|Depth Chart. Photo courtesy of ChicagoWhiteSox.com|
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.
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.
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:
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.
ALEJANDRO DE AZA
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.
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:
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.