Sox Drawer: Infield Gets New Look

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Sox Drawer: Infield Gets New Look

Friday, November 6

When Kenny Williams hopped on a conference call Friday morning with the media, he didnt just break news, he smashed it into many pieces. And yes, there were some surprises.

Lets begin with Gordon Beckham. With Chris Getz going to Kansas City, Kenny said that his prized rookie from 2009 is now the White Sox new second baseman. Beckhams experience there is limited. He played second in the Arizona Fall League two years ago, but compared to his previous time at third base before the Sox put him there last season (zero), hes already got a head start. Williams said that moving Beckham to second was a priority. Interesting.

The move is a surprise since there are some who believe that Beckham should go back to his natural position (shortstop), and move Alexei Ramirez back to second base. But apparently, the White Sox are willing to give Ramirez another shot.

Mark Teahen becomes the Sox starting third baseman, a move which along with Beckham going to second, makes us better defensively across the board, said Williams. Teahen started at three different positions last year with the Royals, but made the most starts at third (99).

Its huge, Teahen said. The past three years I havent known what position Id play, and over the past 24 hours I havent known what city I was going to play in, so its huge. I came through the minors as a third baseman, and its my No. 1 position.

You might look at Teahens stats from last year (.271, 12 HR. 50 RBIs, 123 Ks), and not be impressed. But Williams said you cant evaluate the deal on raw numbers. Teahen played last season with two jammed thumbs, a sore elbow, and in our ballpark, he wont be pitched around as much. Williams added that hes a tough-nosed ballplayer who the Sox kept their eye on for the last couple years. In fact, they inquired about Teahen last season. When you consider his numbers against the Sox (12 of his 59 career home runs have come vs. the Sox), its no surprise.

Using that logic, maybe Kenny should trade for Placido Polanco, Miguel Olivo, Nick Punto, Jason Kubel, and every single Minnesota Twin who has crushed the Sox over the years. At least they dont have to worry about Carlos Gomez anymore. He was traded today to Milwaukee for J.J. Hardy. Wait until I tell Bill Melton. Itll make his day.

Moving to the outfield, it seems like the Scott Podsednik sequel is over. When asked about Pods, who is a free agent, Williams said weve already had talks. Some back-and-forth dialogue. I think re-signing him is not likely based on what he wants. Well have to keep getting after it in other areas.

That means the White Sox need a leadoff hitter. Who might that be? Can you say the name Jordan Danks?

Thats right. John Danks younger brother has leaped into the conversation. Hes been tearing up the Arizona Fall League, batting close to .400, leading Williams to say on the conference call, Jordan Danks is certainly making things interesting, and giving reason for us to pause as to whether we aggressively pursue a veteran-type guy or not in the outfield.

Danks is 6-foot-4, hes considered the best athlete in the Sox farm system, as well as their top defensive outfielder. The lefty prefers to play center field, but has played all three outfield positions. He mainly batted second in the Fall League, but led off last season at Double-A Birmingham.

As for Jermaine Dye, the White Sox bought out the mutual option for 2010 for just under 1 million, making him a free agent. Williams said, I spoke to Jermaine this morning. I played around with some deals to possibly create some space to fit J.D. at this point. Obviously, that didnt happen, or couldnt happen at this juncture. But Kenny left open the possibility of re-signing Dye, saying, I dont think you can rule it out because its a long offseason.

And finally, the other big surprise: Jim Thome. Many figured that he was not in the White Sox plans for 2010, but Williams said, I have the ultimate respect for Jimmy, so we might have to revisit that at some point in time.

Some might interpret that comment as a token nod from Williams to the future Hall of Famer, but I actually believe the feeling is genuine. Thome made 15 million last season, and saw his numbers drop in all categories. Not playing much with the Dodgers had a lot to do with it. Still, if the Sox can get him at a hometown discount, which could be in the cards, its a distinct possibility.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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