I think the White Sox had a very good off season. It really started last year, when they traded RHP Jake Peavy to the Red Sox in a deal that brought them RF Avisial Garcia and three minor leaguers. They were involved in the another three way deal a couple months ago, which saw OF Mark Trumbo go to the Diamondbacks. In the deal, the White Sox received CF Adam Eaton and dealt LHP Hector Santiago to the Angels and a minor leaguer to the Diamondbacks. They also made the bold move to sign Cuban 1B Jose Abreu to be the team's first baseman. Paul Konerko is back with the team, but he is more of a player-coach. The White Sox traded RHP Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks in a separate deal that netted them 3B Matt Davidson. All in all, a fairly impressive off season for a team that took a major step back in 2013, finishing 63-99.
Manager Robin Ventura watched his team change directions very quickly. In 2012, Ventura's first season behind the bench after no prior professional coaching experience, the White Sox finished 85-77, were in first place in the AL Central for a good portion of the season and were in the playoff race until the last week of the year. Unfortunately, the team was unable to sustain the same success in 2013. It was mainly because the offensive players the White Sox rode in 2012 either got hurt or broke down, such as Konerko, Dayan Viceido and others. The biggest disparity was the difference in the production of the WHite Sox catchers. In 2012, AJ Pierzynski hit .278, 27, 77 in 135 games. In 2013, 4 White Sox catchers hit a total of 16 HR, 58 RBI and batted a collective .194 (106-546) through 185 games. The injury to Gavin Floyd was a big deal and LHP John Danks struggled to a 4-14 record when he was healthy enough to go. That led the team to start selling off players including Peavy, Alex Rios and Jesse Crain.
I like what the White Sox did with their offense. Adding Eaton (.252, 3, 22 in 66 games for Diamondbacks) to their leadoff spot makes the team better. Garcia (.283, 7, 31 in 72 games for Tigers and White Sox) hit .304 in 42 games in Chicago. Davidson was a very good hitter in the Diamondbacks system and in my opinion, is an upgrade at 3B over incumbent Conor Gillespie. They have a little bit of a log jam in the OF with Alejandro DeAza (.264, 17, 62) and Viciedo (.265, 14, 56) still expecting playing time. In could make sense to move either for a back of the rotation starting pitcher. Josh Phegley (.206, 4, 22 in 65 games last season) will get the first crack at the starting catching job in 2014. The middle infield will consist of SS Alexei Ramirez (.284, 6, 48) and Gordon Beckham (.267, 5, 24 in 103 games). Adam Dunn (,219, 34, 86) will do what he does best: hit HRs, strike out and walk. The key to the offense will be exactly what the team gets from Abreu, who is expected to hit for a low of power and strike out a lot. I'd line the White Sox up like this: Eaton CF, Ramirez SS, Abreu 1B, Dunn DH, Viciedo LF, Davidson 3B, Beckham 2B, Garcia RF, Phegley C.
In spite of the White Sox going through a lot of changes within their rotation, one thing has stayed consistent over the past two seasons. LHP Chris Sale (11-14, 3.07, 4 CG, SHO, 226 Ks in 214 1/3 IP) was much better than his record and honestly was almost on par with his 2012 season. LHP Jose Quintana (9-7, 3.51 in 33 starts) and Danks (4-14, 4.75 in 22 starts) give the team three left handed starters at the top of the rotation. That allowed them the flexibility to trade Santiago and get Eaton. RHP Felipe Paulino is aboard after pitching part of last season with the Royals. He was pitching well before he was lost for the season. I think he will pitch well enough to be an important acquisition for the White Sox. RHP Erik Johnson (3-2, 3.25 in 5 starts) and Andre Rienzo (2-3, 4.82 in 10 starts) will likely battle for the 5th spot in the rotation.
I think the team got value in RHP Reed, who I thought was overrated as the team's closer. RHP Nate Jones (4-5, 4.15 in 70 games) inherits the job as the 9th inning guy, though he has never recorded a MLB save. RHP Matt Lindstrom (2-4, 3.12 in 76 games) and RHP Donnie Veal (2-3, 4.60 in 50 games) will be the primary set up men. They are joined by RHP Ronald Belisario (5-7, 3.97 in 77 games with the Dodgers last season). Scott Downs and Mitchell Boggs will help out as well, with Downs likely an upgrade over LHP Matt Thornton, who signed as a free agent with the Yankees.
I can see the White Sox improving over what was a terrible 2013 season. I honestly do not think they can do worst, as the White Sox finished 22 games less than they did in 2012. A lot went wrong and I feel the White Sox are headed in the right direction. Hopefully they hold onto Sale. Vegas has them at 75.5 with the O/U. I'll take the over at 79-83 with the thought they can be even better if they get some stability out of the bullpen and outfield and Abreu hits like he did in Cuba.