I'm not a betting man, so I'm not interested in doing "closest to the pin" predictions of the Sox final record and position in the standings. Most of the experts are picking the White Sox to finish fourth, and they are probably right.
I will say this: the White Sox will win more than 63 games in 2014. It's a mathematical certainty. The White Sox team of 2014 is certainly better than the White Sox team of 2013, which was pretty much the 2012 team minus Kevin Youkilis and some dumb luck.
You cannot look at the White Sox in the context of a race to win the AL Central. Concede that to the Tigers...or the Royals...or the Indians. The Sox will most certainly be on the outside looking in.
Print the preceding paragraph. Cut it out, and stick it to your fridge. Because you'll need it when the White Sox go on a hot streak this summer. It will happen. The Sox will win 8 of 10 and flirt with first place in the AL Central. At this point, the imagination will start to wander....
You'll imagine a celebration at US Cellular Field as the White Sox clinch a playoff spot. In this dream, Adam Eaton runs around the warning track, spraying fans in the outfield with champagne. Paul Konerko, the old veteran, addresses the fans and thanks them for their support. He's happy because some additional dates have been added to his farewell tour.
Since that's not going to happen, you have to break down the upcoming season into its component parts.
Despite the lack of pennant race, this White Sox team is surprisingly watchable. Jose Abreu has already turned into a "stop everything that you're doing and watch this at-bat" type of player. Adam Eaton is demonstrating that he has the talent to match his outsized personality. Marcus Semien could be part of the White Sox infield for years to come. Avisail Garcia is picking up where he left off in 2013.
As for the pitching, Chris Sale is Chris Sale. Jose Quintana settled down after a rough spring. John Danks is starting to look like the John Danks of old.
But, there are just as many signs that the 2014 White Sox will churn out its share of clunkers. This is a young team, which means it will work out the bugs as the season rolls on.
The best case scenario for 2014 would be a repeat of 1990. The last year in Old Comiskey Park was a surprisingly competitive year that set the stage for the decade to come.
And wouldn't you know it? Robin Ventura just happened to be a part of that renaissance. He knows what its like to be a young player struggling through big league at bats. He knows what it's like to be caught up in the pressure of a pennant race. And he knows what it's like to finally follow through. He has the insight to make this work.
To me, 2014 is a success if it appears the White Sox start lurching toward takeoff speed.
For example, the 1983 team capitalized on successes in 1981 and 1982. The '81 Sox were 11 games over .500 and 2.5 games out of first place when play stopped in June. The '82 Sox went 87-75. In '83, the Sox won 99 games and a division championship.
The surprise success of 1990 set the table for 1993 and what we thought was going to be a decade of dominance.
If 2014 looks like "Chapter 1," this season will be a success.
Consider this your predictions post. What do you expect out of the White Sox in 2014?