Since last week, I wrote how terrible the center field situation has been since the Sox decided to go with Brian Anderson. U-God brought up the fact we haven't had a player win a major award since I was a freshman in high school. Colin showed you that we have been in the bottom half of production at every position other than pitcher since 2006. Jim told us the sad story of blowing games when leading in the 9th inning and the fact that nobody in the organization wants to create any conflict.
So I have decided to change things up. I'm going to take a look at the things we have to look forward to as we are about to embark on the dreaded offseason.
Good Seating- One good thing that comes along with a bad club is you can find great seats for great prices. Towards the end of last year I was constantly finding tickets in the Club Level for $25, between the dugouts for less than that and for you well-to-do'ers, the Scout Seats and Gold Coast Club were far less than face value.
Ok... have a great week, see you next Saturday!
In all seriousness, there are a few things to look forward to.
Starting Pitching- As Colin's article mentions above, the White Sox have gotten the most bang for their buck out of the starting rotation. While it is true that we are lacking a Justin Verlander/CC Sabathia type shut 'em down ace, our starting rotation has been solid and deep for a long time now. Even if Mark Buehrle leaves us for greener pastures or John Danks is dealt, our rotation will keep things close. That is how we remained in contention into September this past season even while enduring some of the worst seasons in the history of baseball on offense.
Chris Sale- That shut down ace we are lacking? Maybe one day Sale can fill that spot. He has looked dominant at times out of the pen and every indication is that he is going to be given a shot as a starter next year. While there will be growing pains, I think we should be excited about the prospects of him taking the ball every 5th day.
Infield Defense- Alexei Ramirez continues to be one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. He gets to a lot of balls and makes incredibly tough plays look fairly routine. Of course, he is going to have to stop taking those rocket throws from A.J. Pierzynski in front of the bag to truly maximize his defensive potential.
Last season, Gordon Beckham was unbelievable in the field. If you stopped cursing him for his terrible hitting approach for a little bit (a tough task, no doubt) and just concentrated on his defensive play, you saw a gold glove type defense from the kid. Of course when you are only sticking .210 and were once the golden boy of the organization, that isn't enough. At least he didn't take his offensive struggles out to the field though.
Brent Morel also did a very good job down at the hot corner and will benefit from having Robin Ventura in the dugout.
Paul Konerko may cover as much ground as an old snail at first, but watching him around the bag is a thing of beauty. He is a masterful scoop artist and has a great arm for a first baseman, which is more than enough to get you by at that position.
Bullpen- Besides the early season Matt Thornton blowups and the late season Sergio Santos ones, the bullpen was pretty darn good last year.
Santos settled down the early mess as he constantly dominated hitters to the tune of 13.1 K's/9. His slider is one of the most feared pitches in baseball and now he has another year of pitching under his belt. The sky is the limit for Big Serg.
Jesse Crain also proved to be an asset, as he was the most consistent of the bunch. Crain did his job from the beginning of the season til the end, with very few bumps in between as evidenced by his sterling 2.62 ERA and 9.6 K's/9.
Thornton had his worst year since 2007, but he was still solid after his early season debacle.
Addison Reed looked great in his short stint with the Sox. He made 4 stops in the minor leagues, never having an ERA above 1.59 along the way, while striking out hitters with ease.
Tony Pena has been released.
I realize I haven't listed anything on the offensive end. Paul Konerko slowed down in the 2nd half of last year and is getting near the twilight of his career, so counting on him to have another great season may be a tad of a stretch. I also can't predict that Alex Rios, Beckham or Adam Dunn will come back from the dead or that Morel will continue his September surge. Nor can I say with confidence that Dayan Viciedo and Alejandro De Aza will carry the club.
One thing is for sure though: With a good starting rotation, a great infield defense and multiple guys that will blow you away in the bullpen, the Sox will keep things close. If a couple of guys break out the bats we could win our fair share of games in 2012.
If they don't, well, there is always those ticket prices...