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Organizational Rankings: #17

Today, we keep looking at some teams that have legitimate hope, so it gets harder from here on out. And, for those of you who haven’t seen the previous parts (which are linked below), keep in mind that this is a forward looking exercise – we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies
#22: Detroit Tigers
#21: St. Louis Cardinals
#20: Toronto Blue Jays
#19: San Francisco Giants
#18: Minnesota Twins

#17: Chicago White Sox

Ownership: B

Jerry Reinsdorf has a reputation for being a lot of things, but most of those are leftover from his more aggressive days in the 1990s. Of late, he’s settled into more of a bankroll position, handing the White Sox enough cash to be an upper echelon team in payroll over the last five years. While they built the worst of the new stadiums, it still generates a solid amount of revenue, and the White Sox shouldn’t have too many problems maintaining a high level of payroll for the foreseeable future.

Front Office: B-

What can you say about Kenny Williams. He gets into public feuds with his manager, former players, media members, scouts… let’s just say he’s a challenge to work with. And, early in his career as a GM, he did some really dumb things. But he’s grown, he’s adapted, and now he’s more like that obsessive fantasy league owner who won’t stop trading until he has a good team again. He stole Carlos Quentin from the D’Backs and John Danks from the Rangers. He built a bullpen out of waiver claims like Bobby Jenks and Matt Thornton. He got bargains with veteran sluggers Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye (the first contract, not the second one). He’s always making moves to try and make the club better, and while he misses some, he’s shown a knack for snagging talent at the right time and putting together consistently good squads. Plus, he’s stayed somewhat sane while dealing with Ozzie Guillen on a daily basis, so he gets a few extra credit points.

Major League Talent: C+

Are they contending with an aging core (Thome, Dye, Konerko, Pierzynski, Contreras, Colon, even Buehrle to an extent) or rebuilding with a youth movement (Ramirez, Fields, Quentin, Danks, and Floyd)? Leave it to Kenny Williams to try both simultaneously. There’s some good young players in place, but the teams fortunes are still heavily tied to the aging stars of yesterday. On the positive side, most of those players are still contributors, and the White Sox should have enough firepower to keep up in the AL Central this year, providing they can fix their two gaping holes – center field and second base. With competent major league players in those spots, they’ll be a quality team this year, and the future salary obligations take a huge dive after the year ends, which should allow Williams to surround the young talent with some more productive high paid players.

Minor League Talent: C

Gordon Beckham‘s move to second base gives him a quick path to the major leagues, and the offense is there for him to be an all-star caliber player at the keystone for years to come. Aaron Poreda is actually one of the more underrated arms in the minors, I think – his secondary stuff needs work, but his combination of velocity, sink, and command can get him through while his slider catches up to his fastball. After those two, it gets a little more tricky – Brandon Allen and Dayan Viciedo both offer intriguing power bats, but neither of them are much defensively, so where they fit into a future line-up is in question. Tyler Flowers was a nice pickup in the Javier Vazquez trade, and Jordan Danks and John Shelby provide some position player depth. It’s not a great system, but it’s not nearly as bad as most people think.

Overall: C+

Hard to believe that Jerry Reinsdorf is the strength of the organization, but there you go. The team has enough resources to consistently compete for high salaried players, and Kenny Williams has shown an aptitude for picking up enough good, cheap role players to surround his core and make consistent runs at playoff spots. The roster is in transition, but they should be able to avoid a total rebuild and win while reloading. They make some strange moves, but overall, the package mostly works. It could improved upon, but it’s not a bad time to be a White Sox fan.