A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE WHITE SOX
This was a totally different team last year under Robin Ventura—in a good way. He proved to be such a perceptive manager and had a good influence on some of the players. Take Adam Dunn: Under Ventura he became a force again.... People don't appreciate how good a hitter Paul Konerko is: Even at 37 he's going to hit .300 with close to 30 home runs.... They really need Gordon Beckham, and the signs are good: He's been driving the ball to right center, which is what he needs to do. He's also become really good defensively.... I worry about their catching. Tyler Flowers has a lot of holes in his hitting approach.... One guy I think is going to have a breakout year: Alexei Ramirez, who could hit 15--20 home runs and steal 30 bases. He looks energized this spring, which probably has something to do with the fact that this is his walk year.... I don't see any reason why Chris Sale can't get better—what's unusual is how well he battles hitters even though he'll only be 24.... John Danks's velocity is back after his shoulder injury.... Jose Quintana can really pitch: He has great command of the zone and a good fastball to keep you honest.... The pieces are there for the bullpen to be good. Matt Thornton belongs in the setup role, and Addison Reed is a good young closer.... The problem is that this team just isn't much better than last year—they had a quiet off-season. The Royals and the Indians are improved. The White Sox are about a .500 team, so it wouldn't be a surprise if they finish fourth.
2013 Projected Statistics
MANAGER ROBIN VENTURA
Second season with the White Sox
NEW ACQUISITION (R) ROOKIE
LINEUPS AND STAT PROJECTIONS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
The K Meter
Percentage of 2012 plate appearances that ended with a strikeout, and major league rank
BY HITTERS | 19.7% | 14TH
BY PITCHERS | 20.4% | 11TH
Dunn and Konerko keep launching balls out of the Cell, and pitching coach Don Cooper keeps working his magic.
Dunn and Konerko start to show their ages, exposing the longtime shortcomings in the farm system.
Albert Chen has more on the White Sox at SI.com/mlb
Having signed Chris Sale to a five-year, $32.5 million contract, the White Sox have assumed the risk of his heavy workload. Not that they were going to work the skinny, 24-year-old lefthander like Wilbur Wood, but now they're financially invested in his health. We're less than a year removed from the team's moving Sale to the bullpen for a week due to concerns about his durability. (In 2012, his first year as a starter, he threw 192 innings.) To protect him, they should manage him less like a workhorse ace and more like the Red Sox once used Pedro Martinez. That means using a full five-man rotation so that Sale sometimes starts on five days' rest, employing occasional skipped starts or DL trips for minor injuries, and keeping his in-game pitch counts well out of the danger zone of the 120s. Martinez made 30 starts just three times in seven years in Boston, but was so effective with the lighter workload that he won the Cy Young Award twice with 29 starts and finished third in a third 29-start season. That should be the model for Sale.
JOHN WILLIAMSON/MLB PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES (RAMIREZ)
JOHN BIEVER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (SALE)