Sox Drawer: A Winter Meetings Preview

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Sox Drawer: A Winter Meetings Preview

Friday, December 4th

Its three days before baseballs winter meetings in Indianapolis. What is Kenny Williams thinking? Judging by his opening comments on a Friday conference call with the media, he certainly isnt going to tell us.

Kenny Williams here, he began. Ready to not answer any questions that you might have.

Okay

But in the 20-minute session, the Sox GM did provide some glimpses into their current mind-set, and what might happen between now and Opening Day.

The 2010 team:

Were going to pitch, and were going to play defense, and were going to scrap like hell to score runs, Williams said. Sounds like the blueprint from 2005. But will he have enough cement and bricks to build a winner?

The rotation is already one of the best in the majors. The defense is in the process of getting an upgrade. Adding Omar Vizquel and Andruw Jones, along with re-signing Mark Kotsay also gives the Sox one of the best benches in the majors.

And speaking of the bench, if another person makes a crack at how old those three guys are, Im going to send your antiquated thinking straight to a local nursing home where you will have nothing but a television and rabbit ears for White Sox information.

Sorry about that. Gotta vent here.

When it comes to a bench, you have to ask yourself one question, are the players major league competent? Seriously, thats all you want and all you need from your bench. Wilson Betemit, Brian Anderson (minus his glove), Brent Lillibridge, and DeWayne Wise (minus the Buehrle perfect game and 2008 playoff HR) = not competent.

Even if Jones shows up in Glendale weighing 250 pounds with McDonalds wrappers trailing his Rolls Royce on the freeway, if he can find his way to hit 15 homers for the Sox next season (which is completely attainable because he will run through a wall for his good friend Ozzie Guillen), you should take it.

Kenny added that Jones has accepted his role as a back-up, but wants to have the opportunity in spring training to compete for a starting job. Sounds like a guy preparing for career redemption. I like it.

And did you notice that Vizquel did not make a single error last season playing second, shortstop, and third? Again, take it.

Williams also gave a hint about his possible outfield, saying that Jones and Kotsay are insurance in case they decide to carry a youngster in the outfield. Jordan Danks, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

As for the rest of the squad..

The Sox leadoff situation:

There are two questions Kenny Williams never wants to hear ever again. One is Are you trading Bobby Jenks? And two, Who is going to bat leadoff? When the latter question was asked, I think another gray hair shot out of Kennys noggin, into his phone, and pierced every media member on the line.

Replied a sarcastic Williams, We wont forfeit that spot in the order. There will be someone there.

As for exactly who (forget about the Chone Figgins pipe dream. Hes likely headed for Seattle), dont get your hopes up. Williams pointed to the fact that as much as 90 percent of teams in the league dont have the ideal leadoff hitter.

So unless hes able to open up the Jerry Reinsdorf vault (Were always trying to find some wiggle room. It probably annoys Jerry to no end), or someone falls into their laps, or Scott Podsednik asks for less yearsmoney, or Rudy Law drinks from the fountain of youth and plays for 1983 money, the Sox will likely have to settle for an experiment in the leadoff spot. Sorry to break the news, but hope is not lost. As Williams put it, Just like we had Orlando Cabrera a couple years ago. It wasn't the ideal situation, but we won a division title with it.

Alex Rios, anyone? He is a career .282 hitter in the 1-spot. Just saying. Hopefully he shortens that swing. Greg Walker, do your magic. Maybe Frank Thomas can talk to him.

Theres always Jerry Owens. Oh wait. There isnt.

Bobby Jenks:

There have been so many rumors about Bobby Jenks, he could probably have his own special section on TMZ.

If the Sox want to upgrade somewhere on their roster without taking on more salary, their large closer (Im not going to call him overweight for fear that he might sit on me at spring training) remains one of their biggest (and by that I do not mean heavy) bargaining chips.

However, Kennys fuel gauge in regards to the Jenks trade question currently has a flashing yellow light. Hes about done with it. Or at least, thats what hes telling us, which is what keeps the Jenks trade rumors going. Is this a Kenny smokescreen or is he legitimately going to keep him here next season? Once a players name gets on the hamster wheel, its tough to make it stop.

Williams referred to the Jenks speculation as the media running with something, and added, I havent had any conversations with anyone about trading Bobby Jenks. Im really surprised that this has continued on. I think what keeps the Jenks rumor alive was Williams next sentence: This is the same stance Ive taken since Day One sitting in this chair. If the right opportunity presents itself, well travel down that road.

And the hamster wheel just took another violent spin.

Williams predicted that the Sox will be busier after the Winter Meetings than during it. So with that line of thinking...expect an interesting week in Indy. Always is, even if nothing happens.

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

White Sox pitching staff nearly complete with prospect Zack Burdi headed to Triple-A

GLENDALE, Ariz. — With Zack Burdi headed for the minors, the White Sox 12-man pitching staff is all but set.

The Opening Day roster won't be finalized until Sunday and the White Sox hypothetically could find an attractive candidate to claim off the waiver wire over the weekend. But barring that, it looks as if veteran Anthony Swarzak and second-year reliever Michael Ynoa have made the team after Burdi said Wednesday morning that he'd start the season at Triple-A Charlotte. 

The No. 7 prospect in the organization, according to MLBPipeline.com, Burdi finished the spring with a 6.75 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. Burdi finished his Cactus League on a high note with three strikeouts over an inning on Tuesday, including one of Kansas City four-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez. 

"Man, it's been crazy," Burdi said. "Coming in and being the young guy in the locker room and then just progressing and showing a little bit more (comfort) around the guys and the veterans and then just being able to pick their brains and go out every day and try to progress. You get to the innings and you are facing guys you've watched your last 10 years of your life. It has been crazy and definitely something I won't forget."

Burdi lasted the longest this spring out of the cache of highly-touted prospects the White Sox brought to big league camp. Prior to escaping a first-and-third, one-out jam Tuesday, Burdi looked like he would allow a run in a third straight game after a hot start to camp (he only allowed a run in one of his first 10 appearances). But Burdi battled back and struck out Perez on three pitches, one of two straight strikeouts to strand both runners.

Pitching coach Don Cooper has been impressed by Burdi throughout the spring. But he also wants to see the Louisville product continue to work on command in the minors.

"You can't not see his stuff," Cooper said. "Everybody gets excited when you see 99, 100, 101. But whether you throw it 101 or 83 like [Mark] Buehrle you have to throw it to the glove with command, change speeds and all that stuff. But he's a big part of our future going forward. He's one of the names."

Burdi said he plans to operate like he has already spring and not pay attention to any of the hype. Though he'd like to play in the majors, Burdi is excited to play alongside the likes of Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer in Charlotte.

"Once you get a feel for all this stuff and you feel how cool it is to be in the locker room with all these guys and play with them, of course you want to get back up here," Burdi said. "But at the same time, a lot of my really good friends are on Charlotte and I couldn't be more excited to go down there and play with them and make the most of the season down there."

Live on CSN: White Sox square off against Padres

Live on CSN: White Sox square off against Padres

Follow pitch-by-pitch during Wednesday's White Sox-Padres game on CSN with In-Game Live.

The White Sox are back in action in spring training as they square off against the San Diego Padres on CSN.

Probable starters: Jhoulys Chacin vs. Dylan Covey

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

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