Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spring Forward
No, I'm not talking about Daylight Savings Time (which, by the way, starts March 11 this year). I'm talking about the White Sox, who need this Spring to prepare for moving forward in the A.L. Central. Winning 90 games is nice, but finishing third in the division behind the upstart Tigers and hated Twins just won't cut it now that we Sox fans have high standards. It's no longer a successful season just because we win the season series from the Cubs -- although when that happens, God's in his heaven, all's right with the world. (No extra charge for literary references.)
Today marks the opener of the exhibition season, and the Sox kick off the festivities with a game against the Rockies. The Good Guys' lineup will feature left fielder Darin Erstad, second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, designated hitter Jim Thome, first baseman Konerko, right fielder Jermaine Dye, catcher A.J. Pierzynski, third baseman Joe Crede, center fielder Brian Anderson, and shortstop Juan Uribe. Left-hander Mark Buehrle will start on the mound.
The big questions relate to the pitching staff. Will Buehrle return to form in the last year of his contract? Will Jose Contreras and Jon Garland pitch as well as they did last year? Will Javier Vazquez figure out how to get through the order more than twice in a game? And who will replace Freddy Garcia now that the answer to that inquiry is not Brandon McCarthy? (I still don't get the trades, but am in my "Trust Kenny" mode.)
The other big question involves the outfield. Will Anderson hit well enough to justify keeping him in the lineup? What kind of impact will Erstad have? Which Pods will we see -- the 2005 or 2006 version? And can Dye keep getting better? (I'll settle for anything close to last year's performance.)
What would have been a big question was answered when Uribe beat the rap in the Dominican, or at least was allowed to leave the island. There are others of course -- what about Josh Fields and the other young guys? What crazy stuff will Ozzie do? -- but despite our curiosity, only the long grind of the season will tell us what we want to know. We'll have all the answers before November 4, when Daylight Savings Time ends.