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5 White Sox Horses Fell in the Mud

Esteemed colleague Dan Manella wrote briefly of the Chicago White Sox closer situation a week ago. It seems since to have muddied. After Sunday's 5-2 victory against the Giants, closed out by rookie Hector Santiago, the following quote surfaced (per the Chicago Sun-Times):

“He’s a possibility like all the others because he throws strikes and has all the stuff you like,’’ manager Robin Ventura said after the game. “Matt, Jesse and Addison have the same thing. And Will.’’

That's five candidates for the White Sox closer job. Here's pitching coach Don Cooper, from the same Sun-Times report:

“We’re looking at everybody,’’ Cooper said. “But nothing has been discussed about the finality of it all. Heck, I don’t know what we’re going to do. We haven’t spoken about it. Everybody is gathering information, watching games, watching guys pitch.’’

If Ventura and Cooper are to be believed, the competition, at this point, is wide open. Many have thought that Thornton is the favorite, and he may very well be, but Ventura and Cooper have yet to name him. Is all of this an elaborate smoke screen to obscure the preeminent Thornton? Unlikely. The White Sox don't yet know who will begin 2012 in the ninth, and fantasy owners should draft accordingly. So, dear readers, how best should we speculate?

According to an mlb.com report Monday, the rookies (Addison Reed and Hector Santiago) are legitimate possibilities:

"If we put someone out there in the ninth, a rookie, we believe in them," White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper said. "That's enough for us."

On Sunday, GM Ken Williams said the following about Reed and Santiago (per the Chicago Tribune):

"You see Addison Reed locating his pitches and throwing stuff that's dropping off the table," Williams said. "You see Hector Santiago with guys walking back or seeing the first pitch he throws and saying, 'Holy cow, what was that?' And then he's backing it up with a 95-mph fastball on the (hitter's) hands. You see that.

"You see them locating (their pitches), and that's why I'm not worried about those guys."

Will Ohman doesn't seem like a legitimate candidate. Hector Santiago just entered the mix. Jesse Crain has been hurt. Addison Reed occurred first in the mind of Ken Williams, and he did again in the mind of Don Cooper on Sunday (Chicago Sun-Times):

“Addison, Santiago, Thornton, Crain, those are the guys we’re talking about, right?’’ Cooper said. “And, hey, you know what? Will Ohman got a [two-inning] save [Saturday], so don’t be surprised. Right now, they’re all still going. Ohman just made it a five-horse race.’’

Addison Reed is at the forefront of the GM and pitching coach's consideration. Ventura mentioned Thornton first. In my mind, it isn't a "five-horse race." It's between Reed and Thornton, and the smokescreen is to diffuse outright competition between the two. On March 22nd, Thornton relieved Reed. On the 25th, Reed relieved Thornton. The safer play is Thornton, as the White Sox could hope to move him at the deadline and insert Reed. But Williams won't concede the season, and the White Sox may decide to begin the Reed era in April. Reed, with his insane minor league statistics, is the upside play. Ideally, draft both and monitor the situation for the remainder of spring training.  

UPDATE: Another article yesterday from the Chicago Sun-Times giving Chris Sale's take on the White Sox closer situation. 

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