Inbox: Will Gillaspie have shot at everyday role?
Beat reporter Scott Merkin answers White Sox fans' questions
CHICAGO -- Now that another entertaining SoxFest has been completed, the focus can move completely to Spring Training, with White Sox pitchers and catchers reporting on Feb. 15. I'll soon be back in Glendale, Ariz., to see the reshaping process firsthand.
It was good talking with everyone this past weekend at the Palmer House Hilton, and of course, general manager Rick Hahn, the White Sox man in charge, answered numerous questions on Friday and Saturday. Here are a few more to peruse.
The White Sox have given Gordon Beckham plenty of time to establish himself as the starting second baseman. Is there a reason why they are not allowing Conor Gillaspie the same opportunity at third base?
-- Rich, Chicago
Gillaspie certainly remains in the picture at this point for the White Sox. I know they like his swing, as well as how he improved defensively at third base last year. He will be part of the White Sox Opening Day roster barring something surprising.
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I'm not sure the White Sox view Gillaspie as an everyday player. And they couldn't pass up the chance to add a potential impact power hitter such as Matt Davidson when the opportunity arose. Davidson stands as the third baseman of the future, but Gillaspie has not been forgotten.
I can't understand the White Sox getting rid of Hector Santiago. I felt he showed flashes of brilliance, seemed to have a great attitude and has a bright future. Twenty-five year old left-handers are a rare commodity, yet the White Sox traded Santiago for a .250 hitting outfielder who they don't really need, in my opinion. I'd have been happy with an outfield of Avisail Garcia, Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo.
-- Sol, New York
Everything you said about Santiago was and is true, Sol. He did show flashes of excellence on the mound and was a consistently outstanding contributor within the community. Ultimately, because Santiago could get a little wild within the strike zone and work a high pitch count relatively early, the White Sox weren't sure he would be able to thrive as a starter moving forward. With three southpaws already in place as part of the rotation, they deemed Santiago a moveable piece.
Losing Santiago and getting Adam Eaton really is about giving up something good to get something good, or as Hahn said at SoxFest, breaking a few eggs to make an omelet. And in quoting Eaton's big league statistics, you are going on a sample size of 335 at-bats. Give him a chance to show what he can do on an everyday basis.
Eaton was a necessary piece because the White Sox needed to shake things up a bit. They need that edge, that agitator in a good way, and it sounds as if Eaton will provide that intangible. Their outfield is better with these four in place -- not to mention Jordan Danks -- than it was last season, and fans already seem to be gravitating toward Eaton's Aaron Rowand-like demeanor.
If the White Sox are hovering around the top of the division near the All-Star break, would they be willing to trade some of their young assets for a big-time hitter (Carlos Gonzalez, I wish)? Or is this team put together like the Nationals to grow together and learn to win, even if it takes a longer time?
-- Arnold, Sheldon, Iowa
Young talent has always been viewed in two ways by the White Sox: as a way to supplement the big league roster (think Bobby Jenks in 2005, Chris Sale in '10) or as a way to acquire frontline talent via trade (think Gio Gonzalez, Chris Young, Brandon McCarthy, etc.). If the White Sox are contenders, I fully expect the team to make moves that are needed to push them even a step higher.
Arnold's second point is valid as well. Hahn worked hard to put this youthful core together and allow them to grow together, making this team a contender for years to come. I don't see him completely tearing it down. There has to be a balance.
What does your Opening Day batting order look like? I like Eaton, Alexei Ramirez, Garcia, Adam Dunn, Jose Abreu, Davidson, Viciedo, Josh Phegley, Beckham, with Sale on the bump, of course.
-- Marc, Chicago
I might put Abreu third and Garcia fourth or move Abreu to the cleanup spot. Also as of right now, I don't see Davidson as the everyday third baseman. In fact, with Gillaspie and Jeff Keppinger on the roster, I'm not sure if Davidson will start the year in the big leagues. The catcher's battle still is up in the air between Phegley, Tyler Flowers and Adrian Nieto.
What's the hype about Adrian Nieto? Why are the White Sox so big on him? He has no Double-A, Triple-A or Major League experience.
-- Orlando, Chicago
I wouldn't say there's hype necessarily surrounding Nieto, as much as the White Sox identified him as a player they would take a risk on through the Rule 5 Draft. They seem to like his swing, but it will be interesting to see how he handles the pitchers, with that point frequently mentioned in reference to one of Flowers' greatest strengths.
It would seem that the Nationals will take Nieto back if he doesn't stay on the White Sox 25-man roster for the full season, as required in the Rule 5 process. So this Spring Training could be an important one for the switch-hitter. As Hahn mentioned over the weekend, Nieto will have a lot on his plate. The catcher's spot remains one of the areas where Hahn is continuing to explore change. I don't see anything happening before pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 15.
Do you think the White Sox will win it sometime in the decade?
-- Anthony, Chicago
If "it" is the American League Central, I'm fairly certain that will happen. If "it" is another World Series title, it's too difficult to categorically make that prediction. This reshaping, retooling -- whatever you want to call it -- is an ongoing process, but Hahn seems to be moving in the right direction.