Scouting Report: Chicago White Sox

The White Sox had the best off season in ages and after me predicting them to do badly the last two seasons, they have finally earned my respect.  The White Sox have had a great off season.  They upgraded their lineup to an extreme, acquiring/signing a couple of powerfully slugging stars.  In this article I’ve reviewed the White Sox’s off season and and talked about some questions going into Opening Day.

 

Off-Season Review

The White Sox made some off season moves that could lead them to a playoff berth.  However, they do have serious weaknesses as well that they just didn’t end up filling.  Will the White Sox go big or go home?

The Sox started the off season pretty quietly.  Their moves were minimal, but could pay off big.  Most of their moves also came late, they didn’t look like playoff team until late in the off season.  They didn’t start making any moves until late November, and they were small.

They acquired Tommy Kahnle from the Rockies to start, and they signed both Alex Avila and Dioner Navarro at catcher, replacing the trio of Geovany Soto, Tyler Flowers and Rob Brantly.  At the Winter Meetings however, they took part in a blockbuster 3-team trade.  They gave Frankie Montas, Trayce Thompson and Micah Johnson to the Dodgers, who gave the Cincinnati Reds Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler, and the Reds gave Chicago Todd Frazier, their star third baseman.  This was a good move for the rebuilding Reds and the Sox, the Reds needed to go young, and the White Sox needed a starting third baseman.  They also acquired Brett Lawrie from the A’s.  He’s also a 3B, so he’s projected to start at second base instead.

After the meetings, the White Sox were extremely quiet.  It wasn’t until February until they signed any free agent not on the 2015 White Sox, as they re-signed reliever Matt Albers in January.  Then they really went on a shopping spree.  They got starter Mat Latos, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, outfielder Austin Jackson and Travis Ishikawa.  Rollins will fill the hole at shortstop, even after rumors of Ian Desmond coming to the White Sox.  Latos will fill a hole at the bottom of the rotation, and Jackson will bring power to the lineup, but wasn’t necessarily a fit until the whole Adam LaRoche thing.  Now either Avisail Garcia or Melky Cabrera will make room by becoming the new DH.

No matter how many moves they made, the White Sox wouldn’t be any better than 2nd place in a wild card, but I think they can do just that with the bold moves they made, and no more.

 

Opening Day Questions

The rotation looks young and awesome on paper.  Is it for real?

Who knows?  This rotation may be one of the biggest analysis mysteries of the league.  Young pitchers Carlos Rodon and Jose Quintana backed up ace Chris Sale last year, but I think Rodon is being rushed to a crucial position at such a young age, and that concerns me.

Quintana is another story, he’s been in the majors quite a while now and the 26 year old has potential for a monster season.  But sleepers who are projected to breakout aren’t always the kind of guys I like, even though that’s my weakness in predictions, breakouts.

I get it, I don’t like young guys, I don’t like breakout candidates, who do I like?  Yes, the experienced veterans.  Although this league may be getting younger, in my opinion, older veterans can still leave a big mark on the league.  A perfect example is Mat Latos, another White Sox pitcher.  The guy used to be a middle to high rotation guy who was a star, but he’s really tapered off recently, enough to get released by the Dodgers one week before the season ended.  I think he still has his Padres days in him, pitching like that will do the Sox a big favor.

With Quintana on an uptrend, the White Sox have a power three in the rotation with Sale, Quintana and Latos or Rodon, whoever emerges into the White Sox rotation better.  It could be a foursome even.  John Danks has never been the best, but he can pitch, and for now, he’s earned himself the final rotation spot.  So yes, I like this rotation, and think that they will succeed, but there is a chance they won’t perform.

 

Will the off season moves significantly improve the lineup?

Todd Frazier is a big upgrade from a combo of Conor Gillaspie, Tyler Orr and Tyler Saladino in 2015, and I like Austin Jackson as a boost of speed and power in the lineup, and Avisail Garcia can still play in Adam LaRoche’s place.  Jimmy Rollins could do well, but I’m a little worried that he’s lost it at the age he’s at.  Brett Lawrie lost his stuff he had in Toronto too.  It’s funny, Lawrie now sucks, and he was traded to Oakland for defending AL MVP Josh Donaldson who suddenly emerged into a star.  I’m a little worried about the Sox’s lineup, but hey, second and third are an improvement from last year, and that will boost the lineup along with the presence of Austin Jackson.

Is new shortstop Jimmy Rollins going to make an impact this season?

I don’t know.  I liked what he had to prove in Dodger Town but he’s just getting older by the year, it’s life everybody.  He still looked decent in his last years with Philadelphia too.  Rollins got just a minor league deal in Chicago, and after my prediction of Ian Desmond signing here, I was a little disappointed, but Rollins did still enter the off season looking like a top FA shortstop, just nobody wanted to sign him because they wanted someone who would last.  Still, Desmond’s deal was small anyways.  This could be his last year before retirement, but hey, I think he’s had a good career, and he can be a placeholder at short and in the lineup, and have one last acceptable year.

 

White Sox Projected Roster

 

Rotation

 

Chris Sale

Jose Quintana

Mat Latos

Carlos Rodon

John Danks

 

Bullpen

 

David Robertson (CL)

Zach Duke

Dan Jennings

Zach Putnam

Jake Petricka

Matt Albers

Tommy Kahnle

 

Lineup

  1. Adam Eaton CF
  2. Melky Cabrera DH
  3. Jose Abreu 1B
  4. Todd Frazier 3B
  5. Brett Lawrie 2B
  6. Austin Jackson RF
  7. Avisail Garcia LF
  8. Alex Avila C
  9. Jimmy Rollins SS

Bench

 

Carlos Sanchez

J.B. Shuck

Dioner Navarro

Travis Ishikawa

 

That’s all for my analysis on the White Sox.  I will continue this series through the first month of baseball, starting with the Reds coming up next.

 

 

 

 

Red Sox Comeback To Sweep Athletics

The Red Sox pulled off their first sweep of the season today vs the A’s after coming back from 4-0 in the 8th. The Red Sox struggled early, giving up three runs in the second inning.  The Sox were stranded with 2nd and 3rd in the 1st, then they gave up the runs int he second as the A’s rallied.

It was first and second as Billy Butler and Josh Reddick singled.  Lawrie then grounded out, but everyone advanced one base, and it was 2nd and 3rd with only one out.  Mark Canha doubled to score Butler and send Reddick to third and yet again to runners were in scoring position.  Then Buchholz threw a wild pitch and Reddick scored while Canha ran to third.  1 out, man on third, 2-0 Athletics.  Josh Phegley walked to make that 1st and 3rd, 1 out.  Then Eric Sogard got a base hit to score in Canha, and all of he sudden, just like that, it was 3 to zip A’s.

The Sox caught caught with 2nd and 3rd again in the 2nd, as RISP trouble really began to creep up on them.  If you stopped reading here, you would think I lied and they lost.  But after one more run given up, they struck.  RISP caught them in what seemed like every inning from there.  And in the 4th, the A’s scored again on a double by Canha and another by Phegley to score him.  Steven Wright had to come in in the 5th and he began to help on defense, settling the A’s offense down, opening the door for the Red Sox to sweep.  Wright got the Sox out of 1st and 3rd when he came in in the 5th inning with 2 outs.  Buchholz pitched 4.2 innings.

Until the Red Sox’ big 8th inning, both pitchers gave up few hits, about one per team every two innings.  In the 8th, the Red Sox put up a huge rally to comeback.

Castillo was pitched what lookd like strike three, but was a ball.  But on the next pitch, WHAM!  He crushed a homer over the monster seats.  4-1.  Scribner came in on relief for Graveman.  Two pitchers now for the A’s, it would eventually be way more.  Pedroia then reached on an infield single, and Brock Holt followed with another single, 1st and 2nd, no outs.  Then Ramirez got another base hit, sending Holt to third base as Pedroia crossed the plate.  4-2.

Drew Pomeranz, a lefty came in to pitch to Ortiz.  3 A’s pitchers.  As he finally begins to do his job again coming out o a slump, e hit a sac fly as Holt came home.  The A’s closer, the 4th pitcher, Tyler Clippard, came in.  He got Napoli for out No. 2, but lost control after that as the Sox scored 4 more runs.  Next, Sandoval singled and Ramirez went to third.  Mookie Betts ran for Sandoval, who doesn’t steal.  But Betts does, and he stole second.  Then Bogaerts hit a double off the scoreboard that almost wet over the monster to drive in Betts and Ramirez as the Red Sox took a 5-4 lead.

Alejandro De Aza then hit for Sandy Leon.  De Aza has proven that he could switch off with another outfielder by doing well since joining his new team.  He got a base hit to right, and Bogaerts scored.  6-4 Sox.  De Aza went to second on a throw.  Then Castillo singled again to left, and De Aza came around to score, making it 7-4 Red Sox.  The switch handed pitcher, Pat Venditte came in to secure the final out and make sure no more runs scored.  It was a miracle.  One inning.  Seven runs.  On comeback for a sweep.  That inning was the game.

Tommy Layne closed it out for the Red Sox, earning the save after the Sox changed the defense big time for the final inning.  The Sox came back with a fierce lineup in the 8th to sweep the A’s, getting their first sweep of the season.  In the near future, I don’t see pitching improving from where it is now, but I can see the lineup going through a big hot streak, being like the Texas Rangers for a little while, and having as good of a lineup as they were supposed to have.

Red Sox Defeat A’s as Miley Pitches Well

The Red Sox won 4-2 over the Oakland Athletics to open their weekend series.  Miley had only given up 1 hit by the end of the 4th inning.  But the Red Sox scored first, and early on Kazmir.  Right off the bat in the bottom of the 1st, Pedroia singled and Brock Holt doubled sending Dustin Pedroia to third, and he scored on an error by Ben Zobrist.  1-0 Red Sox.  This was only the start of great games for both players.

The Sox struck a second time in the third.  Castillo and Pedroia had first and second, each getting base hits.  Then Brock Holt grounded into fielder’s choice and Pedroia was out.  1st and 3rd, 1 down.  Then Hanley Ramirez hit a sac fly to score Castillo.  2-0 Sox!  In the 4th, Bogaerts singled and Mookie Betts reached on a bunt single.  Bogaerts scored on a throwing error by Brett Lawrie.  Then Blake Swigart grounded into a double play and then De Aza singled.  Man on 1st.  But nobody drove De Aza in and the score remained at 3-0.

The A’s struck in the top of the 5th though, and Miley suddenly had his first earned run.  Brett Lawrie singled, and Phegley sent him to third on another single.  Then Canha hit another base hit, and Lawrie scored.  3-1 Sox.  But the Sox didn’t worry about that.  They struck in the bottom of that same inning.  Similar to the 1st inning, except this time, Pedroia got the double first, then Brock Holt singled to send him home.  Then after a home run by Brett Lawrie to make it 4-2, there weren’t many hits, and one was hit by the pitch.

But there was some history at the end of the game.  Pat Venditte, a switch handed pitcher came in.  H effaced Blake Swihart, a switch hitter.  He had to discuss what side to pitch from. He pitched righty, causing Swihart to hit lefty.  It was smart because righties can hit over the green monster.  The Red Sox were able to pull of the 4-2 win vs the A’s.  Read my post on today’s 4:00 game coming tonight.