Let's throw away 2011
The White Sox will finally play a meaningful August and September this year. I refuse to believe the (carrier-sized) anchor representing their contracts will sink the Sox in 2012; after all, there is no chance they will post a combined effort equaling 2011's dismal effort.
Looking back, the Dunn acquisition was so bad I'm starting to suspect Kenny Williams sleeps in red and blue; however, numbers never lie.
Adam Dunn has been a surefire bet to post around 100 BBs, 40 HRs, and 100 RBIs for years. Who could have predicted he would break records the wrong way after moving to a hitter's park and shedding defensive duties?
I, for one, give the man credit for putting on the Pale Hose each game despite a historically inept year. I wish I could give a little more than that, but veterans are expected to complete their offseason regimens with professionalism.
At 32, he has more than enough time to regain value and produce from the DH spot. Let's hope Dunn is treating Winter 2011-12 with more respect. The way he mentally handles the fallout from last year and his offseason responsibilities will determine his future as a baseball player.
There is no string of eye-popping stats to prop up the viability of Alex Rios. Don't let the 2011 statistics fool you, however. There is just no way he can be this bad. His 2011 numbers represent a clear outlier.
Had Rios produced anything, even with Dunn's abysmal showing, the Sox may have finished somewhere closer than 15 games out of first. There is no backup plan for a consecutive poor showing from Rios. De Aza is starting and Quentin is gone; combined with a razor-thin farm system, a better Rios is the only improvement in sight.
Jake Peavy suffered a horrendous injury that I would not wish on anyone; in addition, his return to the mound was shadowed by an experimental surgery no other player has ever endured.
If a rocky relationship between Peavy and coaches can be smoothed over, we should expect a reliable starter that channels ghosts of seasons past every now and then. I don't expect Peavy to pitch like his old self, and neither should you; however, better terms with Don Cooper and a rested shoulder/back will go a long way.
The White Sox will probably not contend in 2012. Their farm system is by far the worst in baseball, and $42 million is tied up in three players coming off poor seasons.
Last year, the Sox could have captured the Central with one out three players producing something. This year, two out of three need to compete for Comeback Player of The Year. Unlike many writers, I'm choosing to see the glass half-full—as long as it's bourbon.