Adam Dunn at his finest.
Chicago White Sox rumors are hard to come by these days.
The fact is that White Sox general manager Rick Hahn runs a pretty tight ship and appears to have all of his shopping done early.
Take for example the minor league contract that he signed Brian Omogrosso to on Tuesday, via MLB.com's Scott Merkin. The move was not necessarily made to improve the 25-man roster. Rather, it provides the organization's minor league depth and provides an added level of insurance should one of Chicago's relievers go down with abn injury during the regular season.
Getting deeper in the minor leagues is what it has come to for Hahn and the White Sox following a series of unexpected moves over the past few months. Sure, White Sox fans would love to see Adam Dunn get launched and are champing at the bit for a new catcher, but let’s be realistic, neither of those moves are likely to happen before the regular season starts.
There is, of course, one rumor involving a Japanese free agent. Other than that, though, a vast majority of the conversation nowadays regarding the White Sox involves projected finishes, offensive metrics and the direction of the franchise under Hahn.
Let’s dig in and take a look at each of them.
Will this group finish in last place again?
Bleacher Report’s Ben Berkon has the White Sox finishing in the cellar of the AL Central again. He is so secure in his prediction that he went so far as to say that “the only team capable of spoiling a fourth-place finish for the Minnesota Twins are” on the South Side.
FanGraphs is also unimpressed. Although it does predict that the White Sox will win nine more games in 2014, the website also has them finishing in the basement, one game behind the Twins.
No offense to Ben or anyone at FanGraphs, but I’m not buying either one of those prognostications.
It is highly unlikely that the team finishes last in the division yet again. Of course, a couple of starting pitchers could go down with injury, Jose Abreu could be the right-handed version of Adam Dunn and Adam Eaton could prove to be as bad as Alejandro De Aza.
The chances of all of those things happening, however, are slimmer than slim. They will play better within their own division and will finish third at the very worst.
Let's hope there aren't too many scenes like this next season.
The folks over at FanGraphs project that the White Sox will be a much-improved offensive team in 2014 with an average of 4.02 runs scored per game and a -84 run differential.
Those numbers represent marked improvement over last season when Chicago averaged a meager 3.69 runs per contest and scored 125 fewer runs than the competition.
The difference between each set of numbers is significant, yet realistic.
Consider that the improved baserunning alone should make the offense of the White Sox more efficient. Without Alejandro De Aza getting thrown out on a regular basis, it stands to reason that the ability for the White Sox to manufacture runs will go up.
The structure of the lineup will also prove beneficial.
For example, Alexei Ramirez will likely open the season as the No. 2 hitter instead of Jeff Keppinger. Ramirez proved very adept at batting second last season, finishing with a .288/.317/.373 slash line, 24 doubles 18 stolen bases and 40 runs scored in that role. Consistency in the No. 2 hole will be one of the keys to the offense’s ability to score runs.
It is also highly unlikely that Adam Dunn will hit third when 2014 begins. That job could fall to either Jose Abreu or Avisail Garcia, depending on how Abreu performs during spring training.
Regardless, the White Sox will be a better offensive baseball club in 2014.
Masahiro Tanaka will be pricey.
Even though the White Sox met with Masahiro Tanaka last week in Los Angeles, they will not be serious players in what is sure to become an all-out bidding war.
It would be nice to think that general manager Rick Hahn could set aside a couple of banknotes to bring the phenom over, but it is not going to happen.
Tanaka will either go to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels or the New York Yankees, according to multiple reports that cited an article on Hochi.Yomiui.co (translation program needed). That report went so far as to say that the Yankees were favorites to land Tanaka, although the West Coast could be quite appealing to him.
Either way, even if the White Sox did have serious interest in signing Tanaka, “the five-year, $75 million to $100 million” contract that MLB.com’s Scott Merkin projects the right-hander will get is simply too pricey. It would be nice to add him to the rotation, but the financial obligation would seem to be too great.
Of course, I have been wrong before. Let’s hope that is the case this time.
Would you trust this face?
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was recently called a “savior” by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. While a bit of an overstatement, Passan has a point.
Hahn has already been uncharacteristically aggressive this offseason. He signed Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million contract, signed multiple pitchers to one-year deals and pulled off trades for Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson.
To be fair, this offseason may be the true measure of Hahn as a GM. Last winter’s conservatism may have been the result of careful preparation for the 2014 season and beyond. Hahn seems to have a clear vision of the team’s future and is acquiring young talent and buying low on veteran free agents as he looks to make the White Sox relevant for the foreseeable future.
And how refreshing is it as a White Sox fan to have someone like that running the day-to-day operations?
In Hahn we trust.