"These ain't your daddy's White Sox...We're going to keep going after a championship as aggressively as we can."—Kenny Williams
These words may very well come back to haunt Kenny Williams at the end of the day, especially with most experts and fans alike not giving the Sox the time of day in a packed AL Central division.
That said, don't count the White Sox out just yet. If anything, the fact that no one is watching them this year plays right into their hands.
Detroit and Cleveland are both stacked teams to be sure, but both have already started to show kinks in their respective armor.
In Detroit's case, for all the big-time mashers they have, they have two major issues—health and pitching. The starters are going to have a tough workload ahead of them with two key bullpen guys (Rodney and Zumaya) hurt, and Dontrelle Willis really needing to step up this year. Kenny Rogers is another guy that needs to have a good year as he bounces back from an injury riddled 2007.
Offensively, as solid as the Tigers are, they need to have Granderson around to set the table for the heart of their order, and Sheffield needs to stay healthy all season.
Over in Cleveland, the problem is somewhat inverse with offense being the main issue.
How does this effect the Sox?
Well, for one, the Sox are probably one of the few teams that can match the power output of the Tigers, and if they live up to their expectations, the Sox's one-two punch can very well match that of the Indians this year.
Secondly, the teams that the Sox have had the most trouble with of late haven't been the Indians or the Tigers—it's been the Royals and Twins. That being said, the determining factor isn't only how they do against the top dogs, but also the teams they should beat.
So, what does all this mean?
Truth be told, many people are going to be in for a surprise with the White Sox this year. The additions of Nick Swisher and Miguel Cabrera on offense cannot be stressed enough, and the same holds true for Williams getting Octavio Dotel and Scott Linebrink. Alexei Ramirez, or the "Cuban missile" as manager Ozzie Guillen likes to call him, is the X factor, along with Pablo Ozuna, for the White Sox offensively. Both players are incredibly versatile and will pose a problem for many teams with their quick bats and speed.
The huge question mark will come from starters three through five, namely Jose Contreras and the incredibly overrated Gavin Floyd. With the Sox trading away most of their pitching depth, should either of them falter look for the steady Lance Broadway to get the call. Even so, if anything should happen to the starting rotation, the best insurance policy would come via a Joe Crede trade.
The Sox are nowhere near a shoo-in for the AL Central title or the Wild Card, but after getting their rear ends kicked last year, the White Sox look as determined as ever.
Contreras, Danks, Floyd, and a number of the struggling offensive players from last year (Dye, Uribe, Crede) have a lot to prove individually. Pair that up with the fact that everyone has their eyes on Cleveland and Detroit, and you could easily see the South Siders being one of the sleepers in 2008.
This assumes that Kenny Williams ensures this years team "ain't your daddy's White Sox," which apparently, last year's team was, when he let the crew wallow into oblivion.