Friday, April 11, 2014

Jordan Danks Should Be Starting in Left Field Over De Aza. It's That Simple.

Jordan Danks is a power hitting lefty who deserve a chance

     The Avisail Garcia injury is depressing. In fact, it's too depressing to write about. Beyond the analysis and pontification there remains a simple fact: He will be sidelined for the entire 2014 season. There is only one silver lining to this injury, and that is outfielder Jordan Danks. Danks got an extended look at the MLB level last year, hitting .231 in 179 plate appearances. The average isn't pretty, and Danks struck out a fair bit, but he did hit 5 home runs during that stretch. He is also a lefty. Jordan Danks was impressive during Spring Training. In fact, he was one of the Sox's best hitters. Danks posted a .333 avg. in 45 plate appearances in Arizona, while knocking out 5 long balls, and posting a robust 1.116 ops. Albeit, this is an extremely small sample size, but nonetheless Danks built on his time in the majors. It was disappointing when Danks was optioned to Triple-A-Charlotte during camp, especially when he is the definition of a stellar fourth outfielder. But what if he could be more?
         Originally, it would have taken the trades of either Alejandro De Aza or Dayan Viciedo for Danks to see the big leagues in 2014, but with Avisail Garcia going down, he has found himself with yet another opportunity. Robin Ventura told the media that Dayan Viciedo will see the majority of Garcia's playing time in right, while De Aza will become a regular in left. This would relegate Danks to the fourth outfielder's spot. This is the wrong decision. While De Aza came out of the gate hitting, the left fielder slugged three home runs over his first two games, he has reverted to his old ways. He's hitting .160 with 6 strikeouts in 9 games. The strikeouts are an effect of his power hungry approach, which is one of the fundamental reasons why he was terrible in the lead off spot last year. More glaring than De Aza's offense, is his tendency to produce mental miscues on the field and on the basepaths. He was the poster child for the White Sox's base running issues last season, and has yet to steal a base in 2014. Even more troubling is the fact that he misjudges fly balls, and has posted a -2.0 DWAR in his last two seasons as a regular.
         On the other hand, Jordan Danks is a natural center fielder and would be an above average defender in left field. Danks committed only one error in his 69 games played in the field last year. So his defense isn't the issue. While it's no secret that Danks has struggled against left handed pitchers, he has shown flashes of competence. The best example was when he hit .333 overall during his frequent playing time in August. Combine that small sample size with his most recent spring, and it's possible to envision a higher ceiling for Danks than a fourth outfielder. Finally, age becomes the deal breaker. Danks is 27 years old, while De Aza turns 30 today (Happy Birthday!). This makes Danks more of a candidate for a long term role, as he is young enough to still possess some upside, and can grow with the rest of Rick Hahn's developing core.
         In 2015, you can almost guarantee that Adam Eaton will be in center, and a healthy Avisail Garcia will be in right. Left field is more of a question mark. Dayan Viciedo benefits from Avisail Garcia's injury, because he will get one more audition to show that he is more than just raw talent. Jordan Danks should get a similar opportunity to prove himself. De Aza is getting expensive, while Jordan Danks is still in his pre-arbitration years. For 2015, it makes sense to open the year with either Dayan Viciedo or Jordan Danks in left, until Trayce Thompson, Micah Johnson (if he shifts to the outfield), or down the road Courtney Hawkins are ready to take their place. In the meantime, De Aza can be used as a trade chip, while he still has value. In hindsight, the best time to trade him would have been the third day of the season. Regardless, the outfielder could still net the Sox a marginal prospect, and a major-league ready reliever. What's intriguing about trading De Aza now is that he could be traded for the rotational depth and current bullpen mainstays the White Sox are lacking. Either way Jordan Danks should be starting in left field over De Aza. It's that simple.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Why Not 2014? Why the White Sox Just May Surprise Critics

Jose Abreu looks to lead the Sox to the postseason
      If you didn't pay attention during the 2012 season, and merely judged the White Sox entirely on preseason projections, then to your knowledge the 2012 Chicago White Sox were a last place team with 95 losses. Nice job Sports Illustrated. Instead, with less than two weeks left in the season the White Sox had a solid handle on the Central Division crown. Granted, they did fade during the stretch run, but nevertheless they silenced many critics. Last year was the polar oppossite. While many predicted the Sox to hover around .500 and be competitive in at least some capacity, they ended up free falling to a listless 99 losses. So what to make of 2014? Experts put the Sox at around 70-75 wins, and at the bottom of the American League Central. Once again, the White Sox are under the radar, excluded from even dark horse conversations. The good news is, that's how they like it.
     The White Sox have always been a team that defies expectations, whether good or bad. Just look at 2005 and 2011 as proof. The White Sox are an entirely different team in 2014. Just because Tyler Flowers is still stationed behind the plate doesn't mean that bright spots haven't been added elsewhere. One of the greatest additions is center fielder Adam Eaton. The speedy outfielder was a preseason Rookie of the Year candidate before an arm injury sidelined him for a good portion of 2013. There's no reason to think that Eaton can't be an on-base machine in 2014. His Spring Training numbers were good enough to infuse some hope that the White Sox may have finally found a true table setter. The other plus to Adam Eaton are the intangibles he brings to the ballclub. Many wondered how a team could have an 8, 9, and 10 game losing streak all in the same season. The answer is that there was a considerable amount of apathy in the dugout. Whether it was Alex Rios running to first base as those he were a marathon runner doing a cool down or Alexei Ramirez missing easy groundballs, the focus was evidently missing in last year's roster. Eaton, with his competitive edge, should serve as a sparkplug, energizing the troops if a multigame slide should ensue.
     It's not just Eaton either. Offseason addition Jose Abreu, a big name slugger out of Cuba, is determined to live up to his 6-year $68 million contract. From all reports, Abreu is a class act who is diligent in his practice and focus both on and off the field. With that type of attitude, Jose Abreu has the potential to hit .300 with 30 home runs. Even 40 from the prolific power hitter isn't out of the question. With Abreu manning first base, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko will essentially platoon at DH. Dunn has similar splits, but does post a better average against righties and certainly produces most of his power against them. Konerko happened to produce a .300+ average against lefties in 2013 even during an injury riddled season. Alex Rios has been replaced with Avisail Garcia. Although Rios had stretches in which his bat carried the team, the right fielder also had periods in which his prolonged slumps contributed to the power outage of the entire line-up. The 22-year old Garcia has much more upside than Rios, and although he needs to improve his plate discipline, he did hit .305 in his short time with the White Sox last season. Suddenly, the middle of the order looks significantly different.

2013 Line-up (First five hitters)

1. Alejandro De Aza
2. Alexei Ramirez
3. Alex Rios
4. Paul Konerko
5. Adam Dunn

  The problem with this line-up was De Aza was a poor leadoff hitter. He sacrificed average for power, and although he hit 17 home runs, his strike out rate spiked. In contrast, Alexei Ramirez completely lost his power capabilities last season and struggled to move anyone into scoring position for the big hitters behind him. While Alex Rios overall was a bright spot in the three hole, Konerko and Dunn were a poor combination at 4 and 5 in the order. By not having these two players in a platoon, Konerko was forced to face righties, leading to a .240 avg., while Dunn was hopeless against lefties. In fact, by the beginning of June, Adam Dunn as a clean up hitter was hitting .197. It doesn't matter if your clean up hitter is as historically good as Mike Trout or as bad as Tyler Flowers, but if either one is hitting .197 three months into the season, then they can't bat fourth. Simply put, Adam Dunn should not have been hitting fourth. Thankfully, that does not look like it will be the case this year. While the 2014 batting order is mere speculation at this point, it could look something like this.

2014 Line-up (First five hitters)

1. Adam Eaton*
2. Marcus Semien*
3. Jose Abreu*
4. Avisail Garcia*
5. Adam Dunn/Paul Konerko

*Player not on 2013 opening day roster.

Granted, Marcus Semien is only temporary, at least until Gordon Beckham comes off the 15 day DL. However, Semien had a very strong Spring, posting a batting average above .300 and flashing the leather at second base. Already, Adam Eaton changes the dynamic of this order, and followed by Semien, both should be on base enough for Jose Abreu to do some serious damage. The slugger got off to a slow start this spring, but finished by hitting in the upper .300s over his last ten games and showing off some of his power potential. All things considered, Abreu is an upgrade over Alex Rios. Now, instead of having two likely outs in the 4 and 5 spots, the White Sox have Avisail Garcia (Known as "little Miggy") behind Abreu to offer some line-up protection. Batting 5th, Adam Dunn and Konerko will be far more effective in a platoon, and it's possible that if Konerko is anything like he was in May 2012 (.399 avg. and an ops above 1.000) he might just get played a little more than the $15 million DH sharing the position with him. The rest of the batting order offers more to be desired. It is a make or break season for Gordon Beckham, who will likely have second base back under his control when he is healthy. Similarily, both Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo will take turns manning left field. While De Aza will most likely be a trade chip, it is time for Viciedo to make his case that he belongs in the new core. The Viciedo who hit 25 home runs in 2012 needs to return in order for him to justify remaining on the South Side. While Matt Davidson will start the season at AAA, the White Sox will need to rely on lefty Connor Gillaspie to provide some left handed pop deep in the batting order. The once top propsect with a short and quick swing may turn himself into a viable trade piece once Davidson is a little more seasoned.
   Interestingly enough, analysts are more optimistic about the offsensive side of the White Sox than the rotation. This is strange considering the rotation was fairly durable last year. Chris Sale is one of the top arms in the game, while Jose Quintana is making his own case as solid young starter. Rookie Erik Johnson will get the chance to prove that he is yet another pitching gem to emerge from a White Sox farm system that has a strong track record. The success of the rotation will ultimately rely on how John Danks and Felipe Paulino bounce back from injuries. John Danks looked sharp in Spring Training and may finally justify his $15 million price tag. We'll see. The bullpen is also constructed with question marks and young arms, but has a lot of upside. Nate Jones or Daniel Webb should have little problem replacing Addison Reed on the rubber in the 9th.
     The fact is, 2013 was filled with anamolies. The White Sox fell off the board defensively, and lost 36 one-run games. This statistic is the one that gives me the most optimism. It is hard to believe that the additions of Abreu, Garcia, Eaton, and eventually Davidson won't have enough of an impact to sway some of those one-run losses into wins this year. Even if just half were turned into wins, the Sox would touch .500. That's not even mentioning that 75% of all Sox games were decided by three runs or less last season. There's no denying that a lot has to go right for the Sox to contend in 2014, and there will inevitably be growing pains. However, analysts may just be a little off-base with their predictions, well at least if Alejandro De Aza isn't off base as much as he was last year. So on March 30th, the day before the White Sox open the season I ask myself what I asked before 2012. "Why not this year?" I ask "Why not 2014?" Maybe, they'll just pull a Red Sox.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Granderson Pursuit: Why Bringing in the Star Center Fielder Makes Sense

The power-hitting lefty is a Chicago Native

  Make no mistake, 2013 was an absolutely dismal season on the South Side. A club that saw their team in first place for 117 days in 2012, spent an almost equal amount of time at the bottom of the AL Central just a season later. What caused the change? A serious drop off in defense and fundamentals, key components of a winning ball club. The offense was also absent for most of the season, with Dayan Viciedo regressing, Tyler Flowers imploding in his freshman season, and age catching up to middle of the order mainstay Paul Konerko. The White Sox were able to free up some cash, swapping veterans Alex Rios, Jake Peavy, Matt Thornton, and Jesse Crain mid season for a fleet of young prospects. 
  It's no secret that the White Sox have multiple holes to fill this offseason, most notably in the areas of catcher, third base, and the outfield. Avisail Garcia is a lock for an outfield spot in 2014. The gem of the three-team Jake Peavy trade, Garcia hit .304 with 5 home runs in just 42 games with the White Sox last season. Garcia is only 22, and is expected to be a cornerstone of the line-up for years to come. In left field, Dayan Viciedo had an underwhelming season, showing poor defense and experiencing a regression in his hitting abilities. Nonetheless, the White Sox are likely to go with Viciedo again in 2014, hoping that the young Cuban can regain his 2012 form, in which he hit 25 home runs. 
  That leaves center fielder Alejandro De Aza, who is arbitration eligible. The Sox have multiple options with De Aza. They can tender him a contract and trade him or give him another shot in a starting role. De Aza was actually competent in the lead off spot last year, hitting .264 with 17 home runs. However, he was a liability defensively, abysmal on the base paths, and prone to strikeouts. There are no ready replacements in the minor leagues, which means to upgrade the outfield, the White Sox will have to do so via trade or free agency. General Manager Rick Hahn is wary of any short term fix, and wants to construct a team capable of sustained success.
  Since early October the name Curtis Granderson has been tossed around as a potential target. The 33 year-old slugger doesn't seem to fit the description Hahn has been advertising, but the free agent outfielder has a few enticing qualities. He is a Chicago native, and a left-handed hitter. The White Sox are in desperate need of a lefty to balance out a right-handed heavy batting order. Granderson is coming off a down year in which he only hit .229 after being plagued by injuries for a majority of the season. This decline in production should somewhat lower Granderson's price tag, which will probably still come in at around $45 million over three years. Granderson has major pop in the bat, as he hit over 40 home runs in both 2011 and 2012. Of course, the short dimensions of Yankee Stadium's right field were partially a factor, but it's not as if U.S. Cellular isn't a hitter's park. 
  In this period of retooling, the White Sox will be showcasing a variety of young talent in new first baseman Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, and ace Chris Sale, but they will potentially be losing the face of the franchise in Paul Konerko. Regardless of whether or not Konerko returns for 2014, the White Sox need a veteran to be an example as the youth-movement emerges. Granderson is savy with the media, and could very well serve as a bridge between the organization and a fan base that is to put it lightly not too pleased with the on-field product. The money isn't the major turnoff with Granderson, it is the $14.1 million qualifying offer he received from the Yankees. By declining the offer, the Yankees will receive a compensatory draft pick from the team that inks Granderson. With the 3rd pick overall, the White Sox's first round pick will be protected. By signing the center fielder, they would have to give up their second round pick, which is less than appealing considering the organization's depleted farm system. Overall, sacrificing a second round pick for Granderson is a small price to pay when in reality he could be flipped at the deadline for an even greater prospect return if things are still sour in 2014. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

2013: Spring Training and the Offseason

  Spring Training has officially begun for the Chicago White Sox, and for many fans the thought of pitchers and catchers reporting to Camelback Ranch is a pleasant one. In some ways, it is actually a remedy for the pain felt at the end of last season, when a late three-game division lead suddenly turned into a three-game deficit. It was uncomfortable for fans to watch the Detroit Tigers celebrate on the field and throw on division champion apparel. Even more agonizing was driving by a silent U.S. Cellular field in October, knowing that if things had gone just a little bit differently, the stadium would have been host to multiple playoff games. However, nothing serves better to override the past than the promise of a new season and the start of the 2013 campaign holds to be a positively anticipated one. Shortly after the end of the 2012 season, Kenny Williams, the Sox's general manager for 12 years, was promoted to Executive Vice President and Assistant GM Rick Hahn was given his old position.
  With the offseason spilling into Spring Training, many fans are ambivalent about Hahn's offseason moves. White Sox fans watched as high-profile free agents spilled into the hands of other teams, particularly to rival teams within their division. Fans were also irked by the departure of A.J. Piersynski, the veteran catcher and an inherent staple of the Chicago White Sox roster. Piersynski signed with the Texas Rangers in a one-year deal for a price tag of $7.5 million. The White Sox had offered him a mere $4 million, which was seemingly low considering in 2012 the catcher hit a career-high 27 homers, combined with 77 RBI's and a respectable .278 batting average. Those types of offensive numbers will surely be missed when Tyler Flowers replaces Piersynski. Flowers was a hot prospect just a couple of years ago and will now assume the role of starting catcher. This is undoubtedly the most unsettling facet of the White Sox because Flowers has struggled offensively, posting a .205 career average and exhibiting a tendency to strike out. The pitching staff has complimented Flower's game-calling abilities and is confidant in him from a catching standpoint. Flowers has power potential and when he did connect last year, he managed to hit a few home runs. However, those will have to become more common in 2013 for the catcher to earn some credibility in Chicago.
  2012 season rentals, such as Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Liriano, and Brett Myers were not resigned by the White Sox and thus departed. The absence of Kevin Youkilis left a void at third base and the previous holder of that spot, Brent Morel, is still posing concerns for the White Sox, both over his back injury and his overall playing ability. Morel will have a shot to redeem himself in Spring Training but nonetheless Rick Hahn chose to add some security at third-base by signing free agent Jeff Keppinger to a three-year, $12 million deal. Keppinger is a versatile contact hitter, who aims for average over power. He will be a much needed addition to the Sox, who will benefit from his presence in the batting order to offset the power heavy middle of their line-up.
  The other notable move by the White Sox was resigning Jake Peavy, in a two-year, $29 million deal that ate up a good portion of the Sox's offseason payroll. The re-upping of Jake Peavy's contract set a precedent that the White Sox intend to compete this year. Gavin Floyd's $9.5 million option was also picked up, which solidifies that the Sox will field a stellar pitching staff this season. That stellar pitching staff will be their strongest suit going into 2013. Pitching wins ball games and the White Sox will have both a superb starting five and a well-rounded bullpen. Chris Sale, John Danks, Jake Peavy, Jose Quintana, Gavin Floyd, and Hector Santiago will all make up the starting rotation. Sale had a watermark year in 2012, his first full season as a starter, posting a 3.05 ERA and an outstanding record of 17-8. Question marks still surround the health of John Danks, but overall the rotation looks strong. The bullpen will be filled out by both veteran talent and young contributors. Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, and newly acquired Matt Lindstrom will bring their veteran experience to late inning ball games, while Nate Jones, Donnie Veal and other youngsters will add spark to the pool of relievers. Addison Reed, the young pitcher who excelled in the closer role last year will attempt to replicate his 2012 numbers.
  So far this offseason, the White Sox have failed to add a coveted left-handed hitter. They will only have two left-handed hitters in their everyday line-up this year, which raises some red flags about whether or not the team can compete with an off balanced batting order. However, upper management has contended that if the White Sox are competing by midseason, they will aim to add another big name player. Thus the question emerges. Can the White Sox contend by midseason? The AL Central has only strengthened this offseason. The Tiger's, who are the American League defending champions already have an electric line-up and it has only strengthened with the addition of Tori Hunter. The Cleveland Indians have added Nick Swisher, Drew Stubbs, Mark Reynolds, and Michael Bourn. This puts them in a good spot to the challenge the White Sox and the Tigers. The Kansas City Royal also have reignited playoff hopes by adding pitchers Jeremy Guthrie, James Shields, and Wade Davis to an eclectic group of young talent. If anything, these moves make it a little more of the challenge for the White Sox to catch Detroit this season. However, it also makes it more likely that at least one of the two wild card spots will go to a team in the AL Central. The new playoff format allows two wild card spots and it appears as though the White Sox will be in a position to contend for at least one of them. Last season, they won 85 games. Their surprising success was written off as luck and career years for players such as Jake Peavy, Adam Dunn, and Alex Rios. However, that wasn't exactly the case. Jake Peavy simply rebounded from injury and finally began to pitch to his potential. Adam Dunn is a player who has the capability to hit 40 home runs, and nothing indicates that he can't do so again in 2013. Alex Rios finally played to his potential as well and hopefully will finally find some consistency. At the same time, young players such as Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza should only springboard off of last year's experience. In the meantime, this could potentially be team leader Paul Konerko's last season in Chicago and his performance will be one of the definitive factors regarding the White Sox's overall success.
  The White Sox were a playoff caliber team last year and were simply plagued by inexperience in the realm of their younger players. 2013 should be a year for more growth but also for true competition. The team should be in the race along with Detroit and the other refined powers of the AL Central in the Indians and the Royals. The White Sox exceed expectations last year but they didn't exceed potential. They met their potential. This year they can exceed it. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Depth Chart

Depth Chart. Photo courtesy of

Let's start with the infield:

Third Base

        He had a brief run in the majors at the end of the 2010 season and received the bid to be the official third baseman for the full 2011 season. He wasn't able to have a breakaway year. Offensively, he hit .245 with 10 home runs and 41 RBIs. This will be only his second full year and maybe with some experience under his belt he will be able to produce more offensively and become a stronger link in the line-up.


        He is a weapon or as Sox fans know him, a cuban-missile. He has been a powerful shortstop, the last two seasons hitting over 15 home runs and earning 70 RBIs. Defensively, he sports incredible range and makes flawless plays, rendering him a key infield force and a fan favorite.

Second Base

        Taking up the patch between first and second base, Gordon Beckham will have some proving to do. In 2009, he looked promising, hitting 14 home runs and hitting .270. But in 2010 he struggled offensively and didn't have much range at second base. In 2009, he had played third and many attributed his struggles in 2010 to the hardship of adapting to a new position, but in 2011 his playing abilities looked less and less glamorous and he was grouped with Adam Dunn and Alex Rios as one of three players that were hitting .230 or below. Nevertheless, Beckham will be starting at second with hopes to restore his former glory as a player with promise and talent.

First Base

        The captain with his prized silent leadership, will be at first base. Before the 2010 season Konerko was slightly dimming, having had an injury prone 2008 and a decent but not extraordinary 2009 season. Many wondered what would happen at the close of the 2010 season when his contract would come into question. But he put up the monster numbers with 39 home runs, and 111 RBIs, and a .312 average, statistics that were on par with his 2004 and 2005 seasons, each notably prime years for the slugger. These impressive feats earned him a three year contract renewal with the White Sox, and last season he hit 30 home runs and 105 RBIs, hitting a clean .300. His stellar defense and overall consistency continued and he further proved what an underated player he is in the MLB. This year Konerko will be the decisive key. With Adam Dunn still in question, and the loss of Quentin, he is going to be responsible for the majority of the White Sox's production, but with him age doesn't seem to be a factor so he very could have yet another explosive year.

Let's move onto the outfield:

Left Field

        In 2010 he was exposed to the Major Leagues. He hit 5 home runs with a .308 average. Many thought that he would be a contender to replace Konerko when Adam Dunn was signed, but when Konerko received his own contract it was decided that Viciedo would spend some time in the minors to further reinforce and better his talent. In 2011, with Adam Dunn experiencing an epic downfall and with fans begging for that golden prospect who they had seen only at a glimpse in the previous year, he got the call to move up. He produced to some degree but wasn't in the majors for an excessive amount of time so it is still difficult to speculate what type of year he will have when he is a regular starter. It could go either way, but if he becomes a powerful and standout force for the team the White Sox could have a shot at being a post-season contender.

Center Field

        In 2010, he got a brief taste of the majors and like Dayan Viciedo he is going to be highly anticipated. In 2011, he was called up to compensate for the lack of offense by Alex Rios. He performed well and has been chosen to replace Rios as a starter this year. Rios will still be waiting in the wings but De Aza will be yet another rookie looking to insert himself into a prominent major league role.

Right Field

        Of course Alex Rios will be roaming around the outfield as a back-up, but he has been given the chance to redeem himself in right field. Many describe Rios as a talent-packed player with so much idle potential. He has the necessary skills to be great and in Toronto many thought that he could be the center piece of that team and any team in general, but he has yet to meet those expectations and last year he fell considerably below those expectations only hitting .227 and racking up 13 home runs and 44 RBIs. He took a great deal of heat from the media and some even believed he wasn't giving it his all. Maybe this will be the year that he finally taps into this potential and if he does it could make a major difference in the dynamic of the ball club and the intensity of their line-up.

What is the bullpen looking like? Let's see:

Matt Thornton
Jessie Crain
Will Ohman
Addison Reed
Zach Stewart
Hector Santiago
Nate Jones

        Overall, the bullpen has strengths and holes. Matt Thornton has experience and is comfortable as a set-up man. While Jessie Crain shares this same talent he has adapted and become a decent reliever. Zach Stewart is a young player and had some big league time last year. He is targeted as a starter but is starting his career out in the bullpen and he just may surprise. Addison Reed is also inexperienced with only six games last year, but in those games he earned a 3.68 ERA which isn't horrible but it will be revealing to see what type of number he earns as a regular reliever. Hector Santiago pitched in only two games last year and gave up no runs while Nate Jones has never pitched in the majors. Both of these players will try to make a name for themselves this year.

What about the starters? Let's take a look at the five guys:


        He is taking the role of Mark Buehrle as a consistent White Sox pitcher. Infact, he is starting on Opening Day. His ERA has been commendable, usually under 4.00. He will definitely be one of the key starters this year.


        He has been extremely inconsistent due to injuries. A very talented pitcher he holds a lot of potential and when the White Sox received him by trading Brandon McCarthy he was actually injured to begin with. Bt it seemed like it would be worth it considering his extraordinary ERA, which was in the 2.00s when he was with San Diego. After recooperating he came back at the end of 2009 and was decent and in 2010 he was strong up until July when he was plagued by a very unordinary injury. After missing the rest of the 2010 season he tried to recover last year but had a disapointing ERA, which was pushing 5.00 at 4.92. This year peavy is hoping to regain his successful ways and he will be another factor that will have an impact on the team if he can reach what he used to be.


        2008, was Gavin's best year as a pitcher and as a White Sox player. Since then he has never been able to replicate it, but he gets the job done and with a few more wins each year he would be a consistent winning pitcher normally coming in around a 500 record.


        A highly anticipated prospect, he entered the majors when Peavy went down in 2010 and excelled. There was talk of him becoming a permanent starter in 2011, but he remained in the bullpen for most of the season. This year however he is going to get the call to start. It will no doubt weaken the bullpen but it just may strengthen the starting rotation and if he can make the transition smoothly, he can help the Sox win some games.


        Last season was his first great year. Almost pitching a perfect game and being a top pitcher before the all-star break and he almost got a bid to travel to Los Angeles with the rest of the stand-out players. With a 3.75 ERA, the White Sox organization is hoping that he can duplicate it.

Let's travel to the bench and to behind the plate.


        He was injured toward the end of last year but he hit .287 and hit 8 home runs with 48 RBIs. But his real strength is in the game he calls and hopefully he can guide Chris Sale into a few victories.


        The bench is fairly strong with rookie Edurado Escobar and defensive wizard and talented Brent Lillibridge. Also in the dugout will be the former Cub, Kosuke Fukodome. They will all serve as utility players, with Lillibridge most likely getting a few starting oppertunities.

Yes Adam Dunn is still the DH. But Dayan Viciedo might fill in here and there.                    


        As of now he is still the designated hitter. Having only 11 home runs last season and a unprecedented .159 average he needs to prove himself this year and get some numbers that are on par with his usual. He has shined in spring training, hitting six home runs and having an average above .250 so we will see if he can transfer this to his major league run. If he can get bak into the swing he will be a powerful force along with Paul Konerko and it just may make the difference in the organization of the line-up and the power at the core of the White Sox hitters. Of course, if he continues to slump Dayan Viciedo may relieve him of his duties when he is not playing left field. This would also open up an oppertunity for Brent Lillibridge to get some playing time.


        Overall, the depth chart holds some promise. It is a combination of established veterans and young talent. But will it be enough to earn them a playoff spot or even a contenders spot. Only time will tell, but in the end it will all depend on people finding the talent they seemingly lost last year but have exhibited in the past. It will be a year for the young tag-team, Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza, to prove themselves, step-up, and hopefully surprise. It will also be a year of redemption for players like Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, and gordon Beckham. In the end, it will be interesting and compelling to see it all unravel and how the rookie of his own Robin Ventura will manage the ball club.

Rebuilding The White Sox. 2012: PHASE ONE-THE FOUNDATION

        Rebuilding a team can be a stressful venture. Of course many components go into the project,  and while it is being constructed the team usually falls into an era of seasons similar to the dark ages, but it is all for the purpose of eventually reaching a golden age or a renaissance. Shortly after the close of the 2011 season it became clear that the White Sox were looking toward the prospect of retooling and reformatting their ball club. The reason for this is most likely due to financial reasons. With such a high payroll last year it wasn't feasible to run that type of payroll again. The entire situation is clearer when you compare it to the construction of a home. Last year, the White Sox had a stellar blueprint, one that covered all aspects of the game and one that incorporated key players, who all served a certain niche. Its architect was none other than Kenny Williams.
        But this blueprint had some flaws, some more crucial than others. The closer role was never definitive and Matt Thornton was chosen to fill it. He excels as a set-up guy, so it was a difficult transition for him. As it became known that he wasn't the man for the job, the managerial staff had a difficult time filling in the position with someone who could adequately perform in it. This was the first apparent struggle, but they just seemed to continue. Other components didn't meet prior expectations. Most notably, these players were Adam Dunn and Alex Rios, but as a whole the team underperformed. But enough about last year. The whole point is that Williams had to refine his blueprint, and make some necessary changes. As he went along, he seemingly got carried away with his eraser.
        Williams made three adjustments which are under question. The departure of Mark Buehrle was a combination of Buehrle's price and how much Kenny was willing to dish out. In the end, a high-profile player like Buehrle simply didn't jive with the design he had in mind. Buehrle ended up joining Ozzie Guillen with the highly anticipated Miami Marlins. Note the name change everyone. The second player to be let go was Carlos Quentin. The move is debatable. Sure Quentin is injury prone and extremely streaky, but when he enters into a hot streak he can do some damage and carry the team, lessening the pressure on Paul Konerko. Last season he was decent, hitting .254 and hitting 24 home runs. He was costly but would have helped production. He could have been an asset but he was traded away. This was the turning point in the offseason. The true moment when the word rebuilding started to be used. Quentin wasn't traded for an established veteran, but rather for two prospects. Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez. It was stated that they would be future White Sox pitchers down the road. The third decision is the most questioning. It was the removal of Sergio Santos. Not only did he save the game on a consistent level, but he saved the White Sox from the embarrassment of not being able to field a definitive and a consistent closer. Was he traded for a different closer? No. He was exchanged for Nestor Molina, another pitching prospect. This means that the White Sox will still have to deal with the problem of not having a closer with experience.
        Overall, Kenny decided the complex team they had last season had to be simplified, reduced, and overall scratched. So the wrecking ball came down and crushed the dream team that was supposedly all in. It wasn't fully leveled. A few veterans remained only because there weren't any enticing offers according to Williams. However, the veterans were the few structural walls still intact. Williams laid the foundation by sturdying the farm system and constructing a few new framing beams in Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza. Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner approved the project and met with Williams the architect and hired a new project manager, Robin Ventura. The players will be the construction workers, improving and strengthening their new team that is taking shape. It will be a long and enduring process that will hopefully also be rewarding, this season and in the future.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Season Leaves And So Does Ozzie

  79-83. 16 games behind Detroit and in third place. No White Sox fan anticipated that scenario. Were expectations too high? Were they overall an under performing team? It was a combination of both. Fans visioned the ultimate team or so called "Dream Team" that many organizations try to assemble. When someone pays $127 million for something they expect incredible results. If not they will promptly return whatever they purchased. With baseball that is simply something you can not do.
Going into the 2012 season the White Sox management will have to work with what they have and it will be very difficult because on paper what they have is a well rounded ball club, but when moved from the paper and onto the playing field they are a whole different team. It will be the job of Kenny Williams, Jerry Reinsdorf and the rest of the organization to figure out what key element was missing. That will play a major role in the compilation of a winning 2012 ball club. But right now I'm sure even more so then contemplating 2012, the Sox management is haunted by the 2011 season as the disappointment flows through the halls of the front office.
Under performance was the main reason for the downfall. Players such as Adam Dunn and Alex Rios did not pull their weight. Dunn had an unprecedented slump, that was very unpredictable and truly surprising considering his talent and years of consistency. Historically his numbers should have been on par if not better than Paul Konerko's 2011 season, which was very commendable, sporting a .300 Average, 31 home runs, and 105 RBIs. After coming out of the gates strong against Cleveland with a 14-0 lead in the 4th inning, the line-up looked even better then people had thought, with every player reaching base and making solid contact. Of course it had only been one game but it seemed as though the Sox were a serious team after that display. The bullpen showed major warning signs when they yielded 10 runs to Cleveland in just a handful of innings.
  After winning the second games of their first series the sox lost their first game and that became a pattern over the next week. The much debated closer spot was given to Matt Thornton, a natural set-up man. Even though the offense did their part, he blew consecutive saves and the White Sox's record suffered moving from what could have been a decent start to just mediocre. The early devastation really hurt the dynamic of the club and definitely affected confidence. After that it was very difficult for the White Sox to get into a hot streak. Adam Dunn had an appendectomy which no doubtingly affected his initial game and he was never able to get into a groove.
  The White Sox held the worst record in baseball after April and May and went into a minor winning period which at least put them back into the race going into July. Even though they were multiple games out the season was still alive. After the All-Star break the team seemed to have new life, beating Justin Verlander by a large margin their first game back. With some fair play in July they were able to get with-in striking distance and a 500 record. Fans were beginning to slide into U.S. Cellular seats again. But then they fell into an unbreakable pattern that displayed the same scenario over and over. 500 and with-in striking range was a popular place in July. Even having the opportunity to play against Detroit they were never able to capitalize on this. Fans were discouraged time after time and then a fire sale came into question near the non-waiver trade deadline. The White Sox continued their All In motto setting out for the playoffs. After falling below 500 they were hammered by the Yankees and much hope was lost.
  Then they went into another small hot streak and were back at 500 with games against Detroit approaching in September. By mid-August the division was wide-open and the White Sox were just 3.5 games back. Any team, Cleveland, Detroit, and the White Sox had the chance to take control and come away with the division. Detroit became that team and the White Sox progressively fell back in the standings. They had ample chances when they played Detroit in September but lost the majority of the games ending their playoff hopes. A bid for the wild card was out of the question and both Cleveland and the White Sox became small stories in the Central compared to Detroit's dominance that was very similar to what transpired between Minnesota and the Sox in 2010. Detroit simply took charge and that is what propels teams into the playoffs. Since early June, they had charisma and ate away at Cleveland's leas that seemed almost insurmountable.
  Many factors played a role in the White Sox's disappointing season but mainly it was a matter of being in sync. Aside from being very streaky the White Sox failed to have stellar pitching and hitting at the same time. At first pitching was the problem, then when their pitchers were excelling the negative focus switched over to their hitting aspect. This seemed to happen throughout the season and many teams find success when these two components match up in a positive way, it makes it easier to win ball games.
  Another season surprise was Ozzie Guillen's departure. He was known as a figure with a vibrant personality and gave the press a field day with his unexpected and outgoing quotes. He also earned a reputation as an arguing manager, and was famous for ejections. But in the minds of White Sox fans he remains the manager who led the Sox to their first world series in over eight decades and he will forever be thanked for his contribution to that title and the amazing season in general. He also led them to another division title in 2008 but was never able to add to his victory list. After rejecting his 2012 coaching option for what he described as strictly financial reasons, he like Lebron James "will be taking his talents to South Beach." White Sox fans and management wish him the best of luck with the Marlins. Pitching coach Don Cooper filled in as interim manager for the concluding games of the season and it is unclear who will fill Ozzie's spot. Many other questions loom, including the future of Mark Buehrle and what the entire team may look like in 2012. It should prove to be another interesting off season, testing Kenny Williams and the rest of the organization. And it is time to move on, because as far as the post season goes the White Sox are All Out.