MLB PREVIEW: 2014 CHICAGO WHITE SOX
February 12, 2014INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
Chicago fans on the south side should be excited about the future of the White Sox. The front office did its job by getting rid of the dead weight and bringing in young talent. The Sox became a team that wasn’t fun to watch and it showed in the team’s attendance. In 2012, Chicago won 85 games. In 2013, they sank all the way down to 63 and GM Rick Hahn said enough is enough.
RF AVASAIL GARCIA
The White Sox had a busy off-season, acquiring 1B Jose Abreu, 3B Matt Davidson and OF Adam Eaton. They will join RF Avisail Garcia, who was acquired last season to form a strong nucleus for 2014. In 2013, Chicago had one of the worst offenses in MLB (3.69 runs per game) and finished dead last in the AL Central losing 99 games. Abreu, Davidson, Eaton and Garcia will make Chicago’s offense better from day one.
1B JOSE ABREU CF ADAM EATON
The Sox are one of the few major league teams with three left handed starting pitchers. Chris Sale is the ace after going 11-14 with an ERA of 3.07. (Imagine how good Sale would have been if he had any run support). Sale will eat up 200 plus innings as long as he stays healthy. Jose Quintana improved from 2012 to 2013. His fastball is better and he continues to get groundball outs. Quintana is another pitcher who can go 200 plus innings. John Danks came back from shoulder surgery and had an up and down year in 2013. If he stays healthy, Danks can be a solid number three because of his good command. Erik Johnson had the chance to audition late last season and showed a lot of promise. Johnson throws hard (mid-90’s fast ball) and has a very good slider. Also in the discussion for a starting spot will be RHP Felipe Paulino, RHP Andre Rienzo and LHP Charlie Leesman.
LHP CHRIS SALE
The Sox traded closer Addison Reed for Matt Davidson and there was a reason why. Reed amassed 69 saves in two seasons but blew eight chances in 2013, second most in baseball. Reed was also a fly ball pitcher in a fly ball ballpark. With Reed gone, the job now belongs to Nate Jones, who had been the set up man for Reed over the last two seasons. Jones has a mid-90’s fastball and uses a nasty curveball as his strikeout pitch. Chicago was thin in the bullpen in 2013 so they added RHP Ronald Belisario and LHP Scott Downs in the off season.
A.J. Pierzynski has moved on and a much younger Tyler Flowers got his chance to play every day in 2013. Flowers struggled in his first season hitting only .195 with 10 HR’s. Flowers had shoulder surgery in the off-season and that should help him at the plate and in the field. Flowers will be counted on to be the man since there is very little behind him. As of right now, Rule 5 draftee Adrian Nieto is the backup.
C TYLER FLOWERS
The White Sox are very excited to see what Jose Abreu can do. Abreu is expected to hit for power and drive in a lot of runs. His $68 million contract should help motivate him. Chicago scouts noticed Abreu when he hit .383 with three HR’s and nine RBI’s in the World Baseball Classic last summer. Abreu will play first base with Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko backing up Abreu and sharing the DH duties.
Alexei Ramirez is a quality shortstop who hit 22 HR’s last season. Ramirez never gets rolling until the temperatures get warmer so White Sox fans will have to be patient until late May or June for his bat to get hot. Chicago fans are still waiting for 2B Gordan Beckham to come alive. Beckham is a good second baseman but his bat isn’t anywhere close to what the Sox hoped it could be. 3B Matt Davidson is still learning how to play he position but fans may allow him to be average as long as he hits the long ball. Jeff Keppinger and Conor Gillaspie will play behind Beckham and Davidson.
SS ALEXEI RAMIREZ
Newly acquired CF Adam Eaton is a player who never takes a day off. He plays with more intensity than most every other player in MLB. The White Sox are planning on using Eaton at the top of the order so they can utilize his speed. Eaton will be joined by future All-Star RF Avisail Garcia. Garcia is being compared to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera because of his natural power. The downside to Garcia is his lack of patience. When things aren’t going right, Garcia has a tendency to swing at bad pitches. The Sox are also looking at Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza to take charge in leftfield. Viciedo hasn’t been the power hitter the White Sox expected and De Aza is the better defensive player.
Chicago White Sox fans have more to cheer about than their north side counterparts. But it isn’t going to happen in 2014. The pieces are there for a bright future thanks to GM Rick Hahn but those pieces won’t be in place for a couple more seasons.
PREDICTION: 4th place AL Central