Quentin vs. Twins

Carlos Quentin is congratulated in the dugout after hitting a 3-run homer in the second inning against the Twins at U.S. Cellular Field. (Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune / August 10, 2010)

What's your take on Dayan Viciedo's future with the organization in light of the Adam Dunn/Paul Konerko signings? No real opportunity for Dayan to get significant playing time at 1B or designated hitter now or in the foreseeable future. He doesn't really impress as a third baseman, where I think Morel will claim the job. Is there a chance Viciedo can play a passable outfielder, or is he now just trade bait? Given his age, wouldn't it be awfully risky (even for Kenny Williams) to trade him if he really has the ability to become a 25+ HR guy? -- Michael; Cape Elizabeth, Maine

I think it would be a terrific idea to move him to the outfield. After he signed a four-year, $10 million contract before the 2009 season, there was talk that he could be used in right field (made sense after the Sox flirted with trading Jermaine Dye to Cincinnati for Homer Bailey -- although Viciedo had more experience at third base).

Viciedo has a strong arm and moves well for his size. The Sox don't have much young outfield depth. Stefan Gartrell led the minor league system with 27 home runs last year at Triple-A Charlotte, but he turned 27 last Friday and his name isn't raised by opposing scouts.

Viciedo is only 21. I know there are legitimate questions about his plate discipline (two walks in 104 at-bats), but developing or finding power at a young age is very difficult to possess. Dayan has worked hard since his first spring training and has kept his weight at a playable level. He should get a chance to finally turn the corner soon.

There were unsubstantiated rumors that the Phillies were interested in Carlos Quentin and that the Sox would shop him. What do you think of his value taking fielding, mental make-up and conditioning (and any role for these in his frequent injuries) into account? Would it be feasible for both sides to do some trade involving Quentin, Viciedo (who now is very much blocked on the Sox), Domonic Brown, and maybe others? -- Jeff; San Francisco

Hey, Jeff, keep the weather nice for me. I'm headed out there for the Santa Clara Valley Hot Stove Banquet on Jan. 25.

There used to be a saying in the 1980s that you could be sure of three things -- death, taxes and a Philadelphia scout at each major league game.

I can tell you that the Phillies scout the White Sox as often as any team in the majors. I know that one of their top scouts bought a bleacher seat at U.S. Cellular Field during the Cubs series, just to watch an outfielder. I'm very positive that player in question was Quentin, especially since that scout had a revealing assessment of Quentin's demeanor during his freshman year at Stanford.

Health always will be the big issue with Carlos. We'll just have to accept his internal scrimmages. He admitted he played with some ailments that he kept to himself.

Before the Sox went on their 25-5 run last summer, I thought there was a realistic chance that either J.J. Putz or Bobby Jenks could have been dealt to the Phillies. In the case of Carlos, I think he stays in Chicago, for now. But if Viciedo moves to the outfield and develops quickly, the landscape could change. Look at what San Francisco did with Bengie Molina after Buster Posey tore up Triple-A during the first part of 2010.

I've followed Gordon Beckham the last couple of years and think he has a ton of potential. I was trying to find an update on whether he is still feeling any effects from his wrist injury and whether there is any concern there. Can you shed any light on Beckham's status? -- Eric; New York, NY

Gordon said his hand feels fine after finally breaking some scar tissue. This is an important development.

But just as essential to Gordon's production is keeping his right shoulder strong. He played most of last spring with a sore shoulder, and he vowed to throw more in the off-season to prevent the fatigue and soreness that he suffered and caused many to wonder.

I am a big CWS fan. Noise around closer position is loud, and I see CWS didn't sign Rafael Soriano (Editors note: He went to the Yankees). Who then would be the closer in 2011? -- Glen Bentley; Lancaster, PA

It looks like a closer-by-committee setup, with Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain sharing the duties unless Chris Sale stays in the bullpen. It was essentially a committee for the final four weeks after Bobby Jenks' injury.

If you're wondering why Sale would close over Thornton in the event Sale stays in the bullpen, the reason is that Thornton has reached All-Star status as an eighth-inning pitcher. It would be tough to move him out of a role he has succeeded in.

Sergio Santos has the stuff to close, but he needs to strikes with more efficiency. I still think Sale's future is as a starting pitcher, but this team is built to win now.

I'm not that crazy about a closer by committee setup. I point to the 2003 Boston Red Sox as an example, since they tried Brandon Lyon, Chad Fox, Alan Embree and Mike Timlin before trading for Byung-Hyun Kim two months into the season.

Having written all this, the Sox could make a mid-season trade with a non-contender should they believe they need a permanent closer, as Minnesota did with Matt Capps last summer.