in Eaton's place, and has caught every ball you would expect a center fielder to catch. Offensively, his .289/.317/.368 slash line over that same span is plenty good enough for a player who was providing above-average defense at an up-the-middle position.

This isn't the first time Danks has been demoted for reasons other than performance. He batted .333 with five home runs during spring training this year. He did everything possible to snag a major league roster spot as an extra outfielder. But in March, as he is now, Danks was caught in a numbers game.

There are two reasons for his demotions: 1) He's considered the fifth outfielder on a team that only wants to carry four outfielders, and 2) He has an option remaining. Fairly or not, players who have an option(s) remaining are more likely to lose their roster spot than those who do not.

Eaton and Avisail Garcia are healthy at the same time for the first time since the second week of April. Those two outfielders are part of the Sox' present and future. If they are available, they are going to play. The third outfield spot remains a question mark. At least until the Sept. 1 roster expansion, when Danks will be recalled and Moises Sierra will come off the disabled list, the Sox appear to be going back to the left field plan they started the season with: a platoon with Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo.

The thing that's interesting about all this is that the coaching staff plays Danks frequently when he's available to them.

Garcia has been back from his four-month stint on the disabled list for eight games, and the most common outfield combination we've seen during that stretch is De Aza in left field, Danks in center field and Garcia in right field.

Manager Robin Ventura had the option of going with Viciedo in left, De Aza in center and Garcia in right, but he only used that combination just one time in those eight games. Danks started the other seven games in center field. Viciedo started just three of those eight games.

With Garcia, Danks, Viciedo and De Aza all available, the coaching staff seemed most comfortable with Danks on the field and Viciedo on the bench. Yet when Eaton becomes available, the guy who has been sitting on the bench (Viciedo) hangs around, while the guy who is playing center field (Danks) is packing his bags for Triple-A.

It makes you wonder if there's somebody in the front office who doesn't want to give up just yet on Viciedo and his tantalizing offensive potential. As we've mentioned before, Garcia's injury gave Viciedo a second chance to prove himself as an everyday player this season. Viciedo has squandered it. We know he's a horrible defensive player. His outfield gaffe on Sunday in New York cost Sox ace Chris Sale and the team a win against the Yankees. He has to hit to justify his roster spot, and his .233/.279/.397 slash line doesn't make the grade.

Viciedo has had 1,705 plate appearances in a White Sox uniform, including at least 470 in each of the past three seasons. Of those three seasons, this is his worst of the three. Much like Gordon Beckham, he's regressed despite receiving ample opportunity to right the ship. Maybe the coaching staff has recognized this, and that's the reason Viciedo was the guy who lost playing time upon Garcia's return. At some point, a player goes from having tantalizing offensive potential to being a bust. The White Sox might be at that stage with Viciedo.

I don't think Danks is an everyday outfielder by any means. He's not a good enough hitter. However, I think he's more likely than Viciedo to stick in the majors as a reserve on the basis of his ability to effectively play all three outfield positions. That versatility is a quality you want in a backup player. Viciedo can't play effectively anywhere on the field, and despite his potential, his offensive results are too marginal to keep him around.

Next year, Danks will be out of options. They won't be able to put him on the Triple-A shuttle again. The next time the Sox are faced with a "Viciedo or Danks" decision, whether that comes in the offseason or next spring, would it be out of line to suggest they keep the player who can handle center field and catch the ball? 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Avisail Garcia's return will create an interesting roster decision for the White Sox

White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia was once believed to be out for the year after tearing the labrum in his shoulder the second week of the season.

However, the timetable for his return keeps accelerating. Garcia is currently 10 for 19 with a home run in five games on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Charlotte, and White Sox manager Robin Ventura has said the 23-year-old could return to the major leagues before the end of the month if he avoids setbacks.

If Garcia stays on track, he'll be back with the White Sox before the Sept. 1 roster expansion, so that means somebody on the current 25-man roster will have to go.

A lot of times in these situations, the club will just tell its backup outfielder to hit the bricks. But for the Sox, it's not that simple in this case. Fourth outfielder Moises Sierra is out of options and cannot be sent back to the minors without first clearing waivers.

It would be a mistake for the Sox to expose Sierra to waivers. There's a good chance he'd be claimed. He has posted a respectable .295./.318/.448 slash line in a reserve role. Defensively, he's the best corner outfielder on the 25-man roster, and he's still only 25 years old.

If you're the White Sox and you're five games below .500 the first week of August, it's time to start thinking about what your team might look like next season. Sierra has shown enough this year that the club should consider bringing him back in 2015 in some capacity, even if it is just in the part-time role he has filled capably this year.

But, if the Sox are going to hold on to Sierra, that means one of three players -- Adam Dunn, Alejandro De Aza or Dayan Viciedo -- has to go when Garcia comes off the DL. Ideally, general manager Rick Hahn would be able to swing a waiver-wire deal to move one of those three players.

Unfortunately, hopes for trading Dunn are getting less and less by the day. The left-handed slugger is mired in an 0-for-15 skid. He did not reach base a single time on the Sox' most recent homestand, and he is hitting just .129 with two home runs over the past two weeks. Jose Abreu is starting to see fewer pitches to hit, because opposing pitchers know Dunn is an automatic out behind him right now.

If Dunn were swinging the bat well, a contender would be able to use him for the last 40 or so games of the season. Unfortunately, that's not the case, and Dunn might stuck playing out the string in Chicago.

Viciedo is the player who benefited most when Garcia went down. The Sox seemed ready to move on from him as an everyday guy coming into the year, but Garcia's injury created a second chance for him to play on a daily basis. He has failed to capitalize. Viciedo is a poor defender, so he needs to hit to justify his roster spot. Despite 14 home runs, his .238/.286/.400 slash has impressed nobody, and in fact, his batting average and slugging percentage are both below his career norms.

Like Sierra, Viciedo has age on his side. He's only 25, but he doesn't seem to be making progress as a hitter. His previous perceived strength -- hitting left-handed pitching -- hasn't been much of a factor. His platoon splits show him as being only slightly better against lefties than he is against righties:

vs. RHP: .236/.276/.398
vs. LHP: .247/.317/.409

Hahn will only be able to move Viciedo if there is another GM who thinks the outfielder might benefit from a change of scenery. There's nothing about Viciedo's game right now that suggests he could help a contender.

That brings us to De Aza, who like Dunn almost certainly will be somewhere other than Chicago when the 2015 season begins. De Aza cannot hit lefties at all this year (.091/.155/.136), but he still gets on base at a respectable clip against right-handed pitching (.283/.349/.416).

And, De Aza has been trending in the right direction over the past two months. He was awful in April and May (.173/.240/.250), but since Sierra was added to the roster, Ventura has been able to limit De Aza's exposure to left-handed pitching.

As a result, De Aza has posted a .327/.375/.455 slash line since June 1.

Yeah, you read that right: De Aza has been almost a .330 hitter for a full one-third of the season.

If there's a team that could use a left-handed bat to help against right-handed pitching, De Aza is a fit. He represents Hahn's best chance to make a waiver-wire deal before Garcia comes off the disabled list.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gordon Beckham is drowning in his 'prove it' season

Time for another round of player comparison. Each of these four slash lines belongs to an everyday player in the White Sox lineup. Which would you say is the worst?

Player A: .235/.292/.328
Player B: .224/.274/.355
Player C: .235/.307/.361
Player D: .236/.287/.400

If you said B, that means you believe Gordon Beckham is the worst hitter in a Chicago lineup that has its share of weak bats.

Beckham is in the process of playing himself out of town with a painful, soul-crushing slump. He is 1 for 22 since the All-Star break. He is 6 for 66 in the month of July, posting a .091/.127/.136 slash line over that period. He has not hit a home run since June 24.

You can always tell when Beckham is in a terrible spin because White Sox TV announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson will always protect him by talking up Beckham's "strong arm" at second base, and by noting the number of double plays the Sox have turned on the season. If you watched the broadcast of Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals, you heard Harrelson give that speech no fewer than three times.

But no matter what way you slice it, Beckham is drowning in his "prove it" season, and it's time for the Sox to move on. I can live with fewer double plays being turned if I can have a second baseman with an OBP of more than .274. Beckham is on his way to the worst season of his mediocre (at best) career.  He's been in the big leagues for five years now, and it's folly to assume he's ever going to become more than he is. He's not a prospect anymore.

The Sox have other options, too. Marcus Semien (.241/.338/.454) hasn't exactly been tearing it up in the minor leagues, but Carlos Sanchez (.295/.355/.413) is having a nice year at Triple-A Charlotte. Prospect Micah Johnson (.303/.333/.404) is inching closer to being big-league ready, as well. Any of those three stands a decent-to-good chance of equaling or bettering Beckham's production with the bat, and all would cost less than the $4.1 million the Sox are paying this year for Beckham to hit .224.

There are plenty of trade rumors swirling around Beckham, and perhaps that has contributed to his miserable, seemingly distracted July performance. However, it's hard to tell whether trade rumors are the cause of Beckham's woes, because we've seen prolonged slumps like this from him before. I'm forced to come to the conclusion that he's just a poor hitter, and that the Sox can do better at that position. In fact, they must do better.

It's time to trade Beckham. Get whatever you can get and spend the last two months of the season taking a look at one of the infield prospects from Triple-A. The Sox are 10 games out of first in the AL Central. It's time to start looking toward next year. Beckham is part of the problem, and he's not part of the solution. Is there someone else in the organization who can help? Let's find out.

(For the record, Player A above is Tyler Flowers. Player C is Alejandro De Aza. Player D is Dayan Viciedo.)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dayan Viciedo, Tyler Flowers dragging down White Sox offense

After getting swept by the Kansas City Royals over the weekend, the White Sox (33-37) have now lost a season-high four games in a row and are a season-worst four games below .500.

The Sox have scored a total of six runs combined in those four losses. In the three-game sweep at the hands of Kansas City, the South Siders went 3 for 32 with runners in scoring position. They stranded 13 runners alone in Sunday afternoon's 6-3 loss to the Royals.

Indeed, the Sox are struggling to knock in a big run right now. No single player is to blame for that. It's a team-wide problem. Overall, the Sox have been trending the wrong way offensively for about a month. They were the league's best offensive team in April, but they've since fallen to fifth in the league in runs scored (304) and seventh in runs per game (4.34).

Those are still respectable totals, especially coming off a 2013 season when the Sox scored the fewest runs in the American League. But, there's no question the offense was clicking early in the season much better than it is now.

Looking at some longer-term trends, there are two Sox hitters in particular who were good early in the season, but have fallen off a cliff over the past month or six weeks: outfielder Dayan Viciedo and catcher Tyler Flowers.

Let's look at the slash line splits for each of these two players.

Viciedo:
April: .348/.410/.528
May: .229/.276/.385
June: .083/.120/.104
Last 28 days: .154/.189/.220
Last 14 days: .100/.143/.125

Flowers:
April: .354/.398/.415
May: .208/.288/.333
June: .067/.152/.267
Last 28 days: .136/.203/.305
Last 14 days: .042/.148/.167

Let's be fair: It was unrealistic to expect either Viciedo or Flowers to continue their April pace. Neither of them has enough talent to hit .300 over a 162-game season, let alone .350. A regression to the mean was expected. However, there's a difference between regressing to the mean and becoming a sinkhole.

Right now, Viciedo and Flowers are both sinkholes. When you have two guys who are hitting .100 or less over a two-week span, or .150 or less over a four-week span, that's like having to send your pitcher up to bat two times every time through the lineup. It's hard to win in the American League when you've got two players who just can't hit at all. Sometimes, you can cover up for one black hole at the bottom of your lineup, but certainly not two.

In Viciedo's case, he's missing a golden opportunity to make himself part of the Sox' future plans. The team was ready to move on from him as an everyday player at the start of the year. Viciedo was scheduled to platoon with Alejandro De Aza in left field when camp broke.

But then everything changed with right fielder Avisail Garcia went down with a season-ending shoulder injury the second week of April. Suddenly, opportunity presented itself for Viciedo. He's getting a chance to play every day and earn his way back into the Sox' good graces. For about two or three weeks in late April and early May, he was capitalizing on that chance. But the last four or five weeks, he's blowing it again -- one big swing-and-a-miss at a time.

Next year, Garcia is going to be back and there's isn't going to be a spot in the outfielder for the defensively challenged Viciedo. There is, however, an opening at designated hitter for the Sox in 2015. By then, Paul Konerko will be enjoying retirement, and presumably, Adam Dunn will be wearing a different uniform. Viciedo could fill that spot, but he has to hit to justify his presence on the roster. He can't field at all, so if he's not hitting, he's not helping. Right now, he's not helping.

In the case of Flowers, I can't say I'm surprised or disappointed he's stopped hitting. His approach at the plate has always been terrible. He had a month of flukish results in April, and now he's back to being the lousy hitter he's always been.

Apparently, the Sox' coaching staff believes Flowers does a good job of handling the pitching staff. At least there's that, if you're looking for a justification to keep him in the lineup. Unlike Viciedo, he might have some defensive value, although I've never been particularly impressed with Flowers' catch-and-throw ability.

The Sox have managed to hang around in the AL Central race to this point. Even now, they are only 5.5 games back entering Monday's play. People ask whether the Sox can contend this year, and I just don't see it.

This is team that has only three legitimate big-league starting pitchers. Their catcher is terrible, and they get little or no production from their corner outfield spots. I expect nothing offensively from Flowers. He's bad with the lumber in his hands. It is what it is.

Viciedo, on the other hand, really shouldn't be this terrible. If the light bulb suddenly goes on for him, the Sox will win more games than we might expect. But with each passing 0 for 4, it's hard to believe Viciedo is going to be anything other than a platoon player, or a weak starting player on a bad club.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Justin Verlander takes a beating from White Sox

As a White Sox fan, I used to dread games when the team would have to face Detroit right-hander and former Cy Young award winner Justin Verlander.

I don't have those pangs of fear anymore.

We discussed it on this blog a couple weeks ago: It looks like Verlander's best days are behind him. And, if that's the case, then Detroit can be had in the AL Central Division race.

When I looked at Wednesday night's matchup between Verlander and Chicago left-hander John Danks, my initial instinct was not "Oh crap," as it might have been two or three years ago. Instead it was, "Hey, the Sox could win this one."

Win it they did, 8-2. The victory means the Sox (33-33) have as many wins as the first-place Tigers (33-28) and are just 2.5 games back in the division race.

However, the main story I took out of this game was Verlander's continuing vulnerability. The Sox touched him up for seven runs on eight hits over 5.2 innings. The erstwhile Detroit ace has now given up five runs or more in five of his past six starts. His ERA over that stretch is 8.72. His season ERA has swelled to 4.61. That's Hector Noesi territory right there.

And, anyone who watched this game knows the Sox should have scored more runs than they did. The South Siders loaded the bases with just one out in the third inning, but neither Conor Gillaspie nor Jose Abreu could knock in a run.

The Sox also got a one-out triple from Adam Eaton in the fifth inning, but failed to score after the Sox center fielder was thrown out at the plate on grounder off the bat of Gordon Beckham.

Verlander found himself in bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the sixth, and this time he did not get off the hook. With the score tied 1-1, Dayan Viciedo grounded into a double play that gave the Sox a one-run lead. The twin killing gave Verlander a great chance to minimize damage and keep his team in the game. Instead, he imploded.

Alejandro De Aza singled in a run. Verlander then walked light-hitting catcher Adrian Nieto and Eaton back-to-back to reload the bases. Beckham ended Verlander's night with a two-run single that put the Sox ahead 5-1.

Detroit summoned Naperville product Ian Krol from the bullpen, and the lefty provided little relief. Gillaspie's two-run double increased the Sox' advantage to 7-1. After an intentional walk to Abreu, Adam Dunn singled to make it 8-1. Chicago cruised to victory from there.

How often do you get a seven-run inning in a game started by Justin Verlander? The answer used to be never. Now, it can be done. The Sox proved it Wednesday night.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Best-laid plans (and platoons) going awry for Sox

One of the big ways the White Sox were hoping to improve their offense this season was by taking a group of guys that were each a net-negative when playing full time, and partnering them with someone who could perhaps compliment the other's weaknesses.

Thus Adam Dunn, who has struggled to hit left-handers, would be joined with Paul Konerko as a two-headed designated hitter. Alejandro De Aza's defense would look better in left field than in center, and with his own slight deficiency against lefties, could maybe be combined with the poor-fielding-but-southpaw-mashing Dayan Viciedo.

Things started out well. Dunn is hitting a respectable .246/.388/.458, even with a recent power outage. Konerko has flailed in his new role (.192/.241/.309), but that was somewhat made up for by Viciedo, for now excelling (.291/.352/.447) while being pressed into a bigger role when right fielder Avisail Garcia was lost for the season.

Unfortunately that's left De Aza to struggle miserably (.190/.248/.306). First he was needed in left field, but even with Moises Sierra (.303/.351/.424) added, De Aza was still the best choice to fill in when center fielder Adam Eaton missed time on the disabled list.

Eaton is back, and De Aza with his track record probably remains the best option to play as a fourth outfielder on this team, at least as long as the Sox are on the fringes of contention. He's otherwise having a season that would have him designated for assignment (which might yet happen).

Now a new crisis has emerged. First baseman Jose Abreu -- the team's best and most exciting hitter -- is headed to the DL. In the meantime, it looks like Dunn and Konerko will be pushed back into the full-time roles in which they struggled to produce value a year ago. And if Viciedo and Sierra both cool off along with that surprising catching tandem of Tyler Flowers and Adrian Nieto?

Things could get ugly fast with Abreu gone.

That's not to say it was the wrong idea for the Sox to try cobbling together something from what they had on hand instead of overpaying for a free agent who might not do any better than a healthy platoon pair. They've been one of the highest-scoring teams in the American League by effectively playing a shell game around injuries and the limitations of the guys populating their roster.

There might just be so many injuries now that the Sox are looking at turning over a series of empty shells.

It goes without saying the Sox hope Abreu is back soon, and that Eaton stays healthy, because the chewing gum that's holding together the rest of the offense is getting stretched too thin.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

When Conor Gillaspie returns from the DL, who will the White Sox send down?

White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie is on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Charlotte and could come off the disabled list as soon as Wednesday.

Before suffering a bruised hand, Gillaspie was hitting .302 with 12 RBIs in 16 games. Upon his return, he's going to take over for Marcus Semien as the Sox's regular third baseman. And unlike earlier in the year, there isn't much playing time available for Semien at second base, now that Gordon Beckham is back off the disabled list.

So, what do the Sox do with Semien? Is he the guy they send back to the minors when Gillaspie is activated? Or will outfielder Jordan Danks or all-purpose player Leury Garcia be optioned? It's not an easy call, and there is more than likely some internal debate going on among White Sox brass.

If the fans had their way, Beckham would probably be the guy shown the door -- even with his 4-for-5 performance and go-ahead home run in Tuesday's 5-1 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The disappointing second baseman has become a bit of a whipping boy for fans on Internet message boards, but let's be realistic: The Sox aren't going to cut Beckham loose now or look to trade him when he's just coming off an injury and his value is at its lowest.

For better or for worse, Beckham is the regular second baseman until at least July. Defensively, he's still the Sox's best option at the position. If he rebuilds his value by midseason, he could be shipped off at the trade deadline to clear a starting spot for either Semien or Micah Johnson. But that's a question for another time.

When Gillaspie returns, one of Semien, Danks or Garcia is going to be gone. Of the three, Danks is perhaps the weakest player, but he needs to remain on the roster for as long as Adam Eaton is on the disabled list. With Eaton on the shelf, Danks is the only good defensive outfielder the Sox have. Without him, you're looking at a starting outfield of Moises Sierra, Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo -- with Garcia, an infielder by trade, and Adam Dunn, a designated hitter by trade, filling backup roles. Not acceptable. If I'm making the decision, Danks stays despite his ugly .098/.229/.195 slash line.

That leaves Semien and Garcia. A lot of Sox fans would disagree with me here, but I think Semien goes to Charlotte for more playing time. Garcia stays as the backup infielder.

It's tough because Semien has shown a flair for the dramatic this season. He's had some big hits for the Sox -- 15 of his 16 RBIs have come in the sixth inning or later. That said, I can't ignore his.213/.267/.346 slash line, nor can I ignore his league-leading 45 strikeouts.

I like Semien and think he could be an everyday player in the majors at some point in the future. I just don't think that day is today. I don't think he would benefit much from sitting on the major league bench, so I support sending him to Triple-A and having him work on closing some of the holes in that swing. Garcia, to me, will never be more than a utility infielder anyway, so I'm fine with leaving him right where he is.

For me, Semien's development is a greater priority than Garcia's development. He's the better of the two players. Semien's the one who needs the everyday at-bats in my book, so the Sox should put him in a place where he can get them. That place, right now, is Charlotte.

We'll probably find out sometime in the next 48 hours whether the Sox agree with me.

Friday, May 2, 2014

White Sox can't be disappointed with their April performance

I know a 14-15 record isn't the stuff that championship dreams are made of, but if you're a realistic White Sox fan, you have to be pleased with the way the team has hung in there through the first month of the season.

The Sox spent most of April playing against playoff teams from last season (Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, Tampa Bay), plus a couple other teams that contended in the American League in 2013 (Kansas City, Texas). They endured injuries to key players such as Chris Sale, Avisail Garcia and Nate Jones, yet they stayed afloat against that difficult schedule.

Surprisingly, the South Siders enter May leading the American League in runs scored (154) and hits (275). They are second in the league in batting average (.269), slugging percentage (.431) and OPS (.764). They rank third in doubles (58), triples (6) and  home runs (32). And perhaps the greatest surprise of them all is the Sox managed to get all 16 of their scheduled April home games in without a single postponement.

As the calendar turns to May, here's a look back at the month that was:

The Great News

1. Jose Abreu looks like the real deal: a .270/.336/.617 slash line with 10 home runs, 8 doubles and 32 RBIs. As we've mentioned before, he won't produce like that every month, but there is plenty of reason to believe Abreu is a legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter.

2. Adam Eaton has played like the center fielder and leadoff hitter the Sox have been seeking for several years. Eaton has posted a .364 OBP with 20 runs scored in his first 24 games, and he's saved his pitchers some headaches with some outstanding plays in the outfield.

3. Tyler Flowers, for a change, isn't playing like a stiff. No way he hits .354 all year, but I'd be happy with .254. Flowers has changed his approach. In the past, most of the few hits he had went for extra bases. This year, not so. He's got 29 hits, 26 of which are singles. Last year, Flowers did not collect his 26th single of the season until July 25. Flowers looks to content to just try to get on base and turn the lineup over. Works for me.

The Good News

1. Alexei Ramirez is a different player than he was in 2013. We've talked previously about his hitting (.351/.375/.535). This was by far the best offensive April of his career. But perhaps more importantly, Ramirez has started playing good defense again. He committed only one error in April, after piling up 22 errors last year.

2. Dayan Viciedo has stepped up offensively to fill the void left by Garcia's absence. His slash is .348/.410/.528 with a team-best 11 doubles. Can you remember the last time Viciedo drew 10 walks in a month? That's probably never happened. A more patient approach at the plate has paid dividends. We stop short of putting Viciedo's performance in the "great" category because he's been a butcher in right field. It's fortunate the Sox have Eaton to patrol center field, because the corner outfield spots are weak points for the Sox defensively.

3. Adam Dunn is playing well enough that the Sox might be able to get out from underneath his contract with a midseason trade. Dunn is slashing .269/.402/.513 with five home runs and four doubles. Keep that up for another couple months and some team might want Dunn's bat for the stretch drive.

The Bad News

1.Sale is on the disabled list. The ace went 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA in four starts before being sidelined with a flexor strain in his pitching arm. I'm still not happy with the Sox for allowing Sale to throw 127 pitches on a cold night April 17 against Boston. He hasn't been on the mound since. It goes without saying the Sox can't hang in the race if Sale isn't healthy.

2. Garcia has lost a full year of development due to the torn labrum in his left shoulder. Garcia is a big part of the Sox's rebuilding plan. This was to be the 22-year-old's first full year in the big leagues, but now he faces a lengthy rehab process. It's uncertain what kind of player he will be when he returns. This is the sort of injury that can rob a hitter of some power. It's a concern, no question.

3. The bullpen remains unsettled a month into the season. Matt Lindstrom has been up and down as a closer, and I wouldn't expect him to remain in that role the whole season. The Sox would probably like a younger pitcher, such as Daniel Webb, to step up and grab that role, but it hasn't happened yet. Jones' DL stint isn't helping matters. Left-handed relief has been a weakness, as Donnie Veal was designated for assignment and veteran Scott Downs has struggled. After a rough start, Ronald Belisario has settled down and allowed only one unearned run over his last five outings covering eight innings.

The Ugly News

1. The Sox gambled that Felipe Paulino was healthy enough to be a serviceable veteran arm in their rotation. The gamble is looking like a fail right now as Paulino got lit up for 23 earned runs on 35 hits in 18.1 innings over four starts. Paulino is now on the disabled list with a swollen 11.29 ERA.

2. Walks. The Sox have issued 130 of them, more than any other team in the American League. I hate walks. They are my biggest pet peeve in baseball. There is no defense for the walk. Sure, if you throw the ball over the plate, the batter might hit it hard, but at least you give the defense a chance to make a play. Walks are just a free 90 feet, and they breathe life into the opposition's offense. The Sox have to throw more strikes and get ahead of more hitters.

3. Alejandro De Aza. He hit three home runs the first three games of the season, but that's about the lone bright spot. The .185/.255/.359 slash represents one of the worst months the left fielder has had since joining the Sox. With any luck, he'll heat up with the weather. His bat has been a sore spot.

So, what will May hold? Well, the Sox have 10 games in the next 16 days against the Cubs (9-17), the Diamondbacks (9-22) and the Astros (9-19). Those are three of the four worst teams in baseball entering Friday's play. If the Sox can win six or seven of those 10 games, they can stay in the AL Central race at least until June. If the Sox lose to those teams, well, that obviously would be a disappointment.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia out for the season

White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia has a torn labrum in his left shoulder that will require season-ending surgery.

We're not going to sugarcoat it: This is a bad day for the 22-year-old outfielder, the White Sox organization and its fans. I was looking forward to seeing what Garcia could do in a full season as the everyday right fielder, and now that will have to wait until next year.

Garcia hurt the shoulder attempting to make a diving catch during Wednesday's 10-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

The Sox have recalled outfielder Jordan Danks from Triple-A Charlotte to take Garcia's place on the 25-man roster.

I won't speculate too much on what this means for Garcia's future, but if there is any blessing, it is that the injury is to his non-throwing shoulder.

We have talked throughout the spring about the possibility of the Sox trading one of either Alejandro De Aza or Dayan Viciedo. It turns out it's a good thing the team held on to both those players. The Sox need them. The duo won't be platooning in left field anymore. I would imagine Viciedo will take over as the full-time right fielder for the remainder of the season, while De Aza will get the majority of starts in left field.

Now is the time for Viciedo to step up. This is his third full season in the big leagues, and if he's going to solidify himself as part of the Sox' future, it's now or never.

This also is an opportunity for Danks, who hit five home runs during spring training and probably deserved to make the team. He's been riding the shuttle between Triple-A and the majors for over two years. Now is his chance to prove he can fill a role on a big-league team.

We already knew the Sox were going to struggle this season, even with a healthy Garcia. News of this injury isn't going to rob the team of a chance to contend or anything like that. However, it is a major setback for Garcia, who is going to miss out on the 500 at-bats against major league pitching he would have received this season. That's the most disappointing part.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Opening Day 2014 at U.S. Cellular Field

White Sox left fielder Alejandro De Aza is on pace for 324 home runs and 486 RBIs this season.

OK, so that isn't going to happen, but credit De Aza for coming up with a big performance on Opening Day -- two home runs and three RBIs in the Sox' 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

It was De Aza's first multihomer game of his career. He became just the fourth Sox player to hit two home runs in a game on Opening Day. The others are Minnie Minoso, Sammy Sosa and Jim Thome.

As you can see from the picture, the weather cooperated on Monday. It was windy day on the South Side, but the temperatures were in the 60s. In fact, it was the warmest day in the Chicago area since last November. After the winter we've had, I had no complaints.

Here are a few other first impressions from yesterday's game:

1. The Sox played errorless defense. I don't know if that's going to last, but it was nice to see. I'll bet the Sox coughed up 15 to 20 games on poor defense alone in 2013. They were sloppy at times during spring training as well, so defense ranks as my No. 1 concern coming into the season. On Monday, all the routine plays were handled behind ace left-hander Chris Sale. If the Sox could just be adequate defensively, they might add five to 10 games to their win total on that alone.

2. Jose Abreu hits the ball hard. Really hard. He crushed the first pitch he saw in the big leagues for a double to right field. Minnesota outfielder Oswaldo Arcia didn't have time to react before the ball was over his head. Abreu went 2-for-4 with an RBI in his first game, and he hit the ball right on the screws three times. We'll see how Abreu reacts as pitchers adjust to him, but it was a good start for the Cuban slugger.

3. I think Adam Eaton is going to become a fan favorite on the South Side. He went 2-for-4 with a run scored in his first game, but perhaps his most impressive at-bat was one in which he made an out. He saw 11 pitches from Minnesota reliever Anthony Swarzak in the seventh inning. He fouled off several good pitches before grounding out to first base. Eaton looks like he's going to be a tough out, and just in general, he seems like he's going to be a pain to opposing teams. Sox fans like guys like that.

4. There are two types of pitchers who start on Opening Day. There are aces, and then there are guys who pitch on Opening Day because somebody has to. Sale is an ace. Minnesota's Ricky Nolasco started because, well, somebody had to start for the Twins. The difference in quality between those two guys is pretty obvious to anyone who watched this game. No surprise that Sale got the win and Nolasco the loss.

5. Sox manager Robin Ventura has selected veteran Matt Lindstrom to be his closer. Lindstrom picked up the save Monday, retiring three of the four batters he faced with one strikeout. I'm probably in the minority on this one, but I like Lindstrom over Nate Jones in the ninth inning. Will Lindstrom be a dominant closer? Hell no. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Daniel Webb takes his job before the year is over. But for me, Jones walks too many batters to be a closer. His command was spotty at best during the spring. Lindstrom will get beat at times, but I think he's less likely to give games away with walks than Jones. I'm fine with giving Lindstrom a shot.

161 games to go, but for one day, the Sox and their fans can feel good about this performance. The Sox have won each of their last seven home openers, and Monday's effort was a solid one from top to bottom.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A look at the White Sox' weekend roster moves

The White Sox trimmed their roster down to 33 players Sunday with five roster moves.

Third baseman Matt Davidson, outfielder Jordan Danks and pitcher Jake Petricka were optioned to Triple-A Charlotte. Pitcher Dylan Axelrod was reassigned to minor league camp, and pitcher Mitchell Boggs was placed on waivers for the purpose of granting him an unconditional release.

We've discussed the third base scenario frequently on this blog, and things played out as we expected. The 22-year-old Davidson is going to Charlotte to refine his game. The Sox hope he develops into a long-term solution at the position. In the meantime, Conor Gillaspie is a reasonable placeholder on a rebuilding team.

Danks has to be frustrated about being sent down. He did everything he could to make the club. His spring slash line was a robust .333/.378/.738. He hit five home runs and totaled 10 RBIs. Unfortunately for him, the numbers game didn't work in his favor. The Sox are only keeping four outfielders, and he's the fifth guy behind Avisail Garcia, Adam Eaton, Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza.

There has been plenty of speculation -- including here on this blog -- about the Sox possibly trading one of Viciedo or De Aza. It doesn't look like that is going to happen, at least not initially. Perhaps the Sox couldn't find a deal to their liking.

Word on the street was the Sox were wanting to trade one of their left fielders, and sometimes when that happens rival GMs think they can acquire the player who is on the trading block with a low-ball offer -- mistakenly believing the trading team is desperate to make a deal. The Sox don't *have* to trade Viciedo or De Aza, so there was no reason to make a trade just for the sake of making trade. The loser in this whole scenario is Danks, who has to start the year in the minor leagues. But frankly, the Sox don't have much outfield depth in their organization once you get past those first five guys, so it might not be the worst thing in the world for the team to stand pat there.

Petricka is a guy we could see in the majors again if there's an injury in the bullpen. As for Axelrod, thank goodness the Sox aren't going into the season with him as the fifth starter again. We've seen that movie before, and it's not a good one. Axelrod is fine for organizational depth, but it would be foolish to count on him for 150 or 200 innings at the big-league level.

Boggs was coming off a bad season, and the Sox were hoping he would regain the form he showed in 2012 with the St. Louis Cardinals. It just didn't work out. He looked awful this spring, posting a 12.79 ERA in 6.1 innings. At least the Sox had the good sense to cut ties with him now. Sometimes, you sign a guy like this and you allow him to blow five or six games the first month of the season before you realize you made a mistake. It's better to cut your losses before that happens.

Quintana gets five-year extension

In other news Monday, the Sox signed starting pitcher Jose Quintana to a five-year contract that could be worth as much as $26.5 million.

If Quintana stays healthy for the life of the contract -- always a big if with pitchers -- that's a real team-friendly contract.

The Sox now have both Chris Sale and Quintana inked to reasonable long-term contracts. There's always a risk in committing to pitchers over the long haul, but considering what Sale and Quintana have done to this point in their respective careers, that risk is worth the potential reward for the Sox. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Random White Sox thoughts for this week

Unfortunately, there haven't been too many spring training games on TV yet, so it's hard to get a good feel for how players have looked so far.

But, in looking over the box scores from this week, the White Sox player who has stood out the most has been center fielder Adam Eaton.

We said earlier this week that spring training numbers mean nothing, and they don't. But it's worth noting Eaton has played well thus far, reaching base in 10 of his first 14 plate appearances. He's 6 for 10 and has also drawn two walks and been hit by a pitch twice in five spring games.

Barring injury, Eaton will be leading off and playing center field when the Sox open March 31. Both the leadoff spot and center field have been a revolving door for the Sox over the past several seasons, so it would be huge if Eaton plays well enough to lock down those two roles.

De Aza on the block?

There's been some talk this spring about the Sox possibly trading second baseman Gordon Beckham. I doubt that will happen. If there's a trade to be made before the team breaks camp, it might involve outfielder Alejandro De Aza.

De Aza has been the Sox' leadoff hitter and center fielder the past couple years, but he's going to be supplanted by Eaton. The question is whether the Sox want to hold on to De Aza and platoon him in left field with Dayan Viciedo, or ship him elsewhere.

Rumor has it the Twins might be interested in De Aza, who will make $4.25 million this season and has a movable contract. The Sox would probably rather not pay De Aza that money to be a part-time player, especially when Jordan Danks can serve as a fourth outfielder for cheaper.

Some of this depends on how much the Sox still believe in Viciedo, who has been a disappointment both with the bat and in the field. However, Viciedo is still only 24, so there may be some untapped upside. De Aza, on the other hand, is what he is -- an league average 29-year-old outfielder.

For a rebuilding team like the Sox, it makes more sense to hang on to the younger guy with upside and see what happens.

Bad fundamentals

The White Sox beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-3 in a spring game Friday, but there was a brutal defensive play that drew the ire of manager Robin Ventura and his staff.

Catcher Tyler Flowers was charged with an error when he threw to second base to try to cut down a steal attempt by Cincinnati's Brayan Pena. Neither Beckham nor shortstop Alexei Ramirez covered the bag. The ball sailed into center field, and Pena easily advanced to third.

This is the kind of garbage we saw way too much of last season. Poor defense was huge factor in the Sox' 99-loss disaster in 2013. Ventura says he addressed this mistake immediately. Good, because these kind of errors are inexcusable for veteran players.

It's about time

Reports indicate reliever Ronald Belisario has finally cleared up his visa problems and is scheduled to report to Sox camp. It's about time, now that Opening Day is just over three weeks away.

The Sox bullpen depth could be tested early in the season. Both Nate Jones (glute) and Matt Lindstrom (oblique) have yet to pitch in a spring game due to nagging injuries, and obviously, Belisario hasn't been around. In addition, reliever Daniel Webb has been away from the team due to a death in the family.

The battle for the closer's job has yet to materialize, because the none of the players involved in the competition have been on the mound.

Friday, January 17, 2014

White Sox avoid arbitration with Gordon Beckham, Alejandro De Aza

Second baseman Gordon Beckham and outfielder Alejandro De Aza both agreed to one-year contracts with the White Sox on Friday, avoiding arbitration.

Beckham will earn $4.175 million this season. He has one more year of arbitration remaining before becoming eligible for free agency in 2016.

De Aza's contract is for $4.25 million. He also is not eligible for free agency until 2016.

These signings were expected, and the Sox have no other arbitration-eligible players remaining.

The thing that is interesting here is that De Aza is now the highest paid outfielder on the team, but he's slated for a backup role after struggling defensively and on the basepaths during the 2013 season.

As we mentioned when Dayan Viciedo signed his one-year deal earlier this week, De Aza could be a platoon partner in left field with Viciedo. Or, one of the two players could be dealt before spring training opens. Keep in mind the Sox still have Jordan Danks hanging around on the 40-man roster, and he could be seen as a cheaper alternative to De Aza as a backup outfielder.

I personally will not be shocked if De Aza is elsewhere when the season begins.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

White Sox have post-holiday clearance items for sale

White Sox GM Rick Hahn has come a long way in reshaping his roster since last year's trade deadline, adding MLB-ready prospects at third base (Matt Davidson), center field (Adam Eaton) and right field (Avisail Garcia), while adding a handful of other potentially useful parts.

Don't forget the bow.
The turnover might not be over as the Sox still have some players that might be more useful to other teams, and could fetch something interesting in return.

Here are the guys who weren't tucked into another team's stocking and will have their price marked down.

Alejandro De Aza (OF)
This is the guy I think the Sox are most likely to trade. De Aza is either a good-hitting, poor-fielding centerfielder, or a poor-hitting, good-fielding left fielder. With the addition of Eaton, De Aza is now in a platoon with Dayan Viciedo in left. De Aza is probably the better player, hitting just as well as Viciedo while also being able to catch the ball, but that he could still slot into left or center gives a team a little more flexibility, and maybe opens up more trade avenues.

Gordon Beckham (2B)
Top infield prospects Marcus Semien was ticketed to play third base until the acquisition of Davidson, but now if the Sox think he's MLB-ready, they might move Beckham to install Semien at second base. Beckham, a former top-10 draft pick, had star potential. Right now he might just be what he's been, which is an OK hitting, good-fielding second baseman. That's not very sexy, but with two years left before free agency and the Sox looking to move him, Beckham might be a more attractive pickup for a 2B-needy team that doesn't like what's left on the free agent market, or the idea of swallowing the huge contracts of other potential trade targets like Brandon Phillips, Rickie Weeks or Dan Uggla.

Dayan Viciedo (OF/DH)
As noted, he's a worse player than De Aza, and shouldn't be in the outfield. He is younger and cheaper for now, and maybe still has potential if he can improve his hitting against right-handed pitching. While the Sox will listen, I doubt he'll be moved unless another team overpays, especially if he's being counted on to help fellow Cuban Jose Abreu adjust to life in the US.

Alexei Ramirez (SS)
Ramirez is a fine shortstop signed to a reasonable contract (2 years, $20.5 million left, plus an option). He can hit a little and is a good defender. He is better than the top in-house alternative, Leury Garcia, who can't hit even by middle-infielder standards. But if the Sox aren't going to contend, they might want to install Garcia at short where his excellent defense will have the most impact and just give him the at-bats to see if that part of his game can ever become adequate enough to make him a starter. Like Viciedo, the Cuban Ramirez might help with Abreu's integration in the clubhouse, but the Sox might not feel like they need both of them to hang around to make Abreu comfortable. Ramirez can go for the right price.

Adam Dunn (1B/DH)
Dunn has been a disappointment since signing a four-year, $56 million contract. He is in the last year of it, and still hits well against right-handed pitchers. If the White Sox ate a good chunk of his salary, he could be moved to clear room for Viciedo. If that's unlikely, it's because the Sox don't like to pay guys to play for other teams. Plus Viciedo isn't an ideal platoon partner for the re-signed Paul Konerko as they both need help against righties. Still, if a team desperate for a designated hitter or first baseman offered to go halfsies on the remainder of the contract, it's hard to see the Sox saying no.

John Danks (SP)
Danks is another guy who might not go anywhere because the Sox won't eat any money on the contract. He's got three years and $43 million left. That sounds like a lot for a guy that just posted a 4.75 ERA while coming back from shoulder surgery. Those results still weren't that much worse than Jason Vargas' last season, or Phil Hughes', both of whom just got big bucks in free agency, and both have worse track records than pre-surgery Danks. The Sox might not have to eat that much to move him this offseason, but might just wait to give him the chance to pitch this season and prove he's healthier and worth a team taking on a much better chunk of salary.