In about a month, we should all be finding out if Paul Konerko's run with the White Sox is going to end with 15 stellar seasons and a not-so-hot 2013, or if the 37-year captain is coming back for his 16th year.
Either way, the Sox are going to be a much younger bunch in 2014, with players such as Avisail Garcia, Erik Johnson, Marcus Semien, Leury Garcia and Daniel Webb figuring prominently into the mix.
The question is, are all the fresh faces going to be able to erase the complete and utter failure that came with the White Sox' 7-21 record in September? Are they going to be able to learn -- and eventually thrive -- from all of the adversity?
Time will tell, and Konerko offered an apology of sorts from the Sox veterans for exposing the youngsters to such a lengthy stretch of bad baseball.
"I feel bad for a lot of the guys that were called up during this year," he said. "The big leagues is the big leagues. It's always great, even in tough circumstances.
"But I hope none of these guys think this is really how it is. It's better than what they got. And it will be."
Konerko added that even if the White Sox break training camp next spring with a roster full of question marks, the final record should be better than it was this season.
Again, time will tell, but along with Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Addison Reed, and Nate Jones, the Garcias (no relation), Johnson, Semien and Webb at least provide general manager Rick Hahn with a promising core to build around.
Let's take a closer look:
He's the obvious prize, and the 22-year-old right fielder showed why while batting .304 with 5 home runs and 21 RBI in 42 games. Big, strong and fast, look for Garcia to blossom into a legitimate power hitter as he gets older.
The 23-year-old starting pitcher breezed through two minor-league levels, going 12-3 with a 1.96 ERA for Class AA Birmingham and AAA Charlotte before joining the White Sox in September.
Johnson was the latest victim of the Sox' shoddy defensive play in his first 2 starts, but he won his last 3 while allowing 5 earned runs and striking out 13 in 18 innings.
He's going to the Arizona Fall League and should continue getting work at third base.
Semien had a monster minor-league season, batting .284 with 32 doubles, 6 triples, 19 home runs, 66 RBI, 110 runs scored and 24 stolen bases with Birmingham and Charlotte.
In 21 games with the White Sox, the 23-year-old infielder batted .261 with 4 doubles, 2 homers and 7 RBI.
He's probably a utility infielder for the Sox next season. "Little" Garcia showed he's a standout defensive player in 20 games with the Sox, and he flashed his standout speed with 6 stolen bases.
He's a near lock to make the Sox' bullpen out of spring training after striking out 10 in 111⁄3 innings in September.