Friday, February 19, 2016

2016 Pre-Season Profile: Chicago White Sox

The White Sox seem to be a team stuck in mediocrity.  They are never good enough to make a serious run late in the season, but they are never bad enough to start over either.  They are a team that is stuck.  Will 2016 change anything?

Last Season
My 2015 Prediction: 3rd in AL Central
2015 Results: 76-86, 4th in AL Central
Chicago tried to make some moves before 2015 to improve the team, but none of them seemed to work out.  This lead to another disappointing season for the White Sox with little to be hopeful for.

2016 Additions / Subtractions
Once again, the White Sox tried hard to improve this offseason by making improvements to their roster that will bring immediate results.  The biggest move was a trade for All Star third baseman Todd Frazier, however they gave up a lot to get him.  They also traded for Brett Lawrie, another third baseman, that they plan to play at second base.  The most underrated move made by the Chi Sox was signing catcher Alex Avila away from the Tigers.  Avila is a great game caller and can really help out the pitching staff.  They also lost some key contributors to free agency like Jeff Samardzija and Alexei Ramirez.  It could be argued the biggest move the White Sox made this offseason was the move that was never made.  They were connected to Yoenis Cespedes, but didn't sign him.  They were in talks with Justin Upton, but lost out there too.  Then there is Ian Desmond, who could fit right in at shortstop, but the White Sox seem unwilling (so far) to give up the draft pick to sign him.

Most Important Hitter
Adam LaRoche
One of the biggest signings of last offseason became the biggest disappointment for the White Sox in 2015.  Adam LaRoche truly showed signs of his age for the first time, hitting just .207 and 12 home runs after hitting .259 and 26 homers the year before for the Nationals.  If the White Sox want to start to show signs of improvement, LaRoche needs to have a bounce back year, and they need to hope the newly-acquired Frazier and Lawrie don't fall into a similar slump.

Most Important Pitcher
Carlos Rodon
Carlos Rodon had a strong rookie season in 2015 for the White Sox.  He should take some strides forward in his sophomore season.  The problem is after not re-signing Samardzija, they have a hole in their rotation that they didn't really address.  Behind Chris Sale, there is no true number two starter now.  Carlos Rodon needs to take some massive steps forward and become that top line starter behind Sale that the White Sox need.

Player to Watch
Tim Anderson
The White Sox's top prospect is projected to be ready at some point in 2016.  He is a natural shortstop, but look for him to make an appearance if there are any injuries or slow starts from Brett Lawrie at second base or Tyler Saladino at shortstop.

2016 Prediction
5th in AL Central
Despite the moves the White Sox made this offseason, they look more like Band-Aids to try and hold together a team that needs to be blown up and started over.  They refuse to go all in to win now by making the few extra moves needed to make them a contender, like signing Cespedes, Upton, or Desmond.  They have a legitimate ace in Chris Sale, but no help behind him.  At the same time, they refuse to rebuild by trading away top players to rebuild the farm system and build young.  Instead, they keep trading prospects away.  Todd Frazier is a nice pickup, but they need more than that to win.  Until they decide whether to go all in for now or for the future, they will never get better.

Fearless Prediction
Manager Robin Ventura will be fired before the All Star Break.
I think Robin Ventura has the potential to be a great manager.  The problem is if this season is disappointing at all, he is most likely to be blamed.  He barely made it through the 2015 season with his job.  Another mediocre to poor season will certainly cost him his job, whether it is his fault or not.

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