Explanation of ratings system and other team previews here
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Overall – 71 points (22nd MLB, 9th AL)
Starting Rotation – 26 points (23rd MLB, 10th AL)
Line-Up – 32 points (15th MLB, 6th AL)
Bench/Bullpen/Defense – 13 points (T-23rd MLB, T-10th AL)
Offseason Additions – Nick Swisher, Orlando Cabrera, Scott Linebrink, Octavio Dotel
Offseason Subtractions – Jon Garland, Scott Podsednik
Biggest Strength– Line-up
I was surprised that the White Sox chose to shore up their offense instead of their pitching in the off-season, but the result is a pretty solid offensive attack. Thome, Konerko, Dye and Swisher will all provide some pop (assuming Dye HAS to play better than he did last year and this ISN’T the year that Thome falls off the map). The additions of Orlando Cabrera and Carlos Quentin will also upgrade the offense.
Biggest Weakness– Starting Pitching
Unfortunately, the reason I picked their line-up as their biggest strength is because none of the other parts of the were really options. It’s hard to believe that just a couple years ago, the White Sox staff put together arguable the most dominating post-season ever on route to their World Championship. Buerhle and Vasquez are a solid top-2 but after them, well, whenever you have Gavin Floyd in your rotation, you lose a lot of points.
Key Player in ’08– Jose Contreras
I personally thought that the Jon Garland for Orlando Cabrera deal was horrendous for this team. You just don’t trade a solid pitcher under 30 for a 30-something SS, regardless of how well he played last year. The trade of Garland means, as I said before, that there is a huge drop-off after the 1-2 starters. I personally think that Contreras’ 5.57 ERA last year is a sign of things to come, not an off-year. He has to prove me wrong for the Sox to even sniff the playoff race.
Player to Keep an Eye On– Scott Linebrink
This is a player to keep an eye on because I think it will be funny when the Sox fans start saying “we signed this guy for how many years?” by mid-season. Don’t get me wrong, Linebrink is a good reliever, but he has been deteriorating the last 3 years and really pitched awful down the stretch for Milwaukee. I see no reason why he won’t keep deteriorating for the next FOUR years and 19 million the Sox signed him for.
Outlook/Prediction– 3rd Place, AL Central. It was really really hard to choose between the White Sox and the Twins for 3rd place in the AL Central. In my rating system, they came out with the same exact score and I’ve gone back and forth on who is better. I’m choosing the White Sox because I think they have less question marks than the Twins, particularly in the starting rotation. I also think that Nick Swisher is gonna have a real good, “screw you for trading me Billy Beane” year and that Konerko and Dye will bounce back from off years, giving the Sox a fighter’s chance every night.