Chicago White Sox 2010 Preview Series: The Offense/Defense
Last season,the White Sox were tied for last in the American League with a .258 batting average and were ranked fourth in baseball with 113 errors. The poor performance on the offensive and defensive side was something that the White Sox wanted to address this off-season.
Besides the low batting average, one of the main problems the White Sox offense had was that they had difficulty scoring runs. This happened for two reason, terrible situational hitting(21st in run-scoring with RISP) , and lack of team speed. To put this in perspective, the White Sox had a .265 batting average with runners in scoring position, which was 13th in the league, but they only managed to score more runs than 10 teams. This had a lot to do with the inability of players to score from second base and the fact that the White Sox had trouble getting players to third base in any given inning.
In order to rectify the situation, the team made some off-season moves that according to management, will allow the team to become a championship caliber team. As far as team speed goes, the White Sox will be an example of addition by subtraction, with Jermaine Dye and Jim Thome no longer clogging the basepaths. However, they also got rid of Chris Getz, who led the team in stolen bases.
Two moves in particular were made to improve team speed, the acquisition of Alex Rios last season, and the addition of Juan Pierre during the off-season. Pierre has stolen 40 bases or more every season in all but two of his 10 seasons (2000, 2009). This something that the White Sox could definitely use especially in a leadoff hitter.Alex Rios also has good speed, but is not known as proficient base stealer. The value he brings to the table speed wise if the ability to go from first to third on a single, or score from second base.
On the offensive side of the ball, the White Sox have decided to move away from a lineup geared towards power hitting and home runs, and focus more on pitching and defense. To go along with pitching and defense, the White Sox wanted an offense that could be more versatile and score runs in different ways, much like the 2005 World Series team.
The moves the team made reflects this in the fact that the White Sox improved their bench, and also improved their defense while trying to build an offense that is able to manufacture runs in different ways. the question is, what will the White Sox lineup look like everyday, and how will these new players be utilized. The White Sox have expressed an interest in not having an everyday designated hitter. Instead the White Sox will utilize their much improved bench and decided who DH will be based on matchups. this option could work based on the fact that the White Sox now have one of the best benches in baseball. with Mark Kotsay already on the team, the team added Andrew Jones, and veteran shortstop Omar Vizquel. The way I see it, the main lineup for next season will look something like this.
1. Juan Pierre LF
2. Gordon Beckham 2B
3.Carlos Quentin RF
4. Paul Konerko 1B
5. Alex Rios CF
6. AJ Pierzynski
7. Alexie Ramirez SS
8. Mark Kotsay/Andrew Jones/Omar Vizquel DH
9. Mark Teahan
This lineup will need improved power numbers from Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios as well as another solid season from first baseman Paul Konerko. If Andrew Jones has a return to form this season, the White Sox may be able to score a lot of runs, especially with Alexei Ramirez in the lower third of the order, and Beckham batting second. These guys won't get you 30 home runs, but they both get a lot of extra-base hits, and Ramirez has shown himself to be a pretty good clutch hitter. This selection inoffense has the potential to be pretty good but will need some surprises to be great.
Defensively, the team has been improved somewhat over the off-season. Gordon Beckham will move from third base, where he struggled little bit last year, to second base. While this is still not his natural position, the White Sox believe that he will be much more comfortable at second base as opposed to third. Over the off-season, Gordon has been working with bench coach Joey Cora and SS Alexei Ramirez to get used to playing the position. This will hopefully help reduce the number of middle infield errors. Third base will now be patrolled by Mark Teahan, who is a pretty serviceable third baseman, and he can also play many positions in the infield and outfield. It will help that he does have experience at the position, something that Beckham did not last season.
In the outfield, the White Sox have improved their centerfielder, replacing Scott Podsednik with Alex Rios. Rios will be able to cover a lot of ground in the outfield, and has a pretty decent arm. Carlos Quentin has shown that he has the skills to be a decent left fielder, so it stands to reason that he could also be a good right fielder, he's another guy that has an aboveaverage arm, which is good for a right fielder. In left field, the White Sox will have another guy that can cover a lot of ground in Juan Pierre. The only downside here is that he has virtually no arm. The White Sox may not throw a lot of guys out on the base paths, but there won't be a lot of balls hit over the outfielders heads.
Overall, the off season changes to the White Sox are mostly low risk/potential high reward. The defense S. definitely been improved somewhat, but it is yet to be seen whether or not the offense will be much better. Spring training is less a month away, and by then we should have a better idea of what this team is capable of.
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