Experts May Have Made Accurate Ugly Predictions For White Sox
Fresh off an AL Central division championship and an offseason that showed underachievers and liabilities like Javier Vazquez, Nick Swisher, and Joe Crede the door, the Chicago White Sox thought they had a 2009 club young and balanced enough to repeat the success of last season.
National media outlets were not impressed though, as they saw this team of having done little in the offseason to improve the parent club.
Sure, they had signed Bartolo Colon, but he had been a liability over the past few seasons and was past his prime.
Most outlets predicted the Sox to finish from third to fifth in the AL Central. In the minds of White Sox fans however, they just scoffed at this given the recent history of predicting their team.
They felt it was their division to lose.
As it turns out, the national media may not have been so inaccurate about the 2009 White Sox.
After a 1-6 road trip that consisted of losing two of three to last place Cleveland and a four-game sweep at the hands of American League-leading Toronto, the Sox had lost 12 of 15, and it was becoming clear that this year's team was following in the footsteps of the 2007 club that finished 72-90.
The No. 1 issue has unquestionably been the offense. On May 19, the Sox had the second worst team batting average in the American League.
To make matters worse, they were next to last in the AL in hits, last in the AL in RBIs, and tied for dead last in all of baseball in runs scored.
The team that led the bigs in home runs last year has now flirted with the lower third among all Major League teams in that category. In short, the team that was once home-run-or-nothing is now just nothing.
The rotation has been an issue as well. Aside from Mark Buehrle and John Danks, the holes on the starting staff that were a concern at the start of the year are starting to be exposed.
Gavin Floyd, who just signed a contract extension, has returned to his pre-2008 days of just being awful. After a poor start in Toronto, his ERA ballooned to 7.71.
Bartolo Colon has been average at best and pitched at least six innings only twice this season.
Jose Contreras was even worse than Floyd, as his ERA skyrocketed to 8.19 before being sent down to AAA Charlotte, where he just threw a one-hitter, to work on his control.
With the bullpen being very impressive thus far, they can't be counted on to close out games if the starters don't come around soon.
The 2007 Sox were plagued by injuries, and this year's club is having those problems as well. After Dewayne Wise won the starting job in center field, he separated his shoulder on a diving play in Detroit and was placed on the DL.
Brian Anderson was also lost for a period of time after straining his right oblique muscle.
Even worse, their young power hitter, Carlos Quentin, has recently been bothered by a bad heel and returned to Chicago prematurely during the Toronto series to get checked out.
If a team isn't healthy, it can't compete, and the Sox are walking a fine line in that area.
The good news for the Sox is that it's still early in the season, and the AL Central is not a strong division this year. If their current struggles continue, however, it won't matter because they'll battling just to stay out of the cellar.
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