Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Around the division: White Sox

The White Sox so far this offseason have had a theme, and that theme is infielders.

They have:
  • Traded two players handed infield jobs at the start of 2009 — Chris Getz (second base) and Josh Fields (third base) to Kansas City for veteran Mark Teahen. Teahen is to be their third baseman.
  • Said Gordon Beckham, who dislodged Fields and emerged as one of the American League's better rookies, would play second base.
  • Signed Omar Vizquel (photo above) to be a reserve infielder and mentor to incumbent shortstop Alexei Ramirez.
Taking them one at a time:

Off his track record with the Royals, Teahen is exactly the kind of guy Twins fans should want the White Sox to accumulate. He was not a particularly productive hitter for Kansas City, and he's not a sensational fielder either.

But ... I haven't given up on him as a hitter, and it may be he'll blossom. The White Sox' stadium is much more hitter friendly than the Kansas City park, and the Royals the past few years have shuttled Teahen from position to position.

Beckham sounded OK with moving to second base, although the general feeling is that he'd rather be the shortstop, the position he played as an amateur. And there's no shortage of people outside the Sox camp who think he should get that chance, Ramirez having had a rough season with the glove at short last year.

But even in his shortstop days, Beckham was viewed as a guy who would play his way off short sooner or later. "Alexei's better than Gordon at short," was GM Kenny Williams's six-word answer to the question of why not Beckham at short and Ramirez back at second, where he played in 2008.

Which is where Vizquel comes in, at least in theory. The 11-time Gold Glover spent last season playing a similar infield reserve role with the Texas Rangers — where part of his job was mentoring rookie shortstop Elvis Andrus.

It might be a good cop-bad cop routine for Ramirez, with manager Ozzie Guillen (himself no slouch of a shortstop glove) continuing to ride Ramirez hard and Vizquel patting him on the back.

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