What happened to Gordon Beckham?
Beckham disappointed many who were excited about the veritable certainty of his value and his newfound keystone eligibility. Recall: He received more major league at-bats in 2009 (378) than he did at three minor league stops combined since turning pro (233). The 6-foot, 185-pound Georgia product has made two position switches with the organization. In midsummer 2010 he strained his groin (rested for only a couple of days) and in late August took a pitch on the hand (missed time intermittently in the final month).
In the second half Beckham again began drawing walks and driving the ball consistently. From July 9 on, he batted .320, with seven homers and 29 RBIs, in 181 at-bats. He has the skills to deliver a quality BA, 15 to 20 homers and double-digit stolen bases. If not this year, then soon.
Who are the best bets for saves?
First, it's important to note that Matt Thornton is likely to earn more than you pay for him, regardless of whether he saves more than the eight games he did last season. Will Ohman gives Thornton left-handed company in the bullpen. Ozzie Guillen has no more trustworthy arm than Thornton's, which retires both righties and lefties deftly.
Hard-throwing right-handers: Jesse Crain made remarkable rediscoveries with the Minnesota Twins last year, but he's inconsistent and unproven in a more significant role. Sergio Santos has wicked stuff but has been pitching for less than two years.
Southpaw Chris Sale, whom the ChiSox drafted as a starter in 2010, is the wild card. He was impressive in the bullpen last year. Guillen took to him while Thornton missed a few weeks with a forearm injury.
The health of Jake Peavy (latissimus dorsi) is a factor in Sale's role, however. Chicago appears to have poor depth behind Peavy, and it's easier to find a reliever than a starter. But Don Cooper prefers to see Sale in the bullpen. If Peavy suffers a setback, Kenny Williams may push harder for Sale to start. Sale's talent has great fantasy value. If he remains in the bullpen for most of the year, he could lead the team in saves. But anything changing the current scenario is possible, and don't forget his inexperience.
Since you brought up unstable starting pitchers...
The White Sox have reason to be optimistic that Peavy, whose surgery in July reportedly couldn't have gone better, could be ready for opening day. However, they may not approach it that way, understandably. The right-hander was absolute dynamite in June, at full strength. He enters spring training as a virtual afterthought, at least in mixed leagues. File that way.
Edwin Jackson was spectacular in eight of his 11 starts with Chicago and posted a 3.24 ERA, a 2.16 BB/9 and a 9.24 K/9 with the club. After the righty arrived from the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cooper worked on his mechanics and informed him that he was tipping pitches. The White Sox may consider trading the enigmatic Jackson at some point. He seems to have the most upside as long as he's wearing black.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570. Follow @NicholasMinnix
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