Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Spring Postcard: Will change be good for the White Sox?

The organization has made a big commitment to keeping minor league talent in-house instead of dealing it away at midseason, which has been Kenny Williams' calling card during his 10 years as GM. With the contracts of veterans such as Jim Thome, A.J. Pierzynski, Jermaine Dye and Paul Konerko coming to an end over the next couple years, the team's emphasis on youth, speed and athleticism has yielded exciting infield players such as Dayan Viciedo, Brent Lillibridge, Chris Getz and Jayson Nix, all of whom figure to see significant time this season. And that's just the tip of the iceberg for the laundry list of young guys at whom Ozzie Guillen is getting a good look this spring.

This Year's Unknown Cuban is turning heads:

This spring's Cuban revelation is Viciedo, the third baseman who defected less than a year ago and has dazzled in camp with bat speed and ability that belie his tender 19 years. His size -- 5-foot-11 and a broad-shouldered (and ample-bellied) 240 pounds -- has also made him stand out.

Viciedo's skills in the field leave a little to be desired, but it's hard to find anyone who has watched him play that isn't giddy over his potential. "He's special," says veteran first baseman Konerko. "He's young, but his mannerisms -- his hands, his arm and his bat -- that's what you're looking for in a third baseman, because you can always improve footwork."

Beckham showing why he was the #8 pick last year:

"He kind of looks like [Ryne] Sandberg out there," says Guillen. "The way he handles himself in the field -- he has that same kind of ability." Beckham is a long shot to make the Opening Day roster, but he fits the mold perfectly for the young, athletic core that the Sox are building.

As a Sox fan and soccer fan, I can't wait to get a Beckham Sox jersey. And I don't care how queer anyone thinks that is.

Ready for a dogfight in the AL Central:

The AL Central likely will be the most competitive division in baseball this season -- jeez, even the Royals may be a factor. And that suits the Sox just fine. "We've been picked to win, we've been picked to come in last," says veteran lefty Mark Buehrle. "I don't think we've ever finished where we were supposed to."

I'm ready for baseball because baseball means summer, nice weather, beer gardens, and BBQs. All good things.

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