Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 9/9/13
Here we are, folks: the End of Season Post-Mortem series. If you're new here (which about 50% of our reader base is in comparison to last year), here's a brief explanation: after a team is eliminated from playoff contention, we're going to put their season under a microscope and look at just what the hell went wrong, what went right, and so on and so forth. The goal is to post these the day after a team is eliminated. Also, for the first ten teams eliminated, we're going to post a series called "Hope for the Hopeless", which is going to be an expanded version of the "What Went Right" portion of the Post-Mortem series pieces. After four years of clinging desperately to the fringes of playoff contention, the bottom finally fell out for the White Sox. A mini-fire sale at the trade deadline has put White Sox management in the tough position of deciding whether to continue their rebuild or to use their suddenly ample payroll flexibility to try and reload through free agency. Preseason prediction: With the exception of the Twins, everyone in this division got better. The Sox stayed about the same. They'll be fighting for a wild card spot, but whether or not last year was a fluke is a total wild card in itself. What Went Right: Chris Sale has not gotten nearly enough attention for the dominant season is putting up in 2013. Playing on such a bad team has unfairly saddled him with a 10-12 record, but there is little doubt that his sub-3.00 ERA and FIP, his 9.0+ K/9 and sub-2.0 BB/9 should garner him serious consideration for AL Cy Young. Perhaps the most important number that Sale will post this year is the 200+ innings he is on pace to log. For all the handwringing over his unorthodox delivery, Sale has, for now, proven himself to be a durable ace. One of the bright, but still pretty dim, spots for the White Sox is that Gordon Beckham has taken a step back from the abyss. After two straight season of a .296 OBP, Beckham "surged" to a .327 OBP and .310 wOBA. That hardly qualifies him as a star, but it is good enough for Beckham to continue forward as a below average starter at second base rather than a surefire non-tender candidate after the season. If there is one thing that Chicago can get excited about on offense, and that is a big "if," it is Avisail Garcia. Acquired in the Jake Peavy trade, Garcia has been fantastic in a small sample size for the Pale Hose. In just over 100 plate appearances, Garcia has posted a .320/.358/.440 slash line and provided some hope that he can prop up the rapidly decaying top of the order on the South Side. What Went Wrong: Just about everything that could go wrong with the team's offense did. Alex Rios came back to earth after a great 2012 campaign. Paul Konerko completely cratered. Out of all their regulars, it was only Beckham and Alexei Ramirez who actually improved on their numbers from last season and neither of those guys had what you would call a breakout campaign. As of this writing, the only White Sox hitters with a wRC+ over 100 are the since traded Rios (at 102) and the ignominious Adam Dunn (at 107). When Adam Dunn and his sub-.330 OBP is your best offensive player, that's usually a problem. Most Surprising Player: Not all surprises are created equal. Some teams have breakout players others, like the White Sox, have players that fail to flame out. Jose Quintana was something of a breakout player in 2012, but his success seemed to be built on a flimsy premise since his K/9 rate of 5.35 was so far below average. But instead of getting knocked around this year, Quintana stepped up his game, increased his K/9 rate to a far more palatable 7.45 while actually reducing his BB/9 from 2.77 to 2.55. As the White Sox go about rebuilding their pitching staff, they can seemingly rest easy that they have a solid young mid-rotation guy in Quintana. Most Disappointing Player: There is no shortage of disappointments on the White Sox roster, but the biggest of them all has to be Paul Konerko. After a long productive career both on the field and in the clubhouse with the White Sox, Konerko just couldn't do it anymore at age 37. His power shriveled up to a measly .113 ISO and his .320 OBP will end up being the lowest mark since his rookie season 16 years ago. It was a shame to see him fall off a cliff so quickly as Konerko really was one of the more underrated sluggers and leaders of his era and now he is wrestling with the decision to come back for one more year if only to try and go out on a higher note. Honorable mention in this category has to be given to Jeff Keppinger who the White Sox signed for three years, $12 million prior to the season only to have him post a -2.0 WAR (and counting) season, putting him in contention to finish as the worst player in all of baseball according to WAR this season. The Future: The good news is that the White Sox finally seem ready to start planning for the future rather than on finding a quick fix for the present. The Pale Hose were more than willing to be full-fledged sellers at the trade deadline. Jake Peavy, Jesse Crain and Alex Rios were all sent packing in an effort to inject their big league roster with young talent like Avisail Garcia and to beef up their notably weak farm system. While it is never a good idea to assume a team that is still influenced by Kenny Williams will not try and reload in a hurry via free agency, it is more likely that they will continue to try and rebuild. With their young rotation in place and the possibility of Adam Dunn and his $15 million salary retiring, the White Sox could have just a bit over $30 million in committed payroll for 2014, giving them the option to both spend big in free agency and rebuild at the same time. [follow]

This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

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