Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Know Thy Enemy: Chicago White Sox

Now that we've re-entered the pre-season, it's time to jump back into the Know Thy Enemy series. Today Devan Gonyea is kind enough to stop by and offer his thoughts on the 2008 Chicago White Sox.

The goal for the White Sox this year is to simply be "in the race" until the bitter end. I don't think there's a single person in the organization that believes they are better than the Indians or Tigers (except Kenny Williams, who knows the Tigers are inferior), nor should there be after the utter disaster that was 2007. Instead of thinking about playoffs right off the bat, the Sox need to worry about staying afloat through May (I gasped when I first looked at that month on the schedule). There is talent and experience and youth on both sides of the ball, which at times should be special to watch this season. However, glaring weaknesses such as the bullpen and bottom end of the rotation could possibly take center stage and ruin any positives. The White Sox will have to hope that some guys magically got better over the offseason in order to entertain hopes of playoffs this year.


Could potentially be top five in the Majors material. Jesus, they are going to mash a lot of home runs. The biggest question mark will be unproven Jerry Owens, the likely leadoff hitter. The lineup will look something like this most of the season, although Ozzie will likely shake things up from time to time:

1- Jerry Owens OF
2- Orlando Cabrera SS
3- Jim Thome DH
4- Paul Konerko 1B
5- Jermaine Dye RF
6- Nick Swisher OF
7- A.J. Pierzynski C
8- Josh Fields 3B (given a Crede trade)
9- Alexei Ramirez/Juan Uribe 2B

Bench: Pablo Ozuna (utility), Toby Hall C, Brian Anderson OF, Alexei Ramirez/Juan Uribe SS/2B

I'm not an incredibly optimistic person, but I can't help but get excited about this lineup possibly covering up a bad start or blown lead here and there (because believe me, there will be bad starts and blown leads. It is written in stone). Konerko and Dye are better hitters than they showed in 07, and will strive to return to .300/35/100 form. I will not be a fan of the Swisher trade until he gets some serious results. Power numbers won't be demanded but he'll get them anyway (I'd prefer a higher average). Josh Fields is going to struggle filling Crede's glove at the hot corner, but his bat is electric—when he makes contact. A.J. will be A.J., which means being a .250 hitter while picking certain spots to be clutch. The 2nd base job will no doubt be the shiftiest and most competitive throughout the season, with Cuban newcomer Alexei Ramirez and Juan Uribe getting a shot. Any kind of offensive production from this spot will be an unexpected treat. Uribe has actually played 2nd before and would absolutely, without a doubt be the steadiest on defense.


Shall be:

1- Mark Buehrle LHP
2- Javier Vazquez RHP
3- Jose Contreras RHP
4- John Danks LHP
5- Gavin Floyd RHP

This is not going to be one of the best rotations in baseball. I'm confident that Buehrle and Vazquez can have 15-18 win seasons, but the rest of the guys are question marks. The ageless Contreras will be depended on more than ever with no Garland to eat six or seven innings every start. We all saw his peak in 2005, but also know the horrors he's capable of (2007). I think by now Don Cooper has taught him everything he knows, so it's up to Contreras alone to throw strikes this season. Perhaps the measure of the Sox's success this year will be equal to Contreras's. The two X factors at the bottom of the rotation are expected to be better, but it'd be silly to expect winning records and sub 4.50 ERAs. The offense knows they will have to bring it every fourth and fifth day.


Was dreadful last season. So bad that it was funny for awhile, then got sad again. The Sox nabbed Scott Linebrink and Octavio Dotel in the offseason, a couple of vets that may or may not be dependable in a hitter's park against AL lineups. Linebrink is switching leagues and will be in a learning process the entire season. Dotel has been steady in the past but will have to prove his health and consistency again. These two will log the most innings by season's end, followed by lefty Thornton. Just give Jenks's sweaty ass a chance, guys. The patchwork pen will consist of:

Scott Linebrink RHP, Octavio Dotel RHP, Bobby Jenks (CL) RHP, Matt Thornton LHP, Boone Logan LHP, Mike MacDougal RHP, Ehren Wasserman OR Nick Masset RHP.

This team could win anywhere from 80 to 90 games, depending on how optimistic you are and what happens at 3rd base. Writing this, I chose to give Fields the benefit of the doubt even though it looks like Crede isn't going anywhere anytime soon and will actually start. It's tough to say the pressure will be off ala 2005 just because nobody expects anything better than third. The moves Williams made seem to demand instant improvement and wins in 2008.

Devan assumes he is the only White Sox fan in Wisconsin. When he turned 18 in 2005, he celebrated the World Series and his birthday with a tattoo of the Sox logo. The Big Hurt drew him in as a kid and he considers Hawk Harrelson one of the 5 best people to ever live.

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