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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

SoxFest surprise?

Going into the winter meetings nearly a month ago, it was common knowledge that the Sox would be looking for a number-two starter to fit into the rotation between Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland.  Then Prof. Chaos went on the radio and said that the need for that number-two guy wasn’t nearly as great as it was last year, but that a deal could be made if “it knocks our socks off.” 

Apparently no one made that kind of offer to the socks.  Toward the end of the winter meetings, the professor was quoted as saying that he expected that the Sox would get a chance to beat any deal that the Expos might have in the works, presumably involving Bartolo Colon or Javier Vazquez. 

So far neither pitcher is on the White Sox roster, and the latest rumor (as of this writing) is that one of them may soon be traded to the Sox – the Red Sox, that is.  So where are the White Sox?   

One answer could have been provided last month by Dave Wills.  When asked why the Sox hadn’t made any kind of move for a starting pitcher, Wills said, “Don’t be surprised if there’s news just before SoxFest.  The Sox in the past have made big signings and trades just before them to boost ticket sales.” 

This leads to the question, “Do the Sox have a trade in mind, or have they even agreed to one that won’t be announced for another few weeks?”  Only the Sox know, and they’re not telling.  Wills is right, however.  The Sox have used SoxFest as a vehicle to announce big deals in the past. 

We’ll know soon whether Wills is right in his prediction. 

It is maddening as a fan to watch other teams making an effort to improve while the Sox do next to nothing.  

The Sox have made the headlines exactly three times this off-season.  In a move that was anything but unexpected, the Sox re-signed Frank Thomas.  In what amounts to a lateral move, the Sox traded Keith Foulke and Mark Johnson for Billy Koch and then in their final move signed Sandy Alomar, Jr. to replace Johnson. 

So far, that’s it.  The Sox still have a rotation which could very well feature two pitchers lacking in experience, three catchers, none of whom would be the first-string catcher on any other club, and a centerfielder with a broken shoulder blade. 

The silence from the front office is deafening, and the only message fans seem to be getting from it is, “We raised your ticket prices and we’re keeping salaries down.  We’re selling more season tickets with the guarantee of tickets to the All-Star Game, so we’ll just keep salaries down and make as much money as we can this year.” 

An announcement of a big deal at SoxFest could do a lot to get rid of that impression.  If no such announcement is made, Wills pointed out the Sox also like to make deals during spring training.   

So the Sox have two chances to convince their fan base that they actually are making some kind of a commitment to overcoming the Twins and making a run this year for the post-season.  If they don’t take at least one of those opportunities, the long term ramifications are not pleasant. 

If the Sox don’t win at least a division championship this year, after the off-season inaction, look for the season ticket base to drop below where it was after the White Flag Trade.  Then look for the Sox to make excuses why they can’t compete in a small market like Chicago, which was always a Cubs town anyway. 

But don’t look for them to admit that their own mismanagement got them into that position in the first place.


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at nsmf@aol.com.

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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