1. Ken Rosenthal wrote a column before the weekend discussing the free agent market, let's react to the vagaries within:
There is an actual, living and breathing competitor for signing Dexter Fowler identified now in the Baltimore Orioles, who are actually reportedly interested in Fowler, rather than simply being in need of an outfielder during a time when Fowler is the best available. On that alone, I would bet on the Orioles signing Fowler, or at least not the Sox, who have been staring at him indifferently for all of 2016. Perhaps more disqualifying is that the Sox have yet to make a significant, or even multi-year free agent outlay this offseason and it's February so, maybe they're more devoted to the trade market.
Which is...unspeakably frustrating given how many important players in their prime they should try to max out their next two years for, but this is still just a single move away from satisfaction in an offseason that started too far away to hope to have an AL Central competitor standing at the end of it.
2. News of Avisail Garcia changing his batting stance was so naturally eyeroll-inducing, so inherently prone to criticism for offering a facile solution to a deeper failing that it's hard to believe there was no footnote about Gordon Beckham's offseason diet.
But goodness gracious, what else should he be doing? "Avisail Garcia Watched Video of Himself for Three Months Straight and Concluded 'Damn, That's a Good Hitter, Right There,'" would be much more disconcerting headline, since he will be getting MLB at-bats from some organization through the 2016 season and mostly likely the one that plays on 35th St. And hey, Garcia always did seem awkwardly stuffed into his crouch stance at the plate, always pops up chopping down at the ball anyway, so it doesn't even register as a pointless change.
If anything about Garcia's game made him look like he was one adjustment away, he wouldn't get talked about the way he does, but progress for progress' sake is a good start for him.
3. A perhaps, esoterically interesting note in Scott Merkin's rundown of what prospects will start in MLB camp this Spring, is his suggestion that Jace Fry's second Tommy John surgery prevented him from otherwise possibly making his MLB debut in the bullpen to the 2015 team.
Fry's season was over too soon to really know how his stuff looks against higher-level competition, but the one recent oddity of the Sox normally brawny pitching development is an inability to find reliable left-handed relief. The horrible showing of Scott Downs and Eric Surkamp in 2014 was the follow-up to Donnie Veal, and the last days of Matt Thornton in 2013. In response to this, they invested big (especially relative to this offseason) in Zach Duke and traded for Dan Jennings. The results were better, but hardly tremendous, and the Sox would still be better served by having someone they could pay non-free agent prices to make 60 appearances per year.
It's probably not best to bank on Jace "Two Tommy Johns" Fry just yet, but Spring will offer a shot to get a look at Will Lamb, or if journeyman Zach Phillips can make some noise
4. The baseball world cannot stop talking past each other when it comes to tanking. To reference another Rosenthal column--he's a very influential dude--he offers what has become a familiar response of defending the actions of individual teams accused of purposefully bottoming out and trading off most everything of use on their major league team--such as the Brewers, Phillies and Braves--as being the best course of action for those clubs, and part of a smart and promising rebuilding campaign for all three. Perhaps we could debate whether the Braves needed to rebuild if they weren't run by a corporation with even less interest in cost overruns for the sake of winning than other owners (which is saying something), but it would be a debate.
And the wrong debate. These teams are justified, and it's the fact that they are justified that is the problem. The current structure of the league makes it a logical move to strip down, rebuild from the ground up, and in the mean time, provide fans with awful on-field results for three-year periods (if things go to plan). The wave of "smart fans" have recognized this trend and learned to embrace it, but taking joy in trades that clear salary, losing enough to slide into top-10 protected pick status, and looking at every productive veteran as a flippable asset has its limits, and feels like a bastardization of what we become fans for in the first place. That we can look at the National League right now and write off half the teams is not cause to impugn those teams specifically, but question whether this is how we want to live.
I don't know if there's a fix to this issue that's worth the by-product of this solution. The neverending churn of the NFL's constant parity is swung too far to the other side, and we only need to look to the NBA to know that a draft lottery and a salary cap are not effective solutions. There might not be a solution at all, but dismissing the concept of tanking outright too often strays into defense against an accusation that's not being made, and that brings us no closer.
5. What a relief to know that the next ex-White Sox player turned White Sox manager will at least have some experience.
Jokes aside, Carlos Lee was signed and developed by the White Sox organization and was a plus hitter until the very end of his career, so maybe he'd be an interesting guy to talk to.