A day after my assessment of the Cubs, it's good timing to look at what's happening with the White Sox, as we've been greeted with two fairly big pieces of Pale Hose news this morning: Manager Ozzie Guillen has chosen Matt Thornton to open the season as his closer, and The Great and Powerful Oz also said Jake Peavy looks ready to start in April, at least a month ahead of what many of us assumed earlier.
With this news in mind, I'll kick off my spring training likes/unlikes:
Matt Thornton: Like. He actually hasn't done much one way or the other, and if he is going to be the closer, I would like to see him in some save situations soon, but you know what you're getting with Thornton. I have been a big fan of Chris Sale, but Thornton deserves the call right now.
Chris Sale: Unlike. I still actually like his promise, and hope Ozzie's tough love methods don't make him worse before he gets better again (and he will get better). However, spring training has been a big missed opportunity for him. On the plus side, he is striking guys out, and has only issued a couple walks, but he has been way too hittable for further consideration as closer.
Jake Peavy: Like. I have not always been a fan of Peavy, but the guy is showing his toughness coming back ahead of schedule, and has been pretty effective. I'm feeling more confident about him right now than about Mark Buehrle.
Mark Buehrle: Unlike. This is a borderline call, because he looked great in his start this week, and you know he will show up when the season starts. But these off-season regimens he has been engaging in the last two winters seem to do little for him, and I'm also getting tired of reading how baseball is a burden for him.
Ozzie Guillen: Like. He has been behaving well, and has been decisive about things like the closer move. What more can you ask for? Also has been very funny on Twitter--I want to create a Twitter feed built only around Ozzie retweets.
Lastings Milledge: Like. He has been a problem child and a bust elsewhere, and I'm not ready to believe he is a long-term answer for the Sox, but he has shown power, hitting chops and nice defense, and his speed fits the profile for the role previously played by Willie Harris, Dewayne Wise and Pablo Ozuna. It may be him of Brent Lillibridge. Sorry, Brent.
Tyler Flowers: Like. He was practically written off days into spring training, but has been hitting really well. The Cubs (with Wellington Castillo) and Sox both have great young catchers just about ready for the majors. I think the Cubs should turn to their newbie now, but I'm not sure the Sox would consider the same. I have a feeling the Sox' traditionally heavy focus on pitching favors vet Ramon Castro and puts Flowers back in the minors to start the season.
Brent Morel: Unlike. Like Sale, another young guy that was in a position to win a big job, but he just has not delivered, leaving Mark Teahen looking like a possible starter. Why do I have the feeling we will be seeing a lot of Omar Vizquel at third again?
Phil Humber and Jeff Marquez: Like. In a battle for bullpen spots, these guys are really showing their stuff. Humber looked good enough to be a possible fifth starter if Peavy would have need more time. He still looks like a bullpen lock and a successful Don Cooper reclamation project. Marquez has show flashes before, but could never stick with the big club. His 11 strikeouts in 9.1 innings and 1.93 ERA are pretty enticing.
Dayan Viciedo: Like. There was a lot to like before he was injured, and let's hope he can make a quick comeback.
Sox offense: Like. In terms of springs stats, the Sox are among the leaders in HRs and RBIs, which probably was expected. They also have been generally hitting better recently than earlier in the spring. On the down side, there have been fewer stolen bases than you would expect from an Ozzie team, and Adam Dunn has not done much yet. But, other middle of the order guys like Alex Rios, Paul Konerko and Carlos Quentin look ready.
Sox defense: Unlike. The defense overall has been creaky (though not as bad as the Cubs'), and Gordon Beckham and Mark Teahen have specifically not been good. Beckham has hit well, but I hope he's not sacrificing growth on defense. Watching Teahen on defense makes me prefer Vizquel with one hand tied behind his back.