What's your take on Dayan Viciedo's future with the organization in light of the Adam Dunn/Paul Konerko signings? No real opportunity for Dayan to get significant playing time at 1B or designated hitter now or in the foreseeable future. He doesn't really impress as a third baseman, where I think Morel will claim the job. Is there a chance Viciedo can play a passable outfielder, or is he now just trade bait? Given his age, wouldn't it be awfully risky (even for Kenny Williams) to trade him if he really has the ability to become a 25+ HR guy? -- Michael; Cape Elizabeth, Maine
I think it would be a terrific idea to move him to the outfield. After he signed a four-year, $10 million contract before the 2009 season, there was talk that he could be used in right field (made sense after the Sox flirted with trading Jermaine Dye to Cincinnati for Homer Bailey -- although Viciedo had more experience at third base).
Viciedo has a strong arm and moves well for his size. The Sox don't have much young outfield depth. Stefan Gartrell led the minor league system with 27 home runs last year at Triple-A Charlotte, but he turned 27 last Friday and his name isn't raised by opposing scouts.
Viciedo is only 21. I know there are legitimate questions about his plate discipline (two walks in 104 at-bats), but developing or finding power at a young age is very difficult to possess. Dayan has worked hard since his first spring training and has kept his weight at a playable level. He should get a chance to finally turn the corner soon.
There were unsubstantiated rumors that the Phillies were interested in Carlos Quentin and that the Sox would shop him. What do you think of his value taking fielding, mental make-up and conditioning (and any role for these in his frequent injuries) into account? Would it be feasible for both sides to do some trade involving Quentin, Viciedo (who now is very much blocked on the Sox), Domonic Brown, and maybe others? -- Jeff; San Francisco
Hey, Jeff, keep the weather nice for me. I'm headed out there for the Santa Clara Valley Hot Stove Banquet on Jan. 25.
There used to be a saying in the 1980s that you could be sure of three things -- death, taxes and a Philadelphia scout at each major league game.
I can tell you that the Phillies scout the White Sox as often as any team in the majors. I know that one of their top scouts bought a bleacher seat at U.S. Cellular Field during the Cubs series, just to watch an outfielder. I'm very positive that player in question was Quentin, especially since that scout had a revealing assessment of Quentin's demeanor during his freshman year at Stanford.
Health always will be the big issue with Carlos. We'll just have to accept his internal scrimmages. He admitted he played with some ailments that he kept to himself.
Before the Sox went on their 25-5 run last summer, I thought there was a realistic chance that either J.J. Putz or Bobby Jenks could have been dealt to the Phillies. In the case of Carlos, I think he stays in Chicago, for now. But if Viciedo moves to the outfield and develops quickly, the landscape could change. Look at what San Francisco did with Bengie Molina after Buster Posey tore up Triple-A during the first part of 2010.
I've followed Gordon Beckham the last couple of years and think he has a ton of potential. I was trying to find an update on whether he is still feeling any effects from his wrist injury and whether there is any concern there. Can you shed any light on Beckham's status? -- Eric; New York, NY
Gordon said his hand feels fine after finally breaking some scar tissue. This is an important development.
But just as essential to Gordon's production is keeping his right shoulder strong. He played most of last spring with a sore shoulder, and he vowed to throw more in the off-season to prevent the fatigue and soreness that he suffered and caused many to wonder.
I am a big CWS fan. Noise around closer position is loud, and I see CWS didn't sign Rafael Soriano (Editors note: He went to the Yankees). Who then would be the closer in 2011? -- Glen Bentley; Lancaster, PA
It looks like a closer-by-committee setup, with Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain sharing the duties unless Chris Sale stays in the bullpen. It was essentially a committee for the final four weeks after Bobby Jenks' injury.
If you're wondering why Sale would close over Thornton in the event Sale stays in the bullpen, the reason is that Thornton has reached All-Star status as an eighth-inning pitcher. It would be tough to move him out of a role he has succeeded in.
Sergio Santos has the stuff to close, but he needs to strikes with more efficiency. I still think Sale's future is as a starting pitcher, but this team is built to win now.
I'm not that crazy about a closer by committee setup. I point to the 2003 Boston Red Sox as an example, since they tried Brandon Lyon, Chad Fox, Alan Embree and Mike Timlin before trading for Byung-Hyun Kim two months into the season.
Having written all this, the Sox could make a mid-season trade with a non-contender should they believe they need a permanent closer, as Minnesota did with Matt Capps last summer.
Where in the heck have you been? Why weren't you at the winter meetings? -- Seymour Hirsch
It wasn't a life-threatening matter, but I underwent hernia surgery a few days before the meetings and was advised not to perform any physical work for one month. I didn't sense the need to tweet my absence (unlike one local reporter who tweeted a bout of bronchitis).
I'd think that Escobar would need to start the regular season at Triple-A Charlotte. As far as his instincts go, he's major league ready. I've heard him described as " Ozzie Guillen Lite" as a player. At the plate, he reminds me of Orlando Cabrera in taking what the opposing pitcher gives him and hitting to the opposite field. I don't think he'll produce the power he displayed during the Arizona Fall League, but I was impressed with his hitting.
With Omar Vizquel and Brent Lillibridge currently on the roster, there's no room for Escobar. But working with minor league infield coach Ever Magallanes on the nuances of playing second base as well as polishing his skills at shortstop will enhance Escobar's chances of reaching the majors. He reminds me of David Eckstein at shortstop with more arm strength.
I wasn't drinking the Jordan Danks' Kool-Aid last winter because he struck out 26 times in 99 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League (a hitters' league) before striking out 151 times in 445 at-bats for Charlotte last summer.
He'll be fine. His defense is solid. From what I saw last spring, he just needs better discipline recognizing the low-and-inside breaking pitch.
The White Sox are pretty set with their rotation even with an injured Jake Peavy and a rising Chris Sale, who might have to start in the fifth spot. And with no long-term answer at catcher and first base, can you see the White Sox trading Jake Peavy to the Yankees for Jesus Montero and another prospect in return, since the Yanks moved Posada to designated hitter and signed Russell Martin to be their catcher? -- Joshua Strong
I have heard that GM Ken Williams may be looking to deal one of his starting pitchers, most likely Gavin Floyd or Edwin Jackson. However, with Jake Peavy being out until late May, there are only four spots filled in the rotation, and trading one of the aforementioned starters would make it two voids on Opening Day. Why are there rumors about Williams trading Floyd or Jackson? Who does he have filling that fifth spot until Peavy returns? -- Tom C; Chicago
I can't see Jake approving a trade to the Yankees. He likes playing in Chicago and with his teammates.
With few exceptions, the Yankees have done a better job of evaluating players who can handle the scrutiny of playing on a big stage and aren't content just wearing the pinstripes. Although there's been some recent media speculation about how the Yankees would like John Danks, the Sox still have Danks under control through 2012, and Danks' value to the Sox will be even greater should fellow left-hander John Danks retire after 2011.
Edwin Jackson can handle the spotlight of New York. The Yankees are very familiar with Jackson, who can become a free agent after 2011 and is represented by Scott Boras. But the Sox would be wise to seek compensation worth more than Daniel Hudson (whom they traded to Arizona to acquire Jackson) should they engage in a deal with the Yankees.
With Dunn signed for four years, I think first base is secure for the Sox. I also heard many encouraging comments about catcher Michael Blanke, the 14th round pick from last year's draft who excelled at Great Falls. Blanke and Josh Phegley could give the Sox two legitimate catching prospects they haven't had in a while.
As far as "rumors" about trading Floyd or Jackson, late last summer Williams raised the possibility of a surplus of starters that would enable him to address another area before the 2011 season. That scenario included the possible return of Freddy Garcia.
Nevertheless, it would behoove Kenny to listen to what other teams have to offer. The Sox could use another starting pitcher who is close to being major league ready, especially since the contracts of Buehrle and Jackson expire in 2011, Danks can become a free agent after 2012 and they hold options on Peavy ($22 million) and Floyd ($9.5) for 2013.
I think it's wise to groom Sale as a starting pitcher this spring. It's easier to have a pitcher switch from starter to reliever (as Sale did last year after his college season) than vice versa.
I moved up into Twins territory last July, but trying to stay up on my White Sox. Please talk me off the ledge that the White Sox would not get rid of Guillen. I admit, I missed what Oney Guillen had to say about Jenks, but I love Ozzie and think baseball needs more guys like him. By the way, I love the moves the Sox made in the off-season. The Cubs overpaid for Garza, but I do think he is a decent starter, maybe a 3 or 4. -- Gary Windt; Lakeville, MN
Anyone else tired of this collective man crush on the Twins? They do a great job with their scouting, player evaluation and fundamentals, but they have won only one playoff series since the wild card format started in 1995.
It's quite simple this season. If the Sox win the division, Ozzie's option for 2012 is automatically vested. Toward the final two weeks of the 2010 season, Kenny said he hoped he would pick up the option. And Ozzie told reporters at the winter meetings that a dinner with Kenny fortified their working relationship.
But this team is built to win now, as evidenced by their largest spike in payroll since winning the 2005 World Series. Winning the division in a convincing manner would help Ozzie's chances of staying longer, as he prefers.
If the option is simply picked up, then the speculation on his future will persist.
Keep in mind that there's scrutiny in Detroit as well. This should make for a fun division to watch in 2011, especially if Joe Nathan and Pat Neshek rebound from their injuries (sorry for the Twins' reference).