Questions That Need To Be Answered
Kenny Williams has barely made a sound since the New Year rolled around. That’s when he dumped Carlos Quentin for two minor league pitchers. The word “pitchers” works better than “prospects” here because the White Sox’s prospects of anything worthwhile coming from this aren’t that great.
Williams has some answering to do here with SoxFest coming up at the end of this month, Jan. 27-29. This year in particular, KW will most likely be dreading the Q&A session with fans more so than others. Fans are angry with him, and for good reason.
A few years back, the Sox had some good veterans and a few young guys who looked ready to break into the league about now. But now we see that this couldn’t be further from reality, and 2012 is already shaping up to be even more boring than 2011.
The only thing we can be sure about is that 2012 will not be more depressing than last season since fans really don’t have anything to get their hopes up for this coming year. Let’s take a look at a couple of the things KW needs to address to the fan base during SoxFest.
Fix the Farm
The Sox went into the offseason with the worst farm system in baseball. Everyone knew some moves would be made to drop some of the decent-sized contracts and get some prospects. The Sox made a couple of trades. According to a recent minor league report by Baseball America, they begin 2012 as still having the worst farm system in all of baseball.
The trade of Sergio Santos for highly touted prospect Nestor Molina was unexpected, but it was an even trade. The Blue Jays got a reliable, hard throwing closer, while the Sox got a quality starter who could be primed and ready for major league action by the end of the year, if not sooner. But obviously, that wasn’t enough.
Then Quentin gets traded. Before I even heard the details, I was very happy the Sox traded Quentin, as this must have meant the Sox got some legitimate minor leaguers. Instead, they got two pitchers who are mediocre at best.
Lefty Pedro Hernandez went 10-3 with a 3.49 ERA between three leagues last year. However, his earlier numbers were spotty and there’s still question regarding when he can make a difference on the Sox’s major league roster.
Then there’s Simon Castro who did absolutely horrendous in six games with AAA Tucson last year, posting a 10.17 ERA in that time frame. The real sad part? Baseball America ranks Castro as the White Sox number three prospect. What does that say about the state of the Sox farm system?
Gone from the list is Jared Mitchell and Jordan Danks, once favored highly, but who now seem to be more on their way to becoming the next Joe Borchard as opposed to the next Sox savior.
The bottom of the list features no-names that could be swapped out with any other number of players from within the system. Williams needs to reassure fans that something is going to be done about the future. The two deals he made don’t cut it all.
Something more drastic needs to happen, or we’re going to be seeing the Sox in this funk through 2013, 2014 and beyond.
The Closer Situation
Williams has been fairly mum about his plans for the White Sox next closer with the departure of Santos. Most assume it will fall on rookie Addison Reed’s shoulders. But let’s not forget, he has less than ten innings of major league experience to go on.
While he did close for Washington Nationals’ pitcher Stephen Strasburg at San Diego State, it may be better to give him some more innings by not having him fill that role right off the bat in April, and instead ease him into the role.
But to do that, you need someone else to be that closer for a while. And who, Kenny, would that be? Matt Thornton tried and failed last year. Jesse Crain perhaps? It’d be really nice to hear from Williams himself what the plan seems to be here.
The rotation seems to be set with several options, and the bullpen, while having some fresh faces, should be good to go for the most part. What we need to know is, who will be that guy to come in the ninth inning and lay down the law?
These are only a couple points Williams needs to address the fans on. What he needs to do is tell the fans directly that he remains mainly culpable for last season’s disaster.
He has to give the fan base a good reason why they should get their hopes back up again soon. Because, as of right now, those hopes of the Sox being able to compete in the next few seasons looks pretty dim.
This is a guest post by Nick LaBanca from MidwayMadness.com. Midway Madness is a site dedicated to Chicago sports. It is written by Chicago sports fans, for Chicago sports fans. Nick LaBanca is a Columbia College graduate who grew up in Chicago and is an avid Chicago Bulls and White Sox fan. Wanna read more from Nick? Click here.
Photo Credit: Johnathan Daniel [Getty Images]