Part five of our UK fan season preview series is here, as Christine shares her views on her beloved White Sox. Comment below, and make sure you follow Christine on Twitter –@whitesoxuk.
2017 was always going to be a losing year. With Chris Sale going to the Red Sox, Adam Eaton off the Nationals it was clear that we were in tear-down mode. In return, the White Sox received some genuine top prospects in Yoan Moncada & Michael Kopech plus Basabe and Diaz from that other Sox team, with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez heading from the Nationals. But the trading didn’t stop there. Come July and José Quintana was off to the cross-town rival Cubs followed rapidly by the Yankees taking Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson. Going the other way from the Cubs was prize prospect Eloy Jimenez plus some other promising prospects, including Dylan Cease. The Yankees haul wasn’t quite so glamorous, with prospects Tito Polo, Blake Rutherford and Ian Clarkin acquired along with veteran Tyler Clippard. Anthony Swarzak was then off to Milwaukee, Dan Jennings to the Rays, and Melky Cabrera was soon on his way back to Kansas. Thankfully Clippard was also traded away to the Astros. And so it went on – you get the picture. Superstars, not-quite superstars, would-be superstars, journeymen… anyone with a trade value was traded away for young promising talent.
The team record seems almost superfluous as White Sox fans relished the prospect of so much talent making its way to Guaranteed Rate Field (now there is surely one of the worst names for a baseball stadium ever – trips off the tongue doesn’t it) and the team ended the season with a 67-95 record, which surprisingly wasn’t the worst in the Division.
GM Rick Hahn has been remorseless over the close season in continuing his vision for a new young, dynamic and hungry White Sox team. That he has carried fans along with his vision is testament to how excited everyone who follows the White Sox feels about the potential of the players that Hahn has brought together. The future of the team is now in the hands of players like Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito with the mouthwatering prospect of more young talent being called up as the season progresses.
There’s a need for still young but more experienced players like Tim Anderson to step up after what was a pretty poor year for him, but hopefully with some of his personal problem behind him, he can start to progress again. Speculation continues to surround how long 1st baseman José Abreu will remain with the organisation and its not beyond the realm of possibility that he could go sometime in 2018 – if the right offer came along. The expectation has to be that the team will get better and better as the season unfolds, though I can see some rocky times at the start of the regular season. The steadying hand of experienced players like catcher Wellington Castillo and José Abreu, and the mentoring of the team by manager Rick Renteria will be vital to ensure confidence doesn’t drain away.
If there’s concern, and it’s a very real one, it’s how the entire pitching roster looks. With little to cause anxiety to any opposition and with Carlos Rodón injured and unlikely to make the line-up until at least June there has to be serious concerns over the strength of the White Sox rotation; James Shield projected at number 1 in the rotation gives you an idea of how weak this could be if the younger pitchers don’t develop quickly. The bullpen is looking little better statistically too, but there’s the rub. With such a young team statistics probably mean little. It’s how they perform and grow that will decide just how good this team can be.
The atmosphere around the team and the fans is as high as it’s been for a very long time so managing expectations will be as much of a challenge as anything else over the coming season.
This is a season where optimism needs to be tempered with realism. Still, they should be exciting to watch; just give us another year, and then watch out!
77-85 – We will surprise a few, then lose when expected to win. Unpredictability will be the watchword of the season. But with the Central so weak we will finish above the Royals and the Tigers while never really challenging the Indians or the Twins.
José Abreu. Underrated as a 1st base for the White Sox, he has deservedly become the face of the franchise. He is at the peak of his career right now and he will continue to show the form he demonstrated last year. Just give us a few more homers José!
One to watch
Oh my, this one is difficult. With so much young talent, it’s tough to pick just one. I’d love it to be Tim Anderson but I think it’s going to be Yoan Moncada. He is learning fast and once he stops striking out so often he will be awesome.
Christine – @whitesoxuk