White Sox 2007 Preview Day Five: The Infield

The four infield spots will remain the same for the White Sox in 2007. That was not always going to be the case. Joe Crede was/is still mentioned in some trade rumors, and his re-signing was one of the biggest off season moves that the Sox made. Juan Uribe spent a good portion of the off season battling legal trouble in his hometown.

First Base: The Sox have this position covered. Paul Konerko will be the regular first baseman for the 2007 season. His backup last year was Ross Gload, but he has now been traded to the Royals. Jim Thome can play first, but with his health issues it would be better to just let him DH. Darin Erstad can play first as well as Toby Hall. Erstad will step into the role that Ross Gload has played the last two years. He will fill in at first when needed, and but play the outfield.

Paul Konerko – Pauly will be the man at first again this season. He played in 152 games last season for the Sox. He is really coming into his own. Should benefit again from Dye batting behind him. Last year hit .313 with 35 home runs, 113 RBI’s, and 177 hits. He is one of the slowest players in the league, but actually stole a base last year. It must have been between innings. He is the master of the stand up double. I love Pauly to death, but he will hit a ball into the corner that would be a double for most people, and when the ball comes back into the infield Pauly will still be on first. His home runs were down last year from 40 and 41 the previous two years. His average though went up from .283 and .277. I will take the numbers he put up last year anytime. His 177 hits led the team. This year all of the seats in the stadium will finally be changed over to green except two of them. One of them remains blue to show where Paul’s grand slam in the 2005 World Series landed. Let’s hope we can get some more blue seats this year.

Jim Thome – Jim came out of the box last year strong. He fell off a little from the quick pace that he set, but still had a great year. He finished the year with 42 home runs and 109 RBI’s. He led the team in runs scored with 108 last year. He also drew a team high 107 walks, but his 147 strikeouts also led the team. He has hit 472 career home runs, and only needs 28 more to hit the magic number of 500. If he can stay healthy this year he should get it. The man he replaced on the team Frank Thomas only needs 13 more for 500.

Second Base: Tadahiti Iguchi is the second baseman for the Sox. He may bat later in the order though. Guillen really wants to bat him 7th so that he is in more RBI situations. Iguchi will play most days, but Rob Mackowiak, Alex Cintron, and Pablo Ozuna can fill in as well. Iguchi is the main option at second though.

Tadahito Iguchi – A decent defensive player with a great bat, Iguchi will bat seventh against right handed pitchers and second against lefties. Tadahito hit .281 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI’s last year. He did score 97 runs with the big guns behind him. This year he will not have the luxery of Pods in front of him and Thome behind him. The players ahead of him in the order are not the threats on the basepaths that Pods is, and A.J. behind him is not the big bat that Thome and Konerko are. He will not see the quality of pitches that he has seen in the past two years. Ozzie had the same idea to bat him lower in the order last year, but when nobody could fill his shoes in the two hole he was moved back. Iguchi’s signature game last year was the 7 RBI performance against the Astros on Sunday Night Baseball. What makes it even more special was that the 7 RBI’s were drove in with two at bats in the 8th and 9th innings to tie the game up. He also hit the single that ended the 19 inning game against the Red Sox.

Third Base: Joe Crede will be the opening day third baseman. With all the trade rumors with his name in them I don’t know how much longer that will be for. Josh Fields has been learning the outfield, but his natural position is third. The Sox think that he is ready to be an everyday third baseman, and Crede’s back may be scaring management. Crede has been mentioned a lot in the recent rumors to get Rowand back to Chicago. Crede will start the year as the everyday third baseman. Fields will start the year in Triple A. Pablo Ozuna will be the main backup at third as he was last year, but Cintron can play there as well if needed.

Joe Crede – One could easily make a case for Crede as the MVP of the Sox. He is one of the most clutch players on the team. Despite some back issues he played in 150 games for the Sox last year. In those games he hit .283 with 30 home runs, 94 RBI’s, and 76 runs scored. His bat has finally come around, but his glove has always been there. That is what kept him at third all these years while we waited on his bat. He is a great third baseman that will eventually get noticed for the gold glove. For now his signature moment was his game winning double in the 2005 ALCS in game 2.

Pablo Ozuna – Pablo is a natural infielder that can get by in the outfield. Last year it was an adventure everytime the ball was hit to him in left. I would rather see him get his playing time in the infield this year. He played in 79 games last year. He was the choice most of the year for a pinch runner when the situation called for it. He even beat out the throw on a squeeze bunt with two outs to win a game against the A’s in the 10th. Very quick and smart on the bases.

Shortstop: Juan Uribe looks to be the opening day shortstop even though he faced some charges back home in the off season. Alex Cintron could start on a lot of teams, but will back up Uribe this year.

Juan Uribe – If the pitcher is throwing it, then chances are that Uribe will swing at it. He had a run in with the law back home, and may have to leave the team in July if they can trump up enough charges on him by then. He will be missed in the field. He has above average range, and a rocket arm. He got off to a very slow start last year, but finished the season with a .235 average, 21 home runs, and 71 RBI’s. He also tied Paul Konerko with one stolen base. Even when he was in the slump at the beginning of the year he still got some key hits. He is a fun player to watch at a game.

Alex Cintron – A very good backup option for the Sox. In only 91 games last year he hit .285 with 5 home runs, and 41 RBI’s. He also had 10 stolen bases. A lot of those 91 games were appearances off of the bench. He got some clutch hits, and helped the Sox in the late innings. He is a very capable replacement at shortstop if need be.

Hard to believe, but a week from today I will be at my first Sox game. Hopefully they can get out to an early lead like in 2005. From everything that I have seen the matchup will be Javier Vazquez v. Sidney Ponson. Last year I saw the Twins early in the year and was happy to see us going against Silva. For some reason I am happy to see Ponson come up. Hopefully I can distract him with my hot dog.


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