30 Days for 30 Teams: Chicago White Sox

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BY COREY MUELLER

2013 Record: 63-99 (5th Place AL Central, 30 GB)

From AL Central contenders to last place in the Central Division, the Chicago White Sox have had the worst swing of seasons in a while.  The Sox posted a pitiful 63-99 record last year, their first 95+ loss season since 1975. The White Sox also saw the coldest Opening Day since 1907, and the cold stayed with the Sox’s offense all season.

Only one player, Adam Dunn, had more than 65 RBI last year, while six Sox players drove in more than 70 runs in 2012.  Chicago is in serious need of offense after the massive decline in production they saw last year.  Luckily, the White Sox added former Cuban League MVP and all-time home run record holder Jose Abreu to try to improve their pitiful amount of runs last year.

The White Sox will definitely see improvement from last year, making key offensive additions, but will struggle in the bullpen.  The White Sox rotation is thin, so it’ll be tough for their offense to keep up with a rotation that posted a 4.00 ERA last year.

Key Acquisitions

1B/DH Jose Abreu  (6yr/$68 mil)

CF Adam Eaton  (2yr/$1 mil)

3B Matt Davidson  (acquired in trade for P Addison Reed)

RF Avisail Garcia (acquired in trade for P Jake Peavy)

The Sox brought in young power hitters, especially with 27-year-old Jose Abreu and 22-year-old Avisail Garcia. They are definitely in a rebuilding stage, and took a step in the right direction with their offense.

Unfortunately, the White Sox neglected to do anything about the weak rotation in the offseason.  Lefty starter Chris Sale  is the ace in the bullpen, but his number 2 and 3 are shaky at best.  He’ll be followed by Jose Quintana  and John Danks , both with ERAs above 3.60.  If Danks can return to his previous form, he’ll help the rotational issues, but there’s still a lot of improvement to be made.

Key Losses

Alex Rios: Although the Sox traded Rios away to Texas in August, they’ll still feel the loss in base running that Rios provided.  In the 109 games he played with Chicago last year, Rios racked up 26 stolen bases, 2nd best on the team.

Jake Peavy: Another during-the-season loss, Peavy still helped out on the mound with an 8-4 record and 1.14 WHIP in 13 games with the Sox.  Chicago has yet to find a replacement to put into Peavy’s spot in the rotation.

Contention hopes: Without a rotation, the White Sox shouldn’t even come close to playoffs next year.  Strap in for another last place season, Chicago. Weird, thought I was writing to Cubs fans for a second.

PLAYER TO WATCH

A lot of hype surrounds Cuban sensation Jose Abreu, and rightly so.  This 6’3” Cuban home run hitter is a physical presence in the box that should definitely do some damage against MLB pitchers.   Abreu led Cuba in home runs, on-base percentage, slugging and OPS while ranking second in batting average, so it’ll be interesting to see what he can do in the Big Leagues.

Avisail Garcia is also a name to remember for the upcoming season, after batting .304 with 21 RBI in 42 games for the White Sox last year.  He was mentored by Miguel Cabrera in Detroit, and hopefully retains some of the Triple Crowner’s advice to help out Chicago.  At 6’4” 240 pounds, he also adds a massive presence, much like Abreu.  Look for these two to players to cause problems for opposing pitchers in the upcoming season.

Projected Opening Day Lineup

white sox opening day

The final two men in the rotation, Felipe Paulino and Erik Johnson, had ERAs over 4.30 last season and less than 200 strikeouts combined last year, so expect the White Sox to struggle at the mound this year. The offense definitely made an improvement over the last year, but the pitching staff has gone stagnant.  Chicago should win more games this year, but not many.  Although Chicago will be battling for fourth place this season, they’ll definitely be more exciting at the plate.

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