The White Sox are always a peculiar team to me. They rarely come into a season with fanfare, but seem to ride a mix of veterans and mildly known young guys to a good enough record to not be horrible, but also not make the playoffs. the last time they made the playoffs was 2008 and since they’ve finished either 2nd or 3rd in the AL Central. How long can the White Sox continue to flounder in the middle. Probably for a while if they want to. The White Sox are in a hard spot that many teams find themselves in. They have enough talent to maybe go for it, but they might be better off to start over and get some prospects to rebuild. Their attendance has been slowly declining since 2006 and settled in at just over 24k last year. Unlike that other Chicago team, the White Sox don’t enjoy sellouts every game just because drunk people like to drink. Could they flip Paul Konerko or Adam Dunn for some mid-level prospects? Maybe, but I don’t know how many teams are knocking down the door to get these guys.
What the the Sox do this off season and does it tell us which direction they are leaning.
Major Off-Season Moves:
It looks like the White Sox don’t even know what they wanted to do. They didn’t really play in the free agent market except to replace the departed Kevin Youkilis at 3rd base. Keppinger has bounced around a bit, but is a versatile player with a decent bat and is stats should improve simply from playing 81 games in US Cellular Field. I don’t think this is a “going for it” move – just a needed replacement. Later we’ll see some moves that suggest they want to move on to younger players.
Let’s take a look at more after the jump.
Likely Starting Lineup:
In general, this is a veteran group with a few youngster sprinkled in. Konerko is 36 and Alex Rios and Dunn are not far behind at 31 and 32. Can these players keep performing at the expected level? I think Rios will be able to repeat his 20/20 performace, but I think he’ll be pressed to hit above .300 again. Konerko seemingly has gotten better with age but the reality shows a drop in power and a bit in BA the past two years. And Dunn? Oh…the Big Donkey. He piled up 40+ HR last year for the first time in a while but it came with a .200 BA and 200+ Ks. That’s just not a good enough trade off, but I don’t think we’ll see a divergent stat line form Dunn this year. Alejandro de Aza has been a nice surprise starting in 100+ games for the first time in his career. Expect him to build off the success of last year. The young guys are Dayan Viciedo, Gordon Beckham and Tyler Flowers. Viciedo looks the most promising. He brings some power which will be lost when Dunn and/or Konerko inevitably move on. Beckham has never lived up to his prospect status and can’t even eclipse the .250 BA mark. I don’t think we’ll ever see much from him. Flowers will be taking over for long time catcher AJ Pierzinski and he is actually the oldest of the three. I don’t expect too much from him. You can see why the White Sox are stuck in the middle.
The rotation is where the White Sox have their brightest young star. Chris Sale, only 23, came to the rotation from the bullpen and started the season on an incredible run. He ended up with 17 W, 3.05 ERA, and a 9/9 K rate. Sale has a funky side arm delivery and there are some long term injury concerns, but when he’s healthy, he’s an undeniable star. Jose Quintana is another young pitcher, and while not the budding superstar Sale is, he can be a fixture in the rotation for years to come. Jake Peavy is the grizzled veteran of the group and another guy who could be flipped for some prospects for a team looking for some pitching help down the stretch if he stays healthy this year. Maybe to a team like the Angels who could have pitching issues come playoff time. (Although they have no prospects to trade) Not much to say about John Danks or Gavin Floyd but it seems like both of them have played for the White Sox for 15 years. Addison Reed has battled some inconsistency and injuries in the closers role, but with Matt Thornton on the shelf he seems to have a lock on the job.
74-88, 4th place in AL Central
This is the year that the White Sox will breakout of the 2nd/3rd place finish run they have been on. Unfortunately, it will not be the way they want. I think the Royals and Indians have added enough to overcome the middling White Sox. The Sox do have some young talent in the majors this year, but not enough to compete, especially with the Tigers all in for the World Series. In terms of success, the White Sox have well out paced their cross town rival, but the Cubs are rebuilding and have some talent. If the White Sox aren’t proactive, they will be a distant afterthought in the Windy City.