Thursday, March 22, 2012

AL Central Preview: Chicago White Sox

New Manager, No Buehrle Bear

It's always good times when your GM calls your upcoming season a "rebuilding year", which is what White Sox GM Kenny Williams has said.  Coming into 2012, the White Sox are a bit of a team without an identity as they lose gibberish-quote-a-minute manager Ozzie Guillen and replace him with former White Sox third baseman, Robin Ventura.  We all probably remember the ill-fated charging of Nolan Ryan, but at least one Sox fan believes it shows Robin's toughness.

Key Additions: Kosuke Fukudome OF, Dan Johnson 1B

Key Subtractions: Mark Buehrle SP, Carlos Quentin OF, Juan Pierre OF, Sergio Santos RP, Jason Frasor RP, Ramon Castro C

Buerhle looking svelte
 In 2011 the White Sox ended up 3rd in the AL Central with 79 wins.  They've since blown up their team: Buerhle, closer Sergio Santos, lead off man Juan Pierre and slugger Carlos Quentin are all gone. 
Mark Buehrle left by signing a 4 year, $58MM contract with the Miami Marlins.  This is a crapload of CASH for an old, soft-tossing, lefty.  Being that he's left-handed and doesn't throw hard, he's officially crafty though; so he's got that going for him.  Buehrle's 161 wins with the Sox is the 6th most in franchise history.  Santos was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor league pitcher Nestor Molina after saving 30 games in his first year as a closer for the White Sox.  Pierre led off for the White Sox for the last two seasons, stealing a whopping 68 bases in 2010, but his best years are behind him and he's looking at a bench role in Philadelphia.  Carlos Quentin hit 20+ homers for all four of his years with the White Sox, but has never been able to match the output of his first full season where he finished 5th in MVP voting.  Quentin was traded to the Padres for two AAA starting pitchers.

The additions aren't much to speak of as the White Sox look to give some of their young players a shot.  Kosuke Fukudome spent 4 years with the Cubs and displayed some on base ability but little pop and not much speed.  He'll likely be the 4th outfielder for the ChiSox.  Dan Johnson was invited to spring camp as well, but he's only worth mentioning for his epic pinch-hit homerun last year that helped oust the Red Sox from the playoffs and that he went to Blaine High School.  He's probably ticketed for the a bench role or the minors.  Here's a pretty hot reporter recapping that night:

2012 Outlook

The pitching looks solid with some veteran starters that can be successful and prospect lefty Chris Sale in the 5 spot.  There are no Cy Young threats here, but they're definitely better than what our beloved Twins are throwing out there.  The bullpen also has some talent with veterans Crain and Thornton and 23 year old flamethrower Addison Reed on the back end. 

The lineup is full of question marks.  De Aza had a great 150 at bats for the Sox last year, but I'm not sure he gets anywhere near .300 over a full season.  Ramirez and Konerko are solid pros and Dunn and Rios and Beckham are all looking to rebound.  Dunn had an all-time terrible 2010 and was paid a boatload to flounder like I do on the golf course.  Viciedo is a young Cuban with 20+ homerun power and Morel showed signs of life late in the year; so they both have upside.  I assume Cubans Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez smoke cigars and listen to awesome music in the clubhouse post-game.

We'll always love you, Ozzie
 2012 Projected Lineup

1. Alejandro De Aza, CF
2. Alexei Ramirez, SS
3. Paul Konerko, 1B
4. Adam Dunn, DH
5. Dayan Viciedo, LF
6. Alex Rios, RF
7. AJ Pierzynski, C
8. Brent Morel, 3B
9. Gordon Beckham, 2B

2012 Projected Rotation

1. Gavin Floyd RHP
2. John Danks, LHP
3. Jake Peavy, RHP
4. Phillip Humber, RHP
5. Chris Sale, LHP

Closer: Matt Thornton/Jesse Crain

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