Going into the 2011 season, the White Sox have been recognized as strong contenders for the postseason. Most analysts see them in contention for the AL Central title. While they will face tough opponents in the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins, the biggest questions to success remain within the organization.
For a team that entered the 2010 season with one of the “best” rotations on paper, it seems ludicrous to label this as a source of worry. Fact of the matter is that only one of the pitchers (John Danks) on the staff finished with under a 4.00 era.
Jake Peavy is a certifiable ace, but ran into trouble with his switch to the AL. Combined with his injury, he needs to show he can compete in this new league for a whole season.
Mark Buehrle, a fan favorite, is unfortunately no better than a third or fourth starter. His heroics and multiple accomplishments have made him legendary in Chicago, but on paper his stats are not those of an ace.
Gavin Floyd has to shake off his bipolar pitching and gain some consistency. His up and down pattern of pitching performances will sink him into the back of the rotation.
Edwin Jackson must prove he is the pitcher we saw in Detroit and not the mess he displayed in Arizona last year.
Sergio Santos and Chris Sale were God sends in the bullpen last year. They ate up innings and gave the team a fighting chance late in the season. If this team is to go the distance, Santos and Sale will have to prove they can repeat their performance from last year.
Last season the White Sox coaches heralded general manager Kenny Williams' moves in removing old, slow legs like Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye.
The retooled line up had a new burst of energy led by Juan Pierre and Alex Rios who combined for over 90 stolen bases last year.
However, with the new addition of Adam Dunn, it appears that Williams may be going back to his old approach with Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin and the aforementioned Dunn.
The question that remains is if Ozzie Guillen can make this work with his beloved small ball approach to the game.
This remains a question for any major league team, but more so for the White Sox.
Offseason signings, extensions and raises have pushed payroll to its limits. Kenny Williams has been forced to rework and defer contract payments to make the pieces fit.
With this said, the White Sox have no wiggle room to add pieces mid-season. The only saving grace for the White Sox is that they have youngsters that can man the helm in case of an emergency.
Brent Morel (assuming he does not win a starting job out of spring) and Dayan Viciedo (once he's healthy again) would be solid fits to patch over any injuries in the corner infield or outfield.
Ozzie has been an out spoken manager since being hired. Williams knew this when he hired him, now he has had to put up with it. The heated incident between Kenny Williams and Ozzie Guillen last year had an effect on the team. A schism between club house and front end will produce poor results for the ball club as a whole. They must put last year aside and resume relations like they did during the first years of Ozzie's tenure on the South Side.