Ventura certainly did more than expected in his first year; not only as a MLB manager, but in the new generation of MLB managers who get jobs with absolutely no experience. The White Sox were not expected to contend but got help from pitchers Chris Sale (17-8, 3.05, 192 K in 192 IP) and former NL Cy Young winner Jake Peavy (11-12, 3.37, 194 K in 219 IP) as well as a bounce back season from DH Adam Dunn (.204, 41, 96, 105 BBs, 222 Ks). Phillip Humber threw a no hitter, and the White Sox found themselves as buyers as the trade deadline approached, acquiring 3B Kevin Youkilis, LHP Francisco Liriano, RHP Brett Myers, OF Dwayne Wise and INF Orlando Hudson. The Sox were one of the more active teams trying to add players for the push in all of baseball. Even more underrated was the performance of RF Alex Rios, who hit .304, 25, 91 after hitting .227, 13, 44 last season.
The White Sox locked up Sale (5 yrs, $32.5 million) and Peavy (2 yrs, $29 million) to anchor a pitching staff that includes Galvin Floyd (12-11, 4.29) and John Danks (3-4, 5.70 in 9 starts; 26-33 starts each of the prior five seasons). The fifth starter spot is expected to go to either Jose Quintana (6-6, 3.76 in 25 games, 22 starts) or original 2012 closer turned starter Hector Santiago (4-1, 3.33, 4 saves in 42 games, 4 starts).
The bullpen added the strong arm of former Mets farmhand Matt Lindstrom (1-0, 2.46 in 46 games for Baltimore and Diamondbacks last season). Lindstrom provides depth to the pen despite pitching for his 6th team in the last 5 years. Addison Reed returns as the closer despite his 4.75 ERA to go with his 29 saves. Matt Thornton (4-10, 3.46 in 74 games) and Jesse Crain (2-3, 2.44 in 51 games) are joined by Lindstrom to provide some good 7th and 8th inning options. I would expect the three of them plus Nate Jones (8-0, 2.39 in 65 games) to all challenge Reed for the closer job this season.
The offense lost a major cog when AJ Pierzynski (.277, 27, 77) left to join the Rangers. Youkilis (.235, 19, 60 for Boston and Chicago) left to play for the Yankees. Jeff Keppinger signed a deal to be the starting 3B after a .326, 9, 40 season for Tampa Bay in 2012. While Tyler Flowers takes over behind the plate after his .213, 7, 13 season in 52 games, every other regular will be returning this season. Paul Konerko (.298, 28, 75) is still their franchise player with Alexei Ramirez (.265, 9, 73) at SS and 24 year old Dayan Viciedo (.255, 25, 78) in LF. Alejandro De Aza (.282, 9, 50) led the team with 26 SB and Gordon Beckham (.234, 16, 60) has found an everyday position while still trying to find himself offensively. If line them up like this: De Aza CF, Keppinger 3B, Konerko 1B, Dunn DH, Rios RF, Ramirez SS, Viciedo LF, Flowers C, Beckham 2B. I'd keep an eye out for OF prospect Jared Mitchell and middle INF prospect Carlos Sanchez, as both could make an impact this season. Sanchez puts a little pressure on Beckham to produce early in the season as the White Sox may be waiting for him to bloom.
I think the Sox are in a tough spot this season. In my opinion, Detroit, Kansas City and Cleveland all have improved, while Chicago lost offense behind the plate and have a questionable closer. I think they will do ok, as the Vegas over/ under of 80 1/2 is not that far off. Vegas picked them to have a losing season, and so do I. I see a 79-83 mark, forth place in the AL Central.