While these teams battle for Major League Baseball's top prize and I try to figure out what happened to the previously unbeaten Wolverines on the gridiron, let's take a look at this week's batch of questions concerning the White Sox and their quest to reach the 2012 Fall Classic.
How do you think the outfield is going to shape up in 2012?
-- Hannah, Wilmette, Ill.
I'm going to go against the grain and throw out an outfield of Carlos Quentin in left, Alex Rios in center and Dayan Viciedo in right. The White Sox are confident that the multitalented Rios will bounce back from a dismal 2011 performance, but if they can get someone to take a good portion (or all) of his remaining $39.5 million over three years, they would move him.
I understand that Quentin is an obvious place to slightly reduce payroll. Viciedo is ready, and the arbitration-eligible Quentin earned $5.05 million this past season; teams would likely be interested in adding one of the more dynamic offensive presences --when healthy -- in the game.
One of the areas where general manager Ken Williams and former skipper Ozzie Guillen disagreed in 2011 was at the leadoff spot. I wrote back in June that Williams was ready to bring up Viciedo at that point and have someone else assume the leadoff role. So I could see the White Sox going with Gordon Beckham at No. 1 in the order, purely as an example, and keeping this Big Bang outfield together.
Will Jake Peavy ever return as a quality starter, let alone the Cy Young Award winner he was with the Padres?
-- Karl, Sheldon, Ill.
That question can't even be answered by Peavy at this point. When Peavy underwent surgery to reattach his lat muscle on July 14, 2010, he was told that it would take up to 18 months before he would be back at full strength. So he entered 2011 with great optimism for a healthy return.
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Being the competitor that Peavy is, he came back in May, less than one year removed from the procedure. He certainly didn't put up anything close to the overall performance he expected, but he also was worn down after working on a more extensive rehab schedule and throwing program since the end of 2010. Now he'll be able to follow a normal routine approaching the 2012 season and, as he said, leave no stone unturned in his quest for renewed excellence.
If will and desire count for anything, Peavy will return to old form. Nobody really knows, though, when the "new" Peavy will be back at 100 percent.
Is there any talk of signing John Danks to an extension? It seems like ever since Danks turned down an offer that was reported to be about the same as the one Gavin Floyd accepted, talks have gone nowhere.
Three left-handed starters is not the norm. But it would seem to me that Chris Sale, Danks and Mark Buehrle are all different enough that it might work out well, especially in the American League Central.
-- Joey, Huntley, Ill.
The White Sox are all about quality starters, not necessarily right-handed or left-handed. Sale, Danks and Buehrle all would fall under the "quality" category. Danks has expressed on numerous occasions his desire to stay with the White Sox, but he won't sign an extension just to sign one. With a good season next year, he can probably guess as to what kind of high-end offers await him on the free-agent market.
As I wrote earlier, Buehrle and Danks hold valuable roles with the team, and not just as consistent starters. They are leaders and solid representatives of the organization. But if the White Sox stick to their plan of somewhat cutting their $127 million payroll, with $89 million already committed to 11 players, only one of the two probably starts the 2012 season with the team. The arbitration-eligible Danks would be one of the team's greater trade chips.
With Sale moving to the rotation next year, do you think that Addison Reed has a good chance to take over the setup man job?
-- Tony, Downers Grove, Ill.
I'm not sure about a setup role, Tony. Not with Jesse Crain already down there in front of Sergio Santos and coming off a great debut. But even if Sale somehow stays in relief, which I don't see happening, Reed has an excellent shot to break camp with the team. He certainly showed enough during his September opportunities to warrant that look.
What do you think about the White Sox going after Aramis Ramirez?
-- Jeff, Chicago
That move would have made more sense last July, when the White Sox had serious thoughts of catching the Tigers and Ramirez spoke of wanting to stay in Chicago as opposed to being moved by the Cubs. But the White Sox are perfectly happy with Brent Morel at third base and believe that he will thrive under the guidance of former Gold Glove third baseman and new manager Robin Ventura. Morel flashed some power in September, brought about by better plate discipline and hitting better pitches.
Are the White Sox going to get any players through trade or free agency?
-- Michael, Skokie, Ill.
If you are looking for a big-money signing, along the lines of Adam Dunn, that sort of move doesn't look to be on the table. The White Sox could add a leadoff type of hitter through a trade, but I wouldn't expect anything fans consider major. Then again, remember that it looked as if the White Sox were going young for a while last offseason before going all-in.
Is there any chance that the White Sox re-sign Juan Pierre or Omar Vizquel?
-- Rick, Dyer, Ind.
Very little chance in both cases. Pierre and Vizquel both played valuable roles during their two years with the White Sox -- Vizquel just might have saved the team with his work at third base in 2010, and Pierre was his usual steady self. But the team's desire to go younger means that it will let these accomplished free agents go elsewhere.