Sox have good rotation, but can they afford to lose a starter?

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Sox have good rotation, but can they afford to lose a starter?

Kenny Williams gets why there's some pessimism among the fanbase regarding the White Sox. The sting of 2011's "All In" season still lingers with Opening Day just days away.

But the White Sox GM is confident his starting rotation is going to be better than some people think. That's completely fair -- John Danks, Jake Peavy, Gavin Floyd, Chris Sale and Philip Humber comprise a pretty solid staff. While the Sox may not have the star power of Justin Verlander or the 1-2 punch of Ubaldo Jimenez and Justin Masterson, those five pitchers are good enough to compete for a division title.

That's if they can stay healthy. Few teams would be better off with a replacement to an injured starter without a little luck. For the White Sox, though, the prospect of losing one of Danks, Peavy, Floyd, Sale or Humber is worrying.

Gracious WSCR-670 AM host Wayne Randazzo asked me about the outlook for the 2012 starting rotation on his program Sunday, which brought this issue to the forefront: The White Sox don't have much pitching depth beyond their five starters.

Dylan Axelrod could be good for a few spot starts here and there, and most likely he'd ride the Carlos TorresLucas Harrell express from Charlotte to Chicago if necessary. He looked hittable this spring, allowing 29 hits and walking 13 in 19 23 Cactus League innings -- and while that's a small sample size, it came in one more innings than his small-sample success in the majors last year.

That's not to totally discount Axelrod, because he has had success with every level at which he's started since joining the White Sox. Whether he could sustain that success over an extended stay in the majors -- say, more than eight or so starts -- remains to be seen.

Beyond Axelrod, there aren't a ton of options. Zach Stewart may not be one for a long-term spot in the rotation, as he likely wouldn't be stretched out working as the team's long reliever. The same goes for Hector Santiago, but to a more extreme level in terms of being stretched out.

Nestor Molina has thrown a grand total of 22 innings above the Single-A level and will begin 2012 with Double-A Birmingham. It's probably best to see if he can get Triple-A hitters out before bringing him to the majors, so he may not be an option until late in the year.

Scott Olsen could be in the mix, but he's coming off shoulder issues and hasn't appeared in spring training -- probably not a good sign for the former Marlins and Nationals starter. Terry Doyle and Charlie Leesman aren't realistic options yet, either.

If the worst happens and a starter does go down with a long-term injury, the Sox best bet may be to plug Axelrod into the rotation and then work to acquire a replacement -- unless Axelrod looks extremely impressive.

The Sox can sustain a short-term injury to a starter, but a long-term one looks tricky as we draw closer to Opening Day.

Of course, if the rotation can stay generally healthy, it'll be a strength of the team. So the news isn't all doom and gloom here.

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

White Sox agree to one-year deals with Brett Lawrie, Avisail Garcia

Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia will both return to the White Sox in 2017.

The team announced it reached deals with both players shortly before Friday’s 7 p.m. CST nontender deadline. Lawrie will earn $3.5 million next season and Garcia received a one-year deal for $3 million.

The club didn’t tender a contract to right-handed pitcher Blake Smith, which leaves its 40-man roster at 38.

Acquired last December for a pair of minor leaguers, Lawrie hit .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles and 36 RBIs in 94 games before he suffered a season-ending injury.

Lawrie produced 0.9 f-WAR when he suffered what then-manager Robin Ventura described a “tricky” injury on July 21. Despite numerous tests and a lengthy rehab, Lawrie never returned to the field and was frustrated by the experience. Last month, Lawrie tweeted that he believes the cause of his injury was wearing orthotics for the first time in his career.

He was projected to earn $5.1 million, according to MLBTraderumors.com and earned $4.125 million in 2016.

Garcia hit .245/.307/.385 with 12 homers and 51 RBIs in 453 plate appearances over 120 games. The projected salary for Garcia, arb-eligible for the first time, was $3.4 million.

The team also offered contracts to Miguel Gonzalez and Todd Frazier, who are eligible for free agency in 2018, first baseman Jose Abreu and relievers Dan Jennings, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, among others.

The White Sox have until mid-January to reach an agreement with their arbitration-eligible players. If they haven’t, both sides submit figures for arbitration cases, which are then heard throughout February.

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

White Sox announcer Jason Benetti cracks Crain's 40 under 40

Crain's Chicago Business released its latest 40 under 40 project and White Sox announcer Jason Benetti made this year's list.

The 33-year-old just finished his first season with the White Sox as play-by-play announcer, working the home games at U.S. Cellular Field (before it was renamed Guaranteed Rate Field last month) alongside Steve Stone as longtime broadcaster Hawk Harrelson saw his workload reduced to mostly road games.

Benetti quickly became a fan favorite among Chicagoans on CSN and other networks in 2016 and his cerebral palsy became more of a backstory, with his work alongside Stone and his affable sense of humor taking center stage instead.

Among other topics, Benetti discussed how he approaches his job of broadcasting for the team he grew up rooting for:

Law school taught me that there are always two sides of the argument. I see it from the Sox prism, but I can’t believe in my heart of hearts that, if the Sox lose, the world’s over anymore. That first game, I was like, “All right, it’s just a game.” And then Avi Garcia hits a homer late in the game against the Indians and I call it like I would call it with a little more. And as the ball cleared the fence, when it was rolling around, I got a slight tear in my eye. And I was like, “What’s that?”

Check out the entire interview with Benetti and the full list at ChicagoBusiness.com.