Arbitration filings, and the White Sox lineup is still the same


There’s a difference between the types of stories that demand the attention, care, and insight of a beat writer, and the types of stories that are more matter of fact, or have all the necessary info to them already contained in the press release. The latter, can be swiftly, even more efficiently repurposed by a producer instead, or even, a lowly intern.

The predictable development of two arbitration-eligible White Sox players–Alejandro De Aza and Gordon Beckham–heading to salary arbitration seems like it rather easily slots into the latter category. And yet, the beat writers turned out in force to cover the story.

Perhaps it’s just to keep the pens busy, since writing is an excercise, and between this and John Danks playing catch in a parking lot, there has not been a lot going on.

However, the coming of arbitration serves as yet another benchmark as the White Sox skate toward the season with their roster as is. Also, it’s hard to imagine two players more appropriate to be entering the first year of the arbitration process than Beckham and De Aza.

Beckham, has a season to prove that he can be a capable major league regular, or likely face release due to his escalating salary. De Aza, who has to prove that he can not only continue to stay healthy and effective as he ages out of his prime can continue to be progressively rewarded for good performance without a long-term commitment.

CSN Chicago trotted out a mock lineup if the season started today, and it looked a little like this.

  1. Alejandro De Aza, CF, LHB
  2. Jeff Keppinger, 3B, RHB
  3. Adam Dunn, DH, LHB
  4. Paul Konerko, 1B, RHB
  5. Alex Rios, RF, RHB
  6. Dayan Viciedo, LF, RHB
  7. Tyler Flowers, C, RHB
  8. Alexei Ramirez, SS, RHB
  9. Gordon Beckham, 2B, RHB

Missing faces aside, this lineup provides memories of pre-season 2012, when the key word through the starting nine was “if”. If Tyler Flowers can stay afloat, if Alexei Ramirez can return to hitting league average, if Paul Konerko’s wrist surgery allows to return to a form worthy of his lineup slot, if Dayan Viciedo takes a big leap forward, if Keppinger and Rios can keep it going after career years….

Then, with all of that, maybe it will not make a difference when Gordon Beckham struggles to make any progress at all.

This seems to be the nature of the “contenders” the White Sox have put together the last two years–teams that have cost less and have a shot to earn a playoff bid if everything goes right, rather than pay extra to make sure that the playoffs are still possible even if more than a few things go wrong.

That’s the torture of this sort of piecemeal rebuilding. The slow strengthening of the White Sox organizational depth is not enough to draw away focus from the major league club, and that major league club perennially appears to be a piece or two away.

Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan