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2006 Chicago White Sox Baseball Preview

Chicago White Sox Predictions – AL CENTRAL

OVERVIEW:

One year after the Red Sox ended their 86-year World Series drought, the Chicago White Sox terminated their 88-year history of woes. The White Sox did it with excellent pitching and a first-class defense. How’s this year look? One word—better.

PITCHING:

The best all-around rotation in the American League is not found in New York, Boston, or Toronto. It’s in Chicago and goes by the names—Buehrle, Contreras, Garcia, Garland, McCarthy, and Vazquez. Vazquez, who has yet to attain his potential, is new to the team; together these 6 pitchers were 77-50 last season with a 3.71 ERA. Each of the first four had 15 wins or more IN 2005.

Brandon McCarthy came up from the AAA team in the middle of the season and performed well, going 3-2. He may make it to this year’s starting rotation.

From the bullpen, Dustin Hermanson earned 34 saves and recorded a 2.04 ERA but had back problems. If he’s healthy that’s great; if not the White Sox have Bobby Jenks, who contributed with six big league saves last season, which included some fine post-season work.

Last year’s pitching staff tied Cleveland for best AL ERA (3.61).

HITTING:

In 2005, Paul Konerko knocked 40 balls out of the park, while driving in 100 runs and crossing the plate 98 times. Joe Crede, who can be a streaky hitter, lofted 22 round trippers and Jermaine Dye was good for 31.

Now the White Sox have added Jim Thome as their DH! Although injured in 2005, in the four years prior Thome averaged 48 homers and 120 RBI. If he’s healthy, he will make this lineup a nightmare for opposing pitchers.

At leadoff, Scott Podsednik (.290 BA, 59 SB) provides the spark this club needs at the top of the order.

DEFENSE:

The White Sox committed 94 errors in 2005 and finished with a .985 fielding percentage, fourth best in the league. (They were only .001 worse than the first three teams, who all tied with a .986 FP.)

The left side of the infield, with Joe Crede at third and Juan Uribe at shortstop, has been extremely underrated. They’re both solid fielders with good range and hands. Second baseman Tadahito Iguchi turns a quick DP and Paul Konerko has shown a lot of improvement at first.

Scott Podsednik is effective in left and Jermaine Dye in right possesses an excellent arm and improving range when playing the gap. In center, Brian Anderson uses his strong arm effectively, although he still needs to work on his jump and speed as he tracks down balls.

MANAGER AND FRONT OFFICE:

• Ozzie Guillen—out-spoken maverick AL Manager of the Year is back. More Ozzie-Ball equals risks, quirks, fun and wins.
• Has excellent pitching and hitting coaches that he utilizes.
• GM Ken Williams—one of those workhorses who is always trying to improve the team.

INTANGIBLES AND/OR OTHER STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES:

• They’ve taken chances with Thome and Vazquez—if they payoff great! If not, there’s a lot of depth on this team to fill in.
• Keeping focused during another 162-game season after last year’s amazing run will prove difficult.
• If Jenks, who has little MLB experience can’t cut it as closer will Hermanson be able to overcome lasts year’s injuries and take over?

CONCLUSION:

This is a team that’s better than last year’s. Not only do they have one of the best pitching staffs in the American League, they probably have the fewest health concerns of any prominent rotation. Along with Cleveland and Minnesota, they’ve made the Central Division one to be reckoned with and respected.

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