Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Chicago White Sox preview

A team I love to mis-evaluate. I can never figure out how they are going to do. When I think they’re up, they aren’t. When I think they’re down, they win. Last year I thought they would make the playoffs in a surprise. I think they will this year also. In fact, I think they will be very good. I don’t know why. I’m not a White Sox fan, but I’m still going to pick them to advance.


A.J. Pierzynski. The guy everyone loves to hate, he comes to play and to win. Nothing wrong with that. Last year was the worst year of his career, and there is no reason to think he can bounce back to a higher level of mediocrity. He’s below average defensively, which hurts when you can’t hit. But the Sox have no choice, as the back up is equally old Ramon Castro, a career back up. Pierzynski won’t hurt, but he won’t help either.

Upside:  White Sox make a roster move

Downside:  the roster move plays worse

Score:  - 1

First base:

Paul Konerko. The best year of his career, as defined by the super stats, he’ll be hard pressed to do it again. Fortunately, he won’t have to do it all alone as the Sox have some good hitters. He defense isn’t great, and he won’t get a chance to DH, but he’s not there for his glove. His bat will make up for it. He’ll be looking for his 400th home run this year. He won’t hit like last year, but even a drop off is still good.

Upside:  the new contract has him motivated

Downside:  age can’t do what money can

Score:  + 1

Second base:

Gordon Beckham. Worse numbers in fewer at bats than 2009 didn’t make a lot of people a believer, but let’s put it down to the Sophomore Slump. If it really exists. Or it could have been the position switch. He’ll help with the glove, needs to get on base, and could show medium range power. He doesn’t have to be a star on this team, but he can’t drag them down either.

Upside:  does at second base what he did at third

Downside:  isn’t a second baseman

Score:   0

Third base:

Brent Morel. At least on the depth chart. A rookie who hasn’t shown much, even in the minors. Medium power and decent average, but no walks and not much on defense. Mark Tehan is still in the mix, and could end up the starter, or it could be a platoon. Tehan has never really started to hit, and isn’t a plus with his glove, at any position. He’s likely the super sub, so him starting isn’t going to help. Another option is Dayan Viciedo, a young Cuban who showed some power, but no glove. He’ll probably need more time in the minors.

Upside:  someone hits well enough to hold the job

Downside:  no one hits and a roster move is forced

Score:  - 2

Short stop:

Alexis Ramirez. Last year’s American League Silver Slugger, he’s consistent, if average. His glove will help, and the team will be good up the middle. If he can repeat last year’s numbers, he’s a solid player for the team. He needs to get on base more. He does a lot of things well, but not spectacular. He’s old to still be ‘improving’, but maintaining will be okay.

Upside:  any slight improvement

Downside:  injuries or a prolonged slump

Score:  + 1

Left field:

Juan Pierre. I’m going to start the official “shut the hell up and leave Juan Pierre alone” fan club. Seriously, the guy doesn’t deserve all the bashing he gets. He’s a good player, even if he isn’t a statistical darling. He’s walked more than he’s struck out in his career, has an above average OBP, steals a shit load of bases, hits triples (I love ‘em) and plays excellent defense in left field. If you have a bunch of bashers in you line up, there is nothing wrong with having Juan Pierre out there somewhere. He’ll help, not hurt.

Upside:  does what he does every year, even If the experts don’t like him

Downside:  Ozzie starts listening to the experts

Score:  + 1


Alexis Rios. A good year. He’ll never become a superstar, but he’s helping his team. He needs to walk more and cut down on his strikeouts, but that probably isn’t going to happen at his age. He’s better suited defensively in right field than center, but with his range, he can still be effective. If he can maintain what he’s doing, he’ll be fine.

Upside: just gets to play

Downside:  one of the big boppers gets hurt, and he has to contribute more than he can

Score:  + 1

Right field:

Carlos Quentin. When he’s healthy and plays full time, he’s a good one to have out there. He has to hope he’s healthy this year. He’ll have lots of help on offense and doesn’t need to press, just do what he’s capable of. Defensively he best as a designated hitter, but that’s not an option here. He has a terrible year defensively, so he really needs to work on that.

Upside:  stays healthy

Downside:  his up year / down year career is due for a down year

Score:  + 1

Designated hitter:

Adam Dunn. Free from the necessity of carrying a glove, he might have that break out year every one has been waiting for. All he has to do is hit, and he does that very well. Proving that batting average isn’t the best metric (I do like it, but there is more to a player than that), he does what he’s supposed to. Gets on base, and gets around them. He’s got quite a few bats around him, and they’ll all work together to take pressure off of him. The only downside is that he can’t play the field, which means one of the big bats is out of the line up when a day off is needed.

Upside:  becomes Jim Thome

Downside:  someone gets hurt and he has to play the field

Score:  + 2

Backup catcher:

Ramon Castor or Tyler Flowers. A 34-year old career back up who will get into way more games than he needs to, or a rookie who has regressed through the minors. To be fair, Castro isn’t terrible with the bat, and is okay with the glove. But he’ll already have to start at least 40 games. Do you really want him starting more? Flower won’t be up unless Pierzynski goes down, but he’s not really an option either.

Upside:  Castro does well again in limited playing time

Downside:  Castro becomes the starter

Score:  - 1

Backup first baseman:

Mark Tehan. He’s okay for this position. You wouldn’t want him to do it full time, but he can fill in. Adam Dunn is the other option, and while you really don’t want him fielding, it’s not a major concern at this position. Tehan will field better, Dunn will hit better. As long as it’s a few games, no harm will come of this. Major playing time will not be good. This will cause too many issues with the line-up.

Upside:  Konerko is healthy and starts 140+ games

Downside:  Doctor Strangeglove is already taken if Dunn has to play, forcing a nickname search

Score:  - 1

Back-up infielder:

Omar Vizquel all the way around, and Tehan at third and second, if needed. This is okay. Vizquel’s got the glove, and Tehan can hit as well as any back up infielder. He’s not terrible defensively, and can maintain the position. What really happens here is what Morel dose at third. Tehan would mostly likely get the call over Vizquel, but a platoon could happen. Or a position move with Beckham. Lots of things, but none of the terribly bad.

Upside:  they don’t have to become full time starters

Downside:  not enough playing time for both of them

Score:  + 1

Back-up outfielder:

Mark Tehan. Again, not bad here. He has played the outfield, has a good arm, decent range, and won’t hurt. He’ll hit well enough for a back up, and do a good job out there. He could play center in a pinch, but Pierre would most likely move over there. He doesn’t really get figure to get a lot of playing time, as long as everyone stays healthy. He’s going to have a long career as a super sub.

Upside:  doesn’t have to start more than 15 games at any one position

Downside:  has to take over at third and there is not back up

Score:   0

Rotation (front 3):

Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, and Jon Danks. It’s not a spectacular rotation, but it’s more than good enough. They don’t give up home runs, and they don’t walk too many. Strike out rates are good, and they also eat innings. None of these guys is going to win the Cy Young, but there will be lots of wins when they are pitching. They’ll have good defense behind and runs to work with. They should all get 15 wins (yeah, I know, but someone gets them) and that’s about what to expect.

Upside:  they’re young and keep getting better

Downside:  any kind of injuries

Score:  + 1

Rotation (back end):

Edwin Jackson and Jake Peavey. Jackson may have actually been their best pitcher last year, once he joined the team. Peavey is a former Cy Young award winner who is still battling injuries. If Peavey is healthy, they aren’t exactly the Phillies. But I wouldn’t laugh at them either. If Peavey can’t go (and remember, they really don’t need him before May), they’ll have to make some kind of move. If he can go, so can the White Sox.

Upside:  Jackson becomes one of the front three and it becomes a front 4

Downside:  Peavey never gets healthy

Score:  + 1


Chris Sale, Jesse Crain, Tony Pena, Will Oman, and Sergio Santo. I’m not really impressed with these guys. They have been okay in limited roles, but all of them together don’t really make an effective bullpen in my mind. Way too many walks, which is never good for the relievers. Not many home runs given up, but they are also all one inning pitchers, except for Pena. That means he’s the bridge if the starters can’t do any distance.

Upside:  the rotation goes deep and limits their innings

Downside:  they all have to pitch one inning every day

Score:  -1


Matt Thornton. Not to be confused with Trooper Thorn, he does have a knock out punch, and will strike out a lot. That has all come as a set up man in the past, and he’s never closed before, so it will be interesting to see what happens. He’ll need to get strike outs, as the rest of the bullpen will walk a lot of guys. He’s had great numbers in the eighth inning. Can he do it in the ninth?

Upside:  doesn’t notice what inning he pitches in

Downside:  always has to come in with the bases loaded

Score:  + 1

Team speed (which includes base running):

Good in the 2/3rds of the outfield, and the middle infield. Tehan and Vizquel won’t hurt you. The rest are pedestals. But the guys who can run (if they get on base) can score off the bats of the guys behind them. Pierre is the only real burner, and he’ll run a lot. The rest won’t steal bases, but some can take the extra one. Kind of a dead even push.

Upside:  half the team runs very well

Downside:  half the team doesn’t

Score:  0

Team defense:

Like the speed, it’s going to be a split. But the good defense is in the middle and outfield, where I think it’s the most important. This will help the rotation, as they keep the ball in the field of play, and it will get caught. Shouldn’t be a lot of free outs, and that will help by not putting as much pressure on the offense.

Upside:  a Gold Glove somewhere out there.

Downside:  Dunn has to play the field

Score:  + 1

Team batting:

Should be a big power year, but might not be as many runs. They don’t walk a lot, and they are prone to strike out a lot. Lots of doubles will help, but will singles score them, or will it take the long ball? This is going to be the biggest question for the team. Will they rake, or get hoe’d under?

Upside:  they party like it’s 1977

Downside:  it’s a Bill Melton redux

Score:  + 1

Team pitching:

They will be better than most people think, and more important than the offense. I guess you could say that about any team, but you could also say it the other way around. Good starting pitching, and a good closer. They just have to hope the bullpen can get it down. I think this team will contend, and I think the staff will carry them through the playoffs. But that’s what I said last year.

Upside:  the first four go 200 innings each, and Peavey gets 150

Downside:  the bullpen walks a batter everytime Dunn strikes out

Score:  + 1

Total score:    + 8

No comments:

Post a Comment