CHICAGO -- Here's to a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.
And of course, a two-touchdown win for Michigan in the Outback Bowl and maybe even a Final Four appearance for the basketball team. Now, on to the Inbox's final 2012 edition.
Chris Sale: 17-8, Jake Peavy: 11-12, Gavin Floyd: 12-11, John Danks: 3-4, Jose Quintana: 6-6. The "ace" of the club was sub-.500, while the rest of the "powerful" rotation (less Sale) are .500. I don't see anyone on the staff that can shut down the opposition on a regular basis, so why are they all praised so highly for their talent?
-- Frank, Peoria, Ill.
Frank, the starting rotation should be a strong suit for the White Sox, because yes, they are a talented group. But you are absolutely right: there are plenty of questions to be answered. Sale and Peavy certainly aren't in that question category, with Peavy pitching quite a bit better than his 2012 record indicates. A perfect example would be last June, when the right-hander finished 0-4 over six starts, but gave up just 13 earned runs in 42 1/3 innings.
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Floyd needs to pitch as consistently all season as he did over his last three or four starts after coming back from elbow issues. Danks' season-long endurance is a question only after starting to throw so early as part of his rehab coming off of season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery in August. Meanwhile, Quintana struggled over the season's final month in his rookie campaign.
Those are the facts listed in the minus category. On the plus side, Floyd has the potential to dominate for long stretches, Danks is said to be on track to be ready for Spring Training and if Quintana can't make adjustments to continue his early 2012 excellence, Hector Santiago is waiting in the bullpen. Don't go by the records. Go by the fact this staff leaves the White Sox in much better shape than numerous other teams, even if uncertainty exists.
What remaining pieces do you see the White Sox adding to the team? Moving an outfielder to acquire young third-base talent would be a great idea.
-- Josh, Clinton, Iowa
Look for infielder, left-handed bat and veteran reliever as the target spots, and the first two could be merged together. The White Sox might have to slightly weaken themselves in one area, with Josh's outfield suggestion making sense, in order to trade for a major upgrade in another area.
Can we expect the White Sox to re-sign one or more former South Siders? It would be fun to see Carlos Lee, Scott Podsednik, Juan Uribe, Freddy Garcia or Jon Garland back in a White Sox uniform!
-- Keri, Washington, Ill.
As has been shown through the plethora of former players currently working in the organization, the White Sox family never closes its doors. Then again, none of the above will be playing for the White Sox any time soon.
Do you think Courtney Hawkins or Jared Mitchell are anywhere close to making the team?
-- Darrell, Peoria, Ill.
Mitchell is closer than Hawkins, who only has 229 Minor League at-bats after the White Sox selected him 13th overall in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. Hawkins could be one of those incredibly fast risers, though, as everyone who watched him play last year raved about Hawkins' jaw-dropping ability.
The White Sox are not afraid to challenge their best players through promotion to the next level. They also won't rush Hawkins. This should be a big year for Mitchell, who was recently added to the 40-man roster, and has a chance to contribute at some point this season on the Major League level. He's coming off of his first healthy season in the last three and has made some physical and mental changes at the plate for the better.
Out of all the available options, who do you think would be a good edition to the White Sox pitching staff?
-- Josh, Homer Glen, Ill.
This pitching staff is pretty well set with Sale, Peavy, Floyd, Danks and Quintana as starters, and Addison Reed, Nate Jones, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, Donnie Veal and Santiago as relievers -- barring a trade. One relief spot remains open, assuming the team breaks with 12, and the White Sox are looking for a veteran. They want to replace Brett Myers, meaning someone who can work late in the game and close if needed. Maybe a Matt Capps type.
Are (residents) from the Great White North allowed to ask questions if they've been White Sox fans since 1954? Or are you picky, eh?
-- Jacob, Sarnia, Canada
There are no geographic restrictions on Inbox questions, so you are green-lighted to ask another question for the next Inbox. You also could have typed this question from a home in Schaumburg or Flossmoor in Illinois and put Toronto in the location, but either way, all submissions are welcome.
With the White Sox selecting Angel Sanchez in the Rule 5 Draft, is there a possibility of Orlando Hudson coming back? How will the White Sox address their need for a left-handed bat?
-- Kevin, Chicago
Contributions during the 2012 season made by Hudson at third base, a position where he never previously had played at the big league level, were greatly appreciated by the White Sox, but he is not in their future plans. And by the way, the White Sox are very high on Sanchez and his defensive ability around the infield. As for the left-handed bat, it's a work in progress. I would guess that need is met through a trade and maybe not until late in the offseason or Spring Training.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.