White Sox notebook: Who will be at third base in '08?
When the White Sox sit down during the offseason and discuss what to do at third base, they’d better get comfortable, because it’s likely to be a long conversation.
First, they have to decide whether to offer arbitration to Joe Crede, who missed much of this season after undergoing back surgery.
Considering general manager Ken Williams wants to put a renewed emphasis on defense, it sounds as if the South Siders are prepared to bring back the Gold Glove-caliber third baseman for one more season.
That would mean Josh Fields, who played well in Crede’s place and finished strong with a two-run homer Sunday, would not be manning the hot corner next year.
“When we say ‘defense,’ there is no better defensive third baseman around than Joe Crede …” Williams said.
“What will affect that (decision between Fields and Crede) probably the most is what we are able to do around the team and whether economics will come into play where we have to be creative with the dollars.
“That is going to be a decision that we have to push back, push off for a couple of months, along with some others.”
If Fields isn’t playing third next year, many expect him to be playing left.
Well, maybe not.
“As we assess that situation, that may be something where he’s not going to have to go to Instructional League to play left field,” Williams said. “That Josh needs a break, that his legs are bothering him, that he’s a little tired with his lower half. He needs a break. ...
“So we have to, we’re going to continue to look at all possibilities, but you could very well see him out there in spring training and the makeup of the rest of the team might be different. I don’t know yet.”
Back on track?
Before Jose Contreras allowed five runs in 6 1/3 innings Sunday, Williams expressed renewed faith that the right-hander has bounced back and will return to ace-like form next year.
“He’s a horse, and to a large degree, a lot of his problems were tipping (his pitches) and letting the hitters know what was coming,” Williams said.
“It took us a while to get that understood and corrected. It also took him a while to get back to an arm slot that is more conducive to getting outs and having better command. So, yeah, I believe Jose Contreras is going to have one heck of a year next year.”
If you win it, they will come. The Sox found that out after the 2005 World Series.
But if you lose, will they still come?
“We have gotten great support from our fans for a number of years, and we’ve set franchise records. If that continues, obviously, we’ll have more resources to work with because the standard policy remains that whatever we take in goes back out the door in terms of improving our club. That is not going to change,” Williams said.
“What will change, what we don’t know, how will our fan base react? Will they continue to have faith in us? I hope they do, because we are going to go out and do what we always have done and try to make this thing happen.”
Sunday’s crowd of 33,154 brought the Sox’s home attendance for the season to 2.68 million, the third highest in club history. After the game, Sox players and coaches rewarded the fans by throwing balled-up T-shirts into the stands.
After his first-inning single, the Sox pulled Jim Thome so he could get a standing ovation from the crowd at U.S. Cellular Field. He tipped his cap before heading into the dugout.