INF Tadahito Iguchi (free agent from Japan), C A.J. Pierzynski (free agent
from San Francisco), RHP Orlando Hernandez (free agent from Yankees), OF Scott Podsednik and RHP Luis Vizcaino (trade with Milwaukee), LHP Kevin Walker (minor
league free agent from San Francisco), RHP Dustin Hermanson (free agent from San
Francisco), OF Jermaine Dye (free agent from Oakland).
2B Roberto Alomar (free agent, signed with Tampa Bay), SS Jose Valentin (free
agent, signed with Los Angeles), LF Carlos Lee (traded to Milwaukee), C Sandy Alomar Jr. (free agent, signed with Texas), LHP Scott Schoeneweis (free agent,
signed with Toronto). RF Magglio Ordonez (free agent)
1: CF Scott Podsednik
2: LF Aaron Rowand
3: DH Frank Thomas
4: 1B Paul Konerko
5: RF Jermaine Dye
6: C A.J. Pierzynski
7: SS Juan Uribe
8: 3B Joe Crede
9: 2B Tadahito Iguchi
In light of their shift to a pitching and defense oriented team, the White
Sox moved a big bopper, Carlos Lee, to get a speedster to put at the top of the
lineup. The Sox are hopeful Scott Podsednik will resurrect his on base
percentage, all while wreaking havoc on the basepaths.
With the addition of Podsednik, Aaron Rowand will likely shift to left field.
Rowand very quietly had an excellent season for the Sox, leading the team in OPS
(.905). In turn, the 27-year old was rewarded with a new $8.5 million contract
over the next three years.
Frank Thomas has struggled with his health in the past, but when able to
play, is still one of the best hitters in all of baseball. However, ankle
surgery might delay his start to the season in which case the Sox have veteran
Carl Everett to step in and adequately replace him. Paul Konerko is once again a
force in the middle of the lineup for the Sox at first base.
The next two spots in the lineup likely will go to new additions; Jermaine
Dye and A.J. Pierzynski. Dye was signed to help replace the offense lost by
moving Lee, while Pierzynski should give the White Sox a reliable catcher who
can swing the bat as well, something they haven’t had the past few years, and
was always a spot of concern for the team.
After a breakout offensive season in ’04, Juan Uribe will shift to
shortstop, where the team hopes he can replace departed Jose Valentin. A former
shortstop, Uribe shouldn’t struggle with the move defensively – the larger
questions concerns whether or not Uribe can repeat his offensive performance.
The team keeps waiting for Joe Crede to breakout, but he hasn’t yet fully
grasped the big league game yet. He certainly hasn’t done poorly (21 Home Runs
last year), but his average has been low, and he’s struggled in stretches.
A last second signing has made one final change, inserting newly acquired
Tadahito Iguchi into the lineup, in place of Willie Harris. No one knows what to
expect yet from Iguchi, but obviously the Sox weren’t happy enough with Harris
to go into the season as their lone option.
C Ben Davis
IF Wilson Valdez/Willie Harris
OF Joe Borchard/Willie Harris
OF Carl Everett
Ben Davis was originally expected to split time with Jamie Burke for the
catcher position, but with the Pierzynski signing, he’s relegated to backup
duty. He’s not guaranteed the job either; he’ll still have to beat out Burke
to grab it.
Harris, who still hopes to have a shot at competing for the starting second
base spot, will now likely be left with a backup infielder role. Harris may
still demand a trade. It’s likely that the team will keep around Wilson Valdez
as well, to backup the left side of the infield.
Joe Borchard may not make the club out of spring training due to a lack of
available playing time, but as one of the top prospects in the organization, the
team will surely make room for him soon enough. Carl Everett is an experienced
bat off the bench, but if Borchard appears ready, the possibility remains that
he could still the job on the bench from Everett, especially if Thomas proves
LH Mark Buehrle
RH Freddy Garcia
RH Orlando Hernandez
RH Jose Contreras
RH Jon Garland
The team sports one of the best 1-2 combos in baseball, as Mark Buehrle and
Freddy Garcia form a formidable duo at the top of the rotation. These two should
both give the Sox a chance to win each time they come out, especially if Garcia
starts receiving more run support.
The front office then went out and signed Orlando Hernandez to a 2-year deal,
in hopes of providing a strong number three in the rotation. Hernandez is
getting up there in the age, but the White Sox are hoping he can still give the
team another season or two, and should certainly prove to be better than the
youngsters they kept trying in the rotation last season.
Jose Contreras (who was swapped for Esteban Loaiza at the trade deadline)
will hope to finally put everything together and be a solid starter for the
White Sox, something he proved unable to do for the Yankees. Nevertheless, he
still won 13 games in ’04 and should be able to repeat such a performance in
Closing out the rotation is someone who receives little praise, but has been
a steady contributor for the White Sox the past three years in the rotation. Jon
Garland is just 25, but has already won 46 games in his career, and even
eclipsed 200 innings for the first time in his career. Needless to say, the team
believes Garland’s best days are still ahead of him.
Closer Shingo Takatsu
MR Dustin Hermanson
MR Damaso Marte
MR Cliff Politte
MR Luis Viscaino
LR Jon Adkins
Shingo Takatsu returns to the club as the team’s closer, but is already 36
years old, and certainly isn’t getting any younger. Nonetheless, he converted
19 of his 20 save opportunities and should be relied upon again.
But if Takatsu proves unable to hold the closer role, Dustin Hermanson will
happily slide in. Hermanson was the Giants’ closer last season and certainly
isn’t expecting to come in and simply be another middle reliever.
Damaso Marte, the lone lefty in the ‘pen, proved to be the team’s most
reliable reliever, with a 3.42 ERA, and a team high 21 holds. Marte will once
again be relied upon to bridge the gap between the club’s starters and
Further down the middle relief chain, Cliff Politte wasn’t a slouch himself
in 2004 – earning 19 holds for his middle relief work. The team also acquired
Luis Viscaino to give the team another reliable reliever.
Jon Adkins fills out the bullpen, and while he may not necessarily be the
typical long reliever, he can go more than an inning, and the team believes it
is solid throughout where they shouldn’t need to rely on a long reliever to
give the team 3+ innings of work in relief.
BIGGEST QUESTION MARK:
Frank Thomas’ health
Thomas has been one of the most dominating hitters of his generation, but the
36-year old’s body has been wearing down over the years. That hasn’t stopped
him from being productive when in the lineup (an OPS near 1.000 in ’04 proves
just that), but for the team to make a run at the division crown, they’re
going to need his bat in the lineup on a daily basis, especially with the
production they’ve lost from Lee and Magglio Ordonez. If Thomas can’t stay
in the lineup, it will put more pressure on younger guys like Rowand and Uribe
to carry the load even more.
With Joe Borchard waiting for playing time to open up, and Joe Crede yet to
prove fully ready to have a dominant season like so many had hoped, watch out
for Iguchi, who could do big things for the White Sox. Little is known of the
Japanese product, but in Japan Iguchi had hit for plenty of power, a high
average, and has even won a pair of stolen base crowns. The team won’t put too
much on Iguchi to start, but could be a big player for the team down the road.
After years of trying to make the power-hitting lineup work, GM Ken Williams
decided there needed to be a change, a change in personnel, and a change in
philosophy. This revamped lineup won’t have the same power potential as it did
last season, but with Konerko and Thomas, there is plenty of power between the
two of them. They also for the first time believe they have five reliable
starters – though, Contreras has yet to truly produce, and Hernandez is aging
quickly. The team should be improved in 2005, but unless a number of things go
right for the team, it’s hard to see them overtaking the Twins at the top of
the AL Central, yet again leaving them in second in the division.