Inbox: Gathering around the Hot Stove
Beat reporter Scott Merkin answers Sox fans' questions
CHICAGO -- Here's hoping everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving and didn't down too much turkey, stuffing or candied yams. I also want to throw out a reminder that there are only 83 days until pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch for the start of White Sox Spring Training.
With the Tigers possibly looking to dump some salary, is it possible the White Sox would look to trade for Curtis Granderson? I'm partial since he graduated from Thornton Fractional South in Lansing the year after I did.
-- Tim, Lansing, Ill.
Granderson has a big following in the Chicago area, from both his high school days in the SICA conferences and his collegiate innings logged for UIC. But even if Detroit has put Granderson on the trading block, I can't see the Tigers trading such a talented player within the division. He would be a nice fit, though, in the middle of the White Sox outfield.
I heard a rumor that the White Sox were interested in Hideki Matsui. How true is this, and would he be a good fit?
-- Steve, Plainfield, Ill.
I've seen a number of top 10 or top 50 free-agent projections from national baseball writers placing Matsui ultimately with the White Sox. I've also read a couple projecting Vladimir Guerrero as their designated hitter for at least 2010.
Both players would be strong additions to the White Sox attack, with manager Ozzie Guillen counting Guerrero as one of his closer friends in the game. General manager Ken Williams also expressed great respect for Matsui at the recently completed General Managers' Meetings, but at this point, I really believe Matsui is going to command too much money for the White Sox budget.
Guillen also made an interesting point during a Monday conference call regarding this specific position, in that it doesn't sound as if he wants one set designated hitter. He wants to be able to rotate players into that spot and have those players also be able to fill in at other positions.
Guillen's comment could be bad news for a Jim Thome return to the South Side -- although the White Sox are in need of another left-handed bat -- and could also mean the White Sox fill the DH from within via players such as Tyler Flowers and Mark Kotsay. Then again, the White Sox could employ a speed guy at DH, and fill from within for the lone outfield vacancy. The name of Jordan Danks jumps to mind.
Regardless of the plan, I just don't see the White Sox, as they are currently constructed, making big splashes on the market to fill both openings.
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What do you hear about the plans for the future of Jared Mitchell? Since his game seems to be more advanced at a young age, like Gordon Beckham's clearly is, do you think we might be seeing him getting a real chance next season?
-- Mike, Georgetown, Texas
Don't look for Mitchell to arrive in Chicago during the 2010 campaign, as he needs at least one full year in the Minors to help refine his overall game. Remember, the White Sox top pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft had a mere 115 at-bats at Class A Kannapolis in 2009, and I don't think he's quite as advanced as Beckham at this stage.
But some point during the 2011 season would be a possibility for Mitchell. His talented presence, along with the overall excellence that is Jordan Danks, will make it interesting as to how Williams assembles the outfield in the present. Will the White Sox opt for a one-year free-agent signing, such as Scott Podsednik or Coco Crisp, or will they move one of these young outfielders for another important piece if they go after a youthful veteran outfielder such as Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton, purely as an example who would fit?
Well, there have been some big rumors going around saying Paul Konerko is going to the Angels and Adrian Gonzalez coming to the White Sox, but we would give up prospects. Can we afford to weaken our farm system?
-- Peter, Chicago
Here's what I know: Don't go out and start buying your No. 23 Gonzalez White Sox jerseys quite yet, assuming Omar Vizquel doesn't take that number.
The White Sox definitely have interest in Gonzalez and have for a while. But then again, why would any team not want to acquire a Gold Glove-caliber defender at first base, who has 40-home run power and only figures to get better at the ripe old age of 27? Did I mention Gonzalez will earn $4.75 million in 2010, and has a $5.5 million club option for 2011, making him one of the top bargains in all of Major League Baseball? If San Diego does decide to move Gonzalez, you can count on him wanting to go to a team where he can get some sort of long-term extension.
I've also been told the Angels were not involved in any sort of three-way deal involving Konerko, who has a full no-trade clause. The Angels have high-end free agents of their own to focus on, such as Chone Figgins and John Lackey, as mentioned to me by our Angles beat writer, Lyle Spencer. And if they wanted for some reason to move Kendry Morales from first to designated hitter and bring in another first baseman, then why wouldn't they go out and get Gonzalez with their own prospects? His salary is lower than Konerko's, and he's younger.
You can also expect any deal for Gonzalez to start with a White Sox player of Beckham's caliber as asked for in return. And I don't see Beckham going anywhere any time soon.
Do you think the White Sox will re-sign Konerko after the 2010 season?
-- Jack, Chicago
Konerko has far more value to the White Sox, and probably any franchise where he suited up, than simply his solid on-field contributions. He's a leader through the way he works at his craft, through the way he contributes to the community where he works and through the way he carries himself and conducts his business in the clubhouse.
In talking to White Sox hitting coach Greg Walker last week, he explained how Konerko's .277 average, 28 home runs and 88 RBIs were undervalued as an overall effort with the bat for 2009. The White Sox will have other options at first base when Konerko's current deal expires after the 2010 campaign, but I definitely could see the White Sox bringing him back for another year. He's a great influence on younger players, as told to me by a number of younger players.
What will the White Sox bullpen look like in 2010? It's hard for me to picture it right now.
-- Lisa, Buffalo Grove, Ill.
I'm guessing Guillen will go with seven relievers, so you can count on closer Bobby Jenks, Matt Thornton, Scott Linebrink, Tony Pena and D.J. Carrasco as current locks. If the White Sox fill the last two spots from their system, Daniel Hudson, Jhonny Nunez, Lucas Harrell, Jon Link and Randy Williams all will be in competition, and the South Siders definitely will need a second southpaw.
If they go outside, a couple of interesting names would be J.J. Putz, who is close friends with Thornton, and left-hander Will Ohman, who the team has checked out previously.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.