It's hard to believe Spring Training's first workout sits just one month away, but White Sox pitchers and catchers report to the Kino Sports Complex on Feb. 16. Baseball weather seems to be presently invading Chicago -- at least April baseball weather. You know, 35 degrees and sunny. Opening the 2008 regular season in Cleveland, Detroit and then Chicago could make for a few White Sox doubleheaders later in the 2008 regular season.
Before we tackle the White Sox issues, I want to congratulate Larry Tarschis and his lovely bride, Jessica, who tied the knot over the weekend here in Chicago. Mentioning this amazing event allows me to talk about how adorable my niece and nephew looked in their 11-month-old formal wear, as they were carried down the aisle by my brother and his wife. The happy couple is not only a valued part of our extended family (Larry is my sister-in-law's brother), but Larry is also a major White Sox fan. The 2005 World Series championship was mentioned during one of the wedding toasts, so it all comes full circle.
What do you think about this: Joe Crede to the San Francisco Giants for Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez?
-- Rob, Wheaton, Ill.
The Crede issue, which has been a favorite mailbag topic throughout the offseason, seems to have White Sox fans split. Many supporters still want Crede back with the team, hoping he can recapture his 2006 form in the field and at the plate, with Josh Fields sticking in left (that particular move categorically won't happen, by the way). Others want Crede moved to the highest bidder.
Here's a statement of fact in my mind: If Ken Williams can acquire Cain for Crede, make the trade today. As I've mentioned countless times previously, Crede was the Most Valuable Player from start to finish during the 2005 playoffs, and he just started to come into his own offensively in 2006. But because of last season's back surgery, Crede's value remains uncertain and Cain or the Angels' Chone Figgins or Scot Shields probably are a little much to expect in return, at this point.
Crede most likely will be moved for prospects to help replenish the farm system, and the Giants figure to be one of the chief targets. It's a move I don't expect to happen, though, until some time during Spring Training.
There are a lot of rumors out there saying Paul Konerko will go to the Angels for Figgins, Ervin Santana and Howie Kendrick. I love Konerko, but what would this do for us? Will this go down and if it does, will it help us?
-- D.J., Antioch, Ill.
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It always amazes me how one somewhat speculative story, albeit from a solid reporter referring to a source, sets off a rumor mill firestorm. One of my friends actually called me on the Saturday afternoon in which the Konerko talk re-emerged and told me he had read on a fan site on the Internet that the deal was done and a press conference was coming. I apparently missed that particular conference call, as did Konerko, Williams and the four or five players the White Sox were receiving in return.
Many White Sox fans view Williams as one part aggressive general manager, one part CIA operative working in baseball. Although he has stated two or three times previously that there have been no talks concerning a Konerko trade, a part of the White Sox faithful remains inclined to believe Williams is meeting in some clandestine location to finish the deal. In the six years I've covered Williams, though, he always has been straightforward with the media, and I definitely take him at his word.
Williams did leave an opening for something to happen, if an intriguing proposal gets presented to the White Sox. If it's the Angels, by the way, I would be stunned if Kendrick is part of the deal. I reference a comment Williams made to me at the end of 2007, which indicates the White Sox captain will be staying put.
"I've said before we would consider anything that makes us better," said Williams when asked directly about Konerko. "I have a hard time coming up with something that would make us better if we moved Paul Konerko."
How do you feel about the Nick Swisher trade? I don't approve of it at all. Swisher may be somewhat proven, but it looks like we jeopardized our future with the already drained farm system. Gio Gonzalez was our No. 1 prospect, and Fautino De Los Santos had potential, too.
-- Drew, Lisle, Ill.
When I first heard of this trade, I was coming back from a local taping of the Mike Ditka Show, which my youngest brother produces. I told both of my brothers, at that moment, how I thought the White Sox gave up way too much for their return.
Since that initial reaction, I've completely changed my opinion. I basically look at this deal as acquiring Swisher for Gonzalez, a talented starter who I believe would have contributed to the White Sox in 2008, even if Williams lists him as two years away. Although Ryan Sweeney is a hard-working young talent, he no longer seemed part of the White Sox plans. De Los Santos could end up being a top-of-the-rotation starter, but he also might never reach the Majors.
This deal becomes trading the possibility of future greatness for a huge addition in the present. Swisher is only 27, and the White Sox have possible contractual control over him for the next five years. Many people have pointed to the switch-hitter's recent .250 or .260 averages as an issue, but I can see Swisher just breaking into the prime of his career.
So, it appears to be a move working for both sides. Of course, A's GM Billy Beane has the genius tag built into his title -- an impression even mentioned by Swisher during his initial conference call after joining the White Sox -- automatically giving him the deal's edge where prospects are concerned. I have a great deal of respect for Beane, but at last check, he still has won one less championship than Williams.
Who is going to be the White Sox left fielder?
-- Janek, Chicago
I look for some sort of platoon ultimately to take place between Jerry Owens and Carlos Quentin. That combination puts Swisher in left when Owens is in the lineup playing center field, and an outfield of Quentin, Swisher and Jermaine Dye from left to right when Owens is on the bench.
Is it true that the White Sox are about to sign Bartolo Colon?
-- Hilary, Chicago
I heard about manager Ozzie Guillen being present in the Dominican Republic to watch Colon pitch over the weekend. I also know there are questions to be answered, such as Colon's health and if he would take a one-year, incentive-laden deal to return to the White Sox, before a deal could come close to being struck.
A few members of the White Sox organization have told me how Colon, at his best, would be the only starter in their rotation who could be considered a true ace. I've been told, though, how Colon currently is not quite operating at his best.
Will Swisher attend SoxFest?
-- Carol, Schaumburg, Ill.
Swisher is scheduled to be part of SoxFest, and look for a story on Whitesox.com in the next few days addressing further SoxFest information. Having talked with Swisher on a few previous occasions, I'm wondering if the event organizers are going to give him a microphone and let him take questions for an hour or two. He's a genuine personality, who really could take over Chicago's sports landscape if he succeeds.
In response to the Swisher trade, do you think that Williams pulled off the deal in part because he felt pressured after falling short on Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera?
-- Mike, Sacramento, Calif.
Swisher was targeted by Williams and the White Sox because of the explosiveness he presents with his bat, his strong on-base potential, his ability to play four different positions and his exceptional clubhouse presence. Williams certainly wasn't trying to make amends or fit a square deal into a round roster peg, because he didn't do anything wrong in his pursuit of Hunter, Cabrera, Kosuke Fukudome or Aaron Rowand.
Coming up short with free agents such as Hunter, Rowand and Fukudome left Williams with a premium price to pay to add a veteran outfielder via the trade route. That price became Sweeney, Gonzalez and De Los Santos.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less