White Sox debut extreme roster makeover
Club enlists 15 new faces on Opening Day
CHICAGO -- Put the White Sox Opening Day roster from 2009 next to the 25 men announced prior to Mark Buehrle's first pitch thrown at U.S. Cellular Field against Cleveland on Monday, and an immediate difference becomes noticeable.
Make that, an immediate significant difference. Try a 15-player changeover in the course of one season, not to mention five new names in the starting lineup. And of those 15 players gone, nine currently aren't on an Opening Day roster.
The departure gate was used by popular featured contributors such as right fielder Jermaine Dye, second baseman Chris Getz and designated hitter Jim Thome, who returns to Chicago this weekend with the Twins. It also was open to reserves such as catcher Corky Miller, utility infielder Wilson Betemit and outfielder Brian Anderson, who currently is taking a run at becoming a pitcher in the Royals' organization.
Manager Ozzie Guillen often discussed having a chance to control the 2009 American League Central race if he had the team eventually assembled in mid-August in place from the outset in April. Although a few of the names have changed since the end of last year, Guillen appears to have that desired roster as 2010 begins.
And he knows the talent pool rates deeper compared to the beginning of 2009.
"Yeah," said Guillen before Monday's opener. "Look at the guys we have now and look at the guys we have in the past.
"This group is hungry and they want to be good. Last season was so tough for us. A lot of people don't want to spend another [season] like we did. I'm excited about this ballclub."
South Side Extreme Makeover
|GONE FROM '09|
|Jermaine Dye, RF|
|Jim Thome, DH|
|Josh Fields, 3B|
|Chris Getz, 2B|
|Corky Miller, C|
|Dewayne Wise, CF|
|Brian Anderson, OF|
|Bartolo Colon, RHP|
|Jose Contreras, RHP|
|Mike MacDougal, RHP|
|Clayton Richard, LHP|
|D.J. Carrasco, RHP|
|Wilson Betemit, INF|
|Brent Lillibridge, INF*|
|Octavio Dotel, RHP|
|* Still with organization; Not in Majors currently: Dye, Fields (DL), Miller, Wise, Anderson, Colon, MacDougal, Betemit, Lillibridge.|
|HERE IN '10|
|Alex Rios, CF|
|Jake Peavy, RHP|
|Juan Pierre, LF|
|Mark Teahen, 3B|
|Gordon Beckham, 2B|
|Donny Lucy, C|
|Freddy Garcia, RHP|
|J.J. Putz, RHP|
|Tony Pena, RHP|
|Randy Williams, LHP|
|Sergio Santos, RHP|
|Omar Vizquel, INF|
|Jayson Nix, INF|
|Mark Kotsay, DH/INF|
|Andruw Jones, DH/OF|
The starting lineup alone features Mark Teahen replacing Fields at third, Gordon Beckham replacing Getz at second, Rios over Wise in center, Mark Kotsay taking Thome's DH spot and Juan Pierre basically grabbing Dye's starting job. The changeover could be considered an indictment over last year's original talent evaluation, but count Carlos Quentin as one White Sox player who looks at it more as being a credit to the team put together for 2010. "It's more about the talent assembled this year," Quentin said. "The guys were strategically placed in certain roles to help this team succeed. It's a tribute to the front office, to Ozzie, to all the guys who make decisions and to the coaching staff. It's a statement on their level of comfort and how this team is structured."
To the credit of the White Sox, adjustments were made on the fly last season. Jake Peavy was acquired from San Diego in exchange for four young hurlers, Alex Rios was claimed off waivers from Toronto and Kotsay was obtained in a trade with Boston for Anderson, to name a few moves.
Beckham played a significant role on the 2009 squad, only at third base. So, his change solely is about a position switch. Guillen liked the team he had in place late in 2009, even though the White Sox finished at 79-83 and in third place in the American League Central.
Guillen also likes the versatile and athletic team in place presently, not to mention one of baseball's best pitching staffs. But the White Sox manager laughs at the notion that the 2010 White Sox finally qualify as "Ozzie's team."
"I watched the TV yesterday because I had time to watch, and everyone in Chicago says this is Ozzie's team," said a smiling Guillen. "I never denied from 2004 to right now that this is not my team.
"All of a sudden, I don't know about the teams in the past, but I always claim, 'This is the team I like, this is the team I want, this is the team we have,' and we go for it. I've never claimed this is anybody else's team.
"This is the ballclub and people think it's going to put pressure on myself, this is my team," Guillen said. "I'll take it because I like what I have."
Monday's pregame session with Guillen ended with one simple question. If Guillen was told the White Sox avoid major injuries over the next six months, then what result does he envision? With this 25-man roster in place, Guillen didn't hesitate to provide a positive response.
"We win. We should," Guillen said. "I have a lot of respect for teams in our division. Believe me, they are still good. But if everybody plays the way we play and stays healthy, we should win. Last year, we had trouble and still fought all the way to the end."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.