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White Sox camp report: Likes, dislikes


It's hard to imagine Adam Dunn having another awful year (.159 BA) like 2011. (Getty Images)  
It's hard to imagine Adam Dunn having another awful year (.159 BA) like 2011. (Getty Images)  

PHOENIX -- What I like, and don't like, about the White Sox:


 I like Robin Ventura, and have since I first met him when he was a junior at Oklahoma State. Of course, I don't think I've ever run into anyone who doesn't like Robin Ventura. Now, is he ready to manage? I hope so, and I know a lot of other people who hope so, too.

Chicago White Sox
Danny Knobler
Robin Ventura is midway through his first spring, and the idea of managing doesn't seem as nuts. Camp report >>
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 Jerry Reinsdorf may well be the most loyal offer in sports. Often that works in the White Sox's favor, because talented people want to work there and never want to leave. Sometimes it works against them, as it did when Reinsdorf kept trying to make general manager Ken Williams and manager Ozzie Guillen get along. The Williams/Guillen partnership produced the city of Chicago's only World Series title in the last 94 years, but it lasted at least a year too long. The White Sox and Ozzie are better off being apart.

 There's absolutely no chance that Adam Dunn has as bad a year this year as he had last year, right? Dunn's .159 batting average was the lowest ever for a player with at least 490 plate appearances. There's a good reason for that. Guys who hit .159 with little power (just 11 home runs) don't get 490 plate appearances. You can bet that Dunn won't play that much if he's as bad as he was. I'd also bet that he'll be significantly better.

 The theory on Jake Peavy has always been that if he can stay healthy, he can be a top starter. The White Sox say he's as healthy as he's been in his three years in Chicago, and Peavy agrees. So I'll overlook how bad he has been this spring (and all the bad reviews from scouts), and guess that he'll be better.


 If you're going to have a rookie manager with absolutely no experience, you'd better have a dependable bullpen. So what did the White Sox do after hiring Ventura? They traded away their closer, Sergio Santos. Now they're counting on Matt Thornton or Jesse Crain or young Addison Reed. Perhaps it will work. But what if it doesn't?

 Are they rebuilding, or not? "We've been rebuilding for 12 years," Williams said. Yes, but he began the winter saying that he wanted to rebuild now. He ended up trading Santos and Carlos Quentin, but (for now) Gavin Floyd and John Danks are still here. Credit Williams for understanding that the White Sox need to improve their talent base if they're going to win another World Series, but now he needs to find a way to get that talent.

 I've heard all the positive reviews for Mark Parent, who Ventura insisted on as his bench coach. Williams insists that Parent and third-base coach Joe McEwing will be major-league managers someday themselves. But I've always believed that a first-time manager should have a veteran bench coach, and I still believe it.

 What if Dunn isn't any better? What if Alex Rios isn't any better? What if Peavy really isn't the same guy he once was, even if healthy? There are ways you can see this falling apart, and falling apart badly. For Ventura's sake, I hope it doesn't.


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