Reports from the margins of the 2013 roster
By James Fegan
Miguel Cabrera’s slight superiority over Mike Trout as a hitter should not have overridden the rookie centerfielder’s massive advantages as a fielder–at a vital defensive position–and baserunner.
There. That’s out of the way.
While others, such as Alex Rios, were living the glorious life of finishing 15th in AL MVP voting, a volley of activity took place among the lesser half of the 2013 White Sox roster, particularly with three guys who might need to jump up to being average regulars for that squad to have a chance.
Forces are mounting up from all over to court Kevin Youkilis’ services in a free agent 3rd base market that apparently has everyone else muttering “maybe Chris Johnson…I don’t know…goodness, how did it come to this?” too. With that clear number one option in doubt, Rick Hahn has been fielding more questions about how serious his mention of Dayan Viciedo was, and he’s backing down from it a bit.
"“We’re exploring a lot of options that we rank ahead of moving Viciedo from the outfield. He’s fully capable. He’s athletic enough to handle it but at the same time we’ve moved this kid around a lot.”"
Of course, this statement tries to stop short of saying its impossible for Viciedo to move, and puts the decision in terms of “it’s not in his best interest” as opposed to “it’s not in anyone’s interest”, but this is a GM speaking to the press, after all. Dayan at 3rd never read like a serious item, but with nothing arranged internally until whatever trade or signing needed to solve this vacuum takes place, it’s not the time to eliminate potential desperate options either. Hahn did eliminate Dan Johnson from consideration, though. That guy just doesn’t move well.
In more seriousness, Dan Johnson is a first basemen. So while it’s cool that he can hit three home runs in a game, there’s a massive offensive burden he has to fulfill to be playable. He can’t be trusted to meet it, and Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko won’t give him the opportunity.
Without knowing what the market emerging for Youkilis is settling around, or anything beyond a vague conception of who outside the aging, unmovable core and the top three of the starting rotation are out of play for a trade, it’s still a toss-up what’s going to happen at 3rd. We can eliminate Brent Morel being handed the job, though…probably.
Tyler Flowers had his cast removed, marking an important step in his recovery from a hairline fracture in his left hand that Chris Perez doled out to him in October. That will give him an opportunity to get back to work preparing for next season, which he’ll need in order to produce the .950 OPS and multiple World Series championships required for Pierzynski loyalists to stop resenting his presence.
“Sox’s Santiago dominant in Puerto Rico” is the headline Mark Gonzales of the Tribune went with to describe Hector’s two outings and 11 innings in Liga de Beisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente. After apparently getting his residence situation worked out well enough, Santiago’s allowed just one run, struck out 13 and only walked three, with most of his punchouts (12) coming against right-handers thanks to…well, he thinks it’s the screwball.
Santiago also commented “It looks like Cleveland,” in reference to his dominant end-of-the-season outing against the Indians, but it’s worth mentioning that even that stripped-down lineup is stronger than the competition he’s facing at the moment. Irving Falu might be the best hitter he’s stared down in Puerto Rico.
Hector doesn’t seem to be finished in Puerto Rico, and plans to play for them in the World Baseball Classic. While he threw just 85 innings in 2012, one does become curious how much pre-season work Santiago is expected to rack up and still compete for a rotation spot. Perhaps it’s a lot.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan