Chicago Cubs vs. White Sox: Who Is the King of Chicago at Every Position?
The Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox are both in similar phases of organization development. They have moved away from the idea of signing high-priced free agents in favor of bringing in organization depth and developing it for the parent club.
Both team has the ability to sign a free agent if needed, and they have, but the makeup of these teams are becoming the same as they bring up homegrown talent to fill roster spots.
Let's go position by position and determine which team is the king of Chicago.
Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski or Geovany Soto?
Pierzynski has been with the White Sox since 2005, the year Geovany Soto made his major league debut. Pierzynski had already been in the league for six years prior to joining the White Sox, and has been fairly consistent hitting in the .280 range with approximately 10-12 home runs.
Yes, Pierzynski is a hot head with a temper, apparent by his outburst-turned-brawl with former Cubs catcher Michael Barrett. However, he was the emotional leader of the team and he obviously earned the respect of Ozzie Guillen and Kenny Williams, something not easy to do for someone as high-profile as A.J.
Soto, on the other hand, did not become a full-time player until 2008 and that is when he had his best year. He has not topped 125 games since 2008, his rookie campaign, and his numbers have been far from consistent as well.
Pierzynski is 35 and Soto is 29 on Jan. 20, but both players' job security is certainly in question. The White Sox have a talented prospect in Tyler Flowers who is expected to be a catcher, at least initially. And Pierzynski is only owed $6 million in 2012.
Soto is still under team control but the depth at catcher behind him is weak. Steve Clevenger and Wellington Castillo have people's attention but neither is expected to outplay Soto, and it is possible the Cubs will bring in a backup from outside the organization.
Winner: A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
First Base: Paul Konerko or...Brian LaHair?
The Cubs do not have a first baseman penciled in so this was easy, considering Konerko is the face of the White Sox organization and a fan favorite. He is coming off one of his best years, his best in recent years at least, while the Cubs currently have LaHair, who did hit 38 home runs in Triple-A but is vastly unproven at the major league level.
If the Cubs pony up and sign Prince Fielder. Complete game-changer.
But Konerko is coming off back-to-back seasons with at least 30 home runs and a .300 average, and he will be 36 in March. For now, I tip my cap to Konerko.
Winner: Paul Konerko
Second Base: Gordon Beckham or Darwin Barney?
Darwin Barney of the Cubs was a pleasant surprise this season, putting up Ryan Theriot-esque numbers but making flashy plays with the glove. If he can hold his own at the position, second base on the North Side will be his for the foreseeable future.
Beckham already established himself with dominating play in the minors but has seen his numbers drop across the board. He was thrust into a position to perform and was relatively successful, but having to make adjustments at the plate and in the field—he switched positions after his rookie season—could have slowed him down.
Despite the numbers, the position is his and the White Sox hope he will emerge and have a breakout year in 2012.
Both players are looking to turn it around after poor finishes—Beckham hit .213 after the ASG and Barney hit .238 post-ASG—but have the support of the fanbase and team coming into 2012.
It's hard not to be optimistic about both of their futures, but for now it's split.
Third Base: Brent Morel or Ian Stewart?
Ian Stewart was considered a top prospect with the Rockies but has not done enough on the field for the Rockies to give him a spot in 2011. He spent the majority of 2011 in Triple-A Colorado Springs, hitting .275 with 14 home runs and a .359 on-base percentage. He struggled in 48 games in the majors, hitting just .156.
Morel hit .245 all season with the White Sox but had a much better second half in terms of numbers. Morel posted nine home runs after the All-Star Break and improved his OBP by 55 points. That was due in part to being more selective at the plate and walking more. If he can start 2012 like he ended 2011, he could prove to be a decent, but valuable, bat in the Sox lineup.
The Cubs are very high on Ian Stewart and hope that a change of scenery will spark his true potential. Giving him an opportunity to play in one place and have a spot on the club should help him settle down a bit. He was with the Rockies last season for parts of April, May, July and August but spent the other months in Triple-A.
At this point, I tip my hat to the South Side.
Winner: Brent Morel, White Sox
Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez or Starlin Castro?
Alexei Ramirez has been a great addition for the White Sox, hitting for power and decent average over four years. He has provided bursts of excitement, too, making flashy plays and a few clutch home runs.
However, it is Starlin Castro of the Cubs who is stealing the spotlight. Castro hit .307 with a .341 on-base percentage in 158 games for the Cubs. He showed he was still improving and was the most consistent player in the Cubs lineup.
Castro is nine years younger, equally talented if not more and has the potential to hit for even more power going forward.
Winner: Starlin Castro, Cubs
Left Field: Alejando De Aza or Alfonso Soriano?
With Carlos Quentin now in San Diego, Alejandro De Aza appears to be the starting left fielder for the White Sox. De Aza hit .329 in 54 games with a .400 on-base percentage in 2011 while Soriano hit .244 with 26 home runs and a .289 on-base percentage, another drop off for the 36-year-old outfielder.
Both players bring value to the club in different ways. De Aza is young and could provide speed at the top or someone who can get on base in the middle of the order.
Soriano is looking more and more like dead weight, a massive contract we are saddled with for another three years. However, Soriano does hold some value as AL teams view him as a solid DH who could benefit from moving off the field.
De Aza has little to no value on the White Sox at this point, but he is in a good spot in his career to build up some value and at least earn a starting job.
Winner: Alfonso Soriano, Cubs
Center Field: Alex Rios or Marlon Byrd?
Considering the difference in the salary, with Rios making $12 million in 2012 to Byrd's $6.5 million salary, the Cubs are getting more value out of Byrd than the Sox are for Rios. The White Sox traded next to nothing for Rios by picking him up off waivers, but he has only hit .236 in two-and-a-half seasons since joining the South Side.
Byrd became an instant fan favorite in his first season with the Cubs and has combined to hit .284 with 21 home runs and a .335 on-base percentage.
Byrd is far cheaper and has actually played better than Rios over the past three years.
Winner: Marlon Byrd, Cubs
Right Field: Dayan Viciedo or David DeJesus?
Dayan Viciedo is a stud and he is only 22 years old. He played extremely well in Triple-A this past season, hitting .296 with 20 home runs, 28 doubles and a .364 OBP. He has settled into right field nicely and has improved his game dramatically since joining the White Sox. In a little over 200 at-bats with the White Sox, he has combined to hit .282 with 21 home runs and a .335 on-base percentage.
He could be a breakout player for the Sox in 2012.
DeJesus generated a lot of buzz when he signed a contract with the Cubs this offseason, and despite coming off his worst statistical performance in 2011, he has been a very solid, under-the-radar outfielder.
DeJesus is a career .284 hitter but combined to hit .302 from 2008-2010.
Winner: David DeJesus, Cubs
White Sox Starting Rotation
The White Sox have four starters capable of putting up 10 wins, with Chris Sale being the only unproven pitcher. Sale, if you have forgotten, posted an impressive 2.79 ERA in 58 appearances.
Cubs Starting Rotation
The Cubs starting rotation after Garza is pretty up in the air. Dempster posted 10 wins but also had a 4.80 ERA, which is simply atrocious. Travis Wood and Chris Volstad are wildly unproven, yet have serious potential and Randy Wells has yet to put it all together since going 12-10 with a 3.05 ERA in 2009.
The Cubs do have depth, but the White Sox also have some and their talent is better at the top.
Winner: White Sox
Both the Cubs and White Sox have pretty strong bullpens and still moves to make in making them stronger. The Cubs did surrender Sean Marshall, a valuable lefty who will be tough to replace.
The White Sox will also insert Chris Sale into the rotation, which hurts their bullpen, but with Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and Jason Frasor, they have three solid arms for the later innings.
The Cubs should re-sign Kerry Wood, and with him will have Jeff Samardzija closing out the seventh and eighth inning for closer Carlos Marmol. The Cubs also have Andrew Cashner who has an outside shot at making the rotation, but he may be slotted into the bullpen to preserve his arm and give them another capable reliever.
The two teams statistical numbers are almost identical for relievers in 2011.
Manager: Dale Sveum or Robin Ventura?
Two managers. One with no big league managing experience and the other with one year as a manager and the rest as a coach. Dale Sveum would be the safer option if deciding between the two, but for the White Sox, a veteran like Ventura was the perfect fit.
Sveum was also a great choice for the Cubs because he has experience working with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in Boston, has managing experience in the NL Central and has a pretty good sense of what the Cubs are going through.
Only time will tell with this one.