Next on our Q&A spring training tour of the AL Central are the Chicago White Sox. This means we checked in with Matt Adams of Southside Showdown. Here are Matt’s answers to the questions we asked.
What will year two of the Robin Ventura era be like for the Chicago White Sox? Photo Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Kings of Kauffman – What did the White Sox do to improve this offseason?
Southside Showdown – You might say the main portion of the White Sox improvement plan was to go au naturale. Let some of the young arms improve with experience, hope confused bats like Alexei Ramirez and Gordon Beckham figure it out, and rely on aging performers like Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn to repeat their career production levels.
Obviously a gaping hole was filled at third with Jeff Keppinger. The nightmare experienced to start 2012 with an awful Brent Morel and eventually Orlando Hudson couldn’t be repeated. Of course, now Keppinger is making it clear that he’s not the most durable fellow in the world so it might be repeated after all. With A.J. Pierzynski leaving, it may seem at a glance that the team has moved backwards rather than improve, but A.J.’s numbers from last season wasn’t going to happen again, so there’s nothing wrong with giving Tyler Flowers a chance.
KOK – Who has stood out this spring?
SS – As “meh” as I was when the Jeff Keppinger signing occurred it is impressive to see a guy out there that doesn’t really strike out much. In a lineup full of K’s it’s great to watch a guy step into the box and make contact nearly every time. In the minor league ranks, Jared Mitchell has looked fairly impressive, considering he seemed to have stalled after breaking his ankle a couple years ago. And Simon Castro has looked straight nasty in all of his mound appearances so far. Definitely hoping he can spend some time in AAA amassing innings and erasing the idea that these showings are a fluke.
KOK – Year two under Ventura, what do you expect?
SS – He’s shown that he’s not the “new thinker” that I hoped when he came in with no experience. It was my admittedly far-fetched hope that the White Sox had gone and hired a manager with no experience because he had an approach between the lines that didn’t fall in line with the “conventional wisdom” applied by pretty much every other manager in the league. Well it’s not so, however Ventura does a great job on the clubhouse end. The players like him, respect him, and seem to carry a relaxed approach. That says a lot. You or I could get in there and do reasonably well making the in-game calls but the having the players buy in and listen to you is the hardest part.
KOK – Can Chicago finish this season if they lead the division late again?
SS – If they find themselves in that situation, certainly. For one, it’s just bad luck that the offense fell off to the degree it did at that particular time. I don’t think it happened because it was September, I think that it happened and it also happened to be September. One thing that September did have an effect on is the arm of Chris Sale, who had never approached that sort of workload before in his career. Having a little more endurance built up, knowing what to expect and how to deal should help him out this year assuming he can reach the same levels he did in 2012.
Here is the other side of the conversation at Southside Showdown