Poetry in Pros: White Sox Indispensables

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Poetry in Pros: White Sox Indispensables

Monday, March 28, 2011
Posted: 2:30 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Last November, CSNChicago.com counted down the top 30 Chicago White Sox, taking into account each players value to the team in 2011 and beyond.

With an offseason to add and subtract players and a nearly-completed spring training in the books, heres an update to that list, this time focusing only on how crucial each player is to White Sox success in 2011. (In other words, how lost are the White Sox without them?)

The Indispensables

1. Gordon Beckham, 2b
Beckham topping the list seems nutty at first blush. But the third-year man is being put in a position of great responsibility, be it as the best fielding second baseman on the club, the crucial No. 2 hitter on a team full of non-No. 2s, and his status as an up-and-coming hitter (a hot second half of 2010 and an .896 OPS this spring) who could well surpass Alexei Ramirezs offensive output in 2011.

2. Paul Konerko, 1b
Indeed, there is little reason to believe that Konerko can duplicate his 2010 campaign this season. And unlike a year ago, PK has a legitimate backup in Adam Dunn behind him. But in the ideal lineup, Dunn is busy designated hittingwhich leaves Mark Teahen at first base. Konerko may be a subpar fielder, but the step down both offensively and defensively to Teahen makes Konerko indispensable at the first sack.

3. Alexei Ramirez, ss
There may be no player more crucial to White Sox success than Ramirez. But in terms of being irreplaceable, Omar Vizquel has proven that at least for short stretches, he can still throw some leather at short, and swing the bat as well.

4. Alex Rios, cf
Rios anchors the White Sox outfield as a fielder who eats acreage and can throw the pill as well. Sans Rios, the White Sox are faced with moving Juan Pierres weaker arm to center, or spot-starting Brent Lillibridge or Lastings Milledge. All of those options are a significant step down, especially defensively, where the corner outfielders feed off of Rios range.

5. Adam Dunn, dh-1b
Teahen is also the primary backup at DH. Which is the only place you really want him to be the primary backup.

6. Juan Pierre, lf
The baseball world isnt so kind to Pierre, highlighting how many outs he makes per season and chiding his laughably soft arm in left. So why is he indispensable to the Chisox? Hes the only legitimate leadoff hitter (Milledge? Vizquel?), he gets to everything in left and then some, steals bags to set in motion manager Ozzie Guillens speed offense oh, and he plays in nearly every inning of every game. Hes so taken for granted, even a Pierre champion like me has probably ranked him too low on this list.

7. Matt Thornton, closer
Yes, Thornton is the closest thing the White Sox have to a proven closer, and hes been aces almost since the day he first fastened on a White Sox cap. But the truth is, no one knows if he can handle the closer roleand if he doesnt, the White Sox have options. Sergio Santos is a closer-in-training, rookie Chris Sale sports a live arm, and Jesse Crain closed all through his tour of the minors. Thornton is the most crucial arm on the White Sox this season; indispensable as a closer, no.

8. Jake Peavy, starter
Yeah, its the guy on the shelf hogging all the attention again. But a healthy Peavy has the potential to anchor a very strong White Sox rotationa fact borne out by his performance as the teams best starter three or four times through the rotation until his shoulder tendinitis flared up. Without Peavy, the White Sox are forced to grab a begging bowl and long wistfully for the days when Freddy Garcia suited up for them.

9. Sergio Santos, reliever
Santos is no longer the sweet The Club story from a year ago, but a viable live arm with closer potential. Any notion that the third-year pitcher was due for a setback (as fellow young gun Sale was shackled) can be dismissed, as Santos was Chicagos strongest pitcher all spring (nine games, 0.00 ERA, .097 batting average against, .194 on-base percentage against, 10 strikeouts in 9 23 innings). Despite never being seriously looked to as Chicagos closer, Santos earned the right to be the first option behind Thornton to finish games.

10. Edwin Jackson, starter
Wait a minute, Jackson and not John Danks, or another rotation member, is the most indispensable healthy starter? Last year, Jackson was the White Soxs best starter in the second half and brings a consistency and electricity that fellow righty Gavin Floyd does less often. Danks is the White Soxs most valuable starter, but Jackson spreading his entire 2011 campaign out like his second half of 2010 is the difference between a playoff berth and sitting at home watching the Minnesota Twins get swept out of October once again.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

'White Sox Cornerstones' specials air tonight on CSN

'White Sox Cornerstones' specials air tonight on CSN

The White Sox tout one of baseball's best farm systems, and CSN is taking you behind the scenes of those teams and top prospects with our latest Original Production.

White Sox Cornerstones: Charlotte and White Sox Cornerstones: Birmingham & Winston-Salem, presented by Ozinga, will air back-to-back tonight at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on CSN. You can also catch a live stream of both airings right here via the NBC Sports app.

White Sox Cornerstones: Charlotte will provide viewers a look at some of the brightest young stars in the game, including baseball's top prospect Yoan Moncada. The 21-year-old Moncada is batting .333 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in 33 games and was recently named the International League Player of the Week. We sit down with Moncada to discuss his development as a player, as well as his relationship with White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.

The Knights also tout top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito, as well as pitchers Carson Fulmer, Zack Burdi and Reynaldo Lopez. Burdi and Fulmer will "walk to work" with CSN and discuss their mentality leading up to a game, what it means to be part of a rebuild and how their Charlotte teammates remain competitive even off the field.

You'll also hear from White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, Knights manager Mark Grudzielanek and Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty.

Then stay tuned in for White Sox Cornerstones: Birmingham & Winston-Salem as we ride the bus with the Birmingham Barons following their road win over the Montgomery Biscuits. The 90-minute bus ride includes interviews with No. 3 prospect Michael Kopech, who is 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA in 2017. The 21-year-old who came over with Moncada in the Chris Sale deal this past winter has struck out 51 batters in 35.1 innings. Kopech discusses his obsession with being the best and his thoughts on being a part of the White Sox rebuild.

We'll also travel to Salem, Virginia as the White Sox square off against the Salem Red Sox. CSN will sit down with No. 6 prospect Zack Collins and pitcher Tanner Banks. Collins discusses his thoughts on becoming the catcher of the future on Chicago's South Side.

You'll also hear from propsects Luis Alexander Basabe, Dane Dunning, Spencer Adams and manager Willie Harris, among others.

Preview: White Sox open series with Diamondbacks on CSN and live stream

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Preview: White Sox open series with Diamondbacks on CSN and live stream

Watch as the White Sox open their series against the Arizona Diamondbacks Monday night on CSN and live streaming on the NBC Sports app. 

Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 8:00 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight's starting pitching matchup: Miguel Gonzalez (3-4, 4.29 ERA) vs. Zack Greinke (5-2, 3.09 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.