If SoxFest is about anything, it’s about generating raw, unbridled enthusiasm. Sometimes there’s a news development, or a series of acquisitions to center the euphoria around. Other times, there’s just optimism for gradual improvement and Matt Lindstrom.
What tangible news came out of this one?
First off, about Matt Lindstrom…
It came early in the weekend, but Lindstrom’s contract was formally announced as a one-year deal for $2.8 million with a club option for $4 million in 2014. With minimal commitment, Lindstrom was an acceptable flier at even $4M, so to slide that far under is encouraging. It sounds like the White Sox had the advantage of being Lindstrom’s preference. It’s nice to be wanted.
They’re waiting to see if they’re contenders
The long-rumored left-handed offensive upgraded doesn’t look like it will take place prior to Spring Training. Free agent markets have been picked clean, or certainly beyond the place where the Sox could secure a clear upgrade over their existing middle infield, or be given reason to give up on Dayan Viciedo, or craft a power-hitting third basemen out of thin air. It’s the White Sox own doing, but that doesn’t change the situation.
This line stuck out from JJ’s piece on the matter: “Hahn, though, was quick to offer a reminder that the White Sox don’t actually play the Tigers until July, when the need for a left-handed bat may be more clear.”
The White Sox have been public about relying heavily on their starting staff, but will apparently be waiting to see if it’s strong enough to leverage a divisional contender on before they invest further. The schedule allows for it, too.
There’s nothing certain about Paul Konerko
Konerko neither offered clarity about whether he planned on playing after 2013, nor did he offer a clean solution for his late-season struggles. In fact, the uncertainty about his struggles bleeds into his ideas about retirement. Konerko said that despite his early success, he didn’t feel comfortable all season-long in 2012, and another season like this past one…may or may not affect his decision…for the positive or negative.
“Sometimes balls are falling for you. Things happen and the numbers say you’re doing well and you just don’t feel good. That happens too,” he explains. “I’d say that’s more of what was going on during the beginning of the season. I could tell by the way I was hitting. I could just tell.”
So now we are left to ask the question: Was 2012 just a fluke year or was it the start of the final downward trend of Konerko’s career?
“That’s a good question. If I was listening to the interview, I’d say, well, that’s called a trend of what’s happening,” Konerko says. “I understand that. That comes with the territory. I can’t think like that.”
If there’s a failure of the White Sox development recently, it’s the inability to take the offensive burden off of Konerko as he ages. 2010 was supposed to be his last ride into the sunset before the team moved into a new direction, but three years later he is still the offensive bellwether of the franchise even as his physical ability to shoulder the role is becoming steadily more questionable.
The organization is getting out ahead of everyone’s hatred for Tyler Flowers
Rick Hahn tried to express his confidence in Flowers’ abilities to a throng of fans still hurt over Pierzynski’s departure, Flowers defended his own merits to waves of fans by his lonesome and answered questions about his pitcher-management, was lauded for his preparation by Chris Sale, and had Jake Peavy beg fans to show him leniency.
It was quite a show of unity for a player who’s playing style probably makes him the worst aesthetic choice to take over for such a fan favorite.
Key to the season is development from within
John Danks returning healthy and effective from rehab–and to a much lesser extent, Gavin Floyd getting it all together–is expected to launch the rotation to new heights. Dayan Viciedo developing is supposed to provide the offensive the impact bat that it failed to add from the outside, and Addison Reed needs to tap into his ability become a dominant closer to revamp a bullpen that Bobby Thigpen will be heading up.
What little untapped potential the White Sox had in 2012 needs to be fully activated for any progress to be visible, but everyone at the Palmerhouse this weekend seemed pretty sure it was going to happen.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan