Neyer had an extended chat on ESPN that was heavy on AL Central talk. He essentially picked the Sox 4th, but was fairly complimentary of Sox management. He liked the Vazquez signing. Some highlights:
jon (dc): So if the white sox are not co-favorites, who do you see as the favorites in the central? Detroit repeat (or were they the wild card)? Unless Garza is Liriano and Bonser is Radke (and Silva and Ponson eat each other)?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Ah, a fat joke. You know exactly how to tickle my fance, jon. Anyway, my co-favorites are the Tigers and Indians, with the Twins and Sox right behind. If you want to discuss these teams further, we've got all day...
Peter (Cleveland): Rob, upon examining the White Sox it seems to me that they're simply not very good. Their offense is bound to regress (especially Dye and Thome, and to some extent Konerko, Pierzynski, and Crede), and this won't be negated by whatever "improvement" they get in LF and CF. Similarly, their "top 4" pitchers PECOTA ERAs are 4.83, 4.96, 4.50, and 4.77 for B, C, V, and G respectively. This team seems more likely to win under 81 games than over 90...
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Hard to argue with you, Peter. I like Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen, which I think colors my analysis of the club's future. A fundamental question we might ask is, "Which key member of the roster is likely to play better in 2007?" And with the possible exceptions of Buehrle and Uribe, it's hard to come up with names.
Peter (Cleveland): About those Twins...can't you say something similar as to the White Sox? Who, besides Jason Kubel, will play better? Things don't look good, ESPECIALLY if Ponson, Ortiz, and Silva all begin the year in the rotation. There's no Liriano to come to this rescue this year.
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Better in 2007: Kubel, Silva, White, Bonser, Garza . . . Yes, it's a fairly short list, which is why I do have the Twins a tick behind the Tigers and Indians. I promise you, Peter, there is an underlying logic here. Usually.
Steve (Cedar Rapids): Rob, Late last year, everyone was ripping Freddy Garcia because his velocity was way down. He had to pitch a couple of shut outs at the end of the year just to get his ERA under 5.00. I would argue that his 17 wins were in spite of him, rather than because of him. Why has everyone changed their tune from Garcia being washed up, to a huge loss? Also when comparing the AL Central, I have tried to compare each team at each position. In that scenario, the Sox appear to be in pretty good shape.
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Gee, Steve, last time I checked those shutouts at the end of the year counted, too. Garcia's 4.54 ERA was roughly league average, he pitched half his games in a hitter's park, and he pitched 216 innings. That means today he's worth $14 million on the open market. The Sox will indeed miss him. Which isn't to say I don't like the deal.
Steve (Cedar Rapids): Rob, You can't tell me Charlie Haeger can't finish the year with at least a 4.54 ERA, maybe better...
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Oh, I think he can. But I don't think the White Sox agree with us. Again, I'm not saying that I would give Garcia $14 million. I'm saying that's what he would get.
Chuck (Chi): The White Sox and Javier Vazquez have agreed to a three-year, $34.5 million contract, according to Comcast Sportsnet. Good move?
SportsNation Rob Neyer: Really? Another feather in Kenny Williams' cap, if you ask me. Vazquez's wins and losses don't show it, but over the last two seasons he's been just as good as Freddy Garcia. But because of those wins and losses, he comes a few ticks cheaper. Good news for Sox fans.