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Brent Morel Wins Chicago White Sox 3rd-Base Job: Was He the Right Choice?

Another week and yet another question answered for the Chicago White Sox.

This answer, however, was not too shocking.

Mark Teahen has done his best to lose his position at third base, batting .258 with a .327 OBP, four home runs and 25 RBI in 233 at-bats last season. Throw in the fact he had 10 errors and a minus-5 Rtot (the number of runs above or below average a fielder is worth) in 411 innings at the hot corner last season, and Teahen has himself given some valid evidence to be a utility player for the rest of his career.

Teahen’s only true worth is that he can play, granted not very well, first, second, third and the outfield. Otherwise, he isn’t worth much.

Well, according to GM Kenny Williams he is worth $3.75 million in 2010, $4.75 million in 2011 and $5.50 million in 2012, but that’s a whole different rant.

Teahen isn’t the first Kansas City Royal to fool Williams, nor will he be the last.

Skipper Ozzie Guillen plans to use the left-handed Teahen against tough right-handed pitching he feels Morel isn’t ready for yet. Then again, Teahen is 30, and he probably isn’t any more ready to face tough right-handed pitching than Morel.

Which brings us to Brent Morel. Anything was a welcome sight at third base for the White Sox last year thanks to Teahen, so Morel didn’t have much to lose.

In 21 games he batted just .231 with an OBP of .271, but six of his 15 hits were extra-base hits, including three home runs. In a little more than a quarter of the at-bats Teahen was given, Morel had one less home run.

Generally, all hitters will struggle with plate discipline when they start, but the good ones show when they can line up a pitch, they can send it a long way. The pop was a good sign for the soon-to-be 24-year-old, who is batting .286 this spring.

Doesn’t hurt that Morel stole two bases and wasn’t caught. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but it’s a possibility for him to shock teams with a steal.

Now people, including the White Sox, are going to glorify his glove. Once again, I think it’s a matter of just watching Teahen and thinking anything at third base is better.

Morel had one error in 164 innings at third to go along with a 0 Rtot and a 2.03 range factor per nine innings. In comparison, Teahen had a 2.50 range factor per nine and the Gold Glove winner for the American League, Evan Longoria, had a 15 Rtot and a 2.73 range factor per nine.

Basically, Morel is mediocre. But the “not sure” factor is that he is only going to be 24 this season, as opposed to Teahen turning 30 in September, and he doesn’t have enough innings logged to make a fair assessment

So what the hell, right?

Last time the White Sox built a massive lineup and asked a young prospect to focus on defense and perhaps learn to hit a tad was…Brian…Anderson.

Uh oh.

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Chicago White Sox: Questions That Need Answering in Spring Training

Another season of Major League Baseball is upon us and the Chicago White Sox, like every team, have some explaining to do.

Well, not quite yet, but one would hope by the end of spring training the correct answers will be obvious.

Although, some times even the obvious answers go unnoticed. See Mark Kotsay.

In 2011, the White Sox have most spots worked out by now, which is always a plus. The less manager Ozzie Guillen has to experiment with, the better.

There are no questions like what is Kenny Williams’ obsession with getting former All-Stars 10 years too late or who will be worse at DH or who the hell is Sergio Santos like last season.

On the south side, things seem to have mostly fallen in place, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t decisions to be made.

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MLB Rumors: Chicago White Sox May Not Be Done Spending

The Chicago White Sox, at this point, is like the friend begging for a slice of a pizza he did not pay for. Basically, they are out of money or over budget or in need of a bailout or some kind of term involving spending too much or not having enough money.

Then again, everyone thought that was the case before the Sox signed middle reliever Jesse Crain to a three-year, $13 million deal.

OK, after that deal the Sox are officially done, right? The team is already near a franchise-record payroll, sitting close to $120 million with $121 million in 2008 being the record.

Rumors have begun to surface that the Sox may still be in the hunt for free agent closer Rafael Soriano, who is rumored to enjoy the idea of playing for Ozzie Guillen.

Sidenote: Sox fans seem to forget, although Guillen brings a lot of extra baggage (his son, Oney, puts the “twit” in Twitter) with his antics, a lot of players seem to be enticed to come to the team to play for him.

Although some abnormally large players, who shall remain nameless, seem to enjoy leaving on a ridiculous note, complaining about having to compete for a role they were terrible in the year before. We’ll call this player Bobby J. No, better yet, let’s call him B. Jenks.

But back to business, rather than talking about two people who are not even part of the Sox organization arguing back and forth in the manliest of fashions, via a microphone and a Twitter account.

The Sox would certainly go over the team’s record payroll, if they were to sign Soriano. Soriano made $7.25 million last year and even though the market for the 31-year-old closer has been quiet, one has to think Soriano is looking for a multi-year deal.

After 45 saves, a 1.73 ERA, 57 strikeouts in 62.1 innings last season with the Tampa Bay Rays and 27 saves, a 2.97 ERA, and 102 strikeouts in 75.2 innings with the Atlanta Braves in 2009, wouldn’t you?

If the Sox did want to swoop in and steal Soriano from the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels and the Baltimore Orioles, they should do so quickly. As soon as Brian Fuentes gets his multi-year deal, worth probably five million per year, Soriano’s demand will skyrocket. After all, Soriano had a better season last year than Fuentes and he is the only Type A closer on the market.

Soriano would most likely step right into the closer role for the Sox with Matt Thornton, Sergio Santos and Crain filling out the bullpen, leaving the option of moving Chris Sale to the fifth starter spot if Jake Peavy’s return takes longer than expected.

But there’s no way the Sox can afford Soriano…can they?

Like the friend who doesn’t order anything and waits for the scraps, the Sox could be asking the American League East, “Are you finished with that?”

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White Sox Sign Jesse Crain: Will He Be the Closer in Chicago?

According to MLB sources, the White Sox have agreed to a three-year deal with 29-year-old right-hander Jesse Crain.

Crain sported a 3.04 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, walking 27 and striking out 62 in 68 innings of setup duty for division rival Minnesota Twins last season.

In each of his last four seasons, Crain has increased the velocity of his fastball going from 93.9 miles per hour in 2007 to 94.1 in 2008, 94.3 in 2009 and a career-high of 94.8 in 2010.

Crain brings a career 3.42 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 382 career innings, walking 141 and striking out 264 as a reliever.

With the White Sox losing J.J. Putz, trading Scott Linebrink and essentially cutting Bobby Jenks loose, the question around the team—after the signing of Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski—was who would be in this team’s bullpen.

With Chris Sale, Matt Thornton and Sergio Santos already in place with Tony Pena taking the long innings, Crain should step in fine with this team, subbing in as another right-handed setup man.

The real question is who will be the closer of this team if the White Sox make no more moves?

We look toward Jake Peavy for that answer. Whether or not whispers of Sale starting the season in the starting rotation will depend on if or how long Peavy will be out.

If Peavy is out, Sale could be in the starting rotation, which moves everyone up in the pen, bringing Thornton to the closer role and Santos and Crain to the eighth inning—something Crain has more experience in than Santos.

However, the bullpen of the White Sox collapsed last season with the injury to Jenks and each bullpen pitcher essentially moving up an inning and handing the closer role to Thornton.

So perhaps changing the roles is not the smartest thing to do. If Peavy is out a short amount of time, Pena could be asked to make a couple of spot starts, leaving the closer role to Sale and leaving Thornton, Crain and Santos in their respective positions.

If Peavy is not out at all, all of this is erroneous.

With Crain, however, the White Sox have sured up a solid-looking bullpen. Who will be at the end of that bullpen is yet to be answered.

Good news for White Sox fans is the White Sox have options. Bad news is it will take some experimenting to find the right answer.

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MLB: So, How Are the Boston Red Sox That Much Different From The Evil Empire?

It begins already.

As soon as the Boston Red Sox signed Carl Crawford to an absurd seven-year, $142 million contract, ESPN delegated the team as a “bunch of grinders.”

Grinders don’t make $142 million.

Grinders don’t make $68 million like Josh Beckett or $82.5 million like John Lackey, $70 million like J.D. Drew, $62.5 million like David Ortiz, $41.1 million like Kevin Youkilis, $52 million like Daisuke Matsuzaka or $40.5 million like Dustin Pedroia.

A team of grinders is not worth $165 million.

Stop trying to paint the Red Sox as some sort of winning with a small market team like the Tampa Bay Rays, the Minnesota Twins or the Oakland Athletics, so that fans of the other 29 teams won’t hate them as much.

They are not.

Granted, I will give Theo Epstein the benefit that he spends money on the right players with a mixture of home-grown players and trades for prospects far more than the New York Yankees, who simply overpay the biggest name on free agency, no matter who it is or what their history.

Or in this year’s case, the Yankees overpay old way past their prime guys rather than focus on what’s good for the team.

Although, some times the best name on free agency fits that description, so it wouldn’t be the first time the Yankees have done that.

Epstein is arguably the best GM in baseball, but don’t act as though he has nothing to work with. He is basically Billy Beane with $100 million more.

Since 1999, the Red Sox have been in the top five in payroll every year except 2003 when the team was sixth, including second-place finishes in 2001, 2002, 2004 (yes, that team of “grinder idiots” got paid), 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and soon to be 2011.

So please, don’t paint this it’s us against the world picture or that rooting for the Red Sox is like cheering for the middle class.

Red Sox, you are just as bad as the New York Yankees, but just a tad smarter. Although, looking at those contracts for Lackey and Dice-K may say different.

And no, this isn’t “Red Sox hate”, but rather a plea to stop trying to get other fans to root for the Red Sox and hate the Yankees, when they both have a monopoly over baseball.

Here’s to an Oakland Athletics versus Pittsburgh Pirates World Series for those of whom want to cheer for the real little guy.

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Paul Konerko Re-Signs With Chicago White Sox: O Captain! Their Captain!

The Chicago White Sox have agreed to a deal for Paul Konerko for three years and $37.5 million. Konerko will receive $12 million in the first two years, $6 million in the third year and seven years deferred at $1 million each.

Negotiations were said to be at a “standstill” Tuesday, but apparently that didn’t last long as movement toward an agreement came at around midnight central standard time.

GM Kenny Williams made no secret that after signing Adam Dunn, Konerko was the team’s main priority. Dunn and and catcher A.J. Pierzynski even back-loaded their contracts, so the team could have a better chance at getting Konerko. 

Make no doubt about it, however, Konerko and Pierzynski most likely would have been gone if not for the acquisition of Dunn and the chance of winning mixed with the fact the White Sox were willing to spend this offseason.

Most importantly, Sox fans can breathe a sigh of relief with hopes that newly-acquired free agent Dunn can now leave his gloves at home, as he should not be needed for the field now that Konerko has been signed.

After hitting .312 with 39 home runs and 111 RBI, Konerko could have sought more money on the market, but most likely not with a chance to win and meaning a move for he and his family. He was linked to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs with a hint of the Texas Rangers.

With the Yankees going after Cliff Lee, the Red Sox getting Adrian Gonzalez, the Tigers getting Victor Martinez and the National League staying away from first base/DH types, Konerko and Dunn basically fell into the White Sox laps.

Once the White Sox were able to sign Dunn, Konerko and Pierzynski followed and the White Sox are looking like division contenders.

Williams may not be finished, as the team could use some bullpen help. Stay tuned.

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Chicago White Sox: Pierzynski and Dunn and Konerko, Oh My!

What a difference a day can make for a baseball team during the offseason.

The Chicago White Sox went from watching the reigning American League Central champ Minnesota Twins earn a right to talk to the “next Ichiro,” to the Detroit Tigers signing Victor Martinez to bat behind Miguel Cabrera, to arguably becoming the best team in the division with one swoop of signings.

Two days ago, the White Sox were a team with no catcher, no first baseman, no DH and a lineup that would feature Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin in the middle power positions.

With an awful defense, the White Sox were going to ask a whole lot from the team’s pitching staff to simply compete.

It looked as though the White Sox would be drowning at the bottom with the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals rather than swimming to the top with the Tigers and Twins.

After parting ways with closer Bobby Jenks, the White Sox signed Adam Dunn to a four-year, $56 million deal, adding a left-handed power bat to the lineup.

We’ve seen the numbers. His worst on-base percentage of his career in a full season was last season at .356. He’s the only guy in baseball who has hit 38 home runs or more in the last seven seasons. He takes pitches, hits bombs, walks and strikes out a lot.

Dunn is entering a hitter’s ballpark, but changing from the National League to the American League, which generally is not good for any player. However, in interleague play, Dunn hit .247 with 36 home runs and an OBP of .362 in 478 bats in 134 games. Switching leagues shouldn’t be a huge problem.

What was the problem for White Sox fans was whether or not Dunn’s glove would be anywhere near the field.

Well, as soon as Dunn was signed, the return of Paul Konerko rumors began. GM Kenny Williams has stated that the White Sox have the resources to bring back Konerko.

Latest MLB rumors had Konerko being eyed by the Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago Cubs. The Diamondbacks, however, recently withdrew from Konerko.

News out of Konerko camp was that the Orioles offered Konerko a significant deal, however, having Dunn batting behind you with the team you’ve played for for the last 12 seasons could be hard to pass up, especially in favor of the lowly Orioles.

The grape vine passed a note to this girl in class who whispered to my best friend that Konerko could sign with the White Sox today (Friday).

Rumors aside, the White Sox may have to wait until the winter meetings to go after Konerko, as he is logically going to test the waters.

Rumors moved from aside to in front of us, if the White Sox bring him back, Konerko would sure up keeping a glove away from Dunn, which is huge for the White Sox defensively.

Williams has said the White Sox are going “all in” this season, which seems to mean they are going to spend more than expected. One would think, Konerko, being 34, will not leave unless it is for a contender and with the Yankees going after Cliff Lee, the Red Sox having David Ortiz and the Angels and Rays showing no interest, his best option seems to be Chicago for a little less money.

Then again, athletes tend to surprise everyone, which makes following them such a joy. 

Which leads us to the final question among White Sox faithful. Who is going to be catching for this team?

Well, that was also answered late last night, as the White Sox re-signed A.J. Pierzysnki to a two-year, $8 million deal.

Although he can’t always hit nor can he throw out batters, the man can call a game behind the plate and has worked with the entire White Sox pitching staff, which is a tough thing to replace.

A lineup of:

Juan Pierre
Gordon Beckham
Alex Rios (perhaps Dunn)
Paul Konerko
Adam Dunn (perhaps Rios)
Carlos Quentin
Alexei Ramirez
A.J. Pierzynski
Mark Teahen

with a starting staff of:

Mark Buehrle
Jake Peavy (Chris Sale if Peavy is out)
John Danks
Gavin Floyd
Edwin Jackson

doesn’t look too shabby.

But, and there has been this but for most of the decade for White Sox fans, is this team good enough to beat the Minnesota Twins?

Unfortunately, that question will have to wait.

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MLB Buyer Beware: Adrian Beltre Is the Epitome of the Contract Year Theory

It’s funny how an athlete seems to do his job to the best of his ability when there are question marks surrounding his future payment. Although, you can’t really blame them because we are all guilty of doing it.

If you were given four years of guaranteed money, would you find yourself working harder than you did the previous year to get that money, or just enough to not get fired?

I bet during that fourth year, right before your evaluation, your work would suddenly bumped up on your priority list.

The point being, we aren’t judging athletes for suddenly “breaking out” when money is involved, but simply informing them that we notice.

We notice in the way we draft them in fantasy sports or how we judge how much our favorite team should pay them, but for some reason there is always some franchise out there who seems to ignore the trend and signs an inconsistent player to a long-term deal based only on the previous season. 

Adrian Beltre will be that player this season. No one epitomizes the contract year player like him.

Organizations need to use a player’s history as a resume rather than solely looking at just the previous season before handing them over a huge contract.

If not, you end up with a Milton Bradley scenario in Chicago, basing an entire contract on one season instead of saying to yourself, “If I give a crazy, injury-prone athlete more money, I wonder what he’ll do?”

A Javier Vazquez scenario in New York this season is another example of looking at one year rather than a player’s career.

Or the Derek Lowe scenario, where you give a player money based on a playoff performance rather than a career. See Jeff Suppan as well. 

Or you end up giving a player a contract that is impossible to live up to like Carlos Beltran or Alex Rodriguez.

And, of course, there’s always the New York Yankee/Chicago Cub genius general management move, where you simply give a guy a whole lot of money for no reason, seen in Chien-Ming Wang and Kosuke Fukudome.

These are the dangers of free agency, which ironically continue to be tested by the same “let’s win via free agency” franchises, making it so much more enjoyable to laugh at them when they fail to win by overpaying everyone.

Although it is tempting to grab a guy who was an MVP candidate the previous year and say, “Maybe he’s finally gotten his act together,” an organization should really look at the career as a whole rather than just one speck of it. Players don’t suddenly break out when they are 30 unless a paycheck is on the horizon.

But enough lecturing and back to Adrian Beltre.

All you have to do is look at the history.

1999 – .275 BA, .352 OBP, 15 HR, 67 RBI, 84 R
2000 – .290 BA, .360 OBP, 20 HR, 85 RBI, 71 R
2001 – .265 BA, .310 OBP, 13 HR, 60 RBI, 59 R
2002 – .257 BA, .303 OBP, 21 HR, 75 RBI, 70 R
2003 – .240 BA, .290 OBP, 23 HR, 80 RBI, 50 R

And here comes the contract year.

2004 – .334 BA, .388 OBP, 48 HR, 121 RBI, 104 R.

Okay, we can give Beltre the benefit of the doubt since he had just turned 25 years old and perhaps finally grasped the game. Seattle gave him a five-year, $64 million contract.

And we’re back.

2005 – .255 BA, .303 OBP, 19 HR, 87 RBI, 69 R
2006 – .268 BA, .328 OBP, 25 HR, 89 RBI, 88 R
2007 – .276 BA, .319 OBP, 26 HR, 99 RBI, 87 R
2008 – .266 BA, .327 OBP, 25 HR, 77 RBI, 74 R
2009 – .265 BA, .304 OBP, 8 HR, 44 RBI, 54 R (111 games)

With a stroke of genius, Boston signs Beltre to a one-year deal for $9 million, knowing a contract year is on the horizon.

And here comes the contract year.

2010 – .321 BA, .365 OBP, 28 HR, 102 RBI, 84 R.

So, here we are again.

Beltre is 31 and coming off an incredible season. He is a free agent.

The smart thing to do would be for teams to continue swapping Beltre around with one-year contracts, using and abusing his contract year explosions in search for a long-term contract.

But we all know, one of those “let’s win via free agency” genius teams out there will give him a long-term contract this season that he won’t live up to.

Here’s hoping it isn’t one of your teams.

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Derek Jeter Wins Yet Another Undeserved Gold Glove

Why is this so difficult?

Stop giving awards to players based on erroneous, misguided notions.

Is it so hard to be logical? To not look at ESPN’s web gems, but rather use your own judgment based on fact?

No one cares who you believe to be a “winner” or “leader” or a “grinder” or who ESPN casts as their hero in their sports theater.

No one cares about Derek Jeter‘s patented jump throw or some play from 2001 when the terrible, but also roided Giambi was in fact safe/should have slid. In fact, Jeter has to jump and throw because he doesn’t have the arm to stop and throw.

Is Jeter the only option under shortstops when it comes to Gold Glove ballots because he has won at least four more than he should have?

Of the nine American League players that started more than 125 innings at shortstop this season, Jeter was eighth in range factor and seventh in putouts. He had the sixth worst UZR at -4.7 in all of baseball. He had the worst RngR, which determines how a player gets to a ball in his vicinity, in all of baseball at -11.8.

Essentially, Jeter can’t get to any ball that any starting or replacement shortstop in baseball can’t get to and hurts a team by playing shortstop and yet, he was just claimed to be the best shortstop in the American League.

Give players who have played a long time some kind of plaque, but stop handing All-Star spots, Gold Gloves, MVPs and Cy Young awards to players based on a career. All of these things measure the best for a season, not a career. 

Did Ken Griffey Jr. get Gold Gloves out of respect? Did Greg Maddux get Cy Young awards out of respect? No, but we are supposed to give Jeter Gold Gloves, and guys like David Ortiz and Tim Wakefield All-Star spots out of “respect”?

If Jeter were wearing an Oakland Athletics jersey would this ever happen?

We’ll see how much “respect” the Yankees organization gives Jeter when they move him to left field next season or don’t bring him back at all to sign Cliff Lee.

So, please, either take your job seriously or don’t vote.

I know, ESPN continually reminds you that everything on the East Coast is more important and better, but try to think for yourselves. Jeter is not the “captain” for 29 of the 30 teams in baseball.

And if you are going to continually be wrong about awards, at least give the real winners some kind of certificate to Arby’s or something.

Alexei Ramirez, we apologize for not watching any of the games you played in because ESPN doesn’t recognize two-thirds of the country, but we offer you $25 dollars off your next Arby’s purchase.

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Chicago White Sox’s Tough Sell: Chris Sale Should Stay in Chicago Bullpen

With the dust barely having settled on the 2010 MLB season, arguably the Chicago White Sox biggest X-factor for 2011 could already be declared in the form of pitcher Chris Sale.

Or rather the decision on what to do with Sale.

With Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Edwin Jackson and Jake Peavy penciled in as starters for the White Sox, one has to wonder what the role of the No. 13 pick in the 2010 draft will be for 2011.

The plan was always to make Sale a starter, but even after a strong showing in his 23.1 MLB innings out of the bullpen, the depth of the White Sox starting staff could make it impossible for Sale to become a starter, pending the penciled staff’s health.

The question now is whether or not Sale should even be a spot starter.

Would moving Sale in and out of the bullpen bring negative effects to the Florida Gulf Coast University standout, where, in his final season, Sale struck out more than 36 percent of the batters he faced in 103 innings? 

It’s a decision that could change an entire player’s career and where the White Sox finish in 2011.

After 10.1 innings pitched in the minors, Sale was called up to the big leagues, making him the first player from the 2010 draft to get to the big leagues.

From there Sale pitched 23.1 innings, giving up five earned runs on 15 hits and 10 walks, while striking out 32 and saving four games thanks to a high 90s fastball and a devastating changeup mixed in with a hard-breaking slider.

The 21-year-old left-hander was supposed to serve as an insurance policy if Peavy were not ready to return from surgery to repair a detached latissimus dorsi muscle in his right shoulder come April 2011. Pitching coach Don Cooper, however, has openly stated he feels moving Sale back and forth between the bullpen and the starting staff would be a mistake.

Cooper feels Sale will be a starter one day, but does not feel he should step in when the 2011 season begins if Peavy is not ready to go.

GM Kenny Williams, however, has stated if Sale happens to be in the starting rotation in April, the White Sox could go with a six-man rotation when Peavy returns, pending the health of the staff. A six-man rotation would make things easier on the young arm of Sale and the fragile arm of Peavy, but it would cost the White Sox a bullpen spot.

Another option would be starting long reliever Tony Pena until Peavy returns, but Pena is arbitration-eligible, so the front office will have to decide if they would like to increase Pena’s salary. Pena made $1.2 million in 2010, sporting a 5.10 ERA in 100.2 innings pitched for the White Sox.

On the other side of all of this is if the White Sox did want to trade Floyd, Jackson or Danks for a missing piece, Sale would be an option to step into the starter’s role.

Everything is based around the health of Peavy. Peavy’s recovery is reportedly going smoothly, but Cooper has stated he does not feel Peavy will be ready and it may not be the smartest move to rush him.

So the question remains as to who will fill Peavy’s spot in the starting rotation, while he is out and if it does happen to be Sale, will he remain in the rotation, essentially splitting the fifth spot with Peavy.

It’s November and the decisions are already piling up.

There is no offseason in sports.

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