Ozzie Guillen did a very good managing the team for the past eight years. He got them their first World Series Championship since 1917 in 2005. His managerial style lasted as long as it could as he is off to south Florida. He was replaced by Robin Ventura, who was a very good player and a team leader throughout his entire career. Though many could have predicted he would eventually become a MLB manager, it would have also been predicted that he would have managed in the minors or, at the very least, been on a team's coaching staff or front office before he got the job. Ventura is a smart baseball man, so I do not see him as the reason the White Sox will not have a good season in 2012.
The White Sox have an issue with their payroll being as high as it was at the end of last season. They let free agent Juan Pierre go (he played in 158 games last season), they traded OF Carlos Quentin to the Padres, traded closer Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays and let free agent pitcher Mark Buehrle join his manager with Miami.
Offensively, the hope lies in what they get out of the middle of the batting order. Perhaps Ventura may want to put his most productive three players in the middle of the batting order. SS Alexei Ramirez hit .269, 15, 70 and 1B Paul Konerko continued his consistency by hitting .300, 31, 105. C AJ Pierzynski had a very good 2011 (.287, 8, 48) but the rest of the lineup was filled with disappointment. DH Adam Dunn (.159, 11, 42) had one of the worst seasons in the history of everyday players. RF Alex Rios (.227, 13, 44) and 2B Gordon Beckham (.230, 10, 44) have also been expected to contribute more to he lineup's cause. The lineup would be a lot stronger if the previous three produced more like they are capable of. Alejandro De Aza played well last season and will be the leadoff batter. He hit .329 and could be followed by 25 year old 3B Brent Morel, who is looking to bounce back off a tough rookie season. LF Dayan Viciedo could surprise some people. He hit .296, 20, 78 for AAA Charlotte and will only be 23 this season.
The starting pitching for the White Sox is not what it was in 2011, but could be pretty good. John Danks just signed hie extension and is the team's ace. Gavin Floyd and a healthy Jake Peavy should follow Danks. Chris Sale, who was a reliever in 2011, will be a starter this year and Phillip Humber will be the number 5 starter. Without Santos and Sale in the bullpen, they White Sox will rely on LHP Matt Thornton and RHP Jesse Crain to anchor a bullpen that has little other help. They will have to hope the starters keep the team in the game or somebody else emerges out of the pen. If Peavy returns to what he was before he came to Chicago, it would be a huge help. Danks and Floyd need to step it up a little bit to make up for the loss of Buehrle.
Ideally, the White Sox would like to move a player or two like Rios or Dunn or even Floyd before the start of the season. The problem is they can't, so they have to hope for more productive years from Dunn and Rios and a breeakout season from Floyd. Ramirez and Konerko are very good players, but they need somebody other than AJ Pierzynski to be their 3rd best offensive player. Beckham, Morel and Viciedo could do a lot to make this team competitive. Perhaps Sale at age 23 can become the phenom the White Sox drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 draft.
The lack of certainty in the batting order is a major concern. They could have used Quentin, but more importantly, need somebody to pick up the slack. Danks and Floyd should give 32-33 starts and 220 IP. Hopefully Peavy can stay healthy. If Sale and Humber can pitch well, the rotation will be in good shape. If not, there is not a lot of depth to replace them. Throw in the lack of depth in the bullpen and I see this being a rough season. Las Vegas gave their O/U at 74 and I predict it will be under that. My guess is 70-92, last place in the AL Central. By the start of 2013, some of the dead weight will be gone and Robin Ventura will have a better chance in his second season as a big league manager.