It took far too long, but the White Sox have finally realized what they are. For the last couple of years they thought that Robin Ventura was the right leader for the team and that they had what it takes to be a contender of some sort. They obviously didn't - they have averaged 85 losses each of the last two seasons. Instead of toiling for mediocrity, they finally embraced change and have launched a fairly aggressive rebuild. At the core of it was a summer that was packed with serious value - and which hints at what could still be too come.
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The first move they made was a change in leadership. Rick Renteria, who didn't get nearly as much time as he deserved across town with the Cubs before being forced out for Joe Maddon, is the new boss man in place of Ventura. He's a good fit for this squad - they aren't going to be good in any hurry, and he's patient and is a teacher. It's a very good fit - as long, that is, as the expectations are reasonable. If management gets impatient and expects this team to be good in any hurry then Renteria will be doomed. Given the time, though, he certainly has the right combination of skills of his own and assets to work with to make a long-term impact.
White Sox 2017 Projected Lineup
The offseason was shaped by two huge trades, sending Chris Sale to Boston and Adam Eaton to the Nationals. In exchange the team received a boatload of young talent. The bulk of the new talent is in the form of pipeline pitching, but Yoan Moncado is a second baseman with massive upside. He showed he wasn't yet ready in a stint in Boston last year, and he has yet to play in Triple-A, so they will likely be patient with him. There is certainly flexibility at the major league level, though, so there will be a roster spot for him when he proves to be ready.
They did very well in those two trades, and you can be all but certain that they aren't done yet. Todd Frazier, Melky Cabrera and David Robertson are all solid veteran presences on the roster, but they will find themselves on a plane with a one-way ticket if and when contenders get desperate. They won't net nearly what Eaton did, but any young talent is better than a veteran for this stage of development. It will be interesting to see how those guys can handle the stress of knowing that any day could be their last in town. If the team is as bad as they could be this year then they would likely welcome a chance to escape.
A guy who the team says they aren't interested in dealing is one who they need a lot from. Jose Abreu continues to be productive, but his power has diminished in each of the last three years - down to 25 home runs last year. He still is more than useful at the plate, but there is real upside - and it's needed. Despite what they say, I wouldn't be surprised if the team reverses course and deals Abreu if he gets off to a good start this year - there would be real value available in return.
So, no matter how you look at this roster, it comes down to this - not enough talent to compete, and what they do have is likely to be moved to make way for promising young guys who need seasoning and aren't going to shine out of the gate. It will be a long year in Chicago, but hopefully one with purpose.
White Sox 2017 Projected Rotation and Closer
Chris Sale is gone. Needless to say, that's a pretty serious hole. The rotation left behind isn't terrible, though. In fact, it's surprisingly solid. Derek Holland joined the team this year. Jose Quintana isn't the ace he is cast as here, but he has put up strong numbers over the last few years and is as reliable as they come among journeymen. And James Shields isn't what he was, but he still has a lot to give. Like the guys on the field, all three of those guys should not get too comfortable where they are. All of them will have solid trade value - especially Quintana - as the season progresses and teams get desperate. The team has a wealth of young pitching to develop, so as with the bats the growing pains will hopefully be worthwhile. The one starting pitcher who is likely to stick around is Carlos Rodon, the third overall pick in the 2014 draft. The lefty still has some developing to do, but the second half of last season was pretty solid, and he should continue to improve.
David Robertson is the closer in the bullpen and yet another veteran who is more likely to end his season somewhere else than not. He's probably not quite as good as he has been, but at the very least a contender could use him as a setup man. Beyond Robertson, Nate Jones is the highlight of the bullpen and would likely be the closer if Roberston moves on.
White Sox Futures Odds
Needless to say, the oddsmakers are not optimistic. The White Sox are at +4000 to win the American League Central at BetOnline - longer odds than 15 teams have to win the World Series. They are at a comparatively short +6600 to win the American League pennant, and + 10000 to win the World Series . The city of Chicago may want to think about planning a World Series parade, but not on the South Side.
Todd Frazier is a mid-level contender in the race for the home run title. At +3300 to win the crown he is behind just 14 other players. Quintana is listed at +4000 to win the Cy Young, which is far from the elite contenders.
White Sox 2017 Predictions
The season win total is set at 69.5. That's low, but I doubt that it is low enough for a team that has some serious talent issues and which is very likely to be ripped apart midseason. They are doing the right thing here, but it isn't going to be pretty. The range of possible wins feels like 65-75, and I favor the lower end.
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