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As SoxFest looms, these three are keys
By Scot Gregor | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/16/2010 12:01 AM

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The Cubs are in the limelight with their annual fan convention, but SoxFest is coming next weekend, and you can bet general manager Kenny Williams is going to be asked about three key players - closer Bobby Jenks, left fielder Carlos Quentin and starter John Danks.

They are all eligible for salary arbitration, and Quentin and Danks turned down four-year contract extensions last spring.

Will Quentin and Danks get new offers this year? And what about Jenks, who has been the subject of trade rumors for the past six months?

Let's look at each player individually.

Jenks

Pros: He's a two-time all-star, and the 28-year-old relief pitcher has converted 87 percent (146 of 168) of his save opportunities since arriving in the major leagues midway through the 2005 season and helping the White Sox win the World Series.

In 2008, Jenks became the second fastest pitcher in baseball history (behind Seattle's Kazuhiro Sasaki) to record 100 saves.

Cons: Listed at 6-foot-3, 275 pounds, Jenks' weight has always been as issue.

It came up again at the end of last season, when Jenks landed on the disabled list with a strained right calf.

With a 3-4 record, a 3.71 ERA and 6 blown saves in 35 opportunities in 2009, Jenks had his worst season ever.

What to expect: Jenks avoids arbitration, agrees to a one-year contract and pitches his final season for the White Sox. But don't completely rule out a trade if J.J. Putz comes in healthy and pitches like he did for Seattle in 2006-07 (76 saves).

Quentin

Pros: He is still the Sox' best power threat, hitting 57 home runs in 229 games over the last two seasons.

Cons: He couldn't stay healthy with the Arizona Diamondbacks, which is why Quentin was traded to the White Sox two years ago.

The 27-year-old outfielder is having the same problem with his new team.

In a fit of anger, Quentin punched his bat and fractured his wrist in September of 2008, and his absence cost the Sox in the playoffs.

Last year, Quentin battled foot and knee injuries throughout the season while playing in just 99 games.

What to expect: Quentin avoids arbitration and gets a one-year contract. If he stays healthy for the entire season, he'll be offered another longterm deal.

Danks

Pros: In his third full season, the 24-year-old lefty established career highs in wins (13) and innings pitched (2001/3) while finishing 10th in the American League in ERA (3.77) and opponents' batting average (.245).

Cons: A command freak, Danks issued 73 walks last year. Opposing hitters leading off an inning batted .336 and had a .421 on-base percentage, the second highest totals in the league.

What to expect: Jon Garland turned down a contract extension with the Sox in the winter of 2004 but received, and accepted, another longterm offer the following year. Look for Danks to follow suit.

Reliever Tony Pena, also eligible for salary arbitration, is expected to agree to a one-year contract.