Sunday, March 20, 2011

MLB 30 in 30: Chicago White Sox

This may be the most interesting teams in baseball. They sometimes frustrate everyone, but other times they can surprise you. See 2005 for a perfect example of that. Now, the White Sox are going all in for the next few years, and they have the team to win now. But will they?

What they Have:  They have a very good mix of youth and veterans on this team. The major jobs done by GM Kenny Williams this offseason were re-signing 1B Paul Konerko, and picking up DH Adam Dunn, who should thrive without having to be an everyday 1B. In the outfield, the White Sox still have LF Juan Pierre who will lead off, CF Alex Rios and RF Carlos Quentin, so scoring runs for this team will not be the problem. The youth offensively consists right now of 2B Gordon Beckham and 3B Brent Morel. They both saw action last year and are the future of this team. Pitching wise, the White Sox may have one of the best rotations in the AL. Lead by Mark Buehrle, the team ERA was 18th in the majors last season, but that should change with a nice rotation. Gavin Floyd, John Danks and Edwin Jackson (who last year threw a no-hitter) fill out the rotation. In the bullpen, the White Sox did lose closer Bobby Jenks to free agency plus J.J Putz and Scott Linebrink to free agency and trades, the bullpen is still very good. Jesse Crain was acquired from Minnesota, and they still have Matt Thornton. The wild card for this team is young standout pitcher Chris Sale, who may end up in the bullpen or the starting rotation.

What they Don't Have: The farm system other than really the top 2 prospects is thin, so not much help is coming down the pipeline. The age factor for this team may also prove to be a challenge. But the biggest question mark surrounding this team is Jake Peavy. He has well known injury issues, and they have persisted throughout spring training in Arizona. His health and status in the rotation may dramatically change the way the White Sox pitching staff looks by opening day, so his status remains a key for the White Sox season.

Any Help Coming? Southpaw Chris Sale is the organization's best prospect, and he did pitched well with the big club last year, saving 4 games and collecting a 1.93 ERA. He may see action as closer, or could end up being the fifth starter, and it all really depends on Jake Peavy. He has 3 plus pitches and a fastball that can reach 100 mph. The second best prospect is INF Dayan Viciedo. He can play either 1B or 3B, but he has enormous power potential. He has 5 homers in a stint with the big club last year, and projects to be a big middle of the order threat. RPH Gregory Infante is a good bullpen prospect and has a fastball that can reach 103 mph reportedly.

Outlook: This is the most complete team in the AL Central as of now, and they are the odds on favorite to win the division. They have a few issues, but they honestly are minor in nature. This team may have improved itself just as much as Boston has, and this team has high expectations for this year, which are likely to be met.

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