Today Manager Ozzie Guillen might have filled out the lineup card that would be the blue-print for the rest of the season, or maybe, just opening day.
1. Pablo Ozuna—2B
2. Orlando Cabrera—SS
3. Jim Thome—DH
4 Paul Konerko—1B
5. Nick Swisher—LF
6. Jermaine Dye—RF
7. A.J. Pierzynski—C
8. Joe Crede—3B
9. Alexei Ramirez—CF
To start off, Ozzie has already come out and said that the speedster, Pablo Ozuna, would be leading off on opening day at Cleveland. This decision is purely based on the fact that Ozuna is batting well above .300 against Cleveland's opening day starter, C.C. Sabathia.
Filling the void left from when Tadahito Iguchi was traded to the Padres, Orlando Cabrera is batting in the two hole. Cabrera was brought in to fill that exact goal. O-Cab has the speed as well as the plate discipline to bat there. With twenty six sacrifice flies and sacrifice hits over the past two seasons, he is the right man to get the runner moving and over.
Batting third is the stalwart, Jim Thome. Thome was brought in less than a month after the White Sox won it all in 2005 to be a left handed bat to protect and compliment Paul Konerko. Along with Thome came a career .280 batting average, .409 on-base-percentage, just under 1400 RBI's, and, as of last year, over 500 career Home Runs.
Cleaning up in the White Sox lineup is the face of the offense over the past six years, Paul Konerko. Konerko has been the clean up hitter for the White Sox for as long as most fans can remember. He brings to the table a career .281 batting average, .353 on-base-percentage, 276 Home Runs, and just under 900 RBI's.
Batting behind Konerko may come as a shock to most people, but there he is, Kenny William's biggest offseason pick up, Nick Swisher. I understand why Ozzie is batting Swisher fifth over Jermaine Dye. It is simple. Ozzie wants to break up the two power righties in the middle of the line up.
The switch hitting Swisher allows Ozzie to be able to alternate righties and lefties up and down his lineup. Last season Swisher set career highs in batting average (.262), on-base-percentage (.381), walks (100), and hits (141). With how the Sox stuggled just to get on base last season, Swisher is a welcome change of pace.
Batting sixth is the White Sox '05 World Series MVP, Jermaine Dye. Dye slumped last season (not unlike all of the White Sox offense) after coming off a career year in 2006. Dye offers almost identical statistics to Konkero in every offensive category. Perhaps another reason to drop Dye down in the lineup is to hope that he bounces back from last season.
A.J. Pierzynski bats seventh. The White Sox backstop has a career average of .284 and an on-base-percentage of .328. Despite being considered poor compared to most other names in this lineup, for a catcher, A.J. can still swing the bat.
The former Sliver-Slugger Winner turned back surgery recovering third basemen bats eight. Limited to just 167 at-bats last season, the only way to look at Crede's offensive ability is to look back on 2006. In '06, Crede batted .283 with a .323 on-base-percentage with 30 Home Runs and 94 RBI's. We can only hope that Crede returns to pre-surgery form.
Rounding out the powerful White Sox lineup is the relatively unknown Alexei Ramirez. Ramirez has played himself into a roster position this spring. When signed, experts were quoted in saying that Cuban baseball was the American equivalent of short season Single-A ball.
Since his first start in spring, he impressed Ozzie and the entire staff. Ramirez went from an unknown Cuban defector to the soon-to-be starting second basemen to utility player. No one really knows what to expect from this rookie. But if spring training is any example, it will be a good year.
When completely healthy, the '08 White Sox should be able to go toe to toe offensively with just about any team in either league. Putting last season aside, the White Sox have the talent and ability to be in every game that they play in, no matter the score.
With Opening Day less than one week away, White Sox fans are dying to see this machine at work.
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