1. As we press on through month 71 of the most inexplicable MLB offseason of our lives, the White Sox have a glaring need for an outfielder/designated hitter addition, have been reduced to one clear superior remaining free agent option for almost a week, and...nothing.
670 AM's Bruce Levine depicts a market for Dexter Fowler that has predictably cratered--since we're three weeks from Spring Training after all--and could easily see him signed on a deal primarily designed around putting him back on the market amid a weaker free agent crop. Frankly, despite the importance of a late-round pick being consistently oversold when discussing major free agent acquisitions, surrendering the 28th pick just to have Fowler be a one-year stopgap isn't nearly as appealing. If the front office doesn't think he's a three-year solution, someone who can hold down center or a corner through 2018 while a major outfield prospect develops, then I disagree, but I see why we're in the lull we're in with the Sox "monitoring Fowler's market", and why Levine thinks the Cubs--who don't have a draft pick in hand that they would lose--are as likely as anyone to pull Fowler back in.
Radio silence for the White Sox doesn't mean much, and without the Fowler market showing much life, they're free to babysit him while exploring trade options, but there's a definite element of "if they really liked him, they wouldn't take this long."
2. There's plenty of motivation, though, as Dan Hayes followed up with Dan Szymborski and FanGraphs' Eno Sarris about the Sox bullish ZiPS projections and got some eye-opening quotes. Szymborski in particular called the Sox "probably the best team in the division," if they had perfect health, and Sarris pointed out the margin of error on their 84-85 win projection means 90 wins is a perfectly reasonable result.
Szymborski picking apart Kansas City and Detroit, in particular, is something to behold.
The thesis here is still not that the Sox are a finished product, but too close to being playoff favorites for their to be any point to not pushing on further.
3. It's sometimes good to see that national guys find the Colorado Rockies as mystifying as I do. The subtext of Ken Rosenthal's piece on the difficulty to determine their plan is that their currently nonsensical hoarding of four left-handed outfielders, all of whom sport distinct platoon split, is gumming up the outfield trade market.
The Rockies could be forgiven for being frozen on even touching the Jose Reyes situation until the legal system and the MLB league office are done with him, but they nonetheless have a roster nowhere near good enough to compete and nowhere near approaching an effective teardown and rebuild. The league shouldn't be a complete split of championship contenders and intentional losers, but the Rockies lack a direction, though at this point, they've maintained their sights on "nowhere in particular" long enough that it could actually be considered their direction.
4. The White Sox announced their Spring Training broadcast schedule, which begins in earnest on Mar. 3 with the first webcast and radio broadcast.
Apparently Russ Langer has been doing the webcast play-by-play for four years now and I should really remember him by now, but also of note is that Brian Anderson will be providing color commentary after some promising showings while filling in last season. Anderson is apparently still looking for steady broadcast work. Maybe a few more stories about Carlos Quentin being a psychopath will get him more attention.
New play-by-play man Jason Benetti will get tested early, as he and Stone will be paired together for all 10 TV broadcasts of Spring Training games, beginning with the Cubs-Sox game on March 12. I say "tested" because good lord Spring Training is so boring and half the game is just org soldiers loping around aimlessly with no names on their back.
5. Tyler Saladino will not be playing in a World Baseball Classic qualifier for the Philippines after all.
The World Baseball Classic proved to be a pretty awesome event in 2013, but still faces the uphill climb in getting participants. Superstars are always going to opt-out and be fickle, since they have tons of obligations, but the timing of qualifiers and tournaments right before Spring Training means guys clinging to roster spots, or trying to solidify starting jobs are hesitant to alter or have an abnormal preseason plan. Saladino would be a star on the Philippines team, but showing up late and then having Carlos Sanchez badly outplay him for most of March while he gets his bearings wouldn't be a very great career development.