Last season went poorly for the White Sox. They finished with their worst record since 1970. They did not lose much this offseason outside of close Addison Reed, but last place teams don’t really need closers. The offense massively underachieved, and despite some deceiving power numbers, there wasn’t much to see. There will be five new faces in the Opening Day lineup that were not here a year ago1. The other four guys (Viciedo/De Aza, Ramirez, Dunn and Flowers) won’t all hopefully be as bad as last season. So where does that leave things?
Best Case Scenario
Unlike last year’s overly optimistic theory that if everything broke right the White Sox could make the playoffs, that doesn’t seem possible this season. Detroit should be just as good, and Cleveland and Kansas City should be better. The White Sox finishing 2nd is probably as good as it could get, and they would need one of those three other teams to really falter.
Individually, Chris Sale would win the Cy Young and Jose Abreu would win Rookie of the Year. Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia would build on what they have done and become good-to-great players. Gordon Beckham and Alexei Ramirez figure out how to get back to what they showed flashes of. Dayan Viciedo and Tyler Flowers become the players everyone thought they would be. Jose Quintana is a legit #2 starter. John Danks improves enough to be a great #3. Nate Jones is the latest out of nowhere closer. And the Sox going into 2015 in serious consideration as possible AL Central Champs.
Worst Case Scenario
The Twins are so bad, that finishing last would take a lot of bad breaks, but finishing with 99 losses again would be tough. Chris Sale would get hurt, or struggle to maintain what he has. The bad Jose Quintana sticks around too long. John Danks is his 2013 model, instead of 2010. The plethora of new arms in the bullpen totally implodes. Jose Abreu is a trainwreck. Adam Eaton can’t stay healthy. Avisail Garcia is a strikeout machine. Gordon Beckham gets sent to the minors. Adam Dunn makes fans long for his abysmal 2011 season. Paul Konerko’s Farewell Tour is the only highlight.
Obviously if those are the extremes, the prediction lies somewhere in the middle. The White Sox will finish 3rd or 4th this year depending on which direction Cleveland and Kansas City trend. Chris Sale will continue to be one of the best starters in the AL. Jose Quintana will bounce between great and awful and leaving the end result somewhere in the middle. John Danks will continue to make the Sox regret the huge contract. Nate Jones will be decent as a closer, and one other new guy will emerge as a great reliever.
Jose Abreu will have a good first season, win AL Rookie of the Year and show promise for the future. Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko will not hit well. Adam Eaton struggles in his first full season, but shows just enough at times (likely with some spectacular catches) for Sox fans to keep a positive outlook. Avisail Garcia gets better, but doesn’t take the leap just yet. Neither Dayan Viciedo or Alejandro De Aza is starting in LF by August 1st. Matt Davidson gets called up before Memorial Day and never goes back down. Alexei Ramirez gets traded. Gordon Beckham plays some shortstop afterwards, but doesn’t hit better and this is his last season with the team.
The Sox will enter 2015 without Dunn, Konerko, Ramirez or Beckham. Their offensive core of Abreu, Garcia, Eaton, Davidson and someone whose name we haven’t heard yet will
- One of those guys is likely Marcus Simien who will be starting the season in place of Gordon Beckham [↩]