In setting up the White Sox bullpen, general manager Ken Williams said Friday that the coaching staff and front-office personnel were in agreement on one thing: They wanted Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton available for the eighth inning and maybe the seventh inning on some occasions.
“We all know in a game that [the] ninth inning doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have the toughest hitters up,” Williams said. “The situation to win the game might be in the seventh or the eighth inning, so to have those guys available and interchangeable for that kind of fit everything together.”
After that decision was made, the final call came down between rookies Addison Reed or Hector Santiago for closer. Santiago’s screwball to combat right-handed hitters from a left-handed pitcher helped his cause, as did his 95-mph fastball.
“Aggressiveness, and he can spot it from both sides of the plate and then turn it over with a changeup and then the screwball that you can’t really practice,” said Williams of Santiago. “And if you only see it on occasion, it can really screw you up.
“So, I think we were all privately thinking that. Then when we came together for a meeting and the subject was brought up, no one was caught off guard or surprised. So we just kind of came to the deal together.”
Santiago picked his third save in three chances during Friday’s 5-2 victory over the Tigers, striking out two in the ninth inning. Reed made his fourth consecutive scoreless appearance and Thornton made his fifth consecutive scoreless appearance.
April 13, 2012
Williams also had some interesting comments that offered a glimpse into his rationale for investing heavily in his big-league club over the years, usually at the expense of bringing top-shelf amateur talent into the organization, a trend which ended with the last offseason.
“To not be in the free agent market, or even the trade market to the degree we usually are, it was just a strange offseason,” Williams said. “At the same time, we are confident in our young players that are still kind of feeling around for that veteran feel that can bring it all together. It was just different. My phone bill was lower.
“Ideally, you don’t like to go into the free-agent market. You build a foundation and build from within. What people don’t understand about the difficulty in that is that we are what we are. We’re an organization that has tried to build our brand up to the point that people can count on our aggressiveness. They can count our competitiveness (as a team) that will sustain a $100 million payroll.
“If you take a little different focus, for instance, let’s say you’re going to take a couple of years and overspend in the draft, overspend on the Latin American front, overspend anywhere other than on the major-league team, trying to be competitive. We run the risk potentially of not even being able to support a $100 million payroll, because our situation is different. We have to compete for our attendance to sufficiently warrant that $100 million payroll.
“Now you’re talking about killing yourself on the back end and the front end. We always have to be in the mode that if we’re going young, when we identify young players we have to be right. We have to market the major-league club as well and blend in some youth at the same time.”
Jared Mitchell, OF – The 23rd overall pick in the 2009 draft had his career interrupted when he tore an ankle tendon in the spring of 2010. He wasn’t the same in 2011, however was very impressive in the winter instructional league and warranted a promotion to AA. He will be interesting to follow this season as he has tons of potential.
Trayce Thompson, OF – The 2009 2nd round picked didn’t really impress in 2009 and 2010. However, some of that changed after hitting 24 HRs in 2011. His batting average as awful and his K rate was extremely high. The 21-year-old remains a good talent and will get time to work out some mechanical issues in the Carolina League.
Kevan Smith, C – Mature college catcher with power to all fields. He has the bat but is still learning to be a professional catcher.
Jordan Danks, OF – Has some pop and speed. He wasn’t much of a prospect and after 2 full seasons at AAA, the 25-year-old doesn’t figure to be a major league regular. Still, he will have an opportunity to find himself on the bench as a 4th or 5th outfielder before the season is over.