FanPost

Chicago White Sox Preview

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EDITOR'S NOTE:  ClarkM has done a bang-up job on these run-downs, which I imagine we'll all be referencing in early-season series against the Indians' divisional rivals.  By adding in the navigation above, I wanted to feature not just this final installment but the whole series of team breakdowns. Note that in some browser displays, you may not be able to see the whole width of the tables until you follow the jump. [Jay]

The White Sox won the Central Division last year by beating the Twins in a one game playoff. They finished the season with a record of 89-74, which was also their pythag record. However, the Sox, moreso than any other team in the division, lost some talent in the offseason. Not returning from last season: Javier Vazquez, Orlando Cabrera, Joe Crede, and Nick Swisher.

Let’s start out by looking at their positional players:

Position

Age

’08 Triple Slash

OPS+ (‘06-08)

Plus/Minus (’06-08)

Comment

C-A.J. Pierzynski

32

.281/.312/.416

94, 83, 88

N/A

Pierzynski is a big guy and he has a ton of mileage on his knees but he has been remarkably healthy throughout his career.

1b-Paul Konerko

33

.240/.344/.438

 

134, 116, 102

-5, -3, -2

He is owed 24 million over the next two years and he can veto trades due to his 10 and 5 status.

2b-Chris Getz

25

.302/.366/.448

(AAA numbers)

N/A

N/A

The second base job is wide open, though it appears Getz is the favorite. He is a marginal prospect. Brent Lillibridge and Jayson Nix are also in the mix.

3b-Josh Fields

26

.246/.341/.431

(AAA numbers)

N/A, 101, N/A

N/A, -19, N/A

Third is another unsettled position with Wilson Betemit as their other option.

SS-Alexei Ramirez

27

.290/.317/.475

N/A, N/A, 103

N/A, N/A, -8

(Numbers are at 2b.)

Plus/Minus thought Alexei was a bad defender at second, but the Sox seem to disagree as they are moving him to short, an even tougher defensive position.

Lf-Carlos Quentin

26

.288/.394/.571

115, 63, 148

(Only 191 and 263 PA in ’06 and ’07, respectively.)

-3, +3, -10

(’06 and ’07 are small samples and were in right.)

So, getting hit by a pitch is sort of a skill, right? It seems that for some guys, it is very repeatable. Quentin had 20 last year and often had high totals in the minors.

Cf-Jerry Owens

28

.276/.346/.316

(AAA numbers)

N/A, 67, N/A

N/A, +11, N/A

Yet another unsettled position. It might be wishful thinking on my part but I think they’ll go with Owens, the speedster over Brian Anderson or Dewayne Wise.

Rf-Jermaine Dye

35

.292/.344/.541

151, 105, 126

-14, -41, -17

Those defensive numbers are awful and I have to think the offense is going to slip a little this year.

DH-Jim Thome

38

.245/.362/.503

155, 150, 123

N/A

Boo.

UT-Wilson Betemit

27

.265/.289/.429

(Only 198 PA)

101, 101, 86

He plays all over the infield, but doesn’t rate well anywhere.

In 1,225 career PA, he has put up an OPS+ of 95 despite never getting consistent playing time. That will probably change this year as Fields isn’t good.

OF-Dewayne Wise

31

.248/.293/.450

(Only 143 PA)

N/A, N/A, 90

N/A

He’s 31 and has never gotten more than 150 PA at the big league level.

There is so much that can go wrong with this offense due to the potential declines of Thome, Konerko, Dye, and Pierzynski and the uncertainty at third, second, and center. The other two players, Ramirez and Quentin, had seasons last year that kind of came out of nowhere, so regression could be expected there as well. Another concern here is depth as they do not have adequate replacements at C, 1B, DH, LF, and RF.  According to BPro’s two team metrics, the White Sox were a little better than average on the basepaths and a little below average in the field last year. The farm system isn’t likely to help the offense this year as most of their position player prospects probably won’t be ready till next season.

The starters: GB+ = 100 * GB% (player) / GB% (average). K+ = 100 * K% (player) / K% (average). BB+ = 100 * BB% (average) / BB% (player). Jay gets the credit for this idea. The average I am using was computed by Rich Lederer and it only includes pitchers that threw at least 100 innings and started in at least 33% of their appearances. Rich has done a series of excellent articles on pitchers over at BaseballAnalysts.com. One thing to keep in mind is that these categories aren’t created equally. It is better to be above average in K+ than to be above average in BB+, and better to be above average in BB+ than to be above average in GB+.

Pitcher

Age

ERA+ (’06-08)

IP (’06-08)

GB+ (’08)

K+

(’08)

BB+

(’08)

Comment

Mark Buehrle

30

95, 131, 121

204, 201, 218

114

91

138

Buehrle is a rock. He has thrown 200 innings for 8 straight seasons, and in 6 of them, his ERA+ was at least 20% better than average.

John Danks

24

 N/A, 86, 138

0, 139, 195

99

117

111

Danks made substantial improvements in all three categories last season.

Gavin Floyd

26

64, 90, 119

54, 70, 206

95

117

111

Floyd’s peripherals are much better than I thought they were.

Jose Contreras

37

111, 85, 101

196, 189, 121

117

79

118

Contreras is recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon, though he is supposed to be ready near opening day.

Clayton Richard

25

N/A, N/A, 76

0, 0, 47

114

80

131

Richard doesn’t impress scouts or PECOTA.

 

The success of the Sox rotation depends on health of the first four. There is no margin for error as they really only have four acceptable starters. I don’t believe in Richard at all, I don’t think they can get many innings out of Colon, and Poreda is a nice pitching prospect, but he has only spent a half season at AA and he’s hardly an elite prospect. The other options, Jack Egbert and Lance Broadway, are not attractive.

The Sox have a decent pen, though it is probably not as good as they are paying. I’m not sure how much depth they have past Jenks, Thornton, Dotel, and Linebrink. Also of note, Jenks’ K% has gone down in four straight seasons, which should be of some concern.

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