First Base: Paul Konerko (As a FA, he will need to agree to a new contract this off-season). If he isn’t retained, look for a variety of different scenarios to play out, ranging from filling this hole with “in house” players (Mark Teahen, Dayan Viciedo, a return of Mark Kotsay), OR a new FA player (see: interest in Adrian Gonzalez (via trade with SD), Adam Dunn, Prince Fielder, or Carlos Pena)
Second Base: Gordon Beckham (looks like a lock to begin his second full season)
Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez (looks like a lock to begin his third full season at this position)
Third Base: A bit of a mystery today, with Mark Teahen under contrat and seemingly without a position, not sure if he figures in this picture. Omar Vizquel has made his position very clear on wanting to return for another season, after making an unexpected “splash” in value to this team last season. Rookie Brent Morel has briefly shown his potential at the hot corner, with mild success with the bat, and even more with the glove. My hunch is for a platoon between Morel & Vizquel.
Left Field: Juan Pierre (looks to be a lock for his second season as the full-time LF)
Center Field: Alex Rios (looks to be a lock for his second season as the full-time CF)
Right Field: It is unknown to this point IF Andruw Jones will be asked to return to split time in the OF, or additionally in the DH role. Look for he to be an option as either the starting RF if Carlos Quentin is traded, or the 4th OF if CQ is retained to share duties between OF & DH. Also, see: Mark Teahen as the “man without a position” to drift in and out of this picture as a “super sub”/utility man.
Catcher: BIG question mark here, as AJ Pierzynski will soon also become a Free Agent. It is not clear on if AJP will be retained, or whether the club will move forward with a youth experiment of Tyler Flowers. Ramon Castro has a club option to be exercised, which (in either case of Flowers or AJP getting “the nod”) should see him return in a back-up to Pierzynski/ or platoon role with Flowers. Also possible that the club goes a different direction entirely with another FA available in the market, but at this point, unlikely.
Designated Hitter: I shudder to even speculate on this one, with so many possibilities that exist. Full-time? Merry-go-round? Who knows. Let’s just throw out some names…Carlos Quentin? Andruw Jones? Paul Konerko (yes, this is possible, and exciting…) or pick a name from the “big bat list”…
Starting Pitching: Jake Peavy (under contract, but returning from major surgery), Mark Buehrle (under contract, and a lock for one of the spots #1-5), John Danks (under control, and hopefully agreeable to a longer-term deal, but another 1-year deal through Arb is also a large possibility…should be a lock for one of the #1-5), Gavin Floyd (under contract, and today part of the rotation plans, unless dealt in a trade for another piece of the puzzle…should be one of the #1-5, again today that is), Edwin Jackson (under contract, and expected to be a part of the rotation next season #1-5), Chris Sale (expected to be given an opportunity to crack the rotation, after pitching out of the bullpen effectively last season…he is the wildcard in this equation, and possibly the safety net in the event that Peavy cannot return to full health/effectiveness during ST, but at minimum, a valuable arm out of the ‘pen again in 2011), Freddy Garcia (likely will be considered to return as a Free Agent after a very successful 2010 campaign…also may hinge on Peavy’s return, and the future planned use of Chris Sale), Tony Pena (performed admirably as an emergency starter, and his future use is yet also unknown as far as whether he will return via club option, and if will be used out the bullpen as an innings eater in middle relief, or perhaps traded?)
Next time I “rub one out”, I will focus on the Bullpen, and of course…The Bench.