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Guillen, Williams feeling better about 2010 Sox
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen responds to a question during a news conference at the baseball winter meetings in Indianapolis on Monday.


Associated Press

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Published: 12/7/2009 6:53 PM

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INDIANAPOLIS - Neither White Sox general manager Kenny Williams nor field boss Ozzie Guillen would bite Monday when asked if their team was the best "on paper" in the American League Central.

"On paper, I've got the best five starters," said Guillen during a session with reporters on the first full day of the winter meetings. "That's it. But the best team? I don't know. We are a pretty good team."

Williams was more cautious.

"I don't know," Williams said. "The one thing I know for sure is that whenever you start talking about the teams on paper, you start talking about something you just don't know much about. I'm staying away from it.

"I know how I feel about it internally, how we match up. I've felt for a lot of years over the last 10 years that we were the best team on paper, and it didn't work out that way."

That's not to say the Sox' brass doesn't like the way its team looks so far this off-season.

In fact, Guillen said he feels a whole lot better about the White Sox now than he did at the winter meetings last December.

"All five starters are pretty solid," Guillen said, noting that Freddy Garcia is the fifth starter for now. "If something happens to one of those guys, we've got a couple of backups we never had. I think our minor-league system has done a tremendous job to move those guys quick in the system.

"I feel more comfortable now. Last year, I was wondering about my fourth and fifth starter. I didn't know who was going to be the middle reliever. Now, I have a pretty good idea where we are."

Guillen did not shy away, though, from pointing out two players who need to have good years.

"There are two guys who are going to be very important to this ballclub next year, very important: Carlos Quentin and (Alex) Rios," Guillen said of the two outfielders. "If these two guys play the way they should be playing, I think we've got a good offense."

As far as where they play, Guillen said Quentin likely would move from left field to right, his "natural position," as Guillen called it, and that Rios would play center.

The Sox are still waiting to see if they can re-sign free-agent left fielder Scott Podsednik. Guillen cited Mark Kotsay and Andruw Jones as possible outfield options, as well as prospect Jordan Danks, whose defense already has earned rave reviews.

"We'll wait to see if we sign Pod," Guillen said. "We've got Andruw Jones. He told me he wants to play every day. I said, 'You will play every day if you hit.' I don't see any manager bench people when they are hitting. If you hit, you're playing. Ten years ago, Andruw Jones was the best center fielder on earth."

Guillen added that he liked what he saw in the World Series from the Yankees' Hideki Matsui, who is a free agent, and that the Sox might have room. However, Guillen cited the need for Matsui to play defense, as well.

Speaking of defense, Guillen said that was the area the Sox needed to improve on most.

"Last year, we were very, very, very bad defensively," he said. "Very bad. And I always preach pitching and defense win baseball games. It gives you a better chance. When you've got good defense, your pitching staff is going to be better. Last year, our pitching staff was good, but our defense didn't help them to be better. It was very, very bad."