The White Sox didn’t nearly have the success their counterparts to the north enjoyed, but they did improve on a porous campaign the season prior with better pitching and a more consistent bullpen. The Sox improved their win total from 2014 to 2015 by three games which isn’t a lot by the eye test, but if you look more closely you can see the trend is clearly upwards for the Southsiders.
For starters the White Sox have three very good lefties in their rotation that are all not only young, but under control for several years. Chris Sale’s going to be just turning 27 when he makes his opening day start this year against the A’s in Oakland, and he’s got club options that will keep him in a White Sox Uniform until after the 2019 season when he’ll be 31. Jose Quintana will be 27 next month, and Carlos Rodon will be 23 on Thursday. The White Sox in addition to having a great starting staff of lefties have already in place for the long term some good bullpen arms most notably in the form of Carson Fuller whom they chose with the eighth overall pick last year out of Vanderbilt. The Sox already have one of the better closers in the league in Dave Robertson who they got in free agency last year, and now just need to build around him. Fullmer would be a phenomenal set up man who could step into the role when Robertson’s contract comes to an end in 2018.
Offensively the White Sox saw their team show more a of a complete lineup with the additions of Carlos Sanchez and Trayce Thompson during the season. Adam Eaton had a much better year and showed his ability at the leadoff position by topping the team in on-base at .361 with 17 steals. The guys that need to step up this year is Melky Cabrera who is a potential batting champion and Adam LaRoche who was a total disappointment throughout 2015 after signing a big free agent contract last winter. LaRoche batted just .207 with 12 home runs and spent most of the time hitting behind Jose Abreu who still put up monster numbers despite protection in the lineup.
The White Sox also have SS Tim Anderson on the way after they declined the $10 million option on Alexei Ramirez. Anderson is the White Sox top rated prospect and currently number 38 overall according to MLB.com. The infield offensive production is what is lacking most of all and after they signed two catchers in Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro, the Sox current catchers on their 40-man roster aren’t striking fear into the hearts of opponents. The White Sox need a whole new left side of the infield is what it appears, and that is something Rick Hahn will be looking at during this week’s Winter Meetings. Carlos Sanchez was a nice addition but it’s not clear whether he can play a full 162-game schedule annually. Gordon Beckham’s gone again signing with the Braves last week and if Anderson isn’t going to occupy one of the double play positions then the White Sox are really in trouble ext season. They say teams are built up the middle and the White Sox currently have no building blocks there to speak of.
As it stands right now the infield has a lot of questions outside of catcher and 1B in terms of everyday starters. The outfield should actually be pretty good with Eaton, Cabrera, and Garcia. Cabrera had a down year, but has the potential to hit well above three hundred while driving in runs if put in the right position. Garcia is a strong number five hitter in any lineup in baseball, and we’ve already gone over how Eaton had a bounce back year showing his worth at the top of the lineup. Trace Thompson (Brother of Splash Bros. Klay Thomspon) showed some promise last year in 44 games hitting .295, but he adds to a crowded outfield and could be best suited for a platoon situation.
The White Sox have some good pieces in place, but they’re not going to be as successful as the Cubs for the next few years unless they catch lightning in a bottle. They have the defending World Series Champion Royals in their division and they’re not as close as the Twins in terms of churning out good quality prospects. Chicago’s Southside Baseball Team needs to find out what it has in it’s younger players and hope those guys can carry them through a full season. Rick Hahn doesn’t have a lot to work with outside of his top starter, closer, outfield, and first baseman, Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn may need to think about selling early on Sale and reaping the benefits of that unbelievably friendly contract. Sale has yet to suffer any sort of arm problems other than fatigue. He has a very thin build and throws a lot of sliders with a jerking motion. Not saying it’s going to happen, but if he has Tommy John Surgery his stock will plummet. Zack Greinke to the Brewers changed the Royals franchise and got them to where they are today. It was a long process for Kansas City but the White Sox are picking high again in this years draft (10th) and could get themselves five or six prospects in return for Sale. Just something to think about for the front office at Sox Park!