Originally posted on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 3/5/12

As TSHQ continues our 2012 MLB preview, we find ourselves on the South Side of the Chi. The White Sox have made many head scratching moves over the past few seasons which have not paid dividends. Luckily, they still have some solid young pieces and hold on to hope. With the cantankerous Ozzie Guillen no longer managing the Sox, how will Chicago fare in a Detroit-dominated division this season?

Projected Position Players

C – A.J. Pierzynski (Tyler Flowers)

1B – Paul Konerko

2B – Gordon Beckham (Eduardo Escobar)

3B – Brent Morel (Ozzie Martinez)

SS – Alexei Ramirez

LF – Alejandro De Aza (Brent Lillibridge)

CF – Alex Rios

RF – Dayan Viciedo (Kosuke Fukodome)

DH – Adam Dunn

The Good

You can set your watch on the consistency of Paul Konerko. Any team would have loved to plug Konerko at first base for the last 13 years like the White Sox have been lucky enough to be able to. A career .282 hitter, Konerko has slugged at least 19 homers in every season since 1999. Only twice during that stretch did he fail to reach the 22 homerun plateau. Last season, the 35 year old hit .300 with 31 jacks, 105 RBI, and 69 runs. He also recorded one of his career nine steals. At 36, Konerko looks to continue his consistent ways in the middle of the White Sox lineup.

When Alexei Ramirez broke into the league in 2008, he looked like the most promising young shortstop in all of baseball. In 136 games that season, Ramirez hit .290 with 21 homeruns, 77 RBI, and 65 runs. All of those stats, with the exception of runs scored, remain his career highs. While Ramirez remains an above average offensive shortstop (he has registered 165 hits in each of the last two seasons) his career .279 average could be higher. If Ramirez could hover closer to the .300 mark, he would be a significantly more dangerous player. While the 30 year old is not the fastest guy on the bases (47 steals over four seasons), him being on base would result in more runs scored. His career high in runs scored is 83 and if he could get up above 90 he will make a much larger impact on this club.

The Bad

It really begins and ends with GM Kenny Williams biggest acquisition prior to the 2011 season: Adam Dunn. A career National League player, Dunn was never known for his average or his defense. An old school powerhouse, Dunn had a stretch of five consecutive seasons with at least 40 homeruns. He followed that stretch with two consecutive 38 homer seasons for the Washington Nationals. Understandably, Dunn’s physique and power pegged him as the (seemingly) perfect prototype for DH in the American League. Yet, his first season in Chicago was the definition of an epic failure. His .159 batting average was the worst in Major League history for an every day player. His 11 homeruns were eight less than his previous career low which he set in 66 games during his rookie season with Cincinnati. His 42 RBI and 36 runs were also career lows. His historically bad season prompted Dunn to even contemplate retirement during last season. Instead, he decided to tough it out and return to Chicago. The talent is there. His 365 homeruns speak for themselves. But Dunn’s career may well be decided this season, and Chicago’s offense needs him more than ever.

While Dunn was easily the biggest disappointment in all of baseball last season, he was joined by another played who failed to live up to expectations on his own team. Former eighth overall pick Gordon Beckham was atrocious for the ChiSox during his third professional season. Gordon was only able to muster a .230 average over 150 games with 10 homeruns, 44 RBI, 60 runs, and a career worst 111 strikeouts. Beckham also was only able to draw a career low 35 walks, bringing his OBP to a career worst .296. Certainly a season to forget on the South Side for the 24 year old. Luckily for Beckham, the White Sox are far from scrapping the 25 year old. He will have all season to bounce back from his horrid 2011 and if he and Dunn can regain any semblance of their former selves, this offense could be scary enough to do damage.

Projected Rotation & Bullpen

SP – Gavin Floyd, John Danks, Jake Peavy, Philip Humber, Chris Sale, Zach Stewart
RP – Jesse Crain, Will Ohman, Simon Castro, Gregory Infante, Donnie Veal
CL – Matt Thornton

The Good

Gavin Floyd and John Danks have been viewed as strong, young, top of the line starters for a few years now. Now Floyd is 29 and Danks will be 27 in April. While there is still plenty of upside with these two pitchers, neither finished last season with a record above .500. Both are former top nine picks and have seemingly been in the midst of constant trade rumors during each of the past two seasons. While I count count out Kenny Williams from doing such a thing (see: Daniel Hudson), the White Sox would be extensibly poor in the starting department without these two a top their rotation.

In the bullpen, Matt Thornton will finally get his chance to be a full time closer after the White Sox trade Sergio Santos to Toronto for top pitching prospect Nestor Molina. The 35 year old left hander has been incredibly effective for Chicago since 2006. He has recorded 120 holds since he joined the ChiSox in ’06 and has been more than just a lefty specialist. Even if he falters as the cub’s every day closer, he will remain a reliable reliever for this club this season.

The Bad

Jake Peavy was perceived as one of the best pitchers in the league as recently as 2007. Since he went 19-6 with a 2.54 ERA and 240 strikeouts in that season, he simply hasn’t been the same pitcher. He has battled various injuries and has yet to throw more than 173 innings since 2008. During his short time in Chicago, Peavy has yet to make a real impact. He won his first three games during the tail end of 2009. In 2010 he went 7-6 with a 4.63 ERA in 107 innings pitched. Last season, Peavy threw 4.2 more innings over one more start and went 7-7 with a 4.92 ERA. He will be 32 this season. If there were any time for Peavy to turn it around, this would be it.

If Peavy can regain some semblance of his former self, it still leaves the White Sox without a true ace atop their rotation. While Mark Buehrle was not a prototypical “ace”, his consistency was nearly unmatched league wide. His presence in the clubhouse and on the hill once every five days will be dearly missed. Unless Zach Stewart or Philip Humber emerges as a consistent arm throughout this season, the Sox starting pitching may well be their demise.

2012 Projection

The White Sox have too many “what ifs”? What if Jake Peavy can pitch 180 innings? What if Adam Dunn can hit 35 homeruns? What if Gordon Beckham can live up to his own hype? What if John Danks and Gavin Floyd can hold winning records for the entirety of 2012? Too many variables for a team in an incredibly top heavy division. This team may be on the verge of trading away more of its assets during the season in order to build toward the future. With Santos already out in exchange for an exciting young starter, don’t be surprised if Danks or Floyd or both are moved by the trade deadline. That is, of course, assuming the ChiSox are no longer in the hunt for that last Wild Card spot. I do not expect them to be there, but stranger things have happened.


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