Sox Drawer: A Winter Meetings Blog

76286.jpg

Sox Drawer: A Winter Meetings Blog

Monday, December 7th

5:48 pm

Sitting down with Ozzie Guillen today, I asked the Sox manager the one thing his team needs more than anything else. His answer?

A leadoff hitter.

Are you going to find one?

"That's Kenny's job," Ozzie said. "That's why they pay him the big money."

Unfortunately, the Sox GM doesn't have the kind of money needed to sign a Chone Figgins (I'm frankly tired of typing Figgins name. I think I'm just going to start calling him "the free agent the Sox have coveted for years and will never, ever get. Period.) So Williams is going to have to be creative if he's hoping to give his manager the kind of table-setter Ozzie would love to have.

In fact, when I asked Kenny what's tougher to find, a leadoff hitter or frontline starter ...his first answer was:

"It's harder to find a good manager. I'm still working on that."

Ozzie was in the room, but on the phone, so I don't think he heard the joke.

But then Williams said, "There aren't any more Rickey Hendersons. You have to draft them and develop them. Hopefully we're on the path as far as that's concerned."

The Sox are still having dialogue with Scott Podsednik's agent, but Williams didn't sound too optimistic about bringing Pods back. At least, not right now.

"I don't feel anything one way or another about it. We made no secret earlier on in this offseason that we felt there was a place of Pods," Williams said. We made overtures to that affect but he wanted to test the market and that's his right and we respect that."

The biggest surprise may have come when I asked Kenny if he hadn't traded for Jake Peavy, would he be involved in the trade market for Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay.

Kenny produced a wide grin and said, "no comment."

Dave Van Dyck then followed up, asking if the Sox were interested in Halladay.

Kenny's answer..."no comment."

Hmmmmmm.

3:12 pm

Ozzie met with the media a short time ago. Among the highlights:

If Kenny can't find a leadoff hitter, he reiterated that Gordon Beckham can bat in the 1 spot. I later asked Ozzie if he'd consider using Alex Rios, who has led off in the past with Toronto. Ozzie said yes, but he'd have to hit a lot better than he did with the Sox last year.

Asked if the Sox are the best team on paper in the AL Central, Ozzie said, "I have the best 5 starters."

He added, "I think we can take a little bit advantage of Detroit because I think we play with more fears when we're facing Polanco. A lot of people talk about Cabrera and Magglio and Inge, and to me Polanco, he's hurt our ball club a lot. Right now we look pretty good. We're waiting to see September where we are, but right now in the paper all five starters are pretty solid. If something happened to one of those guys, we've got a couple backups we've never had. Now we do."

Freddy Garcia will come to spring training as the 5th starter, not with a pen, but a pencil.

Said Ozzie, "It should be Freddy Garcia. It's not going to be, but it should. I think (Daniel) Hudson is a candidate. He did a tremendous job. I think the way I look at it...Freddy has to stay in shape and stay strong. Before he was a tremendous pitcher, and now what we're doing right now, he knows every winter he's got to work hard because the problems he had in the past."

We also sat down with Ozzie for an interview that will run tomorrow. Kenny Williams was one of the last GM to arrive here. Not sure if that's a sign of things to come this week. Maybe he got stuck in a snowstorm on I-65. He speaks to the media in 10 minutes. Gotta run!

1:23 pm

A quiet start so far. That is unless you include the Pirates signing free agent pitcher...and one of my favorite names of MLB.....Vinnie Chulk. He pitched 12 innings last year for the Indians. If Vinnie and I shared the same last name, I would be Chuck Chulk.

I just saw Ozzie Guillen in the hotel lobby. He'll be speaking with the media in about a half hour. Kenny will talk at 3:30 central. Crickets so far.

10:29 am

It's a wintry morning in America's heartland. Fitting that we're on our way to baseball's Winter Meetings.

Last year, they were held in the posh Bellagio Hotel in sunny Las Vegas. This year, we're headed for that vacation wonderland....Indianapolis.

Darn, I forgot to bring my bathing suit.

You never know what will happen, or not happen at this annual get-together. Kenny Williams said on Friday that he expects to be busier after the meetings. However, put 30 general managers in the same hotel for 4 days, and who knows.

The Sox need help in the bullpen, another outfielder, and a lead-off hitter...if they can find one.

The free agent market has been stagnant so far. Expect that to continue for a bit. In the meantime, it seems like many teams have come to Indy to deal. We'll see how it all shakes out.

We'll be talking with both Kenny and Ozzie this afternoon. I'll be giving updates here in the Sox Drawer throughout the day. And feel free to ask me a question regarding what the Sox are doing or not doing. I'll try to answer as many as of them as I can throughout the week.

We just arrived in Indianapolis. The outside temperature, a balmy 28 degrees. Sunblock anyone?

Fire lose Open Cup epic in Cincinnati after penalties

schwein-628.jpg
AP

Fire lose Open Cup epic in Cincinnati after penalties

CINCINNATI — A few days ago Dax McCarty was talking about the Chicago Fire trying to win every trophy they were competing for this season. The hopes of winning one of those trophies ended Wednesday night.

The Fire lost in penalty kicks to FC Cincinnati after 120 minutes of goalless soccer. A crowd of 32,287 in Cincinnati waited and waited and waited some more, but finally got what they wanted.

It was all about the goalkeepers before penalty kicks with the Fire’s Matt Lampson and Cincinnati’s Mitch Hildebrandt combining for 17 saves. Hildebrandt improved on his crazy good night by denying Nemanja Nikolic, Arturo Alvarez and Juninho in penalty kicks. Bastian Schweinsteiger was the only Fire player to convert a penalty in four rounds. Cincinnati missed its first penalty, but converted the next three.

In regulation, the Fire huffed and puffed in the first half, but didn’t really create much danger in front of Cincinnati’s goal. At halftime, the Fire had 78 percent of the possession, but couldn’t manage a shot on target.

Cincinnati’s game plan to defend deep and counter was stifling the Fire’s attack. The Fire only managed shots from outside the box that all missed the target. Matt Polster had an open shot in the box following a corner kick, but it was deflected wide by a sliding defender.

The home crowd of 32,287, which is the second biggest crowd in U.S. Open Cup history, didn’t have much to cheer in the first half, but Matt Lampson made the only save of the half when he came off his line to deny Danni Konig who got free down the left side.

Both the atmosphere and the game livened up in the second half. Both teams had multiple quality chances and both keepers, Lampson and Cincinnati’s Mitch Hildebrandt came up with big saves.

Lampson saved the game to deny a breakaway for Jimmy McLaughlin in added time just before regulation ended.

In extra time, Cincinnati thought it had the go-ahead goal from Andrew Wiedeman in the 110th minute, but it was called back for a close offside call. Hildebrandt and Lampson both came up with huge saves in the final minute of extra time to send the match to penalties.

Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

wheaton.jpg

Bears Talk Podcast: Breaking down camp competition at wide receiver

On this week’s Bears Talk Podcast, we hear from Markus Wheaton as Chris Boden and JJ Stankevitz discuss the training camp competition at slot receiver.

Boden and Stankevitz also weigh in on PFF ranking the Bears’ starting lineup 18th in the NFL, answer listener questions and add another layer of Aaron Rodgers envy.

Listen to the latest Bears Talk Podcast right here: