2011 has been an up-and-down year for the Chicago White Sox—with a lot more emphasis on the "down" part of the year.
The offseason was lauded as being highly positive, and the White Sox were going to be "all in" to advance to the playoffs and challenge the AL East monsters.
So after lots of spending and "big moves," the White Sox find themselves in third place of the mediocre AL Central, under .500, and all but eliminated from postseason contention.
With the Twins struggling for once, the White Sox blew their opportunity to take the division crown, and there are many reasons why.
Here are the biggest reasons for this year's massive failure, and how to fix it so Sox fans don't have to deal with a miserable 2012 season.
Adam Dunn is on pace for one of the worst seasons in professional baseball history. This is sad because his job is solely to hit.
His stats are pure eyesores: .163 average, 11 home runs, 40 RBI, .289 OBP, .288 slugging.
Pathetic. 43 percent of his at-bats have been strikeouts.
Dunn makes $12 million a year. Nobody will take him in a trade. A Yahoo! article stated that Dunn would walk away from the game if he didn't regain his form. Hopefully, if he doesn't regain that form, he will walk away.
White Sox fans don't know what's more pathetic—his offensive (or lack thereof) production or his lackadaisical nature playing defense.
His stats are equally appalling: .220 average, eight home runs, 34 RBI, .256 OBP, .322 slugging.
He doesn't hustle in the outfield. He doesn't look like he ever cares.
$12.5 million dollars down the drain. There was a reason Blue Jays fans wanted to get rid of him.
Jake Peavy's last start was the death knell of the 2011 White Sox. It's clear he was a pitcher helped by his pitcher-friendly park and by pitching in the National League.
His 2011 stats are: 5-7, 5.21 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
Not to mention, he is consistently injured. He's getting paid $16 million this year while on pace to only pitch 125 innings. Stellar.
Beckham is a fan favorite that doesn't get nearly enough flack. His play in 2011 has been nothing short of awful.
2011 stats: .233 average, nine home runs, 36 RBI, .292 OBP
Harold Reynolds once declared that Beckham was a future Hall of Famer. White Sox fans wish he was one-fiftieth that good.
While he has significantly turned his season around for the better, Thornton's April single-handedly cost the White Sox four games and zapped any early-season momentum from the team.
The White Sox gave him a fat contract extension in the summer and he responded by posting an unacceptably high WHIP (1.43) and a lower number of strikeouts.
It's surprising that the White Sox have committed so few errors. Any fan will tell you they are definitely a subpar defensive team (specifically, the outfield).
The infield is pretty good defensively, but the outfield is one of the worst fielding outfields in baseball. Juan Pierre routinely makes drops and can't reach routine balls. Alex Rios just doesn't hustle. And (when healthy), Carlos Quentin is below average.
Multiple times this year the outfield has let a runner on first score on a single. That should never happen.
Kenny Williams just absolutely refused to call up the stud in the White Sox's minors system. He is the future star of the White Sox, and Mr. Williams thought it would be good to call him up after the White Sox were functionally out of it.
The picture says it all. Carlos Quentin can never stay healthy. When there was a *strong* demand for him in the summer, Kenny Williams refused to blink. This meant that Dayan Viciedo was stuck in the minors. Now the White Sox are stuck with an injury-prone, just-above-average player.
The White Sox are at or near the bottom in every major offensive statistical category in the American League. If this were any other team, the hitting coach would have been fired. Greg Walker has done nothing to improve the struggling batters on the White Sox, and in fact, a plethora of players have regressed.
There are plenty of reasons to fire both. Despite their denials of tension, there clearly are multiple escalating tensions between the two.
Kenny Williams is an overrated GM. His moves in the past couple of years have all been flops. Peavy, Rios and Dunn cost the White Sox $40.5 million this year. Peavy has been garbage ever since he got here. Rios is inconsistent. And Dunn has been an epic failure in his first year.
Ozzie makes questionable bullpen decisions, questionable substitutions and puts together questionable lineups. He has his reasons, but they have mostly backfired. And this whole Ozzie and Florida marriage seems more likely than it was before.
In my opinion, Kenny has hurt this team over the past couple of years more than Ozzie has. But the White Sox might just have to clean house.
Mark Buehrle is one of the all-time favorite and great White Sox. He is also having an unexpectedly good career year. I just don't think he'll be able to repeat it next year in the American League.
Plus, if he goes to the NL (presumably the Cardinals), that would increase his chances of winning 300 games (albeit the odds are very, very long).
Buehrle has been mum on his future with the club, and we can't blame him. It would cost a lot of money to keep Buehrle, and it will not be worth it.
Outside of Paul Konerko, the only bright spot on this team has been the flashes of niceness by the youth of the White Sox. Tyler Flowers (25) and Dayan Viciedo (22) are extremely powerful. Brent Morel (24) is offensively inept, but is developing Joe Crede-like defensive abilities. Alejandro De Aza (27) isn't that young, but he has been a nice spark. And Gordon Beckham (24) has time to be rebuilt.
All this can be done for cheap. Also, AJ Pierzynski is a reliable hitter. He's been hovering around the .300 mark. However, he is arguably the worst catcher defensively in baseball. He can be moved to DH to allow Flowers to develop.
The White Sox have some issues to deal with. Juan Pierre is set to become a free agent. He should only be re-signed if he comes at a reasonable price. His first half was absolutely horrible, but he has since been batting .309 post All-Star break. He is also less reliable on the basepaths than he was last year.
If the Sox do not re-sign Juan Pierre, then either Alejandro de Aza or Brent Lillibridge should be the leadoff hitter. The Sox are also stuck with Rios, so de Aza (who is a superior fielder) should be switched with Rios in center field.
The lineup should include variations of these players:
Alejandro de Aza (CF)
Alexei Ramirez (SS)
Alex Rios (LF)
Paul Konerko (1B)
Dayan Viciedo (DH/RF)
AJ Pierzynski (DH/C)
Tyler Flowers (C)
Gordon Beckham (2B)
Brent Morel (3B)
And throw in Adam Dunn (DH) when not facing left-handed pitchers and Brent Lillibridge (UTIL) can play anywhere.
If things don't change, the White Sox are primed for failure.
The AL Central was absolutely horrible this year, but that will change in the next couple of years.
The Twins will get healthy and rebound.
The Tigers have the two best players in the division (Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander).
The White Sox, on the other hand, have a notoriously bad farm system and horrific offense. The team with the highest payroll in the division is getting the least bang for its buck.
2011 shouldn't have been the year to go "all in." Adam Dunn is a one-trick, hit-or-miss pony, and he has only been the "miss" part.
I have absolutely zero doubt Jerry Reinsdorf will not go after another big free-agent name. He also wants to shed salary, especially with the fickle fanbase refusing to attend games.
However, we can dream. Prince Fielder would have been the *perfect* fit for the White Sox. At least he can field (unlike Dunn), and imagine him playing in US Cellular Field. The Brewers are having a magical season, which would seem to be a disincentive for Fielder to leave and the Brewers to let him go.
Jose Reyes is also a big fish in the free-agency pool. The only problem is the White Sox refuse to move Alexei Ramirez from shortstop, so there's virtually zero chance they go after him. Plus, he's also injury-prone. Still, he's a great player with a combination of speed and power that the White Sox could use.
Aramis Ramirez has been the best third baseman in the National League this year, and that's something the White Sox need. Morel is great defensively, but has absolutely zero offensive value. Ramirez would be a strong offensive boost. However, he wants to stay with Cubs.