R.I.P. 2007 White Sox season. By far the most disappointing season I can ever remember in my mind. With the season thankfully ending soon, and Tuesday giving me nothing to think about in terms of sports, I've decided to look ahead to the 2008 season in terms of what needs to be corrected for the South Siders to get back in contention of a very competitive A.L. Central. I'll start first by bullet pointing the main concerns, and then I'll go through what I would do were I Kenny Williams....
- Leadoff Hitter and Roster make-up
Let's start first with the most glaring issue in my mind: the awful bullpen and underperforming starting pitching that you couldn't trust at any point in the game (This does not apply to Buehrle or Vazquez, which is remarkable considering his 06' campaign). Only 1/3rd of the pitching staff that has logged at least 10 IP has an ERA lower then 5. Pathetic. To give an idea of they stacked up against the league, here's the stats:
Team ERA: 28th
Runs Allowed: 23rd
Hits Allowed: 23rd
HR's Allowed: 23rd
Alright, that's enough proof right there. Buehrle and Vazquez turned in great season considering the run support given to them over the year (28th). Contreras is still on the verge of becoming the first Sox pitcher since 86' to lose 17 in a season, and that's about all I have to say about that. What sucks even more is he's stated for 10 million next year, and that's hard to pawn off on a team that would be willing to take a waiver on him. Garland won 36 games in 05' and 06', but this year has struggled to get to 9 and 9. John Danks has had a rough run the past couple starts, but still looks promising in the future, and should be a solid number 4 in 08', which leaves the question mark at the fifth slot. Gavin Floyd had every advantage over Danks in Spring Training, but could never keep the ball in the park, and has shown the same problems during spot starts over the year. Now, he has looked better since he was brought back up a month ago, but the questions still loom considering the launching pad known as Comiskey.
Possible 5th Starter Replacements: Internally, Lance Broadway still might not be ready, Nick Masset has to develop more command and another pitch in order to have a chance against good hitting teams, and 1st round pick this Aaron Poreda wont be looked at until probably mid 08-2009, and that would most likely be the bullpen.
Free Agents: Randy Wolf, Jason Jennings, Matt Clement, Livan Hernandez, Kris Benson (mainly just so I could see his wife). There's obviously so more starters out there, but none really worth mentioning.
Moving onto the roster. Josh Fields has emerged as someone who needs to be out on the diamond on Opening Day. Here's his numbers through 89 games:
While his average is nothing special, take a look at Joe Crede's number through his first full season (151 games)
Fields already has him outpaced in homers, and would have another 62 games to catch up in average and RBI's. Not to mention that Crede also had three previous call-ups totalling 77 games before his first full season. Now, I'm not saying you trade Crede just yet, but let's hope that he comes back healthy for three reasons: #1: He is much better defensively at third then Fields. Fields is a C+ in my book, while Crede is easily an A. #2: Fields can move to left field while Crede plays third. If they don't sign Aaron Rowand, Torii Hunter or Mike Cameron, you'd be looking at Jerry Owens leading off with Fields in left. #3: If Crede comes back to his 05-06' form, he could easily be traded to a number of teams in order to fill whatever needs were present at that time.
In terms of the lead-off hitter, there's also not much of a market for one. Jerry Owens will head into the end of the year as the front runner, but he needs to improve his OBP and average in order to keep it. His 28 steals in 83 games also would predict him to be a 50+ base stealer, which is what the Sox had with Podsednik before he got hurt over and over again.
Here's what the 2008 roster looks like right now with the opening day order, or at least in my mind:
- Jerry Owens
- Danny Richar
- Jim Thome
- Paul Konerko
- Jermaine Dye
- Joe Crede
- Josh Fields
- A.J. Pierzynski
- Juan Uribe (although I pray not)
2008 Starting Pitching:
- Mark Buehrle
- Jon Garland (pending no trade)
- Javier Vazquez
- John Danks
- Anyone but Contreras