On April 1, the White Sox are going to open the 2013 season with a home game against the Kansas City Royals.
Robin Ventura is going to be the Sox’ manager, and Chris Sale is your probable starter.
Expect to see Paul Konerko at first base, Gordon Beckham at second, Alexei Ramirez at shortstop and Alex Rios, Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo in the outfield.
As for catcher, third base, the bench, the rest of the starting rotation and the bullpen, Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn have six months to figure out who is in and who is out.
Naturally, there already is a spate of speculation on catcher A.J. Pierzynski, starting pitcher Jake Peavy and third baseman Kevin Youkilis, all eligible for free agency.
Peavy has a $22 million club option for next season, and there is no chance the Sox are going to pick that up. Ditto for starter Gavin Floyd, who has a $9.5 million option for 2013, and Youkilis ($9 million option).
One national baseball writer is speculating the White Sox are going to try to sign Peavy, Pierzynski and Youkilis at reduced rates.
“Well then, whomever wrote that knows more information than I do,” general manager Kenny Williams told reporters Wednesday in Cleveland. “It’s too early to speculate right now. Too much to go through.”
If the Sox do let Peavy and Floyd walk, they’d be looking at a 2013 rotation of Sale, John Danks (assuming his shoulder is healthy), Jose Quintana, Hector Santiago and, let’s say, Dylan Axelrod.
The first four starters on that list are left-handed, so the White Sox likely would try to make a trade or sign a free agent to obtain some balance.
As for catcher, is it time to see if Tyler Flowers can play every day? That figures to be a major topic of discussion for the Sox this winter.
On the one hand, Pierzynski batted .278, hit a career high 27 home runs and matched a career high with 77 RBI.
On the other, Pierzynski turns 36 on Dec. 30, and he’s going to want a two-year deal for at least $10 million.
Flowers, 26, batted .213 this season but only played in 52 games and hit 7 home runs in 136 at-bats. The reserve catcher is open to playing winter ball to recoup many of the missed at-bats.
Initially, Youkilis was a great addition for the White Sox.
The 33-year-old third baseman came over in a trade from the Boston Red Sox and had 6 home runs and 19 RBI in July and 6 and 16 in August.
But like most other White Sox hitters not named Alex Rios, Youkilis disappeared in September, hitting 3 home runs and driving in 8 runs.
Youkilis replaced Orlando Hudson, who replaced the injured Brent Morel (back).
Morel was able to get healthy and play out the season at Class AAA Charlotte, but he’s not the leading candidate to be the Sox’ starting third baseman next season.
If the White Sox can’t afford to bring Youkilis back, or they decide he has too much wear and tear, they’ll have to find an outside option.
Peavy stayed healthy and delivered a solid season for the Sox.
Don’t be fooled by the 11-12 record.
The 31-year-old righty ranked third in the American League with a 1.10 WHIP, fifth with 219 innings pitched and ninth with a 3.37 ERA.
For the sabermetric faithful, Peavy was sixth in the AL with a 5.0 WAR (wins above replacement).
Of course the White Sox want Peavy back. Considering they ranked 24th out of 30 major-league teams in attendance this season, you have to wonder if they can make it happen.
As for Floyd, he was on the disabled list two times this season with elbow discomfort. He could return to the Sox, but the price would have to be right.
“We’ve got some free-agent issues we’ve got to deal with and we’ll find a way,” Williams told reporters. “We’ve managed to find a way to compete each and every year, certainly not to our satisfaction, but we’ll keep plugging away.”
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