Six key White Sox players might not be around after this season
BY DARYL VAN SCHOUWEN firstname.lastname@example.org August 9, 2012 10:56PM
ATHLETICS AT SOX
The facts: 7:10, CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM.
The pitchers: Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 2.54 ERA) vs. Gavin Floyd (8-9, 4.43).
THE REST OF THE SERIES
Saturday: 6:10 p.m., Ch. 9, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. Tommy Milone (9-9, 3.91) vs. Francisco Liriano (3-10, 5.03).
Sunday: 1:10 p.m., CSN, 670-AM, 97.5-FM. Jarrod Parker (7-6, 3.55) vs. Chris Sale (13-3, 2.59).
Updated: September 11, 2012 6:23AM
The 2012 White Sox are pleasantly surprising a skeptical fan base, sitting in first place on Aug. 10 after most prognosticators pegged them as a .500 team and some even worse, including Sports Illustrated’s prediction of a 67-95 record.
Under first-year manager Robin Ventura and his new-look coaching staff, the team has played a clean brand of baseball on the field and has been refreshingly distraction-free off the field.
Enjoy it while you can.
In the always-changing roster landscape driven by free agency, it says here the team as constituted will be no more after this season, whether it ends with a second ticker-tape parade in eight years or no postseason at all.
Jake Peavy has a club option for a whopping $22 million. A.J. Pierzynski and Francisco Liriano will be big-money free agents. And Gavin Floyd, Kevin Youkilis and Brett Myers have pricey club options of $9.5 million or more.
Youkilis, Myers and Liriano are big-ticket veterans who were acquired at bargain-basement rates in trades that vaulted general manager Ken Williams into Executive of the Year consideration. They were added with a 2012 postseason run in mind and nothing beyond that.
If you ask Williams and assistant GM Rick Hahn about next year, they’ll insist their point of focus is 2012. They have no reason to talk publicly or make decisions about 2013 now.
“You are focused on 2013, and we are focused on tomorrow,’’ Williams wrote in an email Thursday to the Sun-Times. “Contrary to what anyone says or reports, I assure you nothing has been decided for the 2013 season and won’t be until after the 2012 season. Every ounce of our energy and thought in our head has been on maximizing our potential for THIS year.’’
Williams is delighted about how 2012 is panning out. The Ventura hire was a winner. The plan to infuse young talent with proven veterans — 10 rookies have contributed — while benefitting from bounce-back performances by Alex Rios, Adam Dunn and Peavy to the tune of being in first place for 70 days is coming together perfectly. After Williams traded All-Star outfielder Carlos Quentin and closer Sergio Santos for prospects and let Mark Buehrle walk in free agency in the offseason, his team is leading the American League Central.
Whatever the plan for next season, Peavy and Pierzynski want in. Peavy, the 30-year-old veteran leader of the pitching staff, raves about the Ventura experience every chance he gets. Pierzynski is thoroughly enjoying catching and guiding the young pitchers while having a career year at 35. Both want to come back. Both also know the business of baseball and understand there’s a very good chance they won’t.
Then again, Pierzynski thought he was on his way to becoming a Los Angeles Dodger before the 2011 season until chairman Jerry Reinsdorf stepped up at the last hour to sign him and Paul Konerko to multiyear extensions. And the jury is out on whether Tyler Flowers can be a viable every-day offensive replacement at catcher, so one never knows, but keep in mind many thought Reinsdorf would open his wallet for the ultra-popular Buehrle.
“It’s strictly finances over the desire not to have him,” Williams said at the time.
It was then, and it is now. That much will never change.
NOTE: Paul Konerko’s mild concussion will be re-evaluated before the Sox open a three-game series Friday against the Athletics at U.S. Cellular Field. If he goes on the seven-day disabled list for a concussion, left-handed-hitting first baseman Dan Johnson could be called up. Johnson is batting .268 with 25 home runs and 73 RBI for Class AAA Charlotte.