The All-Chicago Team: 2012

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The All-Chicago Team: 2012

This spring, we at Cubs Talk and White Sox Talk have decided to unify Chicago's two baseball teams into one in an effort to pick out the best players to grace each side of the city over the last 50 years. Each Wednesday during spring training, we'll roll out a different All-Chicago team, with the final version being the squad we'd put together if tasked with creating one team out of the Cubs and White Sox for 2012. Be sure to check out our 1960-1969, 1970-1979, 1980-1989, 1990-1999, 2000-2011 and 1960-2011 teams if you haven't already.

Tony: Here we go again. AJ vs. Soto. The only difference is we're discussing two catchers who are at completely different points in their career and this All-Chicago team is more of a look at the future as opposed to the past. AJ still has a lot of value, and teams need two catchers, so he would get a ton of playing time still if Chicago really were to merge their two teams for the 2012 season (maybe that's not such a bad idea...).

JJ: Given his age and up-and-down career, Soto has a much better chance to put together a big offensive year than Pierzynski, who's 35 -- right around the age when catchers begin to experience an offensive decline. So that's why Soto is starting over Pierzynski.

Tony: A lot of players were no-brainers, like Konerko, Garza, Danks, Sale, Wood, Ramirez and Castro. The only problem was trying to figure out which one of the latter two plays shortstop and which one goes elsewhere. Alexei's defense is far, far superior to Castro's right now, so he gets the nod at short. Conceivably, we could have moved Castro to third or second here, but his ineptitude with the glove so far in his brief career makes him a better fit to just do what he does best -- hit.

JJ: The more I look at this, the more I think Castro would be bumped to second or third to make room for Adam Dunn at DH -- but in the interest of playing it safe, I'm cool with Castro. Get back to me in about a month and the answer would be Dunn (if you can't tell, I'm confident in a Dunn rebound).

Tony: The lineup leaves something to be desired -- heck, the entire team does -- but there are some really good defensive players in there and they all kind of complement each other in the order. There's speed and on-base ability at the top of the order in De Aza and DeJesus and then four good hitters in a row with Castro, Konerko, Soriano and Ramirez. Could you imagine a 3-4 punch of Castro and Konerko for 150 games? Man, that'd be awesome. At the bottom of the order, Barney fits perfectly as the No. 9 hitter. That's probably where he should be. He doesn't walk much and doesn't provide much power, but he's a fantastic defender and can hit for a high average. In the nine-hole, he would see a lot of fastballs and have almost no pressure on him, so he would just be able to relax and hit.

JJ: The lineup would lack some power, but there's decent on-base skills at the top and that would, hopefully, help generate plenty of runs. And as Tony said, having a Castro-Konerko middle would be excellent.

Tony: The rotation isn't flashy, but it's very solid. The bullpen is very good and if Marmol were to have a resurgence at closer, it may very well be the best bullpen in the MLB. Too bad it took merging two teams to get to that point.

JJ: Speak for yourself. The Sox make up most of this bullpen, which speaks to the South Siders' relief depth. And while Garza's the unquestioned ace here, Danks and Sale would make most three-game series difficult for opponents.

Tony: Obviously the Cubs and White Sox won't merge teams. It makes absolutely no sense. But it's still fun to think about. And hey, it would unite Chicago and give them one very solid team to cheer for instead of two mediocre-to-bad teams.

C: Geovany Soto
1B: Paul Konerko
2B: Darwin Barney
SS: Alexei Ramirez
3B: Ian Stewart
LF: Alfonso Soriano
CF: Alejandro De Aza
RF: David DeJesus
DH: Starlin Castro
Bench: Adam Dunn
Bench: Brent Lillibridge
Bench: Marlon ByrdBench: A.J. Pierzynski
SP: Matt Garza
SP: John Danks
SP: Chris SaleSP: Ryan Dempster
SP: Gavin Floyd

CL: Carlos Marmol
RP: Matt Thornton
RP: Addison Reed
RP: Jesse Crain
RP: Kerry Wood
RP: Hector Santiago
RP: James Russell

The final word

Chris Kamka: I actually agree with Soto over A.J. this time, with age and a higher offensive ceiling as my reasons. Can't agree with Barney over Beckham though. I believe Beckham will eventually unleash his potential whereas Barney is pretty much what he is. Can't have Castro as a DH, as he's a National League player. I'd swap him with Dunn, who actually is a DH. Also tempted to swap De Aza for Byrd, since the Sox centerfielder has yet to enjoy a full productive season. Can't argue with the rest of the lineup. James Russell on the roster doesn't sit well with me either, but I really can't bring myself to argue strongly in favor of Will Ohman, so I might as well leave it be.

Chris Sale: Trade from White Sox 'bittersweet,' ready to move on with Red Sox

Chris Sale: Trade from White Sox 'bittersweet,' ready to move on with Red Sox

There’s no question he’s excited about the chance to pitch for a perennial playoff team in front of Fenway Park crowds deep into October.

But Chris Sale described the trade that sent him from the White Sox to the Boston Red Sox as bittersweet on Wednesday morning. On his way out of town, Sale, who was traded Tuesday for four minor leaguers, including two elite prospects, credited the White Sox for their support and belief in him from the outset of his career. But while he wishes he could have won a title on the South Side, Sale also said he’s ready to move on.

“It’s exciting for all the reasons I already said,” Sale said. “It’s tough. You build a relationship with these guys and they are like family. Everybody over there is being in your family. You are around these guys probably even more during the year than you are around your family. It’s tough. But knowing what lies ahead makes it a little bit easier for that transition.

“It didn’t work out. I really wish it did. I have nothing but really good things to take from that and I appreciate my time with the White Sox. But I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”

After several years of hearing trade speculation, the five-time All-Star said he started to sense the possibility was real a few weeks ago after a conversation with his agent. The chatter began to increase with the start of the Winter Meetings this week and Sale said he was inundated with texts from friends and family in anticipation of where he could be headed. When he learned it was the Red Sox, Sale said was ecstatic to learn he’d be playing for one of the “greatest baseball franchises ever.”

“It’s kind of like being monkey in the middle, you’re just glad when you finally get the ball,” Sale said. “It’s hectic. There’s a lot of speculation. There’s story after story and obviously getting flood with text messages from family and friends. Just to have the whole process out the way and to get back to normalcy will be nice.”

[Complete coverage of the White Sox-Red Sox Chris Sale blockbuster trade]

Many of those messages came from former White Sox teammates. Sale said he and his wife, who is soon due with their second child, spent much of Tuesday looking at old pictures and nostalgia from his White Sox tenure. Though he’s disappointed by the lack of team success with the White Sox, Sale said the team’s support was a critical element to his success.

The White Sox drafted Sale with the 13th overall pick in 2010 and he reached the majors later that season. Though he spent the first two seasons in the bullpen, the team’s plan all along was to make Sale a starting pitcher, something others weren’t certain he could handle. Sale has been an All-Star and also finished in the top six in the Cy Young Award vote in each of the five seasons since he became a starter.

“It didn’t work out the way we wanted it to in Chicago, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a lot of great moments,” Sale said. “I had a very good conversation with Rick (Hahn) yesterday.

“I was in a situation in 2010, how many teams would have done what they did? It’s hard to say now, but probably not very many. They drafted me in the first round when people had questions. They brought me up to the big leagues really fast and people probably had questions. They threw in the rotation and people clearly had questions.

“They were really, they had my back a lot and they gave me opportunities that not a lot of other people would have given me. I’m very thankful for that.”

White Sox Talk Podcast: Breaking down the Chris Sale trade

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Breaking down the Chris Sale trade

On the latest episode of the White Sox Talk Podcast, Chuck Garfien and Dan Hayes break down the White Sox trade of Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox.

Plus, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe provides some insight on what exactly the White Sox got in return for their former ace.

And Rick Hahn talks about just how difficult it was to pull the trigger and trade elite, homegrown talent.

Listen to the latest episode below: