TCS Morning 5: The 2016 White Sox are in Arizona

1. Despite the satisfaction of the final moves to shore up a competitive roster never coming along, the White Sox are looking disturbingly like a team that is actually getting ready for the season. 

Not even pitchers and catchers are due to report until Friday, and Colleen Kane already observed the entire starting rotation in camp, as well as Abreu, Adam Eaton, Alex Avila, Tyler Saladino, Carlos Sanchez, and I think she only stopped getting specific after that out of monotony. Point being, players have been working out for weeks, many of them live not too far from the actual Spring Training facility, and most of the 40-man could fit in Paul Konerko's 16,000-square foot mansion in Scottsdale.

The reporting date is merely a deadline for when to start worrying where the stragglers are, and the strange dissonance of the team, and incumbents like Avisail Garcia and Tyler Saladino prepping for a season while the team considers upgrades has been in place for weeks already.

2. Dexter Fowler still being on the board days after it was reported the Orioles were "expected to sign" him reminds me of the days when the White Sox were expected to sign Alex Gordon or Yoenis Cespedes, but the lack of any momentum toward Fowler for, oh, two months now doesn't inspire even conspiracy theory level confidence.

Just like there are limits to being able to marvel at the Sox ability to develop pitching while their offense lies fallow, this offseason and all of its ingenious maneuvering can only earn so many plaudits while a refusal to spend at any significant level keeps the roster incomplete. Their efforts to overhaul second base and catcher were intriguing, but become curious when they addressed them and left larger needs at right field and designated hitter without help, and possibly created another problem for themselves at short for negligible savings.

Oh well, half the National League is playing for draft positioning this year, so there should be plenty of trade opportunities before Opening Day.*

3. Keith Law's Top Ten White Sox prospects list came out early this week, but I've been letting better people write in my place all week, and it's time to catch up. Beyond the usual suspects--Anderson a top-100 prospect, Fulmer in the back half, or in this case, just out, Spencer Adams, Trey Michalczewski--Law is a big fan of Corey Zangari, the hulking first base prospect that has power and approach but not much else, not even skill at playing first base. The key for him will be making enough contact to be an offensive plus, and then worrying about the rest later. 

Law thinks Michalczewski's swing doesn't allow him to tap into his power much but does see a potential average third baseman -- Law is another voice saying Trey has a really, really good arm. He likes the transformed Jordan Guerrero's starter potential over Tyler Danish, whom he describes as having "a reliever's delivery with a starter's fastball."

It's not until slot No. 8 where the list transitions into relief-only prospects, fourth outfielders and super athletes with no refined baseball skills, so it's important to remember how far the Sox system has come.

4. Also catching up on the week, do read the baseball origin story Tim Anderson wrote of himself for FutureSox. A lot of attention will be paid to Anderson's detailing of how late in life his focus transitioned full-time to baseball, but I was struck by his note that pursuing his dreams could mean "losing friends, or even family."

It's kind of tossed off as an athlete truism, but the absolutism of Anderson's phrasing is striking. He does not talk of just not being to hang out with his friends as much as he wishes, or missing out on family gathering, but having these people full-on fall out of his life. Temporary isolation for work can be frustrating, and build resentment as important events and times of need for loved ones go unattended. Permanent isolation is another prospect entirely.

5. Again, from earlier this week, Northern Illinois is going to play the first football game in U.S. Cellular Field history in November, probably against Toledo. Brooks Boyer joked "We sure hope we're cleaning up confetti and champagne when this game comes around," and like all great jokes, it has a nugget of truth to it, since contractual restrictions on how soon after or before a White Sox game an event can be scheduled is one of the reasons The Cell lies mostly dormant unless the Sox are playing.

Beyond the carnage of unpaid football, this is a positive development for U.S. Cellular Field and the ISFA. The Cell is a state-owned facility and it's supposed to earn money for the state, as the state is paying for it, and doesn't make enough off the top of Sox' motorcade of mediocrity to make the building worthwhile to taxpayers. Unfortunately, even news of how Sox-ISFA relations are improving is peppered with tidbits about the frustrating nature of the whole arrangement.

The Sox, for example, waived a right in their management agreement with the park that had prevented ISFA from pulling in its own revenue from advertising on the park’s video boards.

ISFA will be able to take advantage of that moving forward on the massive new video boards going into the park this offseason, for which the agency is paying $7.2 million.
— Danny Ecker

When allowing the state an avenue to get reimbursed for videoboards they paid to build is a gesture of generosity, you get an idea of how skewed this deal is in terms of serving the White Sox interests above the public.

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