2015 A.L. Central Preview: Chicago White Sox

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It has been a busy offseason for the Chicago White Stockings, and one that has certainly improved an underachieving squad from 2014.

From big name pitching prospects to more power in the line-up, the pale hose opened their check books and went shopping.  But will that equal success in 2015?  With an improved division all around, here is a little preview of the White Sox and some predictions from this season.

 

New Acquisitions:

 

The White Sox acquired 5 new players this year for a grand total of $132 Million dollars (that is more than the entire payroll of the Royals).   Names like Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche will be brought in to add more pop where new arms Jeff Smardzija, Zach Duke and closer David Robertson will be brought in to silence the opponents bats.

The biggest acquisition for the White Sox is definitely Smardzija.  Paring him with Chris Sale provides a one-two combination that will win a lot of series this season for Chicago.  Though his career win/loss record is less than stellar, (36/48 .429%) most of those 7 years were spent on the Cubs.  Yes I am a Cubs supporter, but I will be the first to admit that team was garbage the past few seasons.  So as often stated in Baseball, wins is a terrible statistic to base a pitchers worth on.   Instead the strikeouts to walk ratio would be a better place to look as you will see he has struck out on average over 100 batters a season (738), holding almost a 4:1 k/bb ratio.   To go along with that, he posted a sub 1 WHIP last year during his time in Oakland.

As for Royals fans, former team members Emilio Bonafacio and Melky Cabrera will both be joining the White Sox this year.  Melky was definitely on the Royals radar this offseason, as a replacement for Nori Aoki.  Yet the bidding war, as it always does, fell short for KC and the Melkman was delivered to Chitown.

Returning Stars

The White Sox are stacked with bright stars, the biggest being Lefty Sensation (and a guy the Royals Passed on due to fears of his mechanics) Chris Sale.  Don't worry we got Christian Colon instead.  Last year's All-Star game starter, and 3rd top vote getter for the CY Young award will no doubt stymie the Royals…and everyone, again this year.  His dynamic mix of pitches mixed with his delivery has made him one of the most valued young pitchers in the league.

The second young star for the White Sox is Cuban defector  Jose Abreu.  Abreu set A.L. pitching on fire last year roasting 36 homers with 176 total hits, posting a .317 avg. and a .581 Slug.  This tear was good enough for Rookie of the Year honors and a nod for 4th place in the MVP voting.  A crazy note about Abreu is he did all of this while only hitting one solo homer against the Royals last season.  One can only hope that trend continues.

The Good

The White Sox definitely have some pop in their line-up.  This offense will be prolific at times.  The afore mentioned Abreu, Cabrera, and LaRoche will surely drive in 250+ runs themselves.  When you pair that with standouts Avisail Garcia's (or lil' Miggy as he is referred to), Royal killer Alexi Ramirez, and the pesky Adam Eaton you can see this team scoring 5+ runs a night.

You pair those runs with the pitching talents of Sale, Smardzija, and rookie phenomena Carlos Rodon (who after seeing a few times in Spring training needs to be in this rotation), you may not need half that many runs a night.

The Bad

The White Sox still have some serious holes in their defense and line-up.  Catcher may be the most glaring example.  Tyler Flowers is a very below average catcher.  And on a team with such strong pitching this may be hidden a little.  But his 147 strikeouts last season at the plate will not be as easy to hide.  Yes he had a few big games against the Royals early in the season, but as a career .218 hitter, he stands out on this team…in a bad way.  Another spot that is lacking (both defensively and offensively according to scouts) is at second base.  It is looking like Micah Johnson may win this battle.  His career numbers in the minor leagues are not great posting only a .241 avg.  But the kid is lightning quick with 125 stolen bases in 3 seasons.  The only problem here is you can't steal first…and his defense is below league average.

The Ugly

This bullpen is near the bottom in the A.L.  And the Royals can thank them for that.  Last year alone the Bullpen was saddled with 32 loses.  Pair that with a 4.38 ERA and you have a recipe for a lot of heartache.  The club did a good job acquiring David Robertson to stabilize the back end, but I am not sure this will be enough.

  A second ugly spot is the back end starters.  Rodon is not expected to start with the big club (though he should).  Instead it is looking like the serviceable Jose Quintana will be the third starter..but after that it gets pretty messy.  John Danks seems to still somehow find a spot in this rotation even though he is a shell of the pitcher he was prior to arm surgery in 2012.  And Hector Noesi was picked up in the offseason after both the Rangers and Mariners decided to end that project.  This rotation is a real tale of two parts.

Predictions

Line-up

1. Adam Eaton CF

2. Melky Cabrera LF

3. Jose Abreu DH

4. Adam LaRoche 1st

5. Avisail Garcia RF

6. Alexi Ramirez SS

7. Connor Gillaspi 3rd

8. Tyler Flowers C

9. Micah Johnson 2nd

Rotation

1. Chris Sale

2. Jeff Smardzija

3. Jose Quintana

4. John Danks

5. Hector Noesi

Closer

David Robertson

 

2015 Prediction:

 Chris Sale having to start the season on the DL will really hurt this team.  As a Royals fan I know what a slow start can do for the rest of the season.  So playing from behind in the standings early takes a real toll on a team.  I also don't know if Chicago's Manager Robin Ventura has ever full recovered from the beat down Nolan Ryan gave him so many years ago.  He has grossly underachieved as a manager and I can easily see him on the Hot Seat in Chicago.  Pair that with a below average pen and back end rotation, and those flames will only intensify.   I see this team improving over last year by shear brut force in the offense but not enough to climb out of 4th place in the Central.

Total Projection 80-82, 4th in the A.L. Central.  Chris Sale A.L. CY Young, Robin Ventura out in June.

 

 

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Author: Walker

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2 Comments

  1. Sale is only projected to miss one start.  He's scheduled to pitch on April 12, the first time they need a fifth starter.

    Rodon will join the rotation in late April or early May, after his service clock issues go away.  There's even word that he might start with the club but be demoted to AAA for two or three weeks around the All Star game.

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  2. A few strange things I noticed

    1.) I'm not sure why it's important that the total contracts over the next X amount of years means anything compared to the Royals 2015 payroll (which is pretty much exactly the same as the 2015 Sox)  $132 million is also more than the Sox payroll.

    2.) Micah Johnson is a career .297/.366/.422 hitter in the minor leagues, not a .242 hitter

    3.) The White Sox acquired Zach Duke, Dan Jennings and Robertson to shore up the bullpen

    4.) Chris Sale is only missing 1 start

    5.) Quintana is "serviceable"

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