Wednesday, March 21, 2012
White Sox Prediction for 2012: Pain
The Sporting News today picked the White Sox to finish in the cellar of the AL Central and, not surprisingly, the powerhouse Tigers are slated to win the division (they won't). Granted, the White Sox' General Manager Kenny Williams has made several awful acquisitions and a few inexplicable moves over the past few years, but I'm more sanguine about their prospects this year: third place.
First, allow me to dump on Mr.Williams. If you are going to re-build, then for chrissakes re-build. This would look something like trading Paul Konerko, John Danks, Gavin Floyd and Matt Thornton and cultivating a White Sox farm system which is among the worst in Major League Baseball. On the other hand if you are going for a pennant this year, then why allow Mark Buerhrle to escape to free agency? And regardless of rebuild or not, what was the deal with trading Sergio Santos (30 saves last year) to Toronto for Nestor Molina (optioned to Birmingham this week). Duh.
I'll allow that the magnitude of the Adam Dunn debacle was unforeseeable, but acquiring the injured Jake Peavy from San Diego and signing Alex Rios to a long term deal were a little more visible as evolving disasters. Reinsdorf somehow sees genius in Williams' commandeering of the club to the cellar.
Enough Williams-bashing, it's just too easy.
This is the line up:
1. Alejandro DeAza, CF, solid defense and has good at-bats. He needs to see lots of pitchers this year and should stay at lead-off.
2. Alexei Ramirez, SS, will bring his usual OBP of .328, but I'd keep him on a short leash in April and May and would not hesitate to move AJ Pierzynski in the 2-spot if Alexei has his usual poor cold weather performance. AJ did well batting second during the World Series year.
3. Paul Konerko, 1B, great. 31 HR's, BA 0.300, All-Star.
4. Adam Dunn, DH. Ugh, it is what it is. He's had a good spring with only one strikeout and should improve on his 0.159 BA from last year, but don't expect him to hit AL pitching any better than maybe 0.230 this year with 20 HR's. I don't think he even sees Verlander's fast balls, he just listens for the catcher's mitt. Barring a surprise recovery, he's broken and should retire after this year--but he won't since Kenny Williams is giving him $14 million/yr through the 2014 season. Ugh.
5. Brent Morel, 3B. If Brett Lillibridge keeps tearing it up like he did last year and has this spring, expect Morel to get challenged. Lillibridge has intangibles like AJ and the Tigers' Brandon Inge; I'd personally like to see him start.
6. AJ Pierzynski, C. He can't throw runners out (maybe because of the pitchers' poor stretch release), but he should give the young pitching staff the best chance to perform confidently. AJ is arguably the smartest player in the league and has a respectable OBP because he hardly ever strikes out.
7. Dayan Viciedo, LF. This youngster has the most potential to be a franchise superstar someday. He needs to get innings by playing everyday and learning the pitchers. I'll be watching his matchups against Verlander and other aces this year. When he gets better he can take the 3 or 4 slot soon.
8. Alex Rios, RF. Nothing to say except it sure would be nice to have a prospect like Jared Mitchell get some at-bats instead.
9. Gordon Beckham, 2B. Beckham was slated to be a power-hitting shortstop and now he's turning into a defensive second baseman. Disappointing. I think he could benefit from the sanity of Skipper Robin Ventura, which is sure to be a welcome departure from the Guillen freak show.
The starting pitchers:
John Danks and Gavin Floyd are solid but need to eat close to 200 innings each just for White Sox to finish the season.
Phil Humber and Chris Sale had strong outings at the end of last year; they are still huge question marks but represent the future of the Sox rotation.
Jake Peavy. I hope I'm wrong but I think anyone who views Peavy as anything but a struggling frustration is delusional. Personally I feel bad for guy, but geesh is he hard to watch.
Trading Santos for 23-year-old Nestor Molina would be a remarkable gaffe on Kenny Williams' part if not for all the other head-scratchers the last few years. Thornton is solid, but getting from the starter to the closer could be an adventure, and I think Santos is a better closer anyway-- look for him on the NL All-Star team this year.
Fortunately, I've moved to Arizona and have a legitimate team that's fun to watch here, but I bleed Sox Black and White and this year has all the makings of a horror show in Chicago. To survive, the pale hose need some pleasant surprises and the most likely sources will be the young SS Eduardo Escobar who's had a phenomenal spring, Hector Santiago, LHP who will go deep into the season unless opposing hitters figure out his screwball and Nathan Jones, RHP who has shown promising control. Beckham, Dunn and maybe even Rios could see dramatic improvements at the plate... and don't forget Lillibridge. If all these stars align, then add breakout years for Sale and Humber, and the Sox have an outside shot at beating even the Tigers who have a fairly mediocre starting staff once you get past Verlander. I can dream.
Regardless, I see the Indians besting the Tigers this year, but that's another blog.