2011 MLB Team Preview: Chicago White Sox 2011 MLB Team Preview: Chicago White Sox 2011 MLB Team Preview: Chicago White Sox
 

2011 MLB Team Preview: Chicago White Sox

Don’t underestimate the Chicago White Sox heading into 2011, because this team is well-rounded enough to win ballgames.

The White Sox lack the star power names that their division rival Twins and Tigers have with Joe Mauer and Miguel Tejada respectively, but they make up for this in depth.

Led by one of my personal favorite personalities in baseball, Manager Ozzie Guillen makes this one wild group. Tough as nails and never short of drama with Guillen’s no-hold-bard remarks, the White Sox look better than they did heading into 2010.

Whether the White Sox can utilize all their skills is another thing. They have the pieces, but it will take an concerted team effort to have seasonal success.

The Positives:

White Sox fans should be ready to witness home-run mania in 2011.

Acquiring powerhouse hitter Adam Dunn from the Nationals brings a monster bat to an already powerful line-up.

Just how serious?

Well, Dunn had back-to-back seasons hitting 38 home-runs at Nationals Park, which is not a hitting friendly venue. Prior to that Dunn had four seasons of 40 home-runs between 2005-2008. This guy is just 31-years-old and he can flat out hit, expect 45+ from his bat at welcoming US Cellular Field.

Than add the bat of 1B Paul Konerko, who led the team in 2010 with a .312 batting average, 39 home-runs and 111 RBIs. Konerko is 35-years-old, so repeating those numbers is unlikely but he will still produce close to them. Dunn also takes pressure of Konerko.

Round off the line-up wit Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez and Carlos Quentin A forgettable factor is if Quentin can stay off the DL for the whole season, it could be the silent difference maker. Rios can pop up 25+ homers and he is a threat on the bases stealing 34 in 2010, while Ramirez had 29 doubles, 18 home-runs and 70 RBIs making him one of the strongest bats at the shortstop position.

Outfielder Juan Pierre stole 68 bases last season, which makes him a pain for any pitcher on the mound but he has to stay base. Pierre was early to Spring Training, as he wants to improve so this could be an asset. That is if Guillen really works on bunting with Pierre.

The White Sox pitching is made up of innings eaters. Not one stands out from the next and don’t expect too much out of Jake Peavy who is returning from serious shoulder surgery. The good thing for Peavy is he doesn’t have to be the team’s ace because with a staff of Mark Buehrle, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and with Edwin Jackson’s newfound form, Peavy doesn’t have to be anymore.

Some might think that they lost Bobby Jenks to the Red Sox, but the White Sox didn’t need him with Chris Sale and Matt Thornton. Guillen has yet to name the closer of the two, but regardless that is a nice one-two combo coming out of the bullpen. My bet is Sale will be the starting closer.

Catcher AJ Pierzynski who is a solid defender and is familiar with the staff. He has been a stud behind the plate for Chicago since arriving in 2005, the year they won a World Series. His production with the bat has not been great, but at 35-years-old he is a team leader in the clubhouse.

Finally, how can you not love Ozzie, Ozzie, Ozzie, I absolutely adore him the way he does Derek Jeter. Colorful, doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and just oozes emotions that he must be a trip to play would be my guess.

The Negatives:

Between injuries, wasted money on former high draft picks and slumps the White Sox have a tendency to wildly inconsistent. Last season’s ups and downs were so severe that it had to be emotionally draining for the players.

The White Sox still have no clear ace in their rotation, which means there is never that semi-guaranteed win every five games.  It just can’t be Buehrle, though he will probably pitch Opening Day, as he easily had the play the year when he launched the 2010 season.

Even with his 68 stolen bases, Pierre is not a good leadoff hitter and his batting average has been on the decline. Pierre can’t stay on base, as last season his OBP was only .341, so the stolen bases start to become irrelevant. Pierre cannot be a wasted bat at leadoff for the team to be successful down the stretch.

Guillen always talks about working on bunting heading into Spring Training, but continually the team has lost a few games because of a bunting mistakes. Games that cold have decided their postseason berths. Mind-you their line-up is not the ideal group to be bunting, but a few key situations a season they should be able to execute correctly.

Players To Watch:

RF Carlos Quentin needs to stay healthy because his potential is ridiculous. Konerko is bound for lower numbers, minus out Andruw Jones 19 home-runs from 2010 and it can’t fall all on Adam Dunn’s shoulders, so Quentin not being on the DL will essentially makes things a lot easier.

2011 AL Central Prediction:

President Obama will be happy as I predict his White Sox will win the AL Central, but it will be a grind. Still, the White Sox are overall better, in my opinion than the Twins and Tigers.

It will be a tough race but if Ozzie can keep everyone going, and health doesn’t become a 2010 issue, this team is a sure contending frontrunner.

One Comment

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