Spring Training is right around the corner. Before you know it golf carts, luxury sedans and high priced talent will be invading Camelback Ranch in Arizona. As of right now nobody really knows what to expect from this year’s White Sox team. Can they contend for a division? That is just one of the many questions facing this team in the coming weeks. Now when doing a list the number 10 is so cliche. Not to mention this team could use an extra question answered. Here are what I think are the 11 most important going into camp.
Can Robin Ventura lead a baseball team?
Sox fans all love Ventura as a player and ambassador to the organization. Now he steps into his biggest role as manager. The day to day grind and media scrutiny is usually what wears down a manager over the baseball x’s and o’s. Can he handle adversity and the spotlight that comes with a large market?
Is Adam Dunn?
See what I did there? I little play on words. By now you might have heard Ozzie Guillen’s interview the other day on ESPN 1000 where he said they knew Dunn was going to be a problem as soon as they saw him swing a bat in spring training. He has lost weight and seems to be saying all the right things but can he still come back as an offensive force in the lineup? Or is this possibly the worst free agent signing is Chicago sports history.
Who is the White Sox ace?
For the first time in 12 seasons the White Sox will be without former ace Mark Buehrle. While Mark’s talents on the field were huge it was his anchoring personality off the field that did wonders for the pitching staff and club as a whole. Who steps in and fills those voids on and off the field. Between Jake Peavy, John Danks and Gavin Floyd one of them has to step up and be the ace of the staff this season.
Is this the year Gordon Beckham puts it all together?
He was supposed to be the cornerstone of the franchise. The guy you can build and market around for at least a decade. Instead he has been a huge bust with a low trade value. Where does he go from here? Can he put all that talent together and become at least an above average player? This has to be the season for him or else it’s time for the Sox to move on.
Who closes for this team?
I wrote an article a while back here saying Addison Reed is a future star and I still believe so. I think he can be a perennial 40 save a year guy. He has the talent to do so but does that happen this year? Does Matt Thorton get another shot or is there a dark horse? They better figure it out soon because a bullpen on a baseball team has become one of the most important pieces to a successful ball club and it starts and ends with the closer.
Is Chris Sale ready for the starting rotation?
Out of the bullpen his stuff was electric. Wicked fastball and a baffling slider. For a couple outs there were not too many better than Chris Sale but can he maintain for 200 plus innings? His small frame might worry some as well as how good hitters might react to seeing the same pitches the third time around in the batting order. We know his stuff is good enough but is he mentally ready to start in the big leagues?
Can Alejandro De Aza be the everyday leadoff man?
The table setter can do wonders for an offense looking for an identity and score some runs. De Aza showed flashed late last season but can he withstand for an entire year? Can he holster his free swinging approach for the good of the team? There is no doubt he is lightning rod with his speed and hustle but he is going to have to learn the craft of a lead off hitter to be successful this year.
Is Dayan Viciedo as good as everybody thinks he is?
Some think he is the next great slugger, a guy who will undoubtedly put up all-star type numbers while playing full-time. I’m not completely sold. Dayan has struggled in extended stays in the majors. He can’t rely on talent and power alone to be successful. Good pitchers and coaches will adjust to him and if he doesn’t adjust with them he will be hitting .230 by the end of June.
Does Alex Rios even have a clue?
What is with this guy? All the talent to be an all-star player. He sure as heck is getting paid like one. He seems not to care about his craft well enough to even put forth an effort. The lazy swings and even lazier defense has caused him to be a marked man on the South Side among fans. What’s worse is still he seems not to care. What kind of Alex Rios will we see this year? Let’s just say I’m not having high expectations.
What is on deck with Kenny Williams?
In the cage match Kenny won. He successfully got rid of his nemesis Ozzie Guillen. Now it is completely on him. This is by far his most important season as the architect of this team. Building long term has to be the focus, the White Sox were called out by ESPN’s Keith Law for having the worst farm system in the majors. Not only does Kenny need to improve the current product on the field but he needs to create a pipeline of talent. If he doesn’t, then I know Rick Hahn is willing and able.
Does this team believe they can win?
Back in the Summer of 2005, a group of misfits adopted Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” as their song and rode the wave all the way to a championship. Now that team also had a lot of talent and a fire inside of them. People are already writing this team off. Some are picking them last in the division. There is talent there and the fans will come up if they win. Can they believe? Do they believe? Robin Ventura and his team will know early on whether or not they think they have what it takes to compete this year.