2010 Chicago White Sox Preview

Rotation
Jake Peavy, RHP
Mark Buehrle, LHP
Gavin Floyd, RHP
John Danks, LHP
Freddy Garcia, RHP

Closers and Setup
Bobby Jenks, RHP
J.J. Putz, RHP

Starting Lineup
Juan Pierre, LF
Gordon Beckham, 2B
Mark Teahen, 3B
Paul Konerko, 1B
Carlos Quentin, RF
Alex Rios, CF
A.J. Pierzynski, C
Alexei Ramirez, SS
Andruw Jones, DH

Player in Decline
Paul Konerko played in 30 more games in 2009 than the previous year, which made his counting stats go up. But his BB/K, LD% and HR/FB rates all declined. The guy who averaged a .291-39-110 line from 2004-06 is but a distant memory.

Player on the Rise
Gordon Beckham came up and held his own as a 22 year old last season. Six of his 14 homers came in the final month of the year and a 25-homer season is within reach if he can take advantage of his home park. Beckham hit just four homers in hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular last year.

Top 5 Fantasy Players
Jake Peavy: Average
Gordon Beckham: Average
Carlos Quentin: Average
Alexei Ramirez: Average
Bobby Jenks: Average

Top 10 Prospects
1. Tyler Flowers, C
2. Daniel Hudson, RHP
3. Jordan Danks, OF
4. Jared Mitchell, OF
5. Brent Morel, 3B
6. Dayan Viciedo, 3B
7. C.J. Retherford, 2B/3B
8. Clevelan Santeliz, RHP
9. Trayce Thompson, OF
10. David Holmberg, LHP

Overall team outlook: The White Sox finished 12th in the American League in runs scored last season and will feature an overhauled offense in 2010. The club said goodbye to Jim Thome late last year and let Jermaine Dye go after the season. Chicago hopes its new imports can lead to a more versatile and balanced attack to support a pitching staff that should be one of the best in the American League.

The Starting Rotation: Jake Peavy won all three starts he made for the White Sox down the stretch and takes over as the staff ace. He battled injuries to his ankle and elbow last year but, when healthy, the former Padre is one of the top starters in the game. Mark Buehrle has always given the club innings and, for the past three seasons, he has also given consistency, as he has averaged a 3.75 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP. Gavin Floyd had better peripherals in 2009 but worse results. His FIP was a full run lower than in 2008 but he dropped from 17 to 11 wins. In his final 21 starts of the year, John Danks had a 3.21 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Freddy Garcia and rookie Daniel Hudson will battle for the fifth starter’s job. Garcia’s velocity is heading towards Buehrle territory but his slider is once again an outpitch. Hudson jumped from Class-A to the Majors last year and showed a good fastball (93.4 mph) in his limited action. He has a 10.6 K/9 in two years in the minors.

The Bullpen: Despite rumors to the contrary, the White Sox kept Bobby Jenks as their closer, inking him to a new deal and avoiding an arbitration hearing. Last year, Jenks saw a rebound of his K rate. Unfortunately, he also saw his HR/FB rate more than triple. But the real reason for his struggles was a tough July, when he allowed seven earned runs in 7.1 innings pitched, all without a homer allowed. In early August, Jenks passed a kidney stone. He finished the season with a 2.50 ERA in his final 17 games, despite allowing three homers in that stretch. Chicago inked J.J. Putz to be a set-up man/back-up closer while Matt Thornton, Tony Pena and Scott Linebrink add quality depth.

The Starting Lineup: The White Sox brought in Juan Pierre to be the leadoff hitter and he replaces Scott Podsednik. Pierre was productive when he led off for the Dodgers, but it remains to be seen if he can thrive in the lineup where Podsednik had just 75 runs in 132 games. Chicago hopes to recoup some lost power with full seasons from Gordon Beckham and Carlos Quentin. Despite playing in one of the best home-run parks in baseball, the White Sox were league average in homers last year and may struggle just to reach that mark in 2010. They will need better production from Alexei Ramirez, newcomer Mark Teahen, and late-season addition Alex Rios, who flopped in his brief time in Chicago last year.

A.J. Pierzynski is in the final year of his contract, likely his last with the White Sox, as top prospect Tyler Flowers is all but ready to take over. Perhaps the biggest change in the team is at designated hitter. After several years of having Thome man the position, manager Ozzie Guillen plans to use the spot among several people, with newcomer Andruw Jones and Mark Kotsay expected to get the bulk of the time. Guillen also hopes to use the spot to give regulars a partial day off. Thome led the club with a wRC+ of 127 last year, a number the club will struggle to replace.

The Bench: The White Sox will have a veteran bench, with 42-year-old Omar Vizquel joining holdovers Kotsay (34) and Ramon Castro (34) and newcomer Jones (33). Jayson Nix (26) brings some youth, along with the ability to play both the infield and outfield. Because of the versatility of Kotsay, who can play first base and the outfield, and Nix, the White Sox have flexibility in their final bench spot which could be filled with Brent Lillibridge, Alejandro De Aza, or potentially even Flowers as a C/DH.




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