28. Chicago White Sox: 2013 MLB Offseason Preview

Hawk_Harrelson_2007_CROPWelcome to the MLB Offseason Preview! Click the images for links to useful information regarding each graphic. Confused by the rankings? Click here for an explanation as to how they were sorted.

Just a few months ago I thought this team was going to be the next Astros, picking first in the draft for multiple years while the farm system was built from scratch and the major league team was full of Triple A types. That’s where they were heading, but now there’s hope this team can latch on to that should cause the south siders to avoid such an awful fate.

While the farm system remains barren, they are working on it. They also have young players at the major league level who should help secure a brighter future. But most importantly, this team knows where it is and what it will take to get back to the playoffs. The White Sox front office may get panned by those who haven’t taken a look at them closely, but this is a bright group that will not accept rebuilding via losing.

wsox_losses

The White Sox said goodbye to a bunch of old, overpaid players at the end of the season. Peavy was effective but useless to this team, and the same can be said of Rios. The two relievers were excess for a team with an excellent bullpen while Wise wasn’t needed in the outfield any longer. The Sox are likely going to lose a franchise player in Konerko this season, as he may retire. And Gavin Floyd, who is as inconsistent as they come, made only five starts. In the end, the losses the Sox took are manageable and free up a lot of money older players were taking up.

wsox_contracts

The Sox have a lot of money tied up in their players, but most of the money is going to young players like Sale and Abreu. Danks’ contract is a legit albatross contract and Keppinger’s $8.5 million might as well be thrown into a giant metal trash can and burned for heat. The rest of the guaranteed money isn’t too bad, with one year deals for Dunn and Lindstrom, and Alexei is probably worth his contract, but shouldn’t be getting his checks from the White Sox at the end of it. The young veterans for the team are all in arbitration now for the Sox, but they’ve never been shy about spending money, so it’s not a big deal.

wsox_lineup

It’s trivia time! Who on the White Sox led the team in OBP? If you answered Alex Rios, congratulations, you guessed right. Now a bonus question: what was his OBP? Would you believe it was a mere .328? That’s right, Rios’ .328 OBP led the Sox. That’s awful. Really, really awful. Even the Astros had three players who played significant time finish with higher OBPs. The point is this offense is a mess, and the team will lean on Abreu and Garcia to help raise the bar on offense. Flowers and Keppinger are gaping holes at the bottom of the line up, while De Aza and Viciedo don’t get on base enough to legitimately bat first and third.

wsox_pitching

If there’s one thing the White Sox do well, it’s find pitching and make sure they stay healthy. Quintana and Santiago are surprisingly young and help form a pretty solid rotation behind Sale, who is a legitimate Cy Young contender. Danks and Axelrod are innings eaters who should probably be replaced down the line. This bullpen is pretty good, and Reed’s a solid closer. Jones and Veal are both solid set up men who could be traded before the end of next year.

wsox_prospects

Let’s get it out of the way now: this is a terrible farm system. I won’t go as far as to say it’s the worst, but it’s bottom three for sure. Hawkins was aggressively assigned to High A (other high school players drafted last year were assigned to Low A, including Buxton and Almora, both of whom were drafted before him) and struggled mightily there, hitting .178. Thompson spent a full season in Double A and hit .229 without power. Sanchez spent the year in Triple A while posting a .241/.293/.296 line. Johnson actually pitched well in Triple A, but failed to do much in the majors. Snodgress saw his strikeout rate go under 6 per nine innings in Double A. As for Anderson, he’s a speedy shortstop with some pop who is an athlete. Man, this is really, really bad.

deal

SS Alexei Ramirez to the Pirates for SS Alen Hanson and RHP Luis Heredia

The Pirates are in need of someone to fill their hole at shortstop, and Ramirez makes some sense. He isn’t owed a ton of money, and in this trade the Sox should probably chip in a little. In exchange for Ramirez, the White Sox get a future shortstop who can hit a little and an arm with upside. The Sox could then flip things around and sign a guy like Stephen Drew to deal and still get to pick third in the draft since they’ll be protected from compensation. It works out for both sides.

dollas

C Brian McCann (4/$56 million)

Tyler Flowers is not a good player, and the Sox need someone at catcher who can fill the void, both offensively and defensively. McCann makes a lot of sense for this team. He can slip into the middle of their order and help develop whatever young catcher comes through the system in the future. McCann may not want to playing on this sorry Sox team, so they could focus their attention to someone like Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Regardless of who they sign, the White Sox need to improve at catcher.

philosoraptorHow aggressive will this front office be, and will it hurt them long term while missing the playoffs?

The moves I made for this team were fairly aggressive. You would think a team that just finished with the third worst record and no farm system wouldn’t go out and spend on a catcher and a shortstop, but this is the team that would do that. The White Sox have always been aggressive, and when you look at their roster on the whole, they aren’t that far off from contention given the money they have to spend. I don’t know if they’ll get to the playoffs, but they could get pretty close, especially in their miserable division.

But I wonder if that’s their best bet. Why not be bad for just one more year and see what you have in the pieces you’ve collected? Why not get back-to-back top five picks and build your franchise around those guys? We see teams all the time that build around two or three players for over a decade and win because of it. Why shouldn’t the White Sox follow that model? I honestly don’t think either way is worse than the other, but waiting could prove fruitful for this team.

Fante_di_bastoniPrediction

The White Sox will trade Adam Dunn and Alexei Ramirez before the end of the 2014 season.

Adam Dunn is in the last year of his contract with the White Sox, and the Sox shouldn’t be anywhere close to the playoffs, so it’s no surprise the club would move on from him at DH, probably some time in August. But Ramirez has two years on his contract and is 32 and doesn’t fit the youth movement the White Sox are on now. No, the White Sox don’t have anything coming down the pipe, but finding a Brendan Ryan type shouldn’t be hard for the Sox.

Sum it Up with a GIF (from GameDayR)
vici
Viciedo has trouble

Unlike the baseball Viciedo is trying to grasp a hold of, I believe the White Sox are in capable hands. Even though Kenny Williams and co. have mishandled parts of this club, they clearly understand where they are as a franchise. They aren’t like the Phillies, who are deluding themselves into contention and holding on to every piece that can help them win despite those players’ ages, the Sox moved Peavy and Rios at the deadline to save money and get young players to build on. They get it. They understand that $68 million sounds like a ridiculous amount of money to give a player who hasn’t played a professional game yet, but look at the money handed out to players in free agency. Hunter Pence just signed a $90 million deal! At least with Abreu, you get the best years of his career.

I believe this team can make the playoffs sooner than everyone else thinks. I don’t know if they’ll contend in 2015, but I bet they’ll be close. Never doubt Kenny Williams, he knows what he’s doing.

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